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SENATE HANSARD 5 JUNE 2013 VOL. 22 NO. 21
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Wednesday, 5th June, 2013
The Senate met at Half-past Two O’clock pm.
(MADAM PRESIDENT in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY MADAM PRESIDENT
SWITCHING OFF OF CELLPHONES
MADAM PRESIDENT: May I remind hon. senators to switch off their cell phones before commencement of business.
OMISSION ON THE ORDER PAPER
MADAM PRESIDENT: As you are all aware, the Minister of Home Affairs moved that he was going to move for ratification today but that particular Business was omitted. Our Order Number 4 is going to be the Business from the Minister of Home Affairs.
RATIFICATION OF THE BONN CONVENTION
THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER
DEVELOPMENT: Before I move this motion, I would like to apologise to hon. senators about yesterday. This was something beyond my control. Members might know that the facilitation team came in yesterday and requested to meet with the JOMIC Co-Chairpersons of which I am one. I advised them that I needed to come to the Senate, but as you know that when these matters are being discussed, the time went beyond what I had initially budgeted for. Thank you Madam President.
I move the motion standing in my name:
THAT WHEREAS Subsection (1) of Section 111B of the
Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that any convention, Treaty or Agreement acceded to, concluded or executed by or under the authority of the President with one or more foreign states or government or international organisations shall be subject to approval by Parliament; AND WHEREAS the Statute of the International Renewable
Energy Agency (Statute of IRENA) was signed in Bonn, World
Conference Centre on 26th January, 2009;
AND WHEREAS the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe is
a signatory to the aforesaid Statute and desirous of becoming a party to the statute;
AND WHEREAS Article (C) of the Statute of IRENA provides for
the deposition of instruments of ratification or accession with the depository;
NOW THEREFORE, in terms of Section 111B (1) of the
Constitution of Zimbabwe, this House resolves that the aforesaid Statute be and is hereby approved for ratification.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is an international organisation dedicated to facilitating the rapid development of renewable energy worldwide. The Statute was concluded in Bonn, Germany World Conference Centre on the 26th of January 2009.
Zimbabwe became a signatory of the International Renewable Energy Agency on the 26 of June 2009. The IRENA Statute was approved by Cabinet Committee on Legislation on November 2010 which recommended it to Cabinet. Cabinet approved the statute and instructed the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs and myself to undertake this ratification process. The Renewable Energy in the statute means Bio Energy, Geo Thermal Energy, Hydro Power, Ocean Energy including internal tidal wave and Ocean Thermal Energy, Solar Energy and Wind Energy.
On the establishment of the Agency, the Agency is based on the principle of equality of all its members and shall pay due respect to sovereign rights and competencies of its members in performing its activities. The objectives of the Agency are to promote the widespread and increased adoption and sustainable use of all forms of Renewable Energy taking into account National and Domestic Priorities and benefits derived from a combined approach of Renewable Energy and Energy efficiency measures. The contribution of Renewable Energy to environmental preservation through limiting pressure on natural resources and reducing deforestation, particularly tropical de-afrostration desertification and bio diversity loss to climate protection, economic growth and social cohesion including poverty alleviation and sustainable development to assess the security of energy supply, to regional development and to inter generational responsibilities. The activities of the agency shall be a centre of excellence for renewable energy technology, as well as acting as a facilitator and a catalyst, providing experience for practical application and policies, offering support on all matters relating to renewable energy. It will be helping countries to benefit from the efficient development and transfer of knowledge and technology. The membership of the agencies is open to states which are members of the United Nations and to regional inter-governmental economic integration organisations willing and able to act in accordance with the objectives and activities laid down in the statutes. With that brief background Madam President, I wish to move that the IRENA statute be ratified. I thank you.
Motion put and agreed to.
RATIFICATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON
THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
THE MINISTER OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE:
Madam President, I move the motion standing in my name;
THAT WHEREAS subsection (1) of section 111B of the
Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that any Convention, Treaty, or Agreement acceded to, concluded or executed by or under the authority of the President with some or more foreign States or governments or international organisations shall be subject to approval by Parliament;
AND WHEREAS the Government of Zimbabwe now desires to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which was adopted on 13th December 2006.
AND WHEREAS in accordance with its Article 42, the
Convention and its Optional Protocol opened for signature by all States and regional integration organisations at UN headquarters on 30th March, 2007.
NOW THEREFORE, in terms of subsection (1) of section 111B of the Constitution, this House resolves that the afore-said Convention be and is hereby approved for accession.
Madam President, as you might be aware that my ministry which administers the Disabled Persons Act seeks your approval for signature and ratification of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and its Optional Protocol. As you are aware, Zimbabwe is one of the first countries to have a Disabled Persons Act but up to now, we have not yet aligned this important international instrument that addresses needs of people with disabilities.
Why a Convention Madam President? Firstly, the Convention was crafted to respond to an overlooked development challenge. Research shows that approximately 10% of the world‟s populations are persons with disabilities, that is, over 650 million people and approximately 80% live in developing countries.
Secondly, it was in response to the fact that, although pre-existing Human Rights Conventions offer considerable potential to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities, this potential was not being tapped. Persons with disabilities continue being denied their human rights and were kept on the margins of society in all parts of the world. The Convention sets out the legal obligations on states to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. It does not create any new rights.
The purpose of the Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities and to promote respect for their inherent dignity in society.
The Convention marks a paradigm shift in attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are not viewed as objects of charity, medical treatment and social protection rather as subjects with rights who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of the society. The convention gives universal recognition to the dignity of persons with disabilities.
Preamble of this convention states that disability is an evolving concept and that disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
Article 1 of the Convention states that persons with disabilities include those who have long terms, physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which interacting with various barriers may hinder their full and active participation in society on an equal basis with others. Disability results from an interaction between a non-inclusive society and individuals. Person using a wheelchair might have difficulties gaining employment not because of the wheelchair but there are environmental barriers such as lack of accessibility to buses or staircases which impede access to buildings and other areas of the work place.
Persons with extreme near-sightedness who do not have access to corrective lenses may not be able to perform daily tasks, for example, Madam President, you and me if we were to take our glasses off, we will not be able to read what I am reading now. This same person with prescription eyeglasses would be able to perform all tasks without problems.
Convention terminology; The convention teaches us to use respectable terms like persons with disabilities, it discourages the term handicapped, physical or mental challenges. Please note however, that preferences for terminology among persons with disabilities and among geographical regions may vary due to our own regions. The individual wishes of persons with disabilities should be respected as much as possible.
Convention Structure includes the following: -
General obligations, equality and non-discrimination;
Women with disabilities;
Children with disabilities;
Right to life situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies;
Equal recognition before the law;
Access to justice, liberty, security of persons;
Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse;
Protecting the integrity of the person;
Liberty of movement and nationality;
Living independently and being included in the community;
Freedom of expression and opinion and access to information;
Respect for privacy;
Respect for home and family, education, health, habilitation and rehabilitation;
Work and employment; adequate standard of living and social protection;
Participation in political and public life;
Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport;
Statistics and data collection;
National implementation and monitoring;
International monitoring mechanism; and final clauses, optional protocol.
Convention bodies Madam President, the convention has two bodies namely, Conference of the state bodies which meets to consider any matter with regard to implementation of this particular convention or biennially decisions by the conference.
The other body is a Committee on the rights of persons with disability, this is a body of independent experts serving in their personal capacity tasked with reviewing states implementation of the convention. Initially it comprises of 12 independent experts rising to 18 members after an additional 60 ratifications or accessions to the Convention.
Optional Protocol, the optional protocol seeks to be ratified together with the convention creates additional functions for the committee on the right of persons with disabilities.
Individual Communication Committees considers communication from individuals or groups of individual claiming to be victims of a violation of the provisions of the convention by a particular state or a particular state party to the protocol.
Inquiries Committee Member may conduct an inquiry on a state party; following information received indicating grave or systematic violations of the convention by a state party.
In conclusion, Hon. Members, Madam President, let me conclude by saying that the time of ratifying and implementing this particular convention is now. There is urgent need for training, capacity building, awareness raising, good practices collection, and validation and knowledge management. There is need to mainstream disability in all development activities. There is also need for implementation of the convention principles in the internal operations of the government. However, there is also need to include persons with disabilities in all stages of implementation and build capacity of organizations of persons with disabilities as the persons with disabilities echo the saying
“Nothing about us without us “.
I therefore seek for approval from this august house to sign and ratify the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities together with its optional protocol. I thank you Madam President.
SENATOR MULOTSTHWA: Thank you very much, mine is to
appreciate that this agreement is now being brought for approval. So I want to echo what the Minister has said but I have a concern that in our committee of MDG‟s, which is chaired by Hon. Khumalo, we had an association of people with disability presenting Oral Evidence and their major concern was that they are failing to vote. They are voting every time in the presence of somebody so are we not violating their rights or else the question is, is what we are approving today going to take care of the voting patterns or the voting system that the people with disability are going to use in the next election, that is what I wanted to hear from the Minister, that we want to approve and the time is now but then there are serious concerns of not being able to vote, is this agreement going to take care of that? I thank you.
SENATOR MUMVURI: Thank you Madam President, let me
start by thanking the Minister for bringing this convention to this Senate and enlightening us on what it strives to achieve by ratification which she is seeking. Suffice to say I think it has been now long overdue, it has been on the cards for quite some time but disability means a lot. I have got a few questions to put to the Minister, if she has mentioned it in her presentation, I might not have captured it, just for clarification.
What is the approximate number of disabled persons in Zimbabwe? What is the approximate percentage which is under active assistance which is directly under government assistance? How often does your Ministry update these figures so that they know what to do to help the disabled? We might also want to know the measures which are in place to enable the disabled especially the children when they graduate into adulthood to make them sustain their livelihood? Lastly, is albinism included in the category of disabled persons?
Those are a few clarifications which I want from the Minister and then we might have a better understanding of this protocol, otherwise of the objectives which she has put across, I think the time is okay for us to ratify the protocol which is before us here, I do not think there is any dispute about that. We should urge all Senators in here to ratify after we have debated on this important convention, I want to thank you Madam President.
SENATOR MANDAVA: Thank you Madam President, I also
want to join my colleagues in thanking the Minister for bringing this important motion which as the previous speaker has said, is long overdue. In the presentation that Senator Mlotshwa was talking about, the organization of the disabled has got the feeling that your ministry is overloaded and perhaps a directorate to deal with the disabled is needed. The other thing was the concern about the percentage of women that are educated. In ratifying this protocol, maybe as I said I might not have heard it, are we ensuring that there will be an exercise to deliberate/accelerate the education of women that are disabled?
SENATOR SIBANDA: Thank you Madam President, I would
like to ask the Minister of Labour and I would also like to thank her for bringing this important subject. What are you going to do with the blind people who are all over our streets and sometimes they are being led by little children and the little children are the ones who go on begging for whatever they are asking for? What steps are you taking for these blind people who are seen on the streets begging for assistance? I thank you, Madam President.
SENATOR MUCHIHWA: *Thank you Madam President for
giving me this time to make my contribution. I also want to thank the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare for raising this motion which is very interesting. I am not going to say much on this motion but I would like to support the motion which she has raised in this august Senate. She pointed out that we should have ratified this so many years back but we still have to ratify it. All the same she has had enough courage and time to bring this convention to the attention of the Senate and we have to support it. We have been told about some of the things which would assist these disabled persons if this convention is ratified, all the queries that have been raised in this Senate will be solved.
These include the young children who are the guides for the visually impaired people who also need some assistance. In order for all those things to be considered and ratified we need to support this convention because no steps have been taken to rectify all these anomalies. There will be some short comings but we also know that there will be some corrections. We noticed that amongst the disabled, we have very few women who are educated because they are denied access to schools; you find that the disabled women are impregnated by able bodied men and when this is ratified these people will be protected from these predators. We need to work as one, we need to make corrections to our things and we need to make Zimbabwe move forward, thank you very much.
*SENATOR CHIEF MUSARURWA: Thank you Madam
President, I also want to add my voice to the ratification of this agreement which has been introduced by the Minister which is aimed at the welfare of people with disabilities. These should have been ratified a long time ago but we have noticed that we have had some delays
because of one thing or the other. We noticed that as Chiefs, we are also the custodians of the people‟s welfare and we are very glad because the government has taken steps that may assist us because in our jurisdiction we are the welfare officers for the people in need of assistance. We have also seen that Amai Mugabe is doing a very good job in looking after the orphans and the disabled - especially if you go to Danhiko, a place where people with disability are, she is doing a great job. We would also like to thank the government for taking up this agreement seriously because it is going to assist our people living with disabilities. I thank
you Madam President.
*SENATOR KABAYANJIRI: My contribution on this debate is
research which has been done on disabled people. I believe that the Minister, Hon. Mpariwa has records which show the total number of people living with disabilities. You find that most of these disabled people come from rural areas and you find that there are few facilities in the rural areas. Most of the people who are taken care of, are people who are in the cities. My request is that hon. minister, may you please make arrangements so that the disabled people in rural areas can also access these facilities including welfare facilities that are offered by the State. Research has shown that most of the disabled people come from rural areas. I thank you.
SENATOR CHIEF NGUNGUBANE: Thank you minister for
bringing this important Convention before this House for ratification. Madam President, I think as a nation we are all guilty of treating disabled people as second class citizens. I hope this will lay a foundation for a paradigm shift where we view people with disability as ordinary citizens who have equal rights as us.
She mentioned the issue of rights. As senators from the political parties and traditional leaders, these people affect us in one way or the other. There is a lot of expectation minister. Will this Convention bring any change to those people out there? What am I saying? These people are encountering a lot of problems. A deaf woman goes to hospital and that woman cannot communicate with the next person and the nurse.
Madam President, those are the issues that the disabled people are expecting. I know this is a Convention but I want to find out from the minister as a way forward, whether these concerns that the disabled people have are going to be addressed? Is it not just going to be another talk show where we talk, throw away the papers, forget about them and they continue suffering? Thank you.
SENATOR T. MOHADI: Thank you Madam President. I would
also want to thank the minister for bringing this Convention to this august Senate. Madam President, I am worried mostly about the education part for the disabled children because I do not know whether there is anything in place for them as they seem not to be going to school. They spend most of their time especially in towns, walking up and down with their parents or relatives asking for assistance.
Madam President, secondly I am also worried about the final destination, where they are supposed to stay. You find that they do not have a place to stay; they just stay and sleep anywhere in the open. Now that we are approaching winter, I do not know whether there is anything in place for them. In my constituency, they stay at the ranks most of the time. Is the hon. minister aware that the disabled people now help people cross the borders? They take someone without a passport and they cross the border, after crossing the border the blind person will ask someone from the other side of the border to accompany them to the Zimbabwean border. I do not know whether the minister is aware of that? If she is aware, what is the ministry doing about it. I thank you.
*SENATOR MTINGWENDE: Thank you Madam President for
giving me this opportunity to add my voice to this noble voice in this august Senate. I support the minister‟s motion on people living with disabilities. Some of the members who made contributions before me talked about street children. My contribution is along the same lines but I am centering my discussion on the parents of these children who are disabled or children of parents who are visually impaired.
I plead with the ministry to give assistance in schools so that children of people living with disabilities are given assistance in the payment of school fees through the BEAM facility. My experience has shown me that access to the BEAM facility mainly favours orphaned children. Not all of these children access this facility but are picked up at random. Does this programme also cater for children of parents living with disabilities?
I have noticed that communities in which we live sympathise mainly with orphans. I plead with the communities and Government to give assistance to children of parents living with disabilities, especially in schools and health institutions. We need to have this bias so that these children are protected. They should also have access to these facilities because we noticed that BEAM mostly targets people who are only said to be poor but they should also include children of the disabled. These children need to have a better future.
May I please add on and say minister; are you aware of the number of people living with disabilities? When you look at these figures, may you present them to this House? The ministry should not only look at people who are getting assistance from the Social Welfare because we have some people with disabilities who are in the rural areas who are not receiving any assistance from the Social Welfare. Some of these people really deserve to be assisted but the registration is not done properly.
You also find that these people cannot access assistance because the offices that deal with welfare issues are far from people who should be benefitting from their assistance. Therefore we believe the people with disabilities in rural areas should also receive these benefits from the Social Welfare. I feel we need to have a census for the disabled people in the areas where they are staying because if we do not do this, nobody would realise that they do exist and nobody will give them any assistance.
*SENATOR CHIBAGU: The office of the Social Welfare is very
effective and influential, especially working with the disabled. My plea is that, what we are debating here should not only be debated and debated, but there should be some implementation of what we have debated. We all know that when God created us, he created us in his image so that we may look like him, therefore he loves us all. We need to talk about people with disabilities because they have lots of problems.
As I say this, I have received a telephone message from Guruve, I have been told that a woman has given birth to a disabled child. They told me that this person is hydrocephalous and these disabilities are not something you apply for from God; it is something which just come from God‟s creation.
Therefore, Minister we need to have ways and means of assisting disabled persons because parents of these people have problems in looking after their children. I also plead through you hon. Senators, who travel abroad, we have some countries where you do not see any disabled person in the streets but in Zimbabwe we have plenty of them begging for arms. I remember the other day moving in town, I saw a disabled person lying helplessly on the street. When I asked her whether there was any problem, she told me that she needed to be assisted with food. So Minister, I plead with you, your Ministry is very important; it is as good as the Ministry of Health because it has to do with the welfare of the people. I feel, if there can be some plans which can be put in
place whereby some fields are ploughed for the welfare of these people, I think they would have a better life.
I feel I have to make this contribution because we have noticed that there are a lot of people who have problems but they have nowhere to go. I look especially at places which are like my Constituency, which is on the border areas; you find that even Ministers who come to these areas, they do not come to our area because it is too remote. You will find that in my place we have people whom we call Bushmen, but these are also people who are just like you and me; they need to have some assistance. My plea to the powers that be is that disability is not something which we apply for; and disability is not something which makes you fail to do anything in life. You could be able to do whatever you want; all you need is full assistance. Therefore, the Government should do that. I thank you very much.
THE MINISTER OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE
(MS. MPARIWA): Thank you Madam President. I want to thank the hon. Senators who have applauded the bringing up of this Convention for ratification in this august Senate. You may also realise that there is hunger for space in terms of question time. The way concerns have been raised, some of them were not particularly relevant to the presentation, because when we say Ratification of UN Convention, the GNU was formed in 2009. There have been predecessors over and over and they were hesitant to bring this Convention. I did so because I think we have to start from somewhere. What I saw was question time during a presentation, which is not particularly.. –[HON SENATORS: Inaudible interjections]-
MADAM PRESIDENT: Order, order, I want to interject, I want
to appreciate the fact that you have realised that the Executive should come to this Senate more often than they do because people are thirsty
HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.
MADAM PRESIDENT: People are thirsty to pose questions to the Ministers but they hardly come. I thank you, you may continue.
- MPARIWA: I think I am one of those, when I have got time I come but normally when I see a question relevant to my portfolio; they can bail me out. I will never run away because it is the way you can actually enhance the work that the Ministry is doing with colleagues so that they can also mentor you in terms of the gaps in policy and actions.
So they are observers; and it is good for you; it makes you strong.
I now come back to the concerns, the MDGs Committee, the observations by Senator Mlotshwa in terms of the gap. Let me hasten to say that her observations are correct but the good thing is that we now have a new Constitution, it offers more that what the UN Convention is actually proposing. We then have the new Electoral Act, which will also be adopted by the two Houses. It has more provisions to cater for both the secrecy of the vote; the one that I have referred to in paragraph three of my presentation in terms of assistance. So the Constitution is actually offering more than what we have in the UN Convention.
I am glad that this thing is not even violating the provisions but actually setting a standard; but as Zimbabweans because we had people with disabilities who participated in the Constitution making process; they made their voices heard and they were very clear. We celebrate that Zimbabweans have seen that society is comprised of two categories of people; those who are able bodied and those with disabilities. We harnessed together and we brought up issues in the Constitution. That is our according to the question of Senator Mlotshwa.
On Senator Mumvuri, of course in my presentation, I mentioned about the 10% of people with disabilities in the country and how often does the Ministry update this figure or actually to make a survey in terms of how many people - you know if resources were permitting, we would do them regularly. Now we have a starting point, at least we have to get – what I have heard here that even the 10% are not yet all covered in terms of assistance, let me, including those that have been noticed including yaamai vakanonga munhu panze, yomwana akasunungukwa asina kunyatsoita zvakanaka, it is iwe neni tine basa.
It is our responsibility as community. Tava kurasa ubuntu where we can actually say munhu ane dambudziko tomuendesa kupi? The Ministry of Labour and Social Services has got an office everywhere in the districts. You can connect those people in your districts especially as leadership. Just to take that child and the mother kungomuendesa. I heard even treatment yevanhu vane disability, vanamai vakazvitakura vanopedzisira vasisakwanise kurapwa and so on nevana vanofamba vasina kukwanisa kurapwa.
We have a scheme which we call Assisted Medical Order; what does it mean? Ibepa rinonyorwa ne Ministry of Labour and Social Services kuti ndimai ava, havana munhu anovabatsira vanorwara kana kuti vanemhuri. Vobva vaenda kundorapwa. That is why we are saying endesai kuMinistry of Labour and Social Services zvinotibatsira to create a database rokuti tizive kuti kana kuri kuZvishavane kuna amai vari pa Number yakati vanoda kubetserwa. Why ndiri kudaro because even targeting yesocial protection nemasafety nets, it goes to people who are registered. This is why then there is a glaring gap of people who are being assisted and those that are not being assisted.
We have what we call the National Action Plan for orphans and the vulnerable, to cater for all those children. It is our responsibility as Government, as leaders and as a nation to look after what we call the vulnerable; those you see in the streets, those children you see leading the blind in the streets, begging, it is the responsibility of the
Government once we know. Take those people to Social Service
Offices, alert or call their offices, they will go and pick those people up. We have institutions where we put people. It is not all rosy but it is somewhere where they can have shelter, food, clothes and somewhere to bath. At least they are protected from the harsh economic environment and climate.
Those who witnessed two months ago, we were giving out items to homes that are out there. Those that are flooded around the streets, once you see them, alert the ministry so that we can do what we call removal and rehabilitation. It may be difficult to take them all away but those that you would have noticed, as leaders, try to alert the ministry, try and call a social services officer or write an anonymous letter because some of you may not want to be associated with the fact that you are the one who has notified us but you would have helped us.
On the assistance that is given to people including those people with albinism, it is a condition and most of them attend special schools. We offer them spectacles because some of them have poor eyesight and we have lotions and so on. Once we identify a parent with a child who has albinism and they are registered with us, those people receive some kind of attention and assistance from the ministry with money that we call public assistance to help the less privileged whom we call the vulnerable groups. It includes even those who need food, the disabled, the aged, the sick and the orphaned. Most of those children you see escorting disabled old people are orphans. In most cases they would have lost both parents and are staying with their grandparents. So, it is the responsibility of leaders, also to alert the various organisations because we have NGOs that look for children, Street Ahead, for example. We have Committees we call, Child Protection Committees in the communities that we come from. They can also help us. Child Line even has a hot line that you can call once you see a child whom you think is not living under proper conditions. What happens between them and us, I think it is part of the Government‟s partnership with the various organisations that look after people with disabilities, the vulnerable in the community.
We have what we call the National Disability Board. This board comprises of all people from all provinces, nominated by people with disabilities, to come and represent all the issues that we have been discussing in here so that the ministry is aware of what is happening in Muzarabani; Zaka, Jerera, Magunje, Karoi and Tsholotsho. This Committee is reflective of regions or provinces so that it caters for issues, even lists of names of those that are registered with the board. I will be very specific, just two days ago we were discussing with the
Director of Social Services saying there is a meeting that is happening in Morocco for people with disabilities. We want someone who will go and represent these people but we had to revert back to the National
Disability Board because they are saying „there is nothing for us without us‟. They have to elect this person. They have seen the circular and what kind of a person is expected to come and address the conference on behalf of Zimbabweans with disabilities. So, the National Disability Board is there in place to assist the ministry in giving information and various organisations that assist with wheelchairs, walking sticks, spectacles that I have been talking about and even rehabilitation.
Senator Mandaba, issues are overloaded in the Ministry of Social
Services, yes of course because I administer the Children‟s Act. Yes, it is overloaded but at the end of the day, what do we do so that we improve the situation, the coverage or the outreach to those that deserve to be assisted. I think that is where it matters most. On the issue of education, for example, we have BEAM. BEAM has been overloaded because we are getting orphans and vulnerable people all the time but the good thing that we should be celebrating about is that we are now having a new Constitution. What are its provisions? Free basic education to every child. Who then will not be able to afford to take their child to school? It does not matter whether the mother lives in the street or is disabled but basic education to every child, meaning that even a child living with a disability or orphaned can go to school. We need to collect all those children and inform the public. This is why in my presentation I said there is a lot that needs to be done. There is capacity building, information sharing, skills sharing so that everyone else is aware of the requirements of the UN Convention and also the
Disabled Persons Act, so that we vary the two and then get into the Constitution.
It is good that it is overloaded because it is good to lead a ministry that deals with the people, talk with them and involve them in whatever you do. Senator Muchihwa commented that it was good and I want to thank her for the support of the ratification. Senator Chief Musarurwa, I also want to thank you for acknowledging that it was long overdue. Of course as you might know, since 1980 we have had several ministers and this UN Convention has been there and nobody moved it and we want to applaud you as members in the Senate because you have encouraged the ratification of the Convention and its protocol.
Yes, research must be carried out so that it covers rural and urban areas. I do not think that it is deliberate or it has ever happened because what we are using now is the information that I found in the ministry at the moment and should resources permit, a new survey will be done. We will take the encouragement that you need it to be equal in all provinces, towns, peri urban and so on. The research will assist in planning and targeting mechanisms, who needs to be assisted, where are they, what ages are we talking about and what are their circumstances.
My expectations were raised after the ratification of this Convention. It is good to raise expectations because without expectations people die, so we live for expectations because it makes us strong. We have different problems but we have the expectation that tomorrow might be better. When the people that we are representing in terms of this UN Convention hear that this has been ratified, they will be happy. The National Disability Board has had two chairpersons during my tenure and they were encouraging me to ratify this Convention. I think, they are celebrating because last week I was overloaded with emails of appreciation in terms of the ratification. I hope you also join them in celebrating that the exercise we are carrying out is not an exercise in futility but we are heading somewhere.
Senator Mohadi, on Education and awareness, I think I have talked on that. The Child Protection Committees, I have talked about them. We are all duty bound to protect the society, especially those who are vulnerable. I have even said that there is no street child because you and I are parents, they are ours but it makes sense to take them and place them in homes.
We have social services office, Beitbridge Reception Centre, I think you know it, that we are doing with IOM, ILO and the Ministry of Labour and Social Services, where we are taking those people there. It is not easy to keep them because there is a board where immediately after they have been assessed and they are given the assistance, they go back. I think it takes a lot of work and energy but we are doing something. The same as at Plumtree, we have a reception centre for those kids who would have crossed over and realised that all is not well, we integrate those children back to their families. In most cases, if you go back to those children‟s families, you will find out that one may be living with a grandmother who is blind in the rural areas. Therefore, a social protection and safety net would have been created by the identification of the kind of family from which a child is coming from.
We then put the child on public assistance as a ministry.
The selection committees in schools are the ones responsible for picking children with needs. However, let me crush this one because I think it is coming to an end as we enter a new era with the new
Constitution. There is going to be free basic education to every child. Therefore selection should be monitored because those who are in the community are the ones who should be identified. Should you identify a child who qualifies to benefit from BEAM, alert the Headmaster because he is one of the people who are there. That is why I am saying we both have a lot of work to do because of the ubuntu among us. If you find one of your own under difficult circumstances, you should alert those who are able to help him. If you see someone being murdered, is it not that you alert the police, as such, we should also alert the mechanism of our government‟s system which is able to help those who are vulnerable.
Education is now in the Constitutional provision.
We will do a survey of the people with disabilities as we move forward. Care and protection, yes Senator Chibako, I cannot overemphasise that. However, I think we should continue alerting the ministry in terms of our observations. I also stand guided in terms of actions that may be taken as we are all there to represent people. This is towards election time and I know we all want to sail through. Let us assist each other because you and I have got work to do. Thank you Madam President.
Motion put and agreed to.
RATIFICATION OF THE AFRICAN UNION CONVENTION FOR
THE PROTECTION AND ASSISTANCE OF INTERNALLY
DISPLACED PERSONS IN AFRICA
THE MINISTER OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE: I
move the motion standing in my name;
THAT WHEREAS Subsection (1) of Section 111B of the
Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that any convention, Treaty or Agreement acceded to, concluded or executed by or under the authority of the President with one or more Foreign States or Governments or international organizations shall be subject to approval by Parliament;
AND WHEREAS the Government of Zimbabwe now desires to
ratify the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of
Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention);
AND CONSCIOUS of the gravity of the situation of internally Displaced Persons as a source of continuing instability and tension for the African States;
AND ALSO CONSCIOUS of the suffering and specific
vulnerability of internally displaced;
AND WHEREAS the entry into force of the aforesaid Convention shall be subject to Article 17 of the Convention;
NOW THEREFORE, in terms of Subsection (1) of Section 111B of the Constitution, this House resolves that the aforesaid Convention be and is hereby approved for ratification.
The Head of State, His Excellency Cde R. G. Mugabe signed the
Kampala Convention in 2009. This noble gesture demonstrated the
Government of Zimbabwe‟s commitment and will, to protect and assist persons who become victims of internal displacement due to various factors. 40 percent of all the people worldwide, who have been displaced within their own country as a result of conflict or violence live in Africa. According to the United Nations High Commission for
Refugees (UNHCR), Africa has 9.7 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). There are almost four times as many internally displaced persons as there are refugees in Africa. Unlike refugees, IDPs do not have a special status under International Law.
The African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of IDPs, 2009, also known as the Kampala Convention, came into force on the 6th of December 2012. It is the world‟s first legally binding instrument to cater specifically for people displaced within their own countries.
Adopted at an AU summit in the Ugandan capital Kampala, the Convention required ratification by 15 member countries before it could enter into force; Swaziland became the 15th country to do so on the 12th of November, 2012, joining Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African
Republic, Chad, Gabon, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo, Uganda and Zambia. At least 37 other AU members (including Zimbabwe) have signed the convention but have yet
to ratify it.
The Convention aims to “establish a legal framework for preventing internal displacement, protecting and assisting internally displaced persons in Africa.”
The Convention in brief;
- Reaffirms that national authorities have the primary responsibility to provide assistance to IDPs.
- Comprehensively addresses different causes of internal displacement; conflict, generalised violence, human-caused or natural disasters and development projects like building dams or clearing land for large-scale agriculture.
- Recognises the critical role that civil society organizations and communities which take them in, play in assisting IDPs and obliges governments to assess the needs and vulnerabilities of the forcibly displaced and the host communities in order to address the plight of people uprooted within their borders.
I therefore seek the approval by this august Senate to ratify the said AU Convention on Internally Displaced Persons. Thank You Madam President.
SENATOR MARAVA: Madam President, this thing I cannot let
it go because it falls under my jurisdiction. Madam President, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity. First of all I want to thank the Minister for bringing this protocol into this august Senate. Madam
President, there is a point I would like to stress here. Besides the host, President of Uganda, our President was number one to sign this protocol The Kampala Convention.
That was showing the importance Zimbabwe was placing on this protocol. The minister has just done good service to this Convention Madam President. In other words I think we should have been number one not Burkina Faso, Togo to ratify this Convention. We should have been number one because our President was number one to sign. So,
Madam President, considering also that this protocol is an African baby. It is an African product, it is an African pride it all does us well to ratify it. So, I am actually happy that we have realised the importance of joining other progressive nations in ratifying this Convention. Thank you.
SENATOR CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Thank you Madam
President, I also want to add my voice and support this very progressive protocol brought by the Minister. But just to ask the Minister in celebrating this protocol, what is the time frame? From which date in history are we expected to enjoy these good issues coming out of this provision? Because there are a lot of things which may arise during implementation that it can be celebrated by all sorts of people especially, the issue regarding stations. It mentions stations in Africa because of displacement. The tension that still exists today in Zimbabwe is arising from the Land Apportionment Act in the early 1930s. We still have Chief Jahana from Filabusi who has been moved from Gokwe, Midlands. We have Chief Gweru, how far do we go in history? Because we want to celebrate this provision.
THE MINISTIER OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL
WELFARE: Thank you Madam President, let me thank Senator
Marava for his support and I know very well he has a passion for this particular Convention because he actually heads this kind of portfolio. So, I want to thank him very much and promise that we will work together because it takes two to tango. We are trying to protect our own, and we are trying to follow we are trying to implement.
Thank you very much for the support Chief Charumbira thank you for the support. I know that he belongs to the PAN African Parliament, one of the organs of the AU. He would not have done justice if he had not supported the ratification of this particular Convention. As for the how part of it? I think it is a process issue, I cannot mention any dates here but I think we will do everything necessary so that we move with speed in getting to who was where and what happened. Thank you, Madam President, for giving me the opportunity to respond.
Motion put and agreed to.
RATIFICATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL
CONVENTION FOR THE SUPPRESSION OF THE FINANCING OF
THE CO-MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: Madam President,
I move the motion standing in my name;
THAT WHEREAS Subsection (1) of Section 111B of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that any Convention, Treaty, or agreement acceded to, concluded or executed by, or under the authority of the President with one or more foreign States or Governments or international organisations shall be subject to approval by Parliament;
AND WHEREAS the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe
now desires to accede to the United Nations Convention for the
Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism;
AND WHEREAS Article 25 of the aforesaid convention provides
for the deposition of instruments of ratification with the Secretary
General of the United Nations;
NOW THEREFORE, in terms of subsection (1) of Section 111B of the Constitution, Parliament resolves that the aforesaid Convention be and is herby approved for accession.
The Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in
Resolution 54/2/09 of the 9th December 1999. To date 180 country member states have signed, ratified or acceded to this Convention. The Convention entered into force on the 4th April 2002. Zimbabwe is not a signatory to this Convention however it has committed itself to work with the Financial Action Taskforce and the Eastern Southern African Anti-money Laundering Group ESAMLAG to address its anti-money laundering or combating financing of terrorism. The fact that Zimbabwe is a member of the Financial Action Taskforce which is a mechanism under the Convention makes it mandatory that we accede to this Convention before the Financial Action Taskforce convened its meeting so as to avert the imminent threat of sanctions, we had to appeal to the President and this has since been done in terms of Section 31(H) Subsection 5 of the Constitution as amended. Which states that; and I quote “In the exercise of his function the President shall act on the advice of the Cabinet except in cases where he is required by this Constitution or any other law to act on the advice of any other person or any other law to act on the advice of any other person or authority”.
This motion then seeks to formalise the procedure. The effect of the economic sanctions was that the country was not able to transfer money outside the country or receive money from other countries. The sanctions were also to have a negative impact on both regional and international trade that predominately relies on money transfer.
The Convention seeks to suppress the financing of terrorism and enhance international cooperation among member states in the fight against terrorist activities.
Article 1 of the Convention provides the detailed meaning of the key terms used in the financing of terrorism offences cited under this Convention. Article 2 provides that any person who commits the financing of terrorism, if the person by any means directly or indirectly, unlawfully or willfully provides or collects funds with the intention that they should be used in the knowledge that they are to be used in full or part in order to carry out act of terrorism.
Article 4, mandates state parties to adopt such measures as may be necessary to criminalise the offences stipulated in the Convention in their jurisdictions as well as to provide appropriate penalties which take into account the grave nature of the offences. It is also a requirement that state parties adopt such measures that criminal acts under the scope of this Convention are under no circumstances justifiable by any consideration of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethical, and religious or any other of similar nature.
The establishment of the Jurisdiction; the Convention under Article 7 makes it mandatory for state parties to make necessary measures to establish their jurisdiction over the offences outlined in Article 2, and the circumstances when they are committed. Article 8, further requires state parties to take appropriate measures for the identification, detection and freezing or seizure of any funds used or allocated for the purpose of committing the offences herein set forth on Article 2.
Ratification of the UN; in the event that the state party prosecutes offenders using their domestic laws; they are required under article 19, to communicate the final outcome of the cases to the United Nations.
Article 20 also requires state parties to carry out their obligations under the convention in a manner that is consistent with the principles of foreign equality of states and that non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other states is observed.
Accession to the Convention, it is provided for in article 25 that the Convention shall be open to accession by any state party and that the instrument of accession shall be deposited with the Secretary General of United Nations. It is therefore, recommended that since Zimbabwe did not sign the Convention but now wishes to accede to it, the Senate approves the accession to the Convention as provided for in Article 25 and the ratification thereof. I thank you, Madam President.
SENATOR MLOTSHWA: Madam President, I know that the
Senate is seized with a lot of work today but I need some clarity.
Minister, I cannot remember whether or not we got the document of that Convention, let me say I did not get it but I am trying to understand through you that since we are not seeking a signatory; there is a section that you read that talks about the movement of money out of the country and the financing of the alms. I really do not understand what the Convention seeks us to approve and really the benefit of us as Zimbabweans. Can you clarify a bit on those sections?
THE MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: Thank you Madam
President. It is true we are not a signatory to the convention but because we have entered into an agreement or we have entered into an agreement with the Financial Action Task Force, which falls under this Convention.
We are therefore required to accede to the Convention and because when this thing happened sometime in January and we did not have much time, we had to call upon the President to accede to this
Convention in order to avert the eventuality of us being sanctioned. Because if you do not accede you are then sanctioned and the sanctions entail that we are not going to be able to transfer monies from our country to another country and that money is not going to be allowed to come into your country. It means therefore that you are not going to do business with the region itself or outside the region and even our friends were going to be barred by the sanctions thereof not to do business with us. So we found it prudent that we appeal to the President to do it before Parliament approves it or before the Senate approves the accession to this convention and secondly the proceeds we are talking about here or the monies that we are talking about are the monies that are ill gotten by organizations and individuals for the purpose of furthering terrorism or acts of terrorism. That is exactly what we are trying to evade because we are members of the UN and because we are now members of the Financial Action Task Force which falls under this, we are now bound to accede to this. I do not know whether I have answered the hon. Senator adequately? I thank you.
Motion put and agreed to.
SECURITIES AMENDMENT BILL [H.B. 1, 2012]
Fourth Order read. Second Reading: Securities Amendment Bill
(H.B. 1, 2012)
THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER
DEVELOPMENT (MR MANGOMA): Thank you hon. Chair the Securities Amendment Bill, the background to it is that the Securities Act was promulgated in 2004 and operationalized in 2008. Subsequently the Securities Commission was established in 2008 to regulate and supervise the Securities Market, however since then, developments that have taken place in the financial sector both locally and globally have rendered the Act ackake and not in sync with these developments thus necessitating amendments to the Securities Act.
The justification for the proposed amendments; at the core of the amendments to the Securities Act is recognition of the inadequacy and shortcoming of the current Act which has resulted in compromised supervision and regulation of the Securities Market. Inadequacy of the Act has seen the regulator which is the Securities Commission being challenged in the courts by some players in the market and particularly the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange which it is suppose to regulate. The other objective is to ensure that there are no omissions or arrears of ambiguity which may give room for questioning the actions of the regulator or resulting untoward interpretation of the provision of the Act as is currently the case. Also hon. Chairman, the 2008 global financial crisis resulted in the realization of the importance of adequate regulation of financial market to ensure financial stability.
Since the crisis, many jurisdictions including those in the developed countries have had to review the way their regulators conduct their functions with a view to ensuring adequate supervision and regulation of market players. It is therefore important that, through legislation, government comes up with a framework that ensures that the regulator of the securities market is adequately armed to deal with issues of transparency and accountability in capital markets. There is also a need for proper infrastructure for the development of capital markets in Zimbabwe such as the establishment of a central security depository, demutualization of the ZDC and the automation of traders.
On the definitions, it has become necessary to tighten what licenceble activities are and to include that there are those activities which involve securities, regardless of whether or not they do so directly or indirectly or even for no remuneration. This comes in the work of misunderstanding on some activities that were said to be beyond what the Commission could regulate. On the membership of the Commission, currently the number of commissioners is a minimum of three and maximum of 5 and now we are proposing to increase it from a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 9 so that we cover respective qualifications and qualities required and this will include people with legal background, accounting, economists, risk management, I.T specialists, experience in financial markets, representative of marketing interest and representative of investors.
The nomination Committee has been slightly adjusted to make sure that there is fair representation of the people who appoint
Commissioners. Whilst we are looking at the Commissioners, we are also changing the terms of the Commissioners from largely being full time to those who provide oversight. On the disqualification of appointment to the Commission, we find it is sound cooperate governance to avoid cases of conflict of interest. It is proposed to amend Section 7 and provide for the prohibition of appointment of persons who hold directorships in listed companies or a registered or licenced entity by the Commission. This should address the current problem where some Commissioners were directors of listed companies.
The meetings of the Commissioners are also being decreased from the current requirement that there be 11 meetings in each year to once a quarter. This is in line with them being non-executive. With that to also create the position of a Chief Executive Officer and staff of the Commission who will then be responsible for the day to day running of the Commission.
It becomes important to separate the policy oversight function of the board and the executive functions of the secretariat as this will now empower the secretariat to execute their mandate without having to seek permission at each step of the way. It also limits the number of meetings of the Commissioners to make sure that they do not become micro managers of the secretariat.
In setting up the oversight committee of the Commission, it has been found important to make it mandatory to have sub-committees and two of the sub-committees that are mandatory are the Audit Committee and the Licensing Committee. Irrespective of what happens, they must have a minimum of those two sub-committees. It has also been found necessary to request the commissioners and staff to disclose their certain connections, interests and assets. This will be done by the
Commissioners at every meeting that they have to make sure that when debate comes up, those conflicts of interest are provided and that we will not have compromised decisions.
The amendments also are putting in the establishment of an investor protection fund. It is proposed that an investor protection fund be established and the setting of a board of trustees to manage those funds. This comes in the wake of the need to remove ambiguities surrounding the creation of the fund which resulted in law suits against the regulator by players in the market who were resisting the move.
In more jurisdictions, investor protection funds are put in place to compensate investors in the event of market failures. In Zimbabwe we believe it is important that investors are protected. On the registration of the Securities Exchange, it is proposed that we make provision for corporatisation and demutualisation of Stock Exchanges. This is meant to give the Securities Commission powers to direct exchanges to corporate ties and demutualise in line with good corporate governance. This is important considering that the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange has been resisting directives to move in that direction.
On cancellation of licences and registration of registered exchanges, there is a need to include a clause that mandates the commission to seek the minister‟s approval or notification before cancellation of licences of a registered exchange. This is particularly important to make sure that any licence is not just cut because of a potential systemic risk by cancelling one without knowing what impact it will have. The provision also provides a framework under which the minister gives the green light to proceed with cancellation to ensure that bureaucracy of Government does not delay the process.
Section 36(2) should be amended to have an appeal made to the minister before reference to the administrative court. This is in line with what is prevailing under the Banking Act which gives the minister who administers the Act the opportunity to hear an appeal and possibly resolves it before having to go to the court. We are also looking at the people who are required to be licensed. Section 38(b)(c) explicitly indicates that the Securities Commission regulates asset management companies and collective investment schemes. This is done to remove any ambiguities. It is also hoped that with the provisions that have been made that it will make it mandatory for all the players who have been licensed to automate so that the automation agenda and the supervision is met.
On the validity of the licence, it is proposed to amend the section that instead of having a business that relies on being licenced annually, which means that as you proceed you create uncertainty as to whether you will be licenced or not. You licence them in perpetuity but you pay annual fees to keep your license current. We are also putting in new regulation requiring that exchanges and the depository to keep proper books, accounts and other records and that these be at the end of each financial year be lodged with the Commission. This also includes requiring that monthly management accounts be made available to make sure that we will not be surprised when things go wrong.
On regulatory powers, the Commission should have powers to grant certain regulatory authority to certain entities on certain conditions to administer certain rules, the so called self regulatory organisations. The section should clearly define what the self regulatory organisations are and the terms and conditions under which they will operate. This clarity addresses the on-going impasse between the regulator and the ZJC on the self regulatory organisations and their modus operandi.
Listing of the exchanges; if an exchange should list, the listing authority should be the Securities Commission itself. This is done to avoid issues of conflict of interest where the listing exchange might want to list on its own and therefore compromise other members. On penalties, there is a proposal to shift the current penalties from level 10 or five years imprisonment to where it is based on the multiple of the gain that would have been made so that there is a real pinch. Someone might decide to go to prison than to pay the huge fines but this will tighten and make sure that everybody falls in line.
It is also further catered for to make sure that after the criminal penalties that there should also be civil penalties to compensate those who would have lost. In addition, the Securities Commission will have the powers to summon any person or entity at any given time with regard to any investigation, prosecution or disciplinary action.
Hon. Chair, in conclusion, the amendments being proposed to the Securities Act are a result of wide consultation with stakeholders in the capital markets including the Securities Commission, the Zimbabwe
Stock Exchange, Insurance and Pensions Commission, Association of Investment Managers among others. As has already been mentioned earlier, the amendments have been motivated by the need to strengthen the regulatory framework for the capital markets as well as to put in place the appropriate infrastructure such as the automation for the efficient operation of the capital markets. I therefore submit the Bill for consideration.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Committee Stage: With leave; forthwith.
SECURITIES AMENDMENT BILL (H.B.1, 2012)
Senate in Committee.
Clauses 1 to 38 put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendments.
Third Reading: With leave; forthwith.
SECURITIES AMENDMENT BILL (H.B. 1, 2012)
THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER
DEVELOPMENT: I move that the Bill be now read the third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time.
MICRO-FINANCE BILL (H.B. 2, 2012)
Fifth Order read: Second Reading: Micro-Finance Bill (H.B. 2, 2012).
THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER
DEVELOPMENT: Thank you Mr. President. The issue about the Micro-Finance Bill takes into account the importance of micro finance in the country and this becomes a major point in the National MicroFinance Policy of Zimbabwe. Lessons have also been drawn from experience and legislation of other jurisdictions to ensure adherence to best international practice.
At the core of the proposed principles, is recognition of the role of the micro-finance sector in the economic development of Zimbabwe and the need to put in place a framework that promotes the development of that sector. In recent years throughout the world, there is a growing recognition of the critical role of micro-finance in economic development and poverty alleviation through the provision of financial services to the low income groups, which are normally unable to access financing from the traditional banking systems. Improved access and efficient provision savings, credit and insurance facilities enable the poor to be self sufficient by providing them with self employment opportunities.
The rapid growth of the micro-finance sector and the size relative to the formal financial markets calls for adequate regulatory systems and structures to close regulatory gaps and foster orderly development of the financial sector. The regulation also promotes consumer protection as it deals with abusive and reckless lending by some of the micro-finance institutions. The policy direction of the micro-finance sector is based on the National Micro-Finance Policy; however the policy will have to be updated in line with developments in the economy and the global financial markets.
In order to operationalise the policy, there is need to formulate a Micro-Finance Act that provides a supportive and enabling environment for microfinance institutions. On the regulatory framework, prior to 2004, microfinance institutions were regulated by the Ministry of Finance in terms of the Money Lending and Rates of Interest Act. When you look at how the financial sector is being regulated, you will find that there is a litany of Acts which is trying to regulate this market.
Therefore, it has become important that we find the need for the Microfinance Act to play a critical role in making sure that all the microfinance activities are put under one Act. In most jurisdictions, regulation and supervision of microfinance is under the Central Bank. However, observations indicate that, most countries like Zimbabwe, having the fragmented framework, will continue to cause problems in terms of how it is done.
In the categories of the microfinance institutions that we have, we have got deposit-taking institutions that will be microfinance banks and we also have non-deposit-taking institutions like money lenders. On the licensing, the Bill provides for the licensing and regulation of the two types of the microfinance institutions by the Reserve Bank. This will detail the application process, fees to be charged and the tenure of the licenses.
On capital requirements, the Reserve Bank will, from time to time, prescribe the level of capitalisation of deposit-taking microfinance institutions. Provisions will be made on what is deemed not permissible activities in microfinance institutions. This includes activities such as issuing third party cheques, opening current accounts and foreign trade operations. On lending, the Bill prescribes the procedure to be followed in granting loans by microfinance institutions, to ensure that this is done on the basis of the ability to repay as well as to ensure consumer protection.
The Bill also prescribes the maximum shareholding in the microfinance institutions by a single person. This is to try and avoid one person being so big that they dictate and compromise the operations of that institution. It also specifies how a board of directors will be put in place and requires that, for deposit-taking institutions, there should be adequate disclosure of financial statements. There are also specifications on the appointment of internal and external auditors to make sure that all the activities are properly supervised. The Reserve Bank will provide prudential supervision to deposit-taking microfinance institutions to ensure protection of the safety of deposits and protection of the financial system as a whole. The Reserve Bank has been given the power to intervene in the affairs, and where necessary, to institute investigations where the institution would have contravened provisions of the Act or conditions upon which its license was granted.
The Reserve Bank will also intervene where the institution is being conducted in a manner detrimental to the interests of its depositors, creditors or where the institution has failed to maintain the prescribed minimum core-capital or where it has insufficient assets to cover its liabilities. The conditions are also the same as we have done on the
Securities Exchange Act, where those institutions that take deposits also contribute to a deposit-protection-scheme. With that background, I therefore move that the Bill be now read a second time. I thank you.
SENATOR MLOTSHWA: It is only on clarity because at times
we need to be informed. I think that we are seeing that so many people in the informal sector, both small and medium businesses depend so much on these microfinance institutions. I would like to understand whether the regulatory board will take care of the rate of interest and duration of payment? I say this because in most cases, people end up being deprived of their properties after failing to understand the operations of these microfinance institutions. Thank you very much.
SENATOR CHITAKA: Firstly, I would like to congratulate the
minister for bringing this Bill to this august Senate. I think the consolidation of the various pieces of legislation dealing with microfinance institutions was long overdue. Before this, a lot of people were conned of their hard-earned money by the mushrooming of various modes of „micro this, microfinance this, micro-lending this.‟ Therefore, I would really want to commend the minister for finally taking hold of this problem and trying to put a stop to it.
I have a few questions for clarification. You have to excuse me because I do not remember when I saw the Bill, so if my questions are answered within the Bill, please bear with me. Will this Bill regularise those microfinance institutions that are currently operating? I ask this because they might suddenly, overnight find themselves on the wrong side of the law. How will the regularisation take effect? The other question is, are there any criminal and civil penalties in this Bill to deal with rogue microfinance institutions? The reason I am asking this is because where I come from, in Manicaland, there are two individuals who are running „ponzi schemes.‟ At one point someone ran away with
$15million. „Ponzi‟ schemes are what we sometimes call pyramid schemes. These people were operating legally well, advertising their services and promising people that if you deposit your money, it will be paid back 15 to 30 percent more per month. As a result, people rushed there and took their savings amounting to $1000 in the hope of getting more in two or three months. Unfortunately, all of them were conned and when they tried to recover their money, they found out that the institutions did not own any assets. The directors have somehow mysteriously… [AN HON. SENATOR: Vanished.] – They did not
vanish but the assets have vanished, money had vanished and there were no assets to show where the money had gone. These people have no legal recourse. They reported to the police and the individuals were just questioned and released on bail. There is no provision for any of those guys to actually mount civil proceedings to recover their money. So, does this Bill cover the civil as well as the criminal prosecution of rogue Micro-Finance operators? The last one, does the Bill address the potential unfair competition that I see looming, where you find some big banks have set up some small division, called Micro-Finance this and that? This is a big bank now setting up a division supposedly MicroFinance deposit taking outfit.
You also get little Chitaka there with his Micro-Finance Company there genuinely Micro-Finance trying to do the same. Now, the big bank has an advantage that it has got a huge source of funds and the risk is much better. They can dilute this little arm, if this little arm goes under it is diluted in their bigger portfolio. The net effect is that they could actually get business away from these genuinely Micro-Finance institutions to come and do business with the big banks. I do not think that is the intention of the legislation. So, does the legislation address that?
THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER
DEVELOPMENT: Senator Mlothswa, part of what is actually being achieved by this Act is to regulate the interest rates. We call them chimbadzo and so on. That is the whole purpose by making sure that those people who want to lend money are actually registered. When you start to lend money without being registered it becomes a criminal offence. So, that is really the purpose so that there is order in what people do and that you are protecting people. We then have those that simply want to lend their own money and those are the non depostit taking institution and they become regulated by this Act or by this Bill.
Obviously, there will be people who will try to continue business as usual but then there will be real law that they can be charged. So, that is what will happen.
Hon. Senator Chitaka, thank you I think we realised that the regulation needed to be streamlined and to be made easier. It is important obviously as we move to implement this, that those who are in business are not pushed out of business and that there will be transitional mechanisms to make sure that they comply with the requirements of the law. So, where there are gaps they will able to fill them in. The Bill provides for criminal and civil penalties to make sure that when people commit they know that they are committing a crime and then they will be held accountable.
One of the things that we are emphasising is the civil side so that you simply do not go to jail but all the depositors are then not taken care of. You also find the issue where we are insisting on depositors‟ protection fund to make sure that the depositors‟ who had put in their money feel a sense that they are protected against many of the eventualities that may happen.
On your third question of unfair competition unfortunately, as long as anyone who is big or small is playing by the same rules you cannot say you are too big, get out. I am sure you find one of the advantages a big corporate with the advantage of having a huge capital base but they also have a huge overhead base. So, those two will tend to cancel each other and you will find that decision making of a smaller body is actually much quicker. Therefore, should be able to out compete with the larger institutions. I thank you Mr. President.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Committee: with leave, forthwith.
MICRO FINANCE BILL [H.B. 2,2012]
Senate in Committee.
Clauses 1 to 49 put and agreed to
An hon. member’s cellphone having rang continuously:
THE CHAIRMAN: You are reminded to put your cellphone on silent before the Senate commences business.
Clauses 50 to 63 put and agreed to.
First and Second Schedules put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendments
Third Reading: With leave; forthwith.
MICRO-FINANCE BILL [H.B.2, 2012]
THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER
DEVELOPMENT: Madam Speaker, I move that the Bill be now read
the third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND
POWER DEVELOPMENT, the Senate adjourned at Twenty Six
Minutes past Five o’clock p.m.