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SENATE HANSARD 6 JUNE 2023 VOL 32 NO 34
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 6th June, 2023
The Senate met at Half –past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE
BILLS RECEIVED FROM THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: I would like to inform the House that I have received the following Bills from the National Assembly: The Children’s Amendment Bill, H. B. 12. 2021 and The Labour Amendment Bill, H. B. 14, 2021.
RATIFICATION OF THE BI-LATERAL AIR SERVICES AGREEMENT WITH OTHER STATE PARTIES
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI) on behalf of THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Thank you Mr. President Sir. I rise to note that:
WHEREAS Section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that any Convention, Treaty or Agreements acceded to, concluded or executed by and under the authority of the President with other foreign States or Governments or international organisations shall be subject to approval by Parliament.
WHEREAS the Republic of Zimbabwe, through the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development concluded bilateral air service agreements with Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Mozambique, Jordan, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Gabon, Rwanda, Seychelles, Ethiopia and Iraq;
AND WHEREAS to add into force of this agreement, the SADC should respect State parties notifying each other through diplomatic channels that their respective internal legal requirements could add into force of the agreements have been fulfilled;
WHEREAS the Republic of Zimbabwe is desirous to ratifying the said agreements, now therefore, in terms of Section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, this House resolves that the aforesaid bilateral air trade agreements are hereby approved for ratification. Thank you.
*HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Thank you Hon. President for giving me this opportunity to contribute to this motion which was brought by the Hon. Minister. I would like to thank you Hon. Minister for the good work that you have done. It is true that Zimbabwe is a country which used to be very busy. I remember when I was young and going to the airport, we were sitting on the stairs seeing the aeroplanes, it was interesting to see them because our country had a lot of friends that were using our airports as Zimbabwe. Then came a time when we missed seeing aeroplanes that would come from outside the country using our airspace. It took a lot of time and it even hurt us, which meant that Zimbabwe did not have friends that would come and do business in Zimbabwe. The country did not have foreign visitors and tourists who would visit our tourist attractions such as Victoria Falls. This went on for quite a long time.
The relationship that is being built is that we now have air traffic at our airport. The numbers have also increased and by connection, it means that the country has friends. We hope that out of this tourism, our economy will grow for the benefit of the Zimbabweans. It is disheartening that our economy has gone down. Anything that is there to improve the economy of the country should be accepted with both hands. There is nothing wrong that this august House approves this ratification that is being asked for by the Minister of Transport so as to enhance the livelihoods of Zimbabweans and the economic development. I am grateful as I put my weight behind this motion. I thank you Mr. President.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: I am in support that Zimbabwe ratifies this agreement through this Parliament because this is in line with the operations of airlines. We have a major issue in the region in that for one to travel to other countries, you do not find airlines that fly direct to that country. Most of the time you fly from Harare to Johannesburg and fly past Zimbabwean airspace to North Africa. At times when you are going to Guinea which is in West Africa, you fly from Harare to Paris which is outside Africa so that you will be able to come back to Africa to be able to connect to Guinea. It means the journey is going to be expensive in terms of airfares and a lot of time is going to be wasted on travelling.
We support this agreement because it is going to be cheaper and less time is going to be used. You will no longer wait for 6 to 7 hours for a connecting flight. I add my voice to this motion. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. SIPANI-HUNGWE: I rise to add my voice to the debate on the ratification of this agreement. I once travelled with Senator Parirenyatwa and we had to fly via South Africa although we could have used a direct route which is nearby. We observe that it is a good thing that the Minister has done well by bringing in this ratification. It was long overdue and it should not take time to pass. I agree with you that this agreement be ratified. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Mr. President for according me this opportunity to support the motion brought by the Hon. Minister. A lot of things have been said by the previous Senators but the point I want to make is that I am very grateful that the Bill has come at an opportune time. Our airport is almost ready. It is now a word class airport and it competes favourably with other international airports. We are now able as Zimbabwe to handle the huge traffic flow of airlines as is the case with other developed countries.
I strongly support the ratification of this agreement which will be beneficial to Zimbabwe as we grow from strength to strength and improve our economy. I thank you.
THE HON DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I just want to remind Hon Senators that this is not a Bill but an agreement.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I want to thank you Mr. President for the correction and Hon Senators for the support. It is true, indeed we want to attract several airlines to Zimbabwe and this is part of the work that our Minister of Transport is doing to ensure that we are connected. I agree with Hon. Senators that this is a welcome development which we are integrating with other countries. I move that this House approves the ratification of this bilateral air service agreement. I so move.
Motion put and agreed to.
BUSINESS OF THE SENATE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I move that Order of the Day, Number two be stood over until Order of the Day, Number three has been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
ELECTRICITY AMENDMENT BILL [ H. B. 7, 2022]
Third Order read: Second Reading: Electricity Amendment Bill [H.B. 7, 2022].
THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER DEVELOPMENT (HON. SODA): Thank you Mr. President. I rise to give a statement on the Second Reading of the Electricity Amendment Bill. The purpose of the Bill is to impose stiffer penalties for vandalism of equipment that is used in the generation of transmission and distribution of electricity. There are acts of abstraction and sometimes divergence of electricity that unscrupulous customers from time to time engage themselves. So the purpose is to ensure that such activities do not happen, especially by way imposing stiffer penalties. This is a very small Bill. You might also have noticed that in the past, there were some loopholes where one is found in possession of some equipment, especially the cables that are used for transmission of electricity but the vandals would be exonerated because we did not have a clause that would speak, especially on transportation of equipment that is used by ZESA in their activities.
This Bill speaks on imposing stiffer penalties and also to create alignment with the Copper Act, which this House sometime also considered to impose stiffer penalties, especially when one is found in possession and also transporting copper materials. There was no such an alignment and this is what I put forward to this House that the alignment be considered. I move that the Bill be now read a second time.
*HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Mr. President for giving me the opportunity. I would like to thank the Hon. Minister for bringing such a noble Bill because this country’s development was derailed due to vandalism. People were without electricity most of the times because electrical equipment was either stolen or vandalised. There was no law in place which states that what will happen if one is found in possession of electric cables. With this Bill in place, I think everything will fall into place. Farmers will now produce high yields because there will be no electricity outages caused by vandalism of electrical equipment. I support this Bill and it was long overdue Minister. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Thank you Mr. President for affording me the opportunity to add my voice to this Bill on the protection of ZESA equipment from vandalism. Vandalism deprives the country of development to its economy. The non-availability of electricity is equal to the lack of blood in the human body. Without blood, a human being cannot fully function, the same happens when there is a power outage. In fact, electricity is so important to our communities such that just after load shedding when electricity is now available, people ululate and make noise to signify that electricity is now available in their homes.
I am very pleased that the Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has come up with stiffer sentences for offenders and these sentences will act as a deterrent to like-minded offenders. The development of a modern society cannot be divorced from power provision and as such, the Minister is on the right path in safeguarding ZESA Holdings equipment for power generation and distribution. With those few words, I thank you.
*HON. SEN. PHUGENI: Thank you Mr. President Sir, for giving me this opportunity. This issue of vandalism and theft of electrical supply equipment is troubling. It is impossible for us to exclude the use of electricity in our daily lives. In the area I reside in, there are always power cuts and hence network is affected. At times we miss out on critical information because we do not receive messages on time. We might receive messages after seven days. That is when the electricity would have been reconnected. This is due to the fact that even the ICT gadgets run out of power and we do not have anywhere to recharge them. If you go to hospitals, you will find out that most of the machinery and equipment which are needed to support lives in intensive care need electricity for them to function. Most of the times these machines will not be functioning due to cable theft and transformer vandalism.
I support this Bill because it comes at a critical time when we need to punish those who vandalise and steal ZESA equipment. If we do not have electricity, it is impossible for us to utilise ICT technology. I do not know if the Minister has taken this into consideration that the people that are responsible for vandalising electricity are a syndicate from ZESA Holdings. We hear that a lot of them have been arrested from as far as Beitbridge but when they get to South Africa, we just hear that it is a catch and release game.
I do not know Minister, are we going to go back to the first instance of catch and release or we are going to implement this law and people are going to be arrested, but you will find out that the problem keeps on going on because our laws are not being enforced. It is just a catch and release game. People are just being told that if you are caught stealing you are going to be arrested, but they are not told of the consequences that follow the arrest.
We thank the Ministry for this net metering programme that if you are able to generate electricity from solar or other sources of energy, you can also supply our national grid so that this reverses your meter. This is actually helpful because you are no longer wasting a lot of money on batteries and buying panels and invertors and now the grid is functioning as the battery, but due to this issue which is troublesome of the stealing and vandalism of electricity equipment, we spend about two weeks without electricity then this issue of net metering becomes useless because of this vandalism.
I hope the Minister will look into this deeply in relation with the law enforcement agencies so that these culprits that are found vandalising and stealing electric equipment, it is not just that the foot prints are left there, but they are actually arrested and tried before the courts. This is the only way that we can end this problem. We are now heading to the winter season. We have got winter crops which are very important. Now we do not have wheat and other food supplies from Ukraine as we used to do. It is really important that our farmers have assurance that we have enough electricity to support their winter cropping because if the farmers are not assured that, when they put their inputs into winter farming and they do not have enough electricity, it is actually going to be a loss on their side.
It is really important that after this Bill has been passed, as they say the proof of a pudding is in the eating, we want to see the people that vandalise electrical equipment and other resources that relate to the generation of electricity are arrested. Thank you for this opportunity that you have given me.
^^HON. SEN. MOHADHI: Thank you Mr. President. I stand in support of this Bill that there is need for people that vandalise electrical equipment which are transformers and electrical cables to be sentenced or given heavy penalties. I agree with this a thousand times that this is supposed to be implemented as soon as possible.
In my concurrence, I look at this in this Bill that even if the President engages the amnesty of pardoning prisoners, those who are caught or penalised in relation to crimes to do with the vandalism of electricity, are not supposed to benefit any privileges that relate to amnesty. This has caused a lot of problems for the country especially the fact that our children do not have electricity at schools because of greedy people that are always looking into the need of money but they do not have the concern of looking into the future of the children and the economy of the nation at large. They do not even mind about what the children are going to put in their stomach. All they mind about is their pockets only that if they steal these cables and transformers, they will be able to sell these beyond the rivers, in countries like South Africa and they put the money in their pockets while children and the entire nation are suffering due to these actions.
I also stand up supporting this Bill to pass and to be held with due diligence that no one who is caught on the wrong side of the law pertaining to these issues should be let go. They should be penalised and any means or chances that there are bribes or any corrupt activities that might lead to these accused persons being released from prison or being exonerated from such crimes are supposed to be cut. We do not need any connections and we do not need the courts to have any leniency to such offenders. With these few words, I say thank you Mr. President Sir.
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I did not understand much. All I got from you was that you are supporting this Bill 100%.
HON. SEN. NKOMO: Thank you Mr. President for this opportunity that you are giving me to add a few words in supporting this Bill from the Minister of Energy and Power Development which has been presented before this House.
Mr. President, I support this Bill very much because what is currently taking place in this country is very painful. It is even more painful than the sanctions that we are facing in this country. The Government of Zimbabwe, working through the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, has tried a lot of ways to put our country on a grand stand and at a better position.
Most of the energy that we use might be for lighting and cooking. We also saw that there is a lot of desertification that is taking place. A lot of trees are being cut. In other areas, the people do not even have a forest where they can go and fetch firewood from. We are now looking into REA so that when the rural areas are being electrified, they are going to get a lot of assistance in terms of fuel. There will not be a lot of need for firewood but they will be using electricity.
The issue of the vandalism of electrical is very painful. This has been a rampant problem. I will say this in support of the other words said by my fellow colleagues in this House. Some of the people were found electrocuted by these cables in an attempt to steal those cables. My question is have we failed to identify the areas where these cables are being taken to. If these cables are being carried outside the country, this person is a saboteur. We need to make a follow up even if it means joining our borders, we need to work with our fellow foreign governments where these cables are being taken to. If these cables are being stolen and they are sold within the country, we need to make follow-ups and use State organs and law enforcement agents to see where these cables are being taken to.
The Government is busy trying by all means to develop the country. As we are aware, we are in the midst of developing our country. We are now struggling even the Hon. Senators here; we are attending the Senate proceedings physically. We are facing challenges due to shortage of network. We can only be able to have a network if the infrastructure is in order, but if the infrastructure is destroyed, we cannot be able to connect to the Senate proceedings.
I am encouraging that this Bill that has been brought by the Minister of Energy, we need to support it fully and have a sound law that really punishes people that vandalise electrical equipment. This law also protects even the thieves and hooligans that vandalise this equipment because they will not be able to go and steal these cables because some of them are electrocuted whilst in an attempt to steal these cables. With these few words, I say thank you Hon. President of the Senate.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Thank you Mr. President. I came a bit late and I had not gotten the gist of the matter. I want to say to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, when something has been troublesome and we are told that if something has troubled us and we say that there is no longer a fine being paid for such an offence, we have got lawyers also in sight. This is what is being said that anyone who is found stealing electricity or diverting power from electricity or to transport electrical equipment, we were no longer seeing that there is no fine. We just want a person to be punished and sent to jail. With these laws that we have made earlier that I find someone have stolen even a cow or wild animals or even rapists, I just want to know how successful have these measures that we have implemented on the previous laws have been implement or we need other extra measures?
There are some people that no longer feel the pain of the prison even though they are arrested. We also want to talk about the workers. Other people that are responsible for stealing these cables are ZESA employees. These are the ones who have the knowhow hence they go and take advantage of the infrastructure and they are doing it even in broad daylight. When they take it in broad daylight, everyone assumes that ZESA workers are taking the transformer back to the office. There should be stiff penalties for ZESA workers who are found on the wrong side of the law. Thank you.
+HON. SEN. D. M. NDLOVU: Thank you President of the Senate for giving me this opportunity. I thank the Minister who brought this Bill. It is of concern to the people that those people who vandalise or use electricity illegally be punished. First of all, what I am going to say is that usually the learned and even the laymen say that there is nothing called 100%, but pertaining to this law, I am saying that the proposed Bill should be supported 100%. I am saying this in relation with the issue that electricity especially to us the women, I will give an example with reference to the previous speaker who mentioned that someone is at the hospital at the theatre and he/she is waiting for an operation maybe for delivering a child, and then electricity is cut off. The time that is going to be taken for the reconnection either to solar or to another optional power supply, that is on standby after electricity has been cut off, it will take time.
If it is a woman who is delivering, a lot would have happened and the mother’s life will be at risk even the child’s life would be at risk. They are prone to die after such a mishap. I wish that the proposed laws that these people be arrested when electrical equipment is vandalised or even the oil that is being used in these transformers. I support the Hon. Sen. who said that the major culprits are ZESA workers because these people are the ones that know that after stealing this oil, what is its purpose and what are its uses.
We need to make sure that Zimbabweans assist each other because no one can do something on his own and succeed. We have ministers who have other subordinates and we need to assist each other and make sure that we follow up on what is happening.
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order! We are all adults and are very much mature people. I do not think that there is anyone who wishes to be ejected from the Chamber. I advised you before to put your phones on silence or switch them off. We do not want to disrupt the business of the House.
+HON. SEN. D. M. NDLOVU: I was saying that we need to assist each because there is no-one who can lift a heavy burden alone. I can give an example that when women are going to fetch firewood they go in groups. Someone may be able to pick up firewood as quickly as possible before others can do so. After fetching this firewood she looks for other women to help her carry this firewood, hence through this way it is true that we need each other’s assistance so that we can be able to go through any process in life. We need to make sure that we convey this message to our family members and other colleagues so that we give them information that if you are caught on the wrong side of the law pertaining to any vandalism of ZESA property you are going to face the full wrath of the law.
In my neighbourhood, a lot of cables have been stolen and it shows that these people are experts who know that if they cut the cables they are not going to be electrocuted. We spend around three months before we are connected to the electricity grid and this now promotes theft because when it is dark these thieves gain more confidence because they act like witches who do not want to be seen. Through darkness they know that no-one can identify them. This is not possible if there is electricity because you can be able to identify the person who would have intruded into your place of residence.
Electricity is a very important component in our lives. Electricity is now equivalent to water because there is no more firewood in the forests. Our forests are dwindling rapidly due to deforestation. Electricity is now assisting us in our lives. For us to have water, we need electricity to pump water. Our industries all depend on electricity because without enough power in our industries, it leads to loss of employment on the part of workers.
This Bill was long overdue because there is no industry that can function without electricity. There is no-one who can survive in hospitals without electricity.
THE HON DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Please kindly stick to one language.
+HON. SEN. D. M. NDLOVU: Thank you Mr. President, I am learning Shona as a third language. I wish this Bill was brought three years back because we are no longer using electricity for cooking. We suffer a lot because we cannot afford the luxury of bathing warm water. There is no-one who is against this Bill. I thank you for this Bill that you have brought to this House.
*HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity to support the Bill brought by the Minister of Energy and Power Development which is a very important Bill. A lot of things have already been mentioned but I just want to say a few words that electricity is life. The life of everyone depends on electricity. Development of the country is dependent upon electricity. Without electricity, a lot of things are destroyed.
We once had an electricity line from Dabuka to Harare but all the cables were stolen by thieves. We just wonder where the electricity providers were when these acts of vandalism were happening. We are happy for this motion because it is going to secure or safeguard equipment. The people that can steal or vandalise cables and equipment are qualified workers. The infrastructure on electricity has a danger warning sign that is written in Ndebele, Shona and English to say that electricity is dangerous. A transformer cannot be simply taken away by an ordinary man or woman in the streets. This is done by experts. Even the time that they do it, they do it when a certain line has been switched off.
Amateurs have lost their lives in an attempt to steal transformers or tamper with electricity cables. Transformers are stolen at the height of winter wheat growing period and farmers are suffering. I appeal to you Hon. Minister to come with ways to ensure that each transformer is protected and that should anyone try and tamper with it, it must report back to the center. In Harare, there was a time when equipment would inform or report back that an accident has occurred at a certain place.
I strongly support that Bill, that you have come up with by ensuring that stiffer penalties are brought against the culprits as has been said by others. With those few words, I commend the Bill. I thank you.
*HON SEN. CHIMBUDZI: Thank you Mr. President for granting me the opportunity to add a few words. I express my gratitude to the Minister of Energy and Power Development for the Bill before the Senate. A lot of the pros for this Bill have already been enunciated by Senators who spoke before me. The Minister mentioned two things principally that are in line with this Bill, that is the imposition of stiffer sentences. What exactly are you referring to as stiffer penalties, what is the range? We are very happy that you have brought the Bill.
Issues to do with electricity are a thorn in the flesh of many people. A lot of people say that there is no rule of law; people do as they please. We are grateful Hon. Minister that we now have a Bill. We want our Government to be respected. We always use the Bible - people should be arrested and sent to prison. I would want to seek clarity from the Hon. Ministers as to how many years he has in mind when he says the penalty should be stiffer. I strongly support this Bill. I thank you.
*THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER DEVELOPMENT (HON. SODA): Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to respond to what was raised by Hon. Senators, especially for supporting this Bill. Many Senators were in support of the Bill and they feel it was long overdue to come to this House. I would like to thank all those who contributed towards this Bill. Senator Tongogara reiterated that the Bill is good because it will protect the equipment used by ZESA to generate, transmit and distribute electricity. I would like to thank her for the support.
Hon. Sen. Komichi explained the goodness of this Bill which is before this Senate. He said that availability of electricity in the country will enable development to move forward. He gave an example of a person’s body, that it cannot function without blood. Hence a country cannot also function properly without electricity. This is true, because there are a lot of things which cannot function properly if there is no electricity.
Hon. Sen. Komichi also explained that when there was load shedding - when electricity comes back, people will be very happy. This shows that electricity cannot be divorced from today’s people. Therefore, if we see people who vandalise electricity equipment, it is the same as those who kill. They are also overloading the Government because they end up buying all that equipment which is a drawback instead of us going forward. If it is a transformer, the public will be looking to Government for it to be replaced. The money which was supposed to be used to extend electricity to other places without electricity is instead used to buy that transformer. This seems like sabotage to the country by such people.
He further said that we would want to work together to come up with such stiffer penalty so that we move forward. This issue is very important because it really shows that it is sabotage which is done by some citizens who do not want development in this country. If we work hand in glove in support of development, I think we will achieve our goal.
Some of the things that were raised, it comes to the point that the official languages which are used here in Parliament should have devices to interpret them simultaneously so that we all hear what is being interpreted. Those who expressed themselves in a language I do not understand should not be offended. I just assume that you were also in support of the Bill. There is one Hon. Senator who supported the Bill but was worried that some people are arrested but they are suddenly released. This was caused by gaps in our legislation. People will use that gap as scapegoat for them to be released. This is why this Bill is being amended so that we close those gaps.
If you remember, a person could be arrested while transporting electricity equipment but because the law was silent on that issue, that even the transported should be arrested and be sentenced the same way as the one who vandalised, the transporter was left out. However, this Bill closed that gap, now the one who vandalise and the transporter are both sentenced the same way.
There is also the issue of net-metering which is supposed to be done by ZESA Holdings supported by Government so that those who use solar electricity, for it to be easier for one to generate electricity using solar, they can choose not to buy batteries to store power. So net metering facility is when people install their solar panels, they send to grid. When they want to use their electricity, they will take it from the grid. The burden of buying batteries will be removed by this. This is happening but the Hon. Senator went on to say when there is vandalism the equipment would not be there, so even those using solar will be affected. All this was in support of the Bill that those who vandalise should be heavily penalised so that electricity equipment is protected.
Our economy is affected by lack of electricity in many ways. There is wheat farming, as we speak, Zimbabwe is one of the countries which is lauded to have grown enough wheat for its people and has no need to import. With the problems happening in Ukraine and Russia, if we did not have enough wheat, it was going to be difficult for this country. Now, we have managed to produce enough wheat for the nation. We will not be affected by the instability in Ukraine and Russia but then there are some people that then commit acts of vandalism once the winter wheat is still in the field. That tends to have problems and it hinders the development of the country. Taking for instance a person that is in the intensive care unit then someone steals equipment and there will not be electricity to your relative who is in hospital and your relative them passes on; it will then affect you and you will see that this Bill is very important and this vandalism being committed is just as good as killing,
Hon. Sen. Mohadi also supported this particular Bill and in her opinion, she said that when people are being granted Presidential pardon, those that commit acts of vandalism against power generation and power distribution equipment should not benefit from presidential pardon. All that points to fact that people should be given stiffer sentences and that stiffer sentences should act as deterrents.
The issue of agriculture being sustained by the provision of electricity, school children are also being assisted in utilising modern technology. This is because of the provision of electricity and it shows how important electricity is to our country and that people should not destroy or vandalise power generation, power creating and power distribution infrastructure.
Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira supported that there be stiffer sentences. He posed a question that in the past, there has been evidence to show the reduction in the number of those that commit rape, stock theft and such other offences. I may not have the statistics to give to what extent has stiffer penalties lessened the commission of these offences, but the stiffer the penalty, the more deterrent it would be to the offender and the more reason one would refrain from committing an offence. Hence our clarion call that we have stiffer penalties as opposed to being sentenced to a commission of a fine because someone might have sold transformers before and would be in a position now to pay a fine, but once we scrape off the option of a fine and imprisonment is called for, then that will act as a deterrent and offenders will shy away from committing offences.
ZESA employees that are suspected to be the ones that are committing these vandalism acts as transformers are stolen and other equipment is being vandalised – your school of thought is on all fours with the people who were consulted. It is contained in the report and they were advocating that should ZESA officials be found to have committed these acts of vandalism, they should be given stiffer sentences, but when laws are being crafted, they should not discriminate for or against a particular group of people. The law should be universal and the punishment should be universal. That discrimination may not be called for although this is a good idea that they had come up with.
Hon. Sen. Chirongoma also supported and said this Bill was long overdue. The Senator also touched on the issue of workers from ZESA and also inquired into what other ways could be used to ensure that vandalism is curtailed. Let me say that apart from coming up with stiffer sentences through the passage of this Bill, a lot of things are also being done by ZESA in order to protect the equipment. They now have drones. The drones are sent to areas where vandalism has occurred. They are able to take images as soon as a report is received so as to aid those that will be investigating in unearthing evidence. Cameras are also used but as people that benefit from the proper upkeep of ZESA equipment it is our duty, all of us, to safeguard Government equipment that is in our areas. Look at the loss that would occur to a farmer when a transformer has been stolen, in that there cannot be any immediate replacement of a transformer and he has several thousands of hectares of wheat under irrigation. They will run a loss. I further urge us all to ensure that we have people that look after transformers because it would be cheaper to have a guard stationed at a transformer rather than to lose your wheat crop because of non-provision of power due to vandalism.
Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi also inquired about the stiffness of the sentences. We are talking about the years that a person can be sentenced or incarcerated in prison without the option of a fine. A person with money may commit an offence well knowing that should they be fined, they would easily be able to pay it but if they are going to be incarcerated, that will act as a deterrence for him.
I now move that the Bill be now read a second time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Committee Stage: With leave, forthwith.
ELECTRICITY AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 7, 2022]
House in Committee.
Clauses 1 to 3 put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendments.
Third reading: With leave, forthwith.
ELECTRICITY AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 7, 2022]
THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER
DEVELOPMENT (HON. SODA): I move that the Bill be now read the third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time.
PRISONS AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES BILL [H. B. 6A, 2022]
Second Order read: Second reading: Prisons and Correctional Services Bill [H. B. 6A, 2022].
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Allow me Mr. President, to present my Second Reading speech for the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service Bill. This Bill seeks to repeal the Prisons Act and enact a new legislative framework. The recommendation to repeal and enact the new Prisons Act was borne out of the realisation that the current legislation is inadequate and out of sync with the current international norms and standards relating to prisons administration.
This Bill seeks to align the existing Prisons Act with the Constitution of Zimbabwe 2013. The Constitution of Zimbabwe created, in its Part 5 of Chapter 11, the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS). The Constitution elevated the status of this institution to be a constitutional entity with a broadened mandate. The broadening of the scope of the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service’s mandate has necessitated the review of the governing Act to ensure that the legislation is in sync with the constitutional provisions.
The increased scope of the role of the ZPCS now includes an express provision on rehabilitation and correctional services which was neither categorically provided for in the previous Constitution nor in the Act of Parliament.
The proposed new Act, therefore, seeks to modernise the prisons legislation with a view to ensuring that it meets the international norms and standards regarding prisons administration including the way prisoners should be treated. This includes focusing more on restorative justice through rehabilitation rather than incarceration of offenders.
The proposed legislation will also ensure that the prison system caters for the needs of the vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, juvenile offenders as well as persons with disabilities and other special categories in society that have special needs. The current system lacks a supporting legislative framework to ensure that these values are entrenched within the prisons service.
The Bill seeks to broaden the scope of the parole system. Under the current legislations, parole is very limited in scope as it only applies to that category of prisoners who are serving extended sentences. The proposed legislation seeks to provide for the eligibility of every prisoner to apply for parole regardless of the nature of sentences they are serving. This would mean that all categories of prisoners would be eligible to be considered for parole at some point whilst serving their sentences.
The current legislation does not provide re-integration plans for prisoners after serving their prison terms and this generally affects their smooth integration back into their communities thereby increasing chances of recidivism.
The proposed legislation seeks to promote community involvement in Prisons and Correctional Services in order to ensure that prisoners will not face difficulties and hostilities in being accepted back into their communities and within their families.
The proposed legislation will also provide for the establishment of correctional community centres throughout the country which essentially will be open prisons. These will be used for providing the prisoners with the necessary life skills through training and rehabilitation as well as ensuring their re-integration back into society. These centres will also ensure the decongestions of prisons as certain prisoners would be released from standard prisons to reside in such community centres. They will serve the purpose of easing the transition of inmates from incarceration life to community life.
The new law will extensively provide for health care services for inmates by guiding principles on health care of inmates. This is in compliance with Section 48 as read with Section 50 of the Constitution on the right to life and rights of arrested or detained persons. The proposed legislation goes on further to extend an inmate’s right to consult with a medical practitioner of their choice at their own expense.
The Constitution states that every person has a right to legal representation. Section 50 of the Constitution spells out that any person who is arrested must be permitted, without delay, to access a private lawyer. In tandem with this Constitutional provision, the proposed law affords inmates access to their lawyers before and during their trials.
Further to that, the new law provides for a paralegal system in prisons and institutions, in order to assist inmates who cannot afford legal fees. Unconvicted prisoners have a constitutional right to be tried within a reasonable period of time. As a way to ease prison congestion and avoid lengthy remands, the new legislation proposes that a list of unconvicted prisoners be submitted to the Registrar of the High Court regularly, giving details as to when they were admitted to prison.
I therefore urge Hon. Senators to support and pass this Bill. I so submit and move that the Bill be read a second time.
*HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: I would like to start by applauding the Hon Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for doing a good job to ensure that the Prison Act is in alignment with the Constitution. You are aware that the Constitution is the supreme law of the country and once the Acts are not aligned with the Constitution, there will be challenges with the proper administration of justice.
I want to express my gratitude to the Minister. This Bill came at the right time. It is difficult when people are in prison and even if they were incarcerated and have completed serving their sentences, when they go back to the community, they will be stigmatised as prisoners and will not be well received. He mentioned that the prisoners acquire some skills so that when they are released from prison, they will be able to fend for themselves. They can be self-employed as they put their acquired skills into use.
Mr. President, you know that legal fees are expensive and you may not get good legal advice and may be convicted. I am glad that an offender is going to have a legal practitioner assigned to him and the legal fees will be paid by the State. That shows that our country is now developing. It shows that our country still respects the rights of an accused person and that they are still human despite the fact that they are arrested and may be incarcerated. This will put our prisoners in a better state as they are treated in a humane fashion. I thank the Minister for bringing this Bill. Thank you, Mr. President.
HON. SEN. PHUGENI: Thank you Mr. President for the opportunity to say a word or two on this matter, which the Minister is bringing especially with regards to parole. It is being brought down even to those sentenced to six months and below. I know that our legal system is built in such a way that if you think you did not get justice at the lower court you can always go higher. But that is not always possible because sometimes it is the issue of money and not being able to get the best lawyer available. At times the whole court system takes a lot of time for matters to be resolved. That time can weigh you down and really bring you down. As a result, some people find themselves incarcerated not because they committed the crime but some people are incarcerated for crimes which in comparison to other people really, they should not be in prison. So, the opportunity to ask for parole regardless of the time that you are sentenced is welcome now that most of our folks will be able to take advantage of this.
The heart of the Bill, I think the Minister is trying to solve the issue of overcrowded prisons. Some of the ways you can deal with this is, if you have the capacity to put metals that can be tracked on people’s ankles for those awaiting trial. If we are filling our prisons with people that are awaiting trial yet our Constitution says everyone is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law, we are really taking away the right of presumed innocence until due process has taken place and a competent court has found the person guilty. So, I welcome this initiative Minister but I will go further and say, let us do our best to ensure that people who are awaiting trial, unless there are compelling reasons that one is a danger to society they are not incarcerated.
As I sit down, I think the beneficiaries of this initiative of not incarcerating people who have not been convicted will mostly be us politicians, especially from the opposition. We have seen in most cases where we just differ. If I differ with the Minister, then he might just throw me in and I stay there for a year. It is happening right now and I am in there, I have not been convicted. The processes are still on while I am stuck there in prison. I come out after a year and now there are elections. I lose out to get my name and I do not participate. So many of my rights are violated. Minister, I am moved by this initiative - I think it will go a long way. Consider us, we are also Zimbabweans. Give us a way and allow us to differ politically but do not throw us in. Yes, you can take us to court and let the due processes play themselves out but there should not be laws that are designed for political individuals who happen to be in the opposition. I thank you Mr. President.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Thank you Mr. President of the Senate. The Bill that the Minister brings before this august House that intends to deal with the welfare of prisoners, I have gone through it and am very grateful for it. It is a voluminous Bill and it is dealing with the arrest of a pregnant woman. This is a sad story. We are black people and the tragedy is that we did not have prisons as black people until colonization. In our justice system, we never had prisons and no-one could be arrested. We had other ways that we would use. For the reason that we are now in a modernised state, we were then told that the prison in London was said to be equal to a prison in Salisbury. That was a mistake. When we attained our independence in 1980 as black people, we took it hook line and sinker. A pregnant woman is very important in our African culture. They might commit certain offences because of their condition of being pregnant and then you incarcerate them.
Pregnant women should not be incarcerated. Let us look for means and ways that will save them from being incarcerated in prison. Let us keep them in an open prison so that their mental health state will not be the same as the one that is in Chikurubi. A child who is on the mother’s back is also being welcomed to Chikurubi because the mother has committed an offence. This Bill is being fast tracked. We should have been given an opportunity to come up with positions so that those with children should not be incarcerated. Why should a pregnant woman be incarcerated? We should look for other sentences. They should automatically qualify for community service. In fact, it should not be community service. It should be read as open correctional prisons. Such people should not be candidates for open prisons such as Khami, Whawha, Mutimurefu and other prisons.
I have also observed that they may get home leave after four years. It is a good idea if that can be done. However, when they go there for the last time, there is need for re-integration with the community. That is a problematic area because there is stigmatization on those that would have been released from prison. Even if they were to mix with others, people run away from them and the community will shun them. Let us look for experts to look into this so that they can be re-integrated into the community.
We have metropolitan cities and they have their own way of doing things. In the communal lands, we have a way of doing things. You will not talk of communities without community leaders. Community leaders are important. Anything that refers to the community should also make reference to the community leaders. We have village heads, headmen, chiefs and councillors as well as church leaders. There was need for a committee to be set up led by a traditional leader and the church to lead the issue of reintegration of convicted prisoners as they are released and re-integrated with the community.
They may be sentenced to community service at a school but it only serves the schools that are nearby. If it is community service, it should also involve the leadership of the community. If something is for the community and the community is leaderless, it will not go down well. I have observed that there is a commission that deals with the correctional services. The majority of these people and commissioners should be people that would understand. The commission of such prisoners should have churches and traditional leadership as part and parcel of it. It should be prescribed that these be members of the commission.
Lastly, we are grateful that you are thinking of improving the issue of welfare of prisoners. Incarceration is not the end of life. One may reform in prison and after leaving prison they become good preachers, they are converting many of these people and they will go to heaven. I thank you.
HON. SEN. J. HUNGWE: Thank you Mr. President Sir. I still cannot stand for long but I want to contribute on what is being discussed here. What I think is we should concentrate on matters of this nature and when you are talking about this issue, it is a reformative aspect that should be directed to the mind of the people than the subject. I am suggesting that it is good to bring matters of this nature to our discussion but I think we must discuss this in the sense of the fact that we have seen wrong things being done before and today, we are wiser that we should now opt to say what can be done before such things happen.
I think what is important is that we must direct our reformation to the mind of those who implement. We want to have the correctness of saying we are dealing with people who also think like us, but who need further help to know that they are dealing with human beings. I have been in this Parliament for a very long time. When I met this clerk seated here, it was in 1986 when I set in this Parliament to make laws. Do not just accept that just because I have been here for a long time and you take what I say here to hold water, no. I also need to be educated.
Hon. President, it is a difficult time, we can go to heaven and be sent back again because of the hell we have been seeing on earth. Let us try to make good laws. My point is please assist us to make the good laws for the people. This is the point I want to make and I do not want to go further than that because there are others who would want to contribute. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity. First and foremost, I would want to express my gratitude for the Bill brought by our Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs that deals with the Prison and Correctional Services and the welfare of prisoners. The majority of the things that I wanted to say have been spoken about and this has shown that the country is slowly but surely amending some of these things but there is one issue that has been left behind.
I was wondering if we could tackle it. A woman who is arrested and incarcerated in prison for a long time and they have a two-year-old child, they just provide food and clothes for the mother and they do nothing about the baby. They forget about the baby but the baby should have food and clothes and their welfare in prison should be budgeted for. As the child grows up, he or she should also interact with others. Children of today are very much clever and what they see on television makes them very smart.
It is as if we are now incarcerating the child instead of just incarcerating the mother. If it were possible, such children whose mothers have committed an offence, if they have no one that they can leave their baby with, then the State should intervene because people would refuse to have the child in their custody whilst the mother is being incarcerated. Something should be done to redress this anomaly as regards innocent children that are now being incarcerated as a result of their mothers having committed an offence. We know of creches and pre-schools where they spend their time playing with other children. This is the issue that I want addressed without wasting much of your time. The mother is the one that committed the offence. How best can the children’s welfare be looked into? Can a law not be crafted specifically for such children? I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. President and I want to thank Hon. Senators for the debate. Senators were largely in support of the Bill starting with Hon Tongogara, she supported it. Hon. Sen. Phugeni supported the Bill and spoke about the parole system which he said is a good thing. We are not largely focusing on decongesting the prisons per se, but because of the new constitutional provisions and the new thrust in terms of how prisoners are being treated the world over, we are not condemning our prisoners. There is an acknowledgement that somebody may make a mistake today but the whole process of putting somebody in prison is to take you away from society, work on you and then reintegrate you into society a changed person. This is the process.
This Bill may solve some of our problems of decongestion but the thrust really is to say, we no longer want to condemn our people. Like what Hon. Sen. Hungwe said that we should walk this journey together. We want to rid society of undesirable elements and hand them over to prisons and correctional officers who will be able to work on this particular individual so that at the time that the individual is about to be released, the processes of reintegration will start. I am sure you have seen the programme on ZTV called “Another Chance” where they even go with you to your people in the communities and they try to have a conversation so that when that particular individual is released, he is accepted. We no longer want a situation where someone is labeled a bandit by the community. That particular individual belongs to the community.
Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira spoke about pregnant women who are sent to prison. For these vulnerable prisoners: the pregnant women, juveniles and those accompanied by children and in the instance of children, it is not always that you find somebody to remain behind with a child. The Bill is saying when it is not possible, facilities must be provided for the children. We do not want the children to be imprisoned with their mothers but the Bill speaks to the need for the State to provide facilities that will give the children a soft landing while in prison like toys and everything that they need. The mothers may go to an open prison that will allow them to be accommodated. Where it is possible that somebody will not be found to remain with the child, that is the first option.
Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira spoke about community leaders and community sentence – what we are trying to do is to engage the community and the Bill speaks to the need to speak to the community leaders. I spoke about reformative aspect that perhaps we need to have a paradigm shift in the way that we have viewed prisons. That is the reason why the Constitution speaks of prisons and correctional services. I have also spoken about children accompanying their mothers that perhaps it is not always that we will be able to find someone to remain behind with the children but the Bill speaks to the State being obligated to provide facilities for those particular children.
Having said that Mr. President, I move that the Bill be now read a second time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Committee Stage: With leave, forthwith.
PRISONS AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICE BILL [H. B. 6A, 2022]
House in Committee.
Short Title put and agreed to.
Clauses 1 to 187 put and agreed to.
First, Second and Third Schedules, put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendments.
Third Reading: With leave, forthwith.
PRISONS AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES BILL [H. B. 6A, 2022]
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I move that the
Bill be now read the third time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read the third time
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I move that all the Orders of the Day be stood over, until Order Number 11 has been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
REPORT OF THE 145TH ASSEMBLY OF THE INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION AND RELATED MEETINGS
Eleventh Order read: Adjourned debate on the Report of the 145th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Related Meetings held in Kigali, Rwanda.
Question again proposed.
HON. SEN. MUZENDA: Mr. President Sir, I rise to thank all the Members who contributed to this very important report of different meetings which were held in Kigali, which mainly were concerning human rights, SDGs and governance. I would like to particularly thank Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi and Hon. Sen. Tongogara for debating this report. With that, I move that the motion be adopted:
Motion that this House takes note of the Report of the 145th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Related Meetings held from 11 to 15 October, 2022, in Kigali, Rwanda, put and agreed to.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS: I would like to thank Hon. Senators for passing two Bills today and for dedicating their time to be here.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS, the Senate adjourned at a Quarter past Five o’clock p.m.