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SENATE HANSARD 8 SEPTEMBER 2022 VOL 31 NO 68
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Thursday, 8th September, 2022
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
SWITCHING OFF OF CELLPHONES
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Senators are reminded to put their phones on silent or better still switch them off.
APOLOGIGES RECEIVED FROM MINISTERS
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Today is Thursday and as usual, we start with Questions without Notice. A number of Ministers have tendered apologies and they are as follows:
Hon. C. D. G. N Chiwenga, Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care;
Hon. O. C. Z. Muchinguri-Kashiri, Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs;
Hon. Prof. P. Mavima, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare;
Hon. D. Garwe, Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities.
Hon. Prof. Murwira, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development;
Hon. J. G. Moyo, Minister of Local Government and Public Works;
Hon. F. M. Shava, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade;
Hon. K. Kazembe, Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage;
Hon. Sen. M. Mutsvangwa, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services;
Hon. E. Ndlovu, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education;
Hon. Dr. S. Nzenza, Minister of Industry and Commerce;
Hon. R. Modi, Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce;
Hon. W. Chitando, Minister of Mines and Mining Development;
Hon. P. Kambamura, Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development;
Hon. Dr. A. Masuka, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement;
Hon. D. Marapira, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement;
In the Senate today we have:
Hon. F. Mhona, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development;
Hon. M. Chombo, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Public Works;
Hon. R. Machingura; Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development;
Hon. R. Maboyi-Mavhungu, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage;
Hon. L. Matuke, Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare;
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
*HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. What plans does your Ministry have with regards to distribution of supplementary feeding in schools so as to reduce school drop-outs and forced marriages?
*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. MATUKE): Thank you. Government is not just distributing food but there are a lot of other things that are meant to assist learners. This year we have budgeted for $2.8 million that is meant to assist school children or learners through BEAM. Government pays fees for primary and secondary school learners, including examination fees. At the moment, we have a programme in two districts that are pilot projects. One of them is Mbire where fees are paid for learners to the extent of assisting them to be provided with school uniforms. Beneficiaries will be selected amongst the less privileged children. We will also provide learners with food whilst they go to school. With your permission Mr. President, in future we will be able to give a breakdown of the actual allocations with the specific areas. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. MOHADI: Thank you Mr. President. My question goes to the Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. We have vulnerable groups within our communities, that is, the elderly, orphans and the disabled. These people are supposed to get food throughout the year, especially in areas in region 5. The information that we have is that these people last received food assistance in March. Up to now, they have not received any food. What is the Government policy on that issue?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. MATUKE): Thank you Mr. President. Let me thank the Hon. Senator for such a good question. With effect from 1st October, we are going to distribute food to more than two million families. This programme will roll up to end of December. From January to March, we are going to distribute food to 3.8 million households and it will be on full scale. From the ZIMVAC report, it indicates that a total of 3.8 million households need food assistance. We have got about 15.000 metric tonnes which is already available, which we will continue to distribute even before October. However, we have targeted areas with severe drought. The 15.000 metric tonnes are not for the whole country. As we go to October, we are going to increase our numbers to more than two million, then 3.8 million from January up to March. If there are areas which you may point, we could specifically advise our office so that from that small budget, we can see how best we can distribute the maize to the areas in need. Thank you so much.
HON. SEN. MOHADI: Thank you Mr. President. I would want to thank the Hon. Minister for the response. However, it does not answer my question; it answers it partially because I have asked about the period from March to October where you are saying you are going to start. Whose responsibility is it for those vulnerable groups to be given food?
HON. MATUKE: Thank you Mr. President. Yes, we know we had some few problems with quite a number of areas from our different provinces. I am not going to speak as from March but I will start from now. We could not provide enough as you indicated but basing on the ZIMVAC report, they listed some areas which were almost 80% short of grain. Those areas which were not indicated by ZIMVAC, we could not supply food because most of the areas could provide food for themselves up to October. I agree with you that there are some areas which were omitted by error and those are the areas which I am requesting you to forward to our office. Currently, we have 15.000 metric tonnes and we could then allocate something to those areas in need. We never stopped food distribution but we were targeting areas which were in dire need of the grain. We are so happy to receive that information. If you know there is an area which you feel there is urgent need to distribute maize, please let us know. We can make arrangements and make sure that we distribute the maize as soon as we can receive that request. Thank you.
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: We also have two Ministers who are attending virtually and are ready to answer your questions. They are Hon. E. Moyo, the Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. Secondly, we have Hon. J. Mhlanga, the Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises. She is also available to answer questions.
HON. SEN. A. DUBE: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity. My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. Hon. Minister, what are we doing as Government to monitor over-dependence of NGOs and donors for aid in the country in some provinces?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. MATUKE): If I heard the Hon. Senator correctly, she is talking about the overdependence of our members of the community. Is that correct?
HON. A. DUBE: No, are operations of some NGOs in the country being monitored?
HON. MATUKE: I now get the sense of your question. I will try to answer that. What we have done as a Ministry is, we have got a committee at district level. It is chaired by those we used to call the DAs. It is an inter-ministerial committee which is at every district which also has the duty to monitor the operations of NGOs. Every NGO which provides anything to any community has to go through that committee and also when they go out there to give whatever they want to give, they seek approval from our offices. Those who deviate from their mandate, normally we delist them, but we can only do that when we get reports that this NGO has deviated from its mandate.
Sometimes we get information from the local councilors as to whether the NGOs are following their mandates because I can see your question is that there are NGOs who go out there not to help people but to do things which are a bit evil in terms of politicising maybe whatever they will be giving. If we get knowledge of any of those NGOs, the Ministry will not hesitate to delist the NGO from our books so that they will not continue with their operations. Thank you.
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Dr. J. M. Gumbo, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs in charge of Implementation and Monitoring is on the virtual platform, so you can ask questions. Also, Dr. E. Ndlovu, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education has joined on virtual. You can ask questions.
*HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. In this country we have a refugee camp called Tongogara Refugee Camp. There are children who stay in the camp who attend a school there in the camp. Can these children not have their school fees being paid for by BEAM which is meant for those children who cannot pay for themselves? The other thing is, those who are supported up to ‘A’ Level, are they then able to proceed to university after that? Who then takes over their fees payment?
* THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. MATUKE): Tongagara camp is a refugee camp where those people who would have fled their countries because of wars stay. There are over 2 000 refugees that stay in that camp who come from different countries such as Mozambique, Congo and many other war-torn countries to stay here in Zimbabwe.
The Government built a clinic there so that they have access to health facilities and it also constructed a secondary and primary school to cater for those children in the camp. The refugees were also given land for agriculture because some of the food the refugees would have been used to in their countries may not be available in this country, for example some of them, their staple food maybe bananas or cassava. So they have been allocated that land. Donors such as United Nations and UNICEF also assist through supporting those children in addition to what the Government offers, there are also children that go to universities. Government also supports their projects and some are into poultry, soap making, piggery. There is an area allocated for such productivity where they actually earn money. We have not yet heard reports of children failing to pay fees because some of it comes from donors and some from Government. There are children there who have degrees from universities and are employed. In Gutu, there is a school and the school employed a French teacher from there. He is an expert who has the necessary qualification. They are allowed to work but their certificates are withheld so that they can be traced at any given time. Some even own commuter omnibuses and are even more successful than some of the people here in Harare. It is a place where people are taken care of very well and there are a lot of activities that enable them to survive very well.
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE (HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA): I have to inform the Senate that The Hon. Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development has joined us on virtual, Hon. M. Ndlovu, Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry has also joined on virtual.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. What is the Government position on payment of fees which is currently obtaining in our schools? With the opening of schools, most schools have divided school fees payment in local currency and foreign currency. A number of parents may try the local currency portion but fail to get the foreign currency portion because it is not easy to get foreign currency on the official market and they are not remunerated enough to go to the parallel market where it is almost two to three times the official rate. Schools are refusing to accept those students, so what is Government policy regarding that? I thank you.
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: She wrote a message to say wherever she is, she will be on virtual so Hon. Senators can ask questions. Also Hon. M. Ndlovu had said he is on virtual, but now he is in the Senate at least this is good.
(v)THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. E. NDLOVU): Thank you Mr. President. Although I am not feeling well, I can respond. The policy is very clear that the parents who have got the foreign currency can pay in foreign currency and those with local currency can pay in that currency. That is Government’s position. We see on social media; we are worried that some schools have decided to come up with their own policy which is not Government policy. We call upon all parents and school heads to make sure that they accept payments in either foreign currency or local currency. I thank you.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: My supplementary question is that this is currently happening and children are losing out, including children who are in examination classes. What is the Government doing because the Hon. Minister has just articulated the policy but already children are suffering and we cannot reverse that suffering once that happens because they are suffering from an illegality which is being perpetrated in our Government institutions? I thank you.
(v)HON. E. NDLOVU: I hear the Hon. Senator, illegality is a challenge in this country, I am sure and we are all aware that the issue of the black market; we have been trying as Government to address that issue but schools continue to break the law. What we have done is that we have engaged the Anti-Corruption Commission to track all those that are demanding foreign currency payments. We just pray that the Anti-Corruption Commission will do its part to assist us. Mr. President, I think you are aware that as Government, we are in trouble in terms of the black market. It is similar to what is happening in schools and I call upon all our people to resist these people who break the law and report them to the Anti-Corruption Commission. I think the Commission can assist us. I thank you.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Mr. President, probably the Hon. Minister will be very useful to the country if she tells us how the children are being protected because this is an illegality, I do not know where the Anti-Corruption Commission would come in, how would the Anti-Corruption Commission respond to this practice which is happening in our school? My question is, parents can afford to pay in local currency but schools have divided their fees into half foreign and half local currency and parents have got no access to foreign currency. They are not being paid enough to pay for that and our children are now being denied to access lessons because they have not fulfilled that second portion of foreign currency. Does that amount to an illegality? I was of the opinion that the Minister should be very clear to the nation that is it the duty of the Anti-Corruption Commission or the Minister should make sure she brings order to her Ministry which she is superintending.
(v)HON. DR. E. NDLOVU: Mr. President, I think the Senator should bear with me that I have no police force in my Ministry to enforce that policy. Police force resides in another Ministry. Mr. President, I am serving the nation. When he started his question, he said I am not serving the nation. I think I have given myself 100% to the nation to make sure that I serve the nation as per my mandate from the President. The Anti-Corruption Commission works with the Police. If we raise issues, they also come in because that is part of their duty. I think the Hon. Senator can advise me on the methodology that we can use. It is an instrument or police that can enforce that. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Local Government and Public Works. The term is almost over after electing provincial councillors to work in their respective areas. At the moment, the law that is supposed to guide their operations, where has it ended because there are certain things that need to be put in place which are making it impossible to happen because of this problem? We put them on those positions for a purpose in those provinces and nothing is happening. Are you saying their work is no longer necessary until their term is over? I thank you.
*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. CHOMBO): Thank you Mr. President, I want to thank Hon. Sen. Komichi for that important question. We have since finished everything and the Bill is at the Attorney-General’s Office. The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs told us that their office was overwhelmed by work because they have a huge backlog but he told us that they have been given permission to increase their staff complement in order to expedite such Bills. I cannot tell you when exactly we can expect that Bill but we expect it to come sooner. I would like to ask for forgiveness because the Bill is overdue. We have tried to ensure that those who have been elected get their dues in order for them to survive and that they are able to do their work. I thank you.
HON. SEN. KAMBIZI: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development. Mr. President, during NDS1 period, it is envisaged that the focus will be to develop feeder roads into communities as to develop the underdeveloped remote areas. In view of that, can the Minister explain to this august House how far his Ministry has gone to ensure the stated focus is achieved and also state the strategies being implemented to ensure the focus is achieved? I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF TRANSPPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Thank you Hon. President and I also want to thank Hon. Sen. Kambizi for that very important question. Mr. President Sir, let me start by stating that all roads in this country belong to the Minister of Transport. However, the Ministry of Transport also has road authorities under its purview that are supposed to work together for the betterment of our roads. I am happy to say, of those road authorities that we have, we have got the Department of Roads, DDF, local authorities and we have got rural district councils.
To answer his question, the four road authorities are supposed to work together so that they share the roads that we have. Under normal circumstance, the Ministry of Transport is supposed to superintend over trunk roads and for the feeder roads, the category falls under the purview of the local authorities and rural district councils, particularly the rural areas and under DDF. With the wise counsel of His Excellency Dr. Mnangagwa, he then declared a state of disaster for our roads, meaning that for us to then say this road belongs to DDF, that mandate now falls under the Ministry together with the road authorities so that we approach the roads - be it primary, secondary or tertiary roads, together. This is the strategy that we are currently using.
However, we know that under other jurisdictions, for roads, we get concessional loans to manage roads. We are also competing from the same fiscus pot where we are also waiting for the allocation from Treasury to rehabilitate our roads. So you find that under such an environment, the progress and the speed anticipated by the citizens might not be in tandem with their expectations. I want to assure Hon. Sen. Kambizi, that yes, from provinces, there are roads that we have prioritised and also tried to make sure that the budget that we have as a Ministry is used to cater for such roads.
Mr. President, it is true that the economic enabler, I am referring to our roads, they play a pivotal role and it is true that some of these feeder roads lead to GMB and other important facilities and we are failing in some areas to access those utility areas. I want to assure the Hon. Senator that it is an ongoing exercise; we have got close to 90 000 kilometres and a larger portion of these roads are in a sorry state. It is an exercise that Government is partaking, we have started the exercise and I assure the nation that this is an ongoing exercise that we have prioritised.
(v)HON. DR. B. MPOFU: Thank you Mr. President for the opportunity to ask this question. My question is directed to the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development. South Africa and Botswana have SIDA, and these are parastatals that help to develop and finance small and medium enterprises. What is the Zimbabwe policy to help small and medium enterprises? Zimbabwe is estimated to have over 75% informal sectors that need this type of structured development as well as financing. What is the policy in trying to help the informal sector in forming up something close to what South Africa and Botswana have that is helping these small and medium enterprises?
Question was not responded to due to network connectivity.
HON. SEN. MWONZORA: My question goes to the Minister of Transport, Minister Mhona. Just before I ask my question Mr. President, allow me to thank the Minister for almost always availing himself for Question Time. I think he is a good example of a Minister.
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE (HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA): So, he is one example of a good and effective Minister.
HON. SEN. MWONZORA: And a Minister who listens and understands the Constitution and the role of this Senate. My question is that if we go to developed countries or those countries that are in the middle of development like the BRIC countries and so on, we see that there is in those countries an elaborate railway system to help in transportation. What efforts has the Government made to make sure that our railway system is revamped and made operational?
THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA): Let me hasten to thank Hon. Sen. Mwonzora for that very important observation. It is true that rail, you find some of the challenges that we are facing as a nation are as a result of failure to have a vibrant and robust railway network. You find that the load that is supposed to go through the rail is now being channeled through the road. I want to agree with the Hon. Senator that even in terms of passenger movement, yes, that is not the core business of rail but you find that you would want such a vibrant railway network where the citizenry have a choice to drive their vehicles on weekends where during the week days they take advantage of a vibrant railway network.
I want to answer the very important question posed by the Hon. Senator that even if during the Mid-term Review that you were debating in this important august House, there was also a component of buying locomotives and wagons under that budget. If you go through what Hon. Prof. Ncube presented, the Government is in the process of acquiring what we call DMUs (diesel multiple units). These are supposed to ferry passengers and that will then answer the question posed by the Hon. Senator, to ease the challenges that we are facing in terms of transportation of our people, the people of Zimbabwe in particular. You find that even the locomotives that we are depending on now, they are very old and archaic where in terms of maintenance it is very expensive.
In that particular budget, there is also a provision where we have engaged a company to procure seven new locomotives and this will go a long way to alleviate some of the challenges that we are witnessing as a nation. His Excellency the President highlighted that in terms of infrastructural development, we are lagging behind when it comes to rail infrastructure. As a Ministry, by having the new locomotives and about 315 new wagons that we are going to procure, I am sure you will then see even the increase in tonnage. Where we used to do over 10 million tonnes, currently we are below three million per month. We hope that as we close the year, in terms of production of the new equipment, we would anticipate to receive the same in the first quarter of next year and you will see tremendous improvement in terms of our tonnage where we are focusing between 8 – 10 million in terms of tonnage that will be moving through the railway line. I want to agree with the Hon. Senator that yes, this plays a very important role in terms of rail network and we are seized as Government to make sure that we revive NRZ.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: My supplementary question to the Minister is; a few years back, the nation was told that there was an agreement with a consortium which had pumped in or promised to pump in about +/-US$400 million to revamp NRZ. What went wrong with that deal Hon. Minister and what can you tell the nation about that celebration which died so early?
HON. MHONA: Let me thank Hon. Sen. Mavetera for that contribution. It is true that there was a pending deal and the company is DIG in particular. It had assured the nation that they were going to bring in locomotives and wagons but along the way, the deal did not materialise. Again, through wise deliberations in Cabinet, it was then seen fit to cancel the deal. As we speak, the transaction went before the courts and under normal circumstance it will be subjudice to disclose further where the challenges are but to say the deal was pending and never materialised. This is why we then failed to have a vibrant partner as NRZ but we did not stop there.
We are in the process of procuring and trying to see whether we can have other partners. As we speak, we have no pending deal and we await the courts to finalise on the DIG matter. Yes, if it had materialised, it was a good deal through seeing but in terms of the implementation matrix, it then failed to take off. So, I want to thank the Hon. Senator for raising it but we assure you that as a Ministry, we will not cringe, only fold our hands and cry over a deal that did not materialise. Thank you Mr. President Sir.
HON. SEN. S. MPOFU: My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Local Government and Public Works. There were people who were affected by floods in Chimanimani and Tsholotsho. Now that we are approaching the rain season, how far has the Ministry gone in providing the families with accommodation? Have these families been allocated the land where they can do their farming? I thank you.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. CHOMBO): Thank you Hon. Senator for the question concerning the welfare of those affected in the Idai pandemic. We have made a lot of strides in as far as making sure that they have shelter. We have created 6000 square meter stands where they will be able to erect their homesteads and also make a living, mostly from horticulture because it is normally the mainstay of the people in Chimanimani area. We have also made provision for water around those stands. We have put temporary shelter for most of them, though we have not been able to house all of them yet but most of them have been moved from tents to their respective stands. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: Thank you Hon. President for giving me the opportunity to ask my question. My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare. We notice that on our streets in urban areas, especially here in Harare, the street kids are now increasing in numbers and we see people giving them food here and there. We see some of the street kids cleaning people’s cars on the roads without permission. The other thing is we used to call them homeless or street children but some of them are becoming mischievous and are now making babies. I do not know whether to call them street children or parents. My question is, as a Ministry, what do you say about that and what is your opinion in terms of making sure that our towns are clean because that is what we want? I thank you.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. MATUKE): I would like to thank the Hon. Sen. For the question. With regards to the problem about street kids, the Ministry has a lot of places designated for keeping these children. In most of the provinces, we have such places where child headed families are taken care of. We realised that at times the children are too young to take care of themselves, so Government has homes designated to take care of such kids. Government sends them to school, pays their fees and provides them with uniforms until they finish ‘A’ level with the assistance of our development partners.
The issue that you talked about that is happening on the streets, indeed there is a problem in our country. After children lose their parents, close relatives may refuse to take care of them and that is how some of the children end up on the streets. That does not always happen but it is a reality and we need to unite as a country and take care of our relatives just like how we used to do traditionally. Somebody could adopt a child because they shared the same totem but these days, people fail to take care of children who may not be their blood relatives. So, that becomes a real problem especially in urban areas where life is more expensive than in rural areas.
As a Ministry, we take those children but it does not mean that if we take them today, tomorrow you will not find them on the streets. It is a continuously recurring problem due to several problems. Some of the children run away from home after committing crimes at home and at times it is because they will have taken these illicit drugs where a child can sleep for several hours or days. Sometimes they have too much physical power where they become violent and can fight with their parents or relatives then leave home. We have a place called Chambuta in Chiredzi where such children are taken care of but because they are used to sleeping on the streets, they are not used to such places where they get good accommodation, good food and water to bath daily. They run back to the streets. So it is a big problem where the Ministry is now required to continuously go and take them to look after them. So indeed, I would like to concur with you that we have also noticed the increase in numbers on the streets. I will take that message to our Ministry so that we find a way of taking them. Most of them run away if they hear that they are now being looked for to be taken to such homes. Some of them end up being robbers who may be a menace to our society. So that message will be relayed to our Ministry so that the children can be taken to appropriate homes. I thank you.
Questions without notice were interrupted by the TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order Number 67.
HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Hon. President, I would like to move that the time be extended by fifteen minutes.
HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
HON. SEN. KOMICHI: My question is directed to the Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry. In Zimbabwe, human-wildlife conflict is escalating mainly due to overpopulation of animals in the respective areas. It has been the desire and wish of Zimbabweans to beneficiate from these animals in ivory trade and meat consumption so as to control the herds. We are aware that there is an organisation called CITES which does not allow us to do so. Why do we not quit from CITES so that we can manage our animals without anyone managing us from afar?
THE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE CHANGE, TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY (HON. M. NDLOVU): It is very true that as a country, increasingly we are facing serious human-wildlife conflict emanating mainly from rapidly increasing populations of both humans and wildlife, also from the effects of climate change habitant loss.
It is also true that it would help a lot if this country was allowed to trade in wildlife and wildlife productions, a position which is very difficult within the CITES provisions. We meet every three years, that is all member states of CITES to deliberate on issues and it is a matter of public record that Zimbabwe has been clear in its desire to trade in wildlife and wildlife products. The current provisions are such that all member states of CITES are bound by the provisions of CITES. It was for the first time three years ago that within the CITES convention, a country deposited a dispute and that was Zimbabwe. It was on the basis that we felt that the issues of Zimbabwe are not being given the attention they deserve and this also applied to the whole Southern African region which holds more than 85% of the world elephant population.
We have an option to walk out of CITES but it is a position which we have to clearly consider with its merits and demerits whether it will solve the problems we have or not. The potential bias of our products are members of CITES. They will not be in a position to purchase any if they are still within CITES. If moving out of CITES is a solution to our problems, we would have left the solution within CITES. On due consideration and at the moment, our thinking as a region is that we need to intensify our efforts to influence CITES to make due consideration based on science and experiences our communities are facing on a daily basis to allow these countries to do once off trade of our stock piles but also to be flexible when it comes to trade in our wildlife resources.
Beyond that, as Government, we are working on a policy which we are almost concluding and awaiting Cabinet approval. We believe that it is important as a Government to consider options to compensate communities that are bearing the brunt of human-wildlife conflict. We are at the moment perhaps the only country in the region that still has not brought that as a policy and that policy as I said, is awaiting Cabinet approval. We believe it will go a long way because it also utilises proceeds from wildlife, particularly from hunting so that we are able to respond to the increasing human-wildlife conflict.
I must assure this august House that as we go to CITES this year, we will take a very strong position to advocate for CITES to consider strongly our position because the situation keeps getting worse from CITES to CITES and we know that sometimes some Government, because of funding from certain so-called animal rights groups, fail to consider reason and science. We are in the process of engaging them so that when we go there, we will speak with one voice. I thank you Mr. President Sir.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: My supplementary question to the Minister is, could the Minister appraise the nation of the benefits which we are getting from CITES – that will be very useful because I think it is now common cause that CITES does not serve our national interests.
HON. M. NDLOVU: Mr. President Sir, CITES is a voluntary body that was established to regulate trade in wildlife and wildlife products internationally. This came about because of increasing poaching levels and because there was always a ready market for these poached products, it then became important that there be formed a body that analyses different plant and wildlife species with regards to their survival, whether they are likely to face extinction and come up with collective international policies that can help curb this.
I must say that as Zimbabwe, we have benefited from CITES and CITES has also benefited from us through sharing best practices in conservation of our different natural resources and best practices in terms of international trade. Admittedly, when it comes to particularly our elephants, we seem to be struggling to extract the full benefits from this. However, we believe that as a country and as a region, we are in a position to help conserve these important animal species for the world, that is why we have always emphasized that we want science to lead the decision making and not necessarily politics because it is clear that it is politics that is at play.
We believe that we have been able to curb poaching of many animal species and have been able to save a number of bird species that were nearing extinction from utilizing CITES provisions. So there are clear benefits from this and we believe that the best way forward for now, is to try and influence CITES to make considerate scientific decisions that also take due consideration of communities that bear the brunt of living adjacent to the wildlife species. We have been open that the issue of us continuing to be members of CITES is up for debate. We will continue to consider as we move on, whether or not as a country our continued membership is giving the optimum results that we are expecting from the body but for now, we are very optimistic that we will influence the decision making within CITES. I thank you.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Supplementary question Mr. President Sir!
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Yes, we have run out of time but anyway proceed.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Mr. President …
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I hope you will be very brief.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Very brief Mr. President but I think it is very disturbing. The world over is saying their nation first, you can go to the United States of America and it is the United States of America first. Why should Zimbabwe be affected by policies that benefit other countries because we are not poachers? We have managed to manage our resources and should benefit from it. The Hon. Minister said that we want to save for the world. I think we should have Zimbabwe first. I thank you.
HON. N. M. NDLOVU: Thank you Mr. President. I thank the Hon. Senator for the supplementary question. I also want to appreciate the passion around this which I duly share with the Hon. Senator.
Maybe for completion, when I mentioned that CITES has benefited from us; I just wanted it to be clear that we are not just there to benefit, as you are correctly acknowledging that we have done so well in conserving our elephants. These are lessons that they have drawn from us and that is not the reason we are there, so to speak.
I just want to go back to what I highlighted on whether it is beneficiary for us to walk out from CITES. The reason of us walking out primarily is that CITES restricts us from trading and how we are restricted from trading is that they will control the market. You are not able to sell to that market but also they will put restrictions on your ability to sell. Zimbabwe walking out will just stand out there. Our primary markets are China and Japan, they will remain in CITES and will not be able to purchase as they are bound by CITES. So when you analyse the benefits of being there and being outside, it is much better to go in there, influence decision so that the market is opened for those countries that have demonstrated that they have conserved their wildlife so well and are able to maintain it and have been able to contain poaching. This is how we have so far been able to maintain our membership at CITES. I hope it tries to clarify Mr. President Sir, thank you.
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: We have run out of time again, but before Senators Gweshe and Nkomo take the floor, let me use my discretion and say if your question will be a minute, I will allow you but if you exceed a minute elaborating then save your question for next time.
+HON. SEN. NKOMO: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity. My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage. We are currently receiving a lot of messages and news regarding criminal activities such as murder and stock theft. We are also approaching the festive season where crime rates escalate. In that regard, I would like to ask Hon. Minister, on measures that Government is taking to capacitate our police officers …
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order, order, I would like you to simply go to your question and not to elaborate. May you just proceed to your question?
+HON. SEN. NKOMO: Thank you Mr. President. What is Government doing regarding the prevention of crime during the festive season? I thank you.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS AND CULTURAL HERITAGE (HON. MAVHUNGU-MABOYI): Thank you Hon. Indeed Hon. Sen. Nkomo, there are criminal activities. There is a lot of stock theft that is being perpetrated because we have a lot of young people who are delinquent. You find people who want to get rich without working for their riches.
As the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, we sit down to deliberate on these issues. Indeed, it is tough and a concern for us but the biggest challenge is, we see young people and even some adults who desire to get rich quick without working for their fortunes. You see some taking mutoriro and other drugs because they want to see beautiful things which they cannot afford and they become stressed.
Stock theft has been there since time immemorial but now it is more than it was in the past. However, we are on top of the situation. Stock theft is there, other criminal activities are there, and we are arresting people. We have been arresting perpetrators of different crimes. If you analyse the statistics, you will discover that indeed we are on top of the situation. Of course people steal but we are working as the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage and we are in the process of empowering our police officers with in-service workshops and courses so that they are refreshed in their jobs. I thank you.
*HON. GWESHE: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Local Government. There is a shortage of water in Harare. There is no water, you only find people getting water once per week. So, may you explain to the nation when this situation will be rectified? You will find people fetching water from Mukuvisi River.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTAND PUBLIC WORKS (HON. CHOMBO): Thank you Mr. President Sir. The issue regarding water is indeed of concern. However, because you mentioned Harare, I was not aware of the actual problem, so, may you allow me to go and research about the situation in Harare so that I will come back with your response to the august House. I thank you.
Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order Number 67.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MHONA), the Senate adjourned at Four Minutes past Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 27th September, 2022.