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SENATE HANSARD 8 DECEMBER 2022 VOL 32 NO 4

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 8th December, 2022

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

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE DEPUTY CLERK OF PARLIAMENT

ABSENCE OF THE PRESIDENT OF SENATE, THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE AND MEMBERS OF THE CHAIRPERSON’S PANEL

THE DEPUTY CLERK OF PARLIAMENT (MS. H.B. DINGANE): Hon. Members, I have to advise the Senate of the absence of the President of the Senate, the Deputy President of the Senate and Members of the Chairperson’s Panel. In terms of Standing Order Number 47 (5) which provides that the person presiding at any sitting of the Senate must be – “(b) in the absence of the President and the Deputy President of the Senate, a Senator elected for the purpose by the Senate, for that day only but that Senator must not be a Minister or Deputy Minister”. So for that reason, I therefore call for nominations for a Senator to preside at today’s sitting.  

HON. SEN. MUZENDA: I nominate Senator Chief Ngungumbane to be today’s Chairman. Thank you.

HON. SEN. MATHUTHU:  I second.  

Motion put and agreed to.

THE DEPUTY CLERK OF PARLIAMENT: There being no further nominations, Hon. Sen. Chief Ngungumbane will take the Chair.

PRAYERS

(THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE

APOLOGIES RECEIVED FROM MINISTERS

THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE (HON. SEN. CHIEF NGUNGUMBANE): I have received apologies from the following Ministers: Hon. Gen. (Rtd.) Dr. C. G. D. N. Chiwenga, Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care; Hon. Dr. J. Mangwiro, Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care; Hon. Prof. M. Ncube, Minister of Finance and Economic Development; Hon. Prof. A. Murwira, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development; Hon. Prof. P. Mavima, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare; Hon. L. Matuke, Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare;  Hon. Dr. S. Nzenza, Minister of Industry and Commerce; Hon. Dr. A. Masuka, Minister for Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development; Hon. D. Marapira, Deputy Minister for Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development; Hon. D. Garwe, Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities; Hon. Sen. M. Mutsvangwa, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services; and Hon. F. M. Shava, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

In the House, we have the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Hon. Mhona. I would want to commend you as one of the few Ministers – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – who has  taken time to be in the Senate timeoulsy without fail. I think you have done very well for the Senate. We recognise the good service, but I would like to you to encourage fellow Ministers when you meet in Cabinet that Parliament also includes Senate as much as it includes the National Assembly. Thank you.

HON. SEN. KOMICHI: I would like to complement you Mr. President. This is one of the evidence why people outside shout at us as Hon. Members of Parliament. The people that we represent sent us to Parliament to represent them on their issues. Today being a Thursday is one of the most important days that we as Members of Parliament should be able to express what our people are saying back home but when we look at the bench, it is almost empty. Thank you to the few Ministers that have come but the majority betrayed us. Whilst we appreciate that they have sent apologies, we do not appreciate their absence because they cannot be absent, both the substantive Minister and the deputy. This is betrayal of the people’s expectations. This is making this House useless and when people are shouting at us back home, they are correct. We are failing to represent them because we are being undercut by the absence of the Ministers. It had improved a few months ago but it has started again. This is a wrong thing and it must not happen. People expect us to do the job. They expect us to represent them. Who then do we talk to, if the Ministers are not able to come? This is a serious offence and the Ministers are betraying us.  Thank you Hon. President.

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Thank you Hon. Sen. Komichi.  I think as this august House, we agree with you that the Senate is the other part of Parliament that Ministers should take seriously.  Chief Whip, can you please convey this message to the Leader of the House that Senators are not happy.  This is the start of a new session and we should start with new beginnings and not with old beginnings where absenteeism of Cabinet Ministers was the order of the day.  Please convey our message as Senators.  Thank you.

          HON. SEN. ENG. MUDZURI:  Thank you Hon. President.  I just want to appreciate you for taking over the Chair.  I wonder who is going to be the leader of the House today because I am looking at a  situation where Ministers have not come, and the whole leadership of the Speaker’s Panel is absent.  Is there something going on in the country that has made all these people be away?  I just want the answer on record if there is something happening in the country that has taken all these people away.  It is time for people to go for the Christmas holidays but there are so many questions we want to ask.  There are also many Ministers who have never been in this House and we want to take stock.  I can mention those who have never been in the House.  I have not seen the Minister of Local Government or Minister of Agriculture.  If they were appointed and the President is serious, he must talk to these people so that at least they come to this Upper House so we can discuss serious business on what is happening in the country.  I thank you.

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Thank you Hon. Sen. Mudzuri.  We take note of your concerns and those concerns, I direct to the Government Chief Whip. I think next week, in all fairness we should see an improvement in terms of attendance. I thank you.

          In the House we have Hon. Machingura, Deputy Minister for Higher Education and Deputy Minister of Energy, Hon. Mudyiwa.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

          *HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: My question is directed to the Minister of Energy and Power Development.  Hon. Minister, the challenges that we are facing with regards to power, what is government’ s policy with regards to provision of electricity?  I thank you.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER DEVELOPMENT (HON. MUDYIWA):  Thank you for that pertinent question asked by Hon. Sen Chimbudzi, especially at this time where we have problems to do with electricity. I think you are aware of the reasons. Most of our electricity is generated from Kariba but because of climate change, Kariba Dam is now dry, so we are unable to generate electricity from there.  As Zimbabwe, we share that water with Zambia but we are most affected because we used most of our water this whole year generating electricity from Kariba.  As a Ministry responsible for power as well as ZESA, we are running around at the moment to look for ways to solve this problem.  Firstly, we are increasing power imports, which is our immediate solution.  We are negotiating with electricity suppliers from Mozambique so they can add on to what we are already getting.  If that succeeds we should have improved power supply from next week.  Secondly, we have Unit 7 and 8 under the Hwange Expansion Programme which we expected to be commissioned by November but there are issues that led to that date passing without the commissioning.  We had also been given the 13th December as another date but from the look of things, we will not be able to fulfill the commissioning on that date.  However, the project is over 97% complete and we anticipate that the project will be completed before the end of this year and expect to get 300 megawatts.  Unit 8 is also almost complete and we expect it to be complete by February and that should give us another 300 megawatts which will total 600 megawatts from Hwange into the grid.  In addition to that, we are encouraging those who had started renewable energy projects like the solar energy projects, to speed up construction of those power stations so that we increase power generation.  That is another way we are trying to mitigate the situation. 

In addition to that, we are encouraging the nation to accept this as a problem that we are all facing. So we urge all the citizens to use power sparingly so that we may be able to get electricity.  Load shedding will continue until we get improved supplies.  Demand outweighs supply and that is all I can say about electricity.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN. KOMICHI:  Last week I read an article in which the President was suggesting to disconnect households from the grid.  It may sound wild but what I thought was why government does not come up with a policy in which such items like solar batteries and panels are subsidized and made cheaper.  We are aware that the question of load shedding is going to be with us for a very long time.  We can dream and have Unit 7 and 8 but that will not help us much though it will improve slightly but will not remove load shedding challenges.  So we probably need to take a new direction of subsidizing solar inputs so that they are affordable.  Also, to deliberately encourage people to install solar panels for lights and many other things.  I think you can run a clear programme where you can install solar in a certain suburb then go to the next suburb and Government should be behind it.  The only long term solution for electricity is still very far away and the challenges will increase as we get more investors, more companies opening and more industries opening.  The demand of electricity will go high and the system we are following to complement that demand is very slow.   Can we not ensure that the investment policy for the people who are installing solar projects is made easier, lighter, more conducive and more attractive so that they can fill and flood this country with solar panels? I thank you.

          *HON. MUDYIWA: I would like to thank Hon, Sen. Komichi for the contribution.  The article that the Hon. Senator is referring to, unfortunately I did not see it. He made very good suggestions; we will sit down and look into them. On the issue of subsidising solar panels or batteries, as a Ministry, we are unable to do that because we do not have a budget. The Ministry of Finance is the one that can do that because they are responsible for mobilising resources. As a Ministry, we are unable to get such resources.

          Indeed, I take the suggestions from the Hon. Senator. There are a lot of investment policies that we launched including the one that was launched by His Excellency in 2019. There are incentives that are included in that policy.

          HON. SEN. ENG. MUDZURI: My supplementary question is:  have you really asked ZESA to give you the projection of how this is going to pan out?The way you are speaking in this House is that we will finish maybe end of the year. You are not certain. This is a House of Members of Parliament and they need to explain themselves to say we are expecting this by such a time. I expect you to come with figures. When things are like this, it is a crisis and you should be able to come with something to Parliament to explain the situation so that parliamentarians have something to tell their constituents. It is not proper that we come here and just say maybe by such a time.

          When we talk today and say water is finished in Kariba Dam, where was the projection that water is likely to get finished? It is not something that is unscientific. It is supposed to be worked out by your engineers and it is important and incumbent upon the Ministry to supervise ZESA to ensure that they deliver the social goods which go with electricity. I plead with you that let us have a statement from the Ministry that gives accurate dates and projections of when power is likely to come then you embrace what my colleague has said on the panels.

          It is not for you to say the Ministry does not have funds but it is for Government to have a general policy to ensure that we deliver the power that people need. It is a right that people get power.

          *HON. MUDYIWA: I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Mudzuri. The projections from ZESA were there all along but the problems that they faced were beyond their control. Firstly, our projections were that Unit 7 and 8 were supposed to be working by the first half of this year but we failed to meet that timeline due to problems like COVID-19. There were problems like COVID-19 in China and some of the equipment came in late; some of the workers that went back to China faced restrictions and were locked down in China. There were a lot of problems that we faced.

          We were given another projection for November and there are other issues that we are facing such as payment issues that are also affecting the meeting of the deadline. That is why they have also given us another projection of 13 December with regards to Unit 7. What we have learnt is that the commissioning that is going to take place is to try and synchronise the system to see whether it is working. It would take some time because they have to test all the systems first. At the moment we do not have a deadline on what we are going to do. We are in negotiations with ZESA to ensure that the timelines are adhered to. We are also uncomfortable with the developments but I take into consideration the suggestions by the Hon. Senator.

          *HON. SEN. CHIEF MAKUMBE: My question is - what can the Minister say about the load shedding schedules? Sometimes electricity goes off for 24 hours yet on the schedule it will be reflecting a few hours. Electricity is the backbone of the economy. There can be no production without electricity. We need to be told what to do. We need to be told the truth so that people may make other options. If there is no electricity, we need to be told the truth instead of lying to us. When we talk about electricity, we should know that it is a human rights issue. Let us tell people when they should expect power and when load shedding will end. Yesterday, electricity was restored at midnight and by 5 a.m. this morning the power had gone. The Ministry of Transport uses electricity and so does hospitals and water pumping systems. ZESA should give us a correct schedule of load shedding.

          This country signed a lot of independent power producers (IPP), how come there is no power that is being added to the national grid yet the country issued a lot of contracts? What is happening? Is it because of our policies? We should have rectified all these things in the past by now. I thank you.

          HON. MUDYIWA: I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Makumbe for that question. Firstly, I do not have the schedules here, so I cannot tell how they are supposed to be. What I know is that the reason why we are not getting electricity on time is because the demand is too high yet the supply side is very low. That is the reason why sometimes we spend a lot of time without electricity because during peak times that is when there is high demand of electricity, especially in the morning and evenings. ZESA is unable to supply power during that time. That is why there is that imbalance. What I can do is to go back to ZESA so that we may understand their schedules and encourage them to give out correct information with regards to load shedding that they are undertaking. On the second question with regards to IPPs, we have those people or companies that applied for licences through ZERA, especially those who want to generate power from solar. What was happening was that people were applying for those licences without money and would then look for money or investors after getting the licences. Most of the licences were awarded to people without funds and who failed to get funding for those projects; that is the biggest challenge we face. If only all those IPPs had produced the solar plants in accordance to the licences, we will be having more than 2 000 megawatts by now but right now we have nothing.

          If we were to publish the IPPs, we are not getting more than 15 megawatts. Most of them are just generating electricity for their personal use and not adding much to the grid because they have not fulfilled their obligations after getting the tenders or licences. We have encouraged ZERA to re-look into the awarding of the licences with the aim of ensuring that all those who have failed are withdrawn. Some of them have held on to those licences for more than five years. ZERA has been instructed to re-look into those IPPs. Some of them acquired the land but are unable to generate electricity. We need to get investors with funds to take over.

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I think Minister, in all fairness the country is faced with a national crisis with regards ZESA. There are a lot of issues that have been raised by Hon. Members starting from the policy of solar equipment and IPPs. I think you have not fully or comprehensively answered the concerns of Hon. Members. I would ask you to make a Ministerial Statement covering all those matters because you cannot have a person holding on to an IPP that does not support the national grid. This is a crisis situation and we need to be hands-on in terms of the management of our electricity. Minister, the Senate demands that you bring a comprehensive Ministerial Statement to this House. I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. CHIEF CHUNDU: My question goes back to the Minister of Energy. In Mashonaland West where I come from, indeed that is where the dam is and people were displaced from that area because of the construction of the dam. There were  traditional ceremonies that used to take place and the rituals that used to be done are no longer being fulfilled. There used to be different types of fishes  living in that dam. Even if there is climate change, we need to look into why the dam is dry now yet in Zambia they are able to generate electricity.

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I will ask you to put that question in writing and you have included the other Ministry of Local Government, so there is need for them to liaise. I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. CHIEF. CHIKWAKA: Allow me again to pose my question to the Minister of Energy. As farmers, ZESA is telling us that they want to introduce prepaid meters to commercial farmers. I do not know whether they consider other Government departments like GMB where as farmers we take our produce. We wait for payment and GMB takes too long to pay us yet we may need to pay for that electricity in advance. I do not know what their plan is with regards to that aspect. They are going to destroy the agricultural sector which is important to the economy. They expect us to irrigate using prepaid electricity whilst other Government departments take their time to pay us and that is a problem which is going to affect us. What is their plan because that will affect us?

          Finally on the load shedding, we no longer understand whether it is load shedding or faults. This means the power systems are archaic and cannot support us. What are the plans with regards to resuscitation of substations and our supply systems? They are outdated and we need modern equipment.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER DEVELOPMENT (HON. MUDYIWA): The idea of prepaid meters came about because many people were not paying for electricity using the post-paid meters. People would spend as much electricity as they wanted and would not pay up. For your information, ZESA is owed about $14 billion right now. ZESA is not getting any funding from Government for its operations. It is a company that is supposed to run on its own just like any other company. It is supposed to buy equipment as vehicles which are used when attending to faults. They are supposed to procure fuel and are not getting forex because many people are paying in Z$. ZESA is supposed to pay its workers. You might have heard that there is a lot of brain drain that took place at ZESA and a lot of professionals left this country and went as far as UK and Australia and ZESA is supposed to pay its workers adequately - all that is not happening because ZESA is owed a lot of money by consumers.  All these units that we are using at Hwange need revamping, they are very old and need rehabilitation but there is no money because ZESA is owed more than 40 billion dollars.

With regards to farmers, we used to understand but when these farmers get their money even if we make these arrangements, they forget to pay ZESA.  They ignore ZESA debt because they just consider it as a Government thing and do not prioritise paying electricity debt.  I think we need to assist each other with the best way forward.  ZESA actually understands farmers.  There are times when ZESA used to cut off power at farms and mines.  Most of them would come up with a payment plan.  We have a crisis already; there is not electricity and we do not have the money to import the electricity. The farmers want that little electricity that we have but when they do not pay, what are we supposed to do as ZESA?

The other question has to do with load shedding and faults.  These two are different.  The Hon. Sen. said that he understands that our equipment is outdated and we need to rehabilitate.  We do not have funds to rehabilitate.  Some of the faults are caused by vandalism of transformers and cables.  Usually it is ZESA that traces these problems. ZESA is facing challenges in replacing cables and transformers that are being vandalised. 

*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHIKWAKA: The Minister has responded very well and asked what we should do.  Farmers are given agricultural inputs and then they pay off the debt after they have sold their produce.  This stop order arrangement is done with banks.  Why does ZESA not do the same and collect what they are owed once farmers send their produce to the Grain Marketing Board. This will ensure that we have electricity and we continue to produce.

THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  We have asked the Minister to give a comprehensive Ministerial Statement about the challenges affecting ZESA. Let us give the Minister a chance to respond.  If there are any critical issues that emanate from that speech, we will take that issue up. 

HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: I rise on a point of order; we have had so many Ministerial Statements which are very flat.  I would want to urge the Minister to say what we are dealing with is a national issue which is going to take us to Vision 2030.  Minister, you were evading answers.  What is sitting in front of you is corruption.  We want you to bring in all those people who were given licences and how many have performed?  Who gave them these licences because we do due diligence when those licences are issued?.  Right now we have Sir Wicknell and they are boasting yet they illegally spent millions.  That is what we want included in that statement.  We want to see what ZESA is doing about corruption.  The Head of State always says corruption, corruption, corruption and we have the mechanisms to handle that.  Those people should be blacklisted so that detailed part will be necessary for the country.  From what the Hon. Minister was saying, definitely they have no problem – ZERA and  Ministry staff members  who were doing all these contracts are the culprits. That is what we would want to be included if that Ministerial Statement is going to be of any use to the nation.  I thank you. 

HON. SEN. A. DUBE:  Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity.  I will direct my question to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development.  When is the Government going to consider re-introducing the STEM programme in order to assist under privileged students who are willing to specialise in STEM?

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (HON. MACHINGURA):  Thank you Mr. President Sir.  STEM is already included in our programmes – the Ministry’s title is Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development.  With STEM, we have started with teacher training programmes.  We realised that there was a shortage of STEM teachers.  We have selected some colleges around the country that are running STEM teacher training at the moment.  In our programmes at higher education level at universities, ZIMCHE has re-oriented our programmes so that we look at needs of the people of Zimbabwe and the problems we are having.  The programmes have got to align to that one – that is our education 5.0.  There should be alignment to the extent that our students are  able to produce goods and services.  The Ministry is not a ‘STEM’ Ministry but actually considers STEM subjects very much.

*HON. SEN. DENGA: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Transport. I realise that you are doing great work with regards to some of the roads but I am concerned by some roads that we are seeing being patched by gravel only without tar. That widens the potholes during the rainy season, especially the Harare-Chirundu Road. Is your Ministry aware of that? This road is in now in a bad state and the potholes are not being properly patched.

*THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Thank you Mr. President. I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Denga for the important question. On the rehabilitation of our roads, most of them are now outdated. If you patch one side, another one comes up. I am glad that he has raised the issue of the Chirundu Highway but there are yet other several roads indeed. I would like to inform the House about the Government programme with regards to roads. I am sure most people are aware of the developments on the Harare-Beitbridge Road-Chirundu Road. To us, it is the same road. Indeed, in some areas we can rightly say there are no patches of that road. Even if you patch one side, another problem arises next to it.

Next week we are going to issue a statement on what we are going to be doing with regards to that road. We are also going to issue a statement on the refurbishment of the Chirundu Border Post. So I am going to issue a statement on the progress on what we plan to do. I am also going to issue a statement on the progress that we plan to do as well as the progress on the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Road. We are going to work on the sections of the road that are very bad. For example, coming from Hwange, there is no road anymore. We are going to refurbish the sections of that road from Victoria Falls to Beitbridge. This is an example of one of the bad roads that we have just like what Hon. Sen. Denga alluded to.

Sometimes when we patch using gravel, it does not mean that is the end of the construction. Sometimes that is only the foundation, although sometimes vehicles may use that road. I know that some engineers like Sen. Eng. Mudzuri are aware that sometimes if the temperatures or conditions do not allow for the application of the tar, but it will be work in progress as we wait for the appropriate temperatures. Some people may think that is the end of the construction. Indeed, some of our roads are dilapidated and have outlived their life-span, but we are still going to work on them.

HON. SEN. PHUGENI: Thank you Mr. President. I recognise that you said no more questions to the Minister of Energy and I will respect that. It would be a rhetorical one and it will benefit her statement which she will make very soon. Countries like Australia are benefiting from the solar energy, solar technology to the extent that they have a surplus of energy from generation. They want to have control where they can shut off solar panels because of too much generated energy. I say so seeing that Australia has more or less the same climate like us.

 THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order Senator. Can you get straight to the point? You are taking long.

HON. SEN. PHUGENI: That is what I am doing now, it was important. Seeing that Australia has the same climate like us, why does the Government not have a policy of residential houses feeding the grid? That way you will not have a problem of generation and it will mean less storage capacity for residents as they will only need it in the evening. Why do you not adopt a policy of the residents feeding the grid? Thank you Mr. President.

THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Thank you. I think that is a point to note. When you make a ministerial statement, you will address it.

*HON. SEN. MANYAU: My question is directed to the Minister of Transport. I have asked the question in relation to people living with disabilities in this country before but I am not satisfied with the response. The public transport in this country has got many steps and we are not able to board. You are all ware that money is found in the CBD area and for me to travel from home to work or to hospital we need to use the public transport. Where are we as a country with regards to transport that is user friendly to people living with disabilities?

*THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Thank you Mr. President. I would like to thank Hon. Senator Manyau. Indeed, it is true that may be I failed to respond to that question because it is supposed to be responded to by our sister Ministry that we work closely with. The Ministry responsible for that is the Ministry of Local Government because it is the one responsible for urban transport. Nevertheless, I am sure we will be able to liaise with the Ministry to consider those issues being raised by people living with disabilities when we procure buses. In future when buses are being procured that should be considered. We are supposed to be able to get buses that are user friendly whereby a wheelchair can be simply loaded onto the bus easily so that people using wheelchairs can easily travel. We can liaise with the Ministry of Local Government to ensure a speedy solution to that problem. I thank you.

*HON. SEN. MANYAU: I am requesting the Minister to inform us when this will be done. We have been talking about the issue of transport for a long time now and we are being told it is under consideration. Can we have a timeframe when this can be addressed?

THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Disability rights are also human rights and we should treat them the very same way we treat the able-bodied counterparts. I think this is a question which was raised in the last session and it is reappearing. Minister, since you are coming back to the Senate next week, can you in your address touch issues that have to deal with access to transport for people living with disabilities. I would also appeal to you to share with your colleagues at Cabinet because access to buses is not the only challenge that people living with challenges/disabilities encounter. Even access to buildings is a nightmare. Most buildings do not have ramps that will assist easy access for disabled people. I want you to take note of that Hon. Minister.

* HON. MHONA: Thank you Mr. President. I think when I gave my first response, I explained that the Ministry that looks into the matter that she raised is not the Ministry of Transport. That is why I said I was not able to give you a response but the Ministry of Local Government will bring a response.

THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Minister, I think you are repeating what I have been talking about in response to access to transport for people living with disabilities. Your Members in Cabinet should also come and respond to other challenges that were raised.

Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order No. 67.

          HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Hon. President, I move that the time be extended by 20 minutes.

          HON. SEN. ENG. MUDZURI:  I second.

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF SENATE: It has been noted.  I will extend by 10 minutes.

          HON. SEN. MUPFUMIRA:  Thank you Hon. President for giving me an opportunity to ask a question.  My question is directed to the Minister of Transport.  Minister, I would like to thank you on behalf of my province and I am sure on behalf of the rest of the country for the tremendous work which is happening on our roads, especially the highways.  I would like to know the Government policy on the issue of haulage trucks driving at night.  I am referring to the Harare-Chirundu Highway which I have a special interest in and the menace which is caused by the haulage trucks including those with hazardous substances driving at night.

          THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA):  Thank you Hon. Sen. Mupfumira for that very important question.  Indeed, we have got a policy that whether it could be trucks carrying hazardous or dangerous products plying our roads, they are not permitted to move after six o’clock p.m.  This calls for massive and vibrant enforcement policies.  If you find in particular fuel, EMA will be manning our roads and also we have the police on the roads.  Since the Hon. Sen has raised that particular point, we are going to also work and approach the whole government to ensure that enforcement is upheld.  At the end of the day we also make sure that after six o’clock p.m. if you have witnessed, it could also extend to buses ferrying our school children.  I was also mandated by the National Assembly to table a Ministerial Statement on the carnage that we are witnessing on our roads and I have also included that element of night driving.  Not necessarily hazardous products but naturally it is not advisable to drive after hours.  I want to thank the Hon. Senator that it is also one of the major causes of road carnages that we are witnessing, especially those that drive long distances as they will be tired and at times not sober-minded when they are driving.  So I am happy that the Hon. Sen has raised that important question and surely, Chirundu is one of our gateway routes connecting the SADC region.  We will make sure the issue to do with enforcement especially by Police, VID and EMA to ensure that products that are not allowed to be transported after hours are not being transported.  Thank you Mr. President. I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. CHINAKE: My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Higher Education. What measures have you put in place regarding the leaking of examination papers every year?

          *THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (HON. MACHINGURA): Thank you Senator for that question. When we look at Education 3.0, examinations were the only way to ensure that people were now knowledgeable to the extent we expect. Under Education 5.0 which came about as a result of realising that a person can write the examination and is very knowledgeable academically but the purpose of our education is to look at the challenges that we are facing as a country. For example, the roads that are being constructed - what is known as bitumen is from South Africa, so if something is being accessed outside the country, it means we are losing foreign currency to another country which can be used to procure that expensive resource. So we lose a lot of money.

          When we are at universities we investigate and see what we can do to ensure that the transport sector does not continue to lose foreign currency. The students at Midlands State University, through their innovation hub came up with innovative measures to ensure that we get the relevant material for road construction which is of the same quality as bitumen. The reason why we give examinations is so that we can address issues of things that we need in the country. Once we have that we can export and bring in foreign currency but now when there is the leaking of examination papers, it means we are now downgrading our knowledge that we are trying to promote. If there are examination paper leakages there is need for investigation.

          Currently, I do not have an explanation as to what is happening but I will raise this issue. I will come again and present to you a Ministerial Statement to that effect. Let us value our education and continue to uplift the good standards. What we want is to address issues such as poverty and shortage of food through education. We need to look at what our tertiary institutions are doing to ensure that there is food security. At the moment, our beef industry is not in good order because our cattle are being affected by various diseases and we want what our children in universities are doing to try and avert those challenges. That is basically what we are looking into.

          What informs our curriculum are the needs of the country. The needs of the country inform the curriculum and what students will learn. That can lead the development of our industries in our country. I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. CHIEF CHUNDU: My question is directed to the Minister of Transport. We have residents who stay around tollgate areas and they can travel more than five times through the tollgates. They have constructed their own short-cuts to avoid paying toll fees. I do not know what measures you have put in place to assist such people.

          THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): I want to thank Hon Sen. Chief Chundu for that question. The people who stay in areas around the tollgates pay very minimal charges for the tollgates. We do not compare them to those who will just be passing through. All the money that we get from tollgates is used to rehabilitate the roads. If we allow people to use their own short-cuts, it becomes a challenge. So I appeal to the chief to assist us in trying to punish such unlawful citizens.

          What I can advise him is to inform them that they should visit ZINARA and they will be given very minimal charges for use of the proper roads.

Hon. Ziyambi having stood up to announce the suspension of automatic business in the Senate

HON. SEN. ENG. MUDZURI: On a point of order. Hon Ziyambi I really appreciate your coming to announce the Budget aspect. As Leader of Government Business, I really want to appeal to you to look at what has happened today. There are no Ministers and there is no one at the President’s Panel. Are we really serious about Government business when you come in and announce? We have been complaining everyday and you have to take it seriously that the people who have sent us expect us to be discussing with our Ministers. There are Ministers who have never been here. We appeal to you as Leader of Government Business to ensure that they come - otherwise it is useless for us to come on Thursday during Question Time.

Every time we have two or three Ministers, which is not fair for this House. This is a very senior august House where Chiefs even come  to ask questions about their jurisdictions. Please, can you do something?

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Mr. President. I really wanted to come but I was torn in-between Houses and my apologies. I did not have colleagues to deal with business there but your point is well-noted and apologies for the state of affairs that happened. Really, all the points that you have noted are very correct. His Excellency has always implored all of us to take the business of Parliament with the respect that it deserves, so I will communicate to my colleagues what you have said to me.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): I move that Order of the Day, Number 1 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 2 has been disposed of.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

RATIFICATION OF THE REVISED GEORGETOWN AGREEMENT

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  I move the motion standing in my name;

THAT WHEREAS section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that an international treaty which has been concluded or executed by or under the authority of the President does not bind Zimbabwe until it has been approved by Parliament;

WHEREAS the Georgetown Agreement created in 1975, is the Framework Act of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States which aims to ensure sustainable development and poverty reduction within the ACP’s Member States. Zimbabwe, together with other Member States are progressively adopting policies and implementing measures in accordance with their obligations in terms of the Agreement and exercising political will by calling for the transformation of the ACP Group of States into an international organisation which will act as a multilateral body, taking into account the changing global geo-political context;

AND WHEREAS the Revised Georgetown Agreement was opened for signature in 2019, and came into force in April 2020, the Revised Agreement endorses the Organisation’s change of name from the ACP Group of States to the Organisation of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (OACPS). Other significant changes include among others, a revision of addressing the challenges to development in all its dimensions with respect to environmental matters, climate change, peace and security, gender and private sector development:

NOW, THEREFORE, in terms of section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, this House resolves that the aforesaid agreement be and is hereby approved for accession.

Before I so move Mr. President, I will give a brief preamble why it is critical that Zimbabwe accedes to the Revised Georgetown Agreement. The Organisation of the African, Caribbean and Pacific States which is now OACPs in collaboration with the Republic of Angola, will host the 10th Summit of OACPs Heads of State in Angola, Luanda from 5 – 11 December, 2022 which is this period. If Zimbabwe does not accede to the Revised Georgetown Agreement, the country will not be able to participate at the upcoming 10th OACPs Summit.

Most importantly Mr. President, besides the participation, being part to the Revised Georgetown Agreement satisfies a country to be member of the OACPs and can access the rights and privileges and other benefits of being a member. The country will not be eligible to access funding, benefit from OACPs projects and technical capacity building from the negotiations for an economic partnership agreement with the EU that Zimbabwe is currently undertaking.

Zimbabwe has benefitted immensely from OACPs projects and programmes, mainly in the agricultural sector through the Tradecom 1 and 2 projects which saw farmers in Chimanimani receiving funding and know-how on growing pineapples, avocados and cashew nuts for export to the EU. Zimbabwe has also been a beneficiary of the European Development Funds which assisted in the education and health sectors.

On 21st November, 2022 the EU Ambassador signed two agreements with the Minister of Finance and Economic Development for the disbursement of funds amounting to EURO$47 million to support the health sector and the electoral processes. Additionally, the private sector has received funding from the European Investment Bank to the tune of EURO$50 million which was disbursed through four banks namely; NMB, CABS, NED Bank and FBC in Zimbabwe for on-lending to the private sector under the private sector facility.

Mr. President, if Zimbabwe does not accede to the revised Georgetown Agreement, the country will not be eligible to sign the post-Cotonou Agreement which gives eligibility to development co-oporation and funding. The pre-requisite to accessing funding from the new Neighbourhood Development International Corporation Instrument (NDICI) which came into force on 14 June, 2021 is the one that has to be acceded to the revised Georgetown Agreement and sign the post-Cotonou Agreement. That is the brief background Mr. President.

I now move that this House agrees to the ratification of the Cotonou Agreement.

HON. SEN. KOMICHI: I do not have much to say but just to appreciate. If there are efforts to make Zimbabwe re-engage with the international community, there is nothing wrong with that. We have as a country been under isolation and we are suffering a lot because of isolation. If there are any efforts and means to make sure that we are engaged with any other country, it is a welcome development. So, I support the motion.

HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: I want to thank the Minister for his motion but I would want to urge the Minister by saying that there are so many treaties which Zimbabwe has not ratified which will actually have benefits to the country. Instead of leaving because I think this treaty was on the Minister’s desk for sometime because it did not come today, I think the Minister is sleeping on duty and depriving the country. I do not have to go into detail on how many treaties are very potentially beneficial to Zimbabwe but are just gathering dust without being ratified. Thank you Minister for bringing the motion but I would urge you to go to your colleague and look in his basket. There are so many useful treaties which we have not ratified and say he is doing the country a disservice and probably that is why he never attends Senate for him to answer allegations of crime against the country.

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  I would like to thank the Hon. Sen. for their contributions – first Hon. Sen. Komichi for his support.  Indeed, that is the stance of His Excellency that we should be friends to everyone and enemy to none. Let us engage and re-engage; this is part of that process. I would also want to thank Hon. Sen. Mavetera and say that the Minister was not sleeping on duty.  We have a deliberate foreign policy shift.  If you have noticed over the last year or two, several treaties have come for ratification.  We even went further to come up with a Treaties Act to regulate how treaties come through. They are registered and published for the benefit of the public.  These are the efforts His Excellency is putting to ensure that as we become part of the international community, we are alive to our obligations to have all the treaties domesticated according to our laws.  It is part of the process, it is not the Minister’s fault but now we are in full swing to identify all of them.  I think we have collective responsibility.  That is the reason why you have seen me here duly representing the Minister.  He is here but not in person.  We are together in it.  I agree with him that we must accelerate this process of ensuring that all the international treaties that have been acceded to by the President or under his authority that we need to ratify, we push them through Parliament so that the instrument of ratification can be deposited. 

I move that the Revised Georgetown Agreement be now approved by Parliament for ratification.

Motion put and agreed to.

          On the motion of THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI), the Senate adjourned at Seven Minutes past Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 13th December, 2022.

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