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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 07 JUNE 2016 VOL 42 NO 62

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 7th June, 2016

The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.

PRAYERS

(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER

BILL RECEIVED FROM THE SENATE

THE HON. SPEAKER:  I have to inform the House that I have received the Zimbabwe National Defence College Bill (H. B. 12A, 2015) from the Senate with amendments and in terms of Standing Order Number 138 (2), the Bill will be re-committed to the Committee of the whole House.

          HON. ENG. MUDZURI: On a point of privilege for Members of the National Assembly, I am appealing to you Mr. Speaker Sir, that tomorrow after question time, can we have the Minister of Finance and Economic Development explain thoroughly what is going to happen in terms of the introduction of bond notes to this House.  There is so much confusion out there that we parliamentarians are not able to explain – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – We are not able to explain what Government is doing.  As representatives of the people, we really need a statement from the Minister of Finance and Economic Development on what is happening and what the Government intends to do.  I thank you.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, I am not sure whether you consulted your colleague, Hon. Mashakada. 

          HON. ENG. MUDZURI:  Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir. I consulted him, he is bringing in a motion to debate on this.  My point is, we need an explanation outside the debate so that we will be able to debate with full knowledge of what the Government is planning to do.  Out there, everyone is talking what they think and it is not clear what the Government policy is and what it intends to do.

          HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA:  On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  What is your point of order?

          HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA:  Mr. Speaker Sir, I am standing up – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, order Hon. Members, can we hold on please and observe some silence.

          HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA:  I am standing up on a point of order. It is in connection with the report that was presented to this House on the issue of the young women from Kuwait.  When I did second that report, we as women in Parliament sat down on the floor, unfortunately the following week I was not here.  I continued to do so. I heard what you said that you did engage with my other colleagues when I was not here and I plead that, that action be put to a stop for the time being.  What I would want to request as a ruling from you is that the Minister has still not come to the House to explain.  Can you give a specific time period for him to come and if he does not, we resume to our sitting in the House because it does not pay us to sit, go back and sit on the benches when he has not come.  So, could we have a specific period from you Mr. Speaker Sir, to which he should come and address the House on the issue of the girls?   I thank you.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: The point of order is accepted but as for the actual specific date, I think that will be asking for too much.  I can only say, we will write to the Minister and ask him to present himself in the next week. On the actual date, I cannot say.  I thank you. 

          HON. ENG. MUDZURI:  Hon. Speaker Sir, you did not rule on my request.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Sorry, I beg your pardon.  Yes, we will transmit the request to the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development.

          HON. NYAMUPINGA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  On the same note that Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga is talking about, Hon. Speaker, I happened to have gone on radio on this issue and the public was proposing that we should not be sitting in the House alone.  We should also be sitting at Kuwait Embassy until the Minister responds [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Member, Nyamupinga...

          Hon. Mupfumi having stood up.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order.  Hon. Members, can we be familiar with our Standing Rules and Orders.  Hon. Nyamupinga there stood up and I recognised her. Before I answer her, you stand up.   Please, can we be familiar with our Standing Orders.  Hon. Nyamupinga, I hear you but let us wait for the Minister’s response and then that will be supplementary action.       

          HON. MUPFUMI: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker Sir.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  What is your point of order?

          HON. MUPFUMI: There was a fatal road accident in Mutare where 15 people perished and the Government..

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, if you make a point of order, can you refer to the Order, unless if you are raising the issue on privilege.

          HON. MUPFUMI: I am referring to when a case is declared a national disaster and when we sit in Parliament, we should observe a minute of silence in respect of those who perished in the road accident.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Mupfumi, approach the Clerks at the Table and you will be assisted accordingly with procedure. 

          *HON. MATAMBANADZO: On a point of Order.   Mr. Speaker Sir, my point of order is on the issue of the women who were in Kuwait.  There are so many things that are being said.  I also want to emphasise...

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Member, we are not debating that one.

          *HON. MATAMBANADZO: It is not a debate Mr. Speaker.  It is just a point of order. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! Hon. Members, that side.

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. SPEAKER

ZANU PF CAUCUS MEETING

          THE HON. SPEAKER: All ZANU PF Members of Parliament are required to attend a Caucus meeting at 0900 hours on Wednesday, 8th June, 2016 at ZANU PF Headquarters.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. RUNGANI: I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 and 3 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 2 and the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

          HON. KWARAMBA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS

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

          Question again proposed.

          HON. RUNGANI: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. KWARAMBA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 8th June, 2016.

COMMITTEE STAGE

CONSIDERATION OF AN ADVERSE REPORT BY THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE ON STATUTORY INSTRUMENT NO. 24 OF 2016: INSURANCE (AMENDMENT) REGULATIONS, 2016 (NO. 18)

Fourth Order read: Committee Stage: Consideration of an adverse report by the Parliamentary Legal Committee on Statutory Instrument No. 24 of 2016: Insurance (Amendment) Regulations.

House in Committee.

THE HON. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES: Order please! Hon. Members order! Order! Order to my right. Order Hon. Members! I call upon the Chairperson of the Legal Committee.

HON. SAMUKANGE: I want to report that the Minister who is responsible is the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. I have been in communication with him. He wants to consider our Adverse Report and because he wants to consider it, it is my humble submission that we allow him the opportunity to so. He might, like in the other previous cases - please can you hear me?

THE HON. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES: Order Hon. Maridadi. I did not want to name you.

HON. SAMUKANGE: Now that you are quiet. Let me begin all over again. I am saying that …

THE HON. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES: Order! You may proceed.

HON. SAMUKANGE: Thank you Mr. Chair. I was saying that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development who is responsible for the Insurance Bill, the Statutory Instrument that was referred to us is not present. I had been communicating with him. I believe he also communicated to the Chair. My proposal is that the debate be adjourned until the Minister has considered the Adverse Reports. We believe that Minister if he really considers the Report, the chances are that he will agree with us. I say so because the provisions that we considered to be adverse are those that are critical to the Bill, namely that it gives an insurance company the opportunity to raise funds …

THE HON. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES: Order! You are to adjourn until the Minister comes.

HON. SAMUKANGE: I am told that I have to simply outline, but I thought that you are entitled to be justified, to know why you are adjourning. Now, my proposal is that we adjourn the debate until a further date or until the Minister has considered. I thank you.

House resumed.

          Progress reported.

          Committee to resume: Wednesday, 8th June, 2016.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. RUNGANI: I move that Order of the Day Number 6 be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

          HON. MPARIWA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

FIRST REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS ON THE STATE OF PREPAREDNESS OF ZEC TO HOLD ELECTIONS

          HON. MAJOME: Thank you Madam Speaker. I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the State of Preparedness of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to hold elections.

          HON. MAWERE MUBVUMBI: I second.

          HON. MAJOME: Thank you Madam Speaker. It is a privilege of your Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliament Affairs to present to the august House a Report of the Portfolio Committee on the State of Preparedness of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to hold by-elections.  Madam Speaker, while this report was prepared a while ago, I believe we will note that by-elections continue to happen in our country and they are also related to elections that are coming. It is important that this report be noted by the august House. 

Madam Speaker, pursuant to relevant legal declarations by the Hon. Speaker, by-elections were proclaimed for Chirumanzu-Zibagwe and Mt. Darwin Constituencies for the 27th of March, 2015. Furthermore, arising from the expulsion of some Members of Parliament by their political parties, 16 vacancies were created in the National Assembly for the following constituencies; Dzivarasekwa, Kambuzuma, Tsholotsho, Makokoba, Lobengula, Glen View South, Harare East, Kuwadzana, Highfields, Mpopoma-Pelandaba, Pumula, Mbizvo, Dangamvura-Chikanga, Luveve, Hurungwe West and Headlands. These by-elections were scheduled for the 10th of June, 2015. 

In view of the fact that Zimbabwe adopted a new Constitution in 2013, your Committee decided to inquire into the state of readiness of the ZEC to conduct these elections. This arose as a result of the report by the ZEC Chairperson that there was no allocation in the National Budget for by-elections. In addition, the inquiry was necessitated by the fact that there has been no comprehensive alignment of the electoral legal framework with the Constitution since the last elections (2013), given the fact that some of the provisions under which the 2013 elections were conducted were transitional in nature and have ceased to have legal force or effect.

Your Committee, as part of its executive oversight role, is empowered to inquire into matters that touch on the credibility of elections that are conducted in Zimbabwe. The Committee to that end, invited the ZEC to advise and inform the Committee of its state of readiness for the then forthcoming by-elections in particular, and others that may be held thereafter. Indeed, as part of its inquiry process, the Committee also invited the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, who is also one of the two Vice Presidents, Hon. Mnangagwa, to appear before your Committee for the same reasons. His Ministry administers the electoral law. The Committee invited the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN), the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) and the Elections Resource Centre (ERC) to get their views on the environment and conduct of the by-elections held on 27 March, 2015 and of ZEC preparedness in general. The Committee will deal with the evidence and submissions that it gathered and the reactions it got from these stakeholders.

METHODOLOGY

The Committee received oral evidence from the ZEC. The Chairperson of the Commission, the Hon. Justice Rita Makarau gave a briefing to the Committee on the 16th of February, 2015. An invitation was also forwarded to the Executive with a view to secure the evidence of the Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. The Committee also received oral evidence from the Elections Resource Centre, and submissions from, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network on the 18th of May, 2015.

FINDINGS

The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs:

As indicated above, your Committee sought the attendance of the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, as he administers the Electoral Act. We were however unable to secure the attendance of the Hon. Vice President. The Administration of Parliament advised that because there were certain unspecified matters pending in the courts, the subject of our investigation was sub judice.

Your Committee respectfully differs with the position adopted by the Administration of Parliament in that respect. Your Committee, as part of its oversight role, simply wanted to ascertain if the forthcoming by-elections would be in accordance with the dictates of the Constitution, as well as regional and continental benchmarks for credible elections. That would have been achieved without infringing the rule against deliberating on matters sub judice.

Your Committee makes the finding that in this case, attempt to hold the Executive accountable with respect to their role of ensuring constitutional compliance of the electoral legal framework that they administer was scuttled unnecessarily.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission

The Hon. Justice Makarau testified before your Committee. Below is a summary of some of the key issues that arose from her oral evidence. The electoral law binds the Commission to stick to the timelines that are automatically set into motion by an electoral proclamation. Consequent to the proclamation for the Chirumanzu-Zibagwe and Mt. Darwin West by-election dates by the President, the Commission set about preparing for those elections.

The Commission, which as stated, received no budgetary allocation for by-elections, nor voter registration for this financial year, but all the same, requested a budgetary allocation of US$2 143 000 to cover voter registration, voter education, the conduct of the by-elections and the requirements of the police. They were however allocated US$1 473 000 for the Chirumanzu-Zibagwe and Mt. Darwin West Constituencies’ by-elections. Notwithstanding this variance, the Commission did not anticipate shortfalls, as they had been addressed by a downward reduction in the daily allowances for officials. ZEC expressed hope that the money was not taken from the allocation of activities it had bid for and been allocated for the 2015 financial year. ZEC still expected to receive disbursements from the previous year’s allocations, including outstanding dues to staff.   

The ZEC had conducted voter education in the two constituencies between 21st and 27th January 2015 for the pre-nomination phase, and on the 10th of February, 2015 for the voter registration exercise. Some civic society organisations had participated in the voter education exercise.

Pilot voter registration exercise for the Chirumanzu-Zibagwe and Mt. Darwin West Constituencies was conducted by the Commission to ensure inclusion of those that turned 18 years after the last elections in July 2013, and those that had not registered. When other by-elections cropped, ZEC adopted the existing Voters Roll. Both seats would be contested, as the Nominations Court results showed. At the time the Committee received oral evidence, ballot papers were being designed for printing the Chirumanzu-Zibagwe and Mt. Darwin West Constituencies. Adequate ballot papers would be printed. The printing of the Voters’ Rolls for the two constituencies was anticipated after completion of the data capture process. The Commission would establish 85 polling stations in Chirumanzu-Zibagwe and 46 in Mt. Darwin West based on the 2013 Harmonised General Elections because of the applicable population density and geographical size. Changes could however be made in consultation with the candidates.

Authority to recruit civil servants had already been obtained by the Commission from the Civil Service Commission. ZEC would train these before deployment.  The by-elections had received a fair amount of media coverage. ZEC had also conducted a political parties briefing for the by-elections at which the media was invited by ZEC. The ZERC transport fleet needed replacement and had become expensive to maintain owing to age and mileage covered. The Commission had been embargoed by CMED (Pvt) Limited, its traditional supplier of vehicles over an unpaid debt of US$3 million. In any event, the CMED fleet was in a deplorable state. Transport was therefore a major problem. The Commission faced challenges with respect to the state of the electoral law, which has not been aligned with the Constitution. Most of its actions were subject to litigation. Parliament needs to urgently attend to this matter. According to the Chairperson, the Commission was well prepared for the then forthcoming by-elections. The two problems that it faced, vist he invidious state of the law and the transport due, were beyond its control.

The Elections Resources Centre hereinafter (ERC)

Mr. Tawanda Chimhini, the Executive Director of the ERC, gave evidence before your Committee. Below is a summary of the major issues which he raised;

Election observers from COMESA, AU and SADC, as well as some local organisations noted that the 31st July, 2013 harmonised elections were held under circumstances which to an extent raised accusations of malpractice and diminished credibility. Administratively, some key processes were fast tracked, and poorly resourced. Further, no Voters’ Roll was provided until the eve of the election. Special voting was chaotic and media access was not equally distributed amongst the contesting political parties. Addressing these shortcomings remains of utmost urgency to the ERC. The ERC however, notes some of the progress made in the administration of elections by ZEC, in particular increased efficiency and relative increase in consultation with stakeholders.

The implementation of the pilot voter registration exercise comes out as one positive feature of the electoral landscape. Prior to this, 16 local authority by-elections had been held without voter registration and associated inspections of the Voters’ Roll as electoral best practices dictate. This had the effect of disenfranchising voters. The ERC therefore commends this effort of pilot voter registration in Chirumanzu-Zibagwe and Mt. Darwin West Constituencies, especially coming after strong advocacy by the ERC and other organisations. ZEC has improved commendably on the Voters’ Roll as access had been improved. It is important to keep the momentum and ensure consistent and access.

          Electoral reform in Zimbabwe since July 2013 has been slow and inconclusive. There were hurried and ill-conceived amendments to the Electoral Act with views solicited from public hearings being ignored. Therefore, the electoral environment in Zimbabwe has been characterised by shifting and unclear parameters. Piece-meal electoral reform is inadequate, unacceptable and shortchanges the citizen whose quest for full expression and full expression and full implementation of rights has been ignored for too long.

          ZEC is on record as saying that it is financially unstable and heavily indebted. This impacts heavily on its capacity to run elections efficiently and effectively. Delivery of a high quality, free and fair, credible election comes into doubt where resources are limited or largely unavailable. Further, the budget for holding elections appears to be too high. The average cost per voter in Zimbabwe is US$70 which is way above the regional average of about US$22 per voter.

          The legal framework of elections in Zimbabwe is unstable and unclear. The Electoral Commission is constitutionally mandated to register voters. However, the Electoral Act is yet to be aligned to the Constitution. While this process might be currently underway, it remains unclear as to the exact role to be played by ZEC in coming up with the proposed changes.

          Little improvement was made to the voter education inadequacies experienced in the run up to the July 31 elections. This has been exacerbated by lack of finance making it difficult to roll out full voter education. Though ZEC made a call for collaboration in voter education with civil society for Chirumanzi-Zibagwe and Mt Darwin West National Assembly by-elections, it received little response as it was late, and was limited to two weeks. This resulted in voters missing out on an opportunity to cast their vote after failing to produce requisite documents, or heading to the wrong ward and sometimes not being registered at all.

          There must be clear recruitment procedures for posts in the Electoral Management Board. For instance, senior positions like that of the Chief Elections Officer were still held in an acting capacity basis. In addition, five police officers are found at each polling station. This has the effect of increasing election costs on the part of ZEC. The number of police officers around a polling station must be reasonable and not tantamount to intimidation of voters.

Voter registration time allocated for by-elections is inadequate. ZEC is on average allocating 12 days after nomination, but the Constitution states that it must be continuous. In addition, little time for inspection is being allocated after the Nomination Court sits and voter registration is closed. In some cases, there is no Voters’ Roll inspection at all.

The political environment in Zimbabwe leaves a lot of room for improvement as the playing field appears to be still tilted towards the ruling party, ZANU PF. There is continued intimidation of would-be candidates and voters as evidenced by the Vice President Mnangagwa’s statements in the run-up to the Chirumanzu-Zibagwe by-election. These were widely covered in the media with little condemnation following the reports. In addition, electoral violence in areas such as Hurungwe has been widely publicised. So far, ZEC has remained silent on such pertinent issues. Apparently, ZEC lacks an investigating mandate on political violence which role resides with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.

Media access for political parties is neither even nor equal. ZEC is struggling to ensure equal access to public media for parties and candidates contesting in elections.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)

Ms Runyararo Munetsi from ZESN, gave the following submissions;

The major objective is to enhance the election process in Zimbabwe in order to promote democracy and good governance in general as well as free and fair elections in particular whilst adhering to internationally acceptable standards.

There is need for improvement on ZEC independence. ZEC should report to Parliament. Reporting to the Minister, who belongs to a particular political party, compromises its neutrality.

Currently, civic society cannot conduct voter education without being invited by ZEC. The law must make it easier for all stakeholders to be able to conduct voter education, as recommended by AU observer mission.

Prisoners and those living in the diaspora should be allowed to exercise their right to vote in line with Section 67 of the Constitution.

ZESN is concerned about the high number of assisted voters. It implores ZEC to release statistics of assisted voters and make the process tamper-proof to allow citizens to exercise their right to vote freely. ZEC should also explore other ways to assist illiterate voters, for example, the use of ink by those who cannot write.

During its observation of the three by-elections held this year, ZESN noted that there was voter intimidation, intolerance through pulling down of posters and blocking voters. It noted that since ZEC is embarking on pilot voter registration, it requires to be monitored and needs adequate resourcing.

ZESN also observed that there is need for an audit of the Voters’ Roll and that it can be improved by including a photograph against each voter’s name as in Zambia. ZESN further observed that ZEC did not provide the Voters’ Roll three weeks before polling as required by law.

ZESN noted that ZEC does not have adequate resources for voter education, training of electoral officers, accreditation and security. The AU and SADC observers raised those concerns on the 31st July elections.

Observations

In light of the foregoing Mr. Speaker Sir, your Committee observed the following based upon the evidence received:

Elections are part of an electoral cycle. They are not an event. The level of voter education, which the Commission considers “fairly successful”’ was conducted in the context of elections as an event rather than as part of a cycle. It is highly unlikely that such voter education conducted in those circumstances would have the required impact.

Related to the above, voter registration in Zimbabwe is continuous, because it is also part of a cycle. Because of the failure of the Executive to conduct the alignment process of legislation to the Constitution, legitimate voter registration appeared to have been discontinued after the Harmonised General Elections of 2013. The voter registration conducted by the Commission in relation to the two by-elections was too close to the event to be treated as genuine and inclusive. The resultant Voters’ Roll in the circumstances is questionable.

At the time of the inquiry, the Voters’ Roll was not available, as it was under preparation. The Committee would like to have sight of the Roll in order to have a feel of the extent to which it has been updated. The Committee is unable at this time to give a clear opinion on the credibility of that Roll, and hence of the resultant election.

It is a matter of public record that the courts have been approached to determine the legitimacy of elections in the absence of alignments of the electoral framework to the new Constitution. The Executive has made a number of promises in that regard, but has been lacking on delivery. In the circumstances, the credibility of polls conducted under a legal framework, the electoral management body characterises as “invidious” and potentially in violation of the Constitution cannot pass the test of a free, fair and credible poll.

While the Commission may be logistically prepared to conduct the by-elections, the whole process carries the stain of illegitimacy arising from the legal framework that is inconsistent with the fundamental laws of Zimbabwe.

Your Committee noted with concern the resurgence of violence in some constituencies towards the by-elections. Your Committee noted an increase in the distribution of goods during election time, which is tantamount to vote-buying.

Your Committee was unable to determine the source of the allocation of finances for the by-elections, given that no budgetary allocation was made for such.

RECOMMENDATIONS

          Finally Madam Speaker, your Committee recommends that:

  • All elections and by-elections be conducted in full compliance with the letter and spirit of the Constitution of Zimbabwe;
  • That the Executive moves with speed to ensure the entire electoral framework is consistent with the Constitution of Zimbabwe;
  • That the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) be given adequate financial, technical and other resources to discharge its mandate and all its responsibilities under the Constitution, including the crafting of a credible voters roll.
  • That ZEC be frank and candid in its condemnation of anything that reduces or sullies the credibility of elections. ZEC must issue public and strong statements on violence and make rulings pertaining to disciplinary measures for perpetrators of electoral violence.  It must disqualify candidates or parties fingered in violence during election campaigns.
  • The introduction of a biometric voters’ roll that is supported by the collection of biometric data and the electronic capturing, processing, storing and publishing of voters’ roll should be expedited. This should be constructed in a cooperative manner taking stakeholder views on board;
  • That ZEC must be properly staffed with human resources for all departments. With a looming national voter registration exercise, ZEC must be well resourced to recruit enough staff for the exercise;
  • That voter education should be a continuous process. ZEC should institute a long term approach to voter education which also allows other non-state actors to contribute without unnecessary hindrances;
  • Immediate introduction of mechanisms such as Braille should be put in place to assist visually impaired voters;
  • ZEC must provide gender disaggregated information on elections and it must be effective in deploying scarce resources to maximum impact.
  • ZEC must reduce the cost of election per voter to compare favourably with the region, because ours is US$80 per voter and in the region it is US$22.
  • Treasury must set aside a supplementary budget for by-elections and voter registration as well as for its unmet needs.
  • Treasury must disburse to ZEC its 2015 budgetary allocations so that it can do its work.
  • Treasury must provide sufficient funding to ZEC so that it can pay all its creditors.

Madam Speaker, Your Committee is most concerned about the fact that the staff of ZEC has not been paid for a very long time, up to the time of the production of this report.  Treasury must release money to pay staff of ZEC for its salary arrears from the previous year so that they stop using their own money.  Treasury should also account for the operations of ZEC in a clear, transparent and accountable manner because we are unable to find out what the source of money for by-elections was and this must not happen.

There must be a separate vote allocated by Treasury from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.  Madam Speaker, when this report was written, the decision had not been effected.  However, we are happy to note that this has since been done in the last budget.

In conclusion, in making these recommendations, your Committee is painfully mindful of the economic hardships which make it difficult to implement all the Committee’s recommendations at once.  However, your Committee is of the view that the Executive should immediately and the emphasis is on ‘immediately,’ take steps to improve the situation, particularly where it can be done at manageable costs.  This is because the right to exercise one’s vote is of far reaching consequences that it cannot be sidelined on the account of the cost to the state.  This will be so that all those Hon. Members who are present, if they are re-elected or not elected, it will be done in a credible manner.  Madam Speaker, so reports your Committee.  Thank you.

HON. MAWERE: Thank you Madam Speaker.  I rise to support the motion raised by the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Majome.  At the time of giving evidence, we were informed that ZEC had not received any budget allocation for by-elections or voter registration for 2015.  However, the Government later on released the funding for the by-elections in Chirumanzu- Zibagwe and Mt. Darwin elections.  We still urge the Government to give ZEC its yearly budgetary allocation for it to update its voters roll.  A journey without its preparation has its own ups and downs.

Madam Speaker, in my view, I suggest that there be ZEC offices registering voters and updating the voters’ roll throughout the year.  There must also be mobile units to visit places in polling stations regularly for the purpose of updates to carry out these duties.  ZEC district offices need to be equipped with vehicles and manpower.  However, I want to applaud ZEC for the activities they carry out during the same process because they work under difficult conditions.

On media coverage, some were covered whilst some were not, we do not know the reason.  ZEC owes CMED about US$3million.  I am not sure whether the money was paid up by Government or it still owed.  However, we still urge Government to pay up CMED the money.  Finally, I would like to say ZEC are operating under difficult conditions and we kindly urge the Government to come to its rescue with a rescue package.  I thank you for this short message Madam Speaker.

HON. DR. KEREKE: Thank you Madam Speaker.  I rise to add a few points to the debate on the motion raised.  Firstly I would like to look at the suggestion by the Committee that the Executive scuttled being accountable to the Committee.  I think that is a very strong conclusion to the extent that the administration of Parliament as presented by the Committee, wrote to the Committee advising that certain legal cases were at the courts.  To then conclude that the Executive scuttles the work of the Committee in my view, is a very strong statement as presented by the Committee. 

Madam Speaker, that aside, it is indeed important that the operations of ZEC be adequately funded.  However, the ball lies squarely on this august House because annually, the budget passes through Parliament and it is our duty to look and assess the adequacy of the budget.

HON. ENG. MUDZURI: On a point of order Madam Speaker.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is your point of order?

HON. ENG. MUDZURI: My point of order is to the Hon. Member who is debating.  He is speaking as if he is the Executive.  We are addressing our concerns to the Executive and it is proper for him to address his concerns to the Executive so that it will answer.  He cannot answer for the Executive.  This august House sat and was told that there is no money and we are saying, despite that there is no money, ZEC needs to be funded.  It is therefore not for him to debate on behalf of the Executive…

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, I heard as though the Hon. Member was speaking the same things you are saying because he is not speaking on behalf of the Executive.  Can the Hon. Member resume his debate.

HON. KEREKE: Thank you Madam Speaker.  Indeed, as a citizen and Member of Parliament, I hold my own views on behalf of my constituency, which views I am affirming.  The issue of National Budgets Madam Speaker, the responsibility lies on us Parliamentarians, including the Hon. Eng. Mudzuri.  When the Hon. Minister of Finance brings his proposals to Parliament, it is the duty of Parliament to then assess and look – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Hon. Member, we are in Parliament.

HON. DR. KEREKE:  ...... to assess the adequacy of proposed individual Votes.  With specific reference to ZEC Madam Speaker, there is now a lesson with the benefit of hindsight to us as parliamentarians.  The Budget allocation towards ZEC must anticipate unforeseen exigencies and unforeseen expenditures because developments may happen.  Some Hon. Members may get deceased and some developments where defections occur, other seats become vacant and unanticipated by-elections then crop up. 

So, in debating the motion I put a suggestion that we assess future Budgets and attach what we can call unallocated reserves to certain specific areas of Government and public institutions – ZEC is one of them.  We can budget accurately today’s requirements but to the extent other unanticipated by-elections crop up, that budget is thrown off the rails.  We know as per our Constitution, there will be elections in 2018, perhaps the considerations for 2017 Budget should adequately cover preparations for ZEC because doing so for the year 2018 would again in many ways incapacitate ZEC. 

Madam Speaker, there was also comments on the views as expressed to the Committee by ERC.  My contribution thereto is that when we look at some entities and they put forth their public conclusions, their summaries and their observations, we need to take note that certain organisations come with pre-conceived mindsets.  They come and look at our Constitution and they look at our Electoral Laws with a view that forever the playground is unfair.  We need to be careful that we know which agencies we rely on.  Madam Speaker, it is not every agency, not every institution which talks sense about our country.  The assertion that the Electoral Laws are unfair, it is difficult for the opposition or other parties to win under current laws, to me it is chasing a mirage.  In any election, there are winners and losers and usually those that lose will tend to say the playground is unfair – [HON. MEMBERS:  Hear, hear.] – Yes, as the Committee did mention, there is need to align certain of our laws, not just the Electoral Laws, but several other pieces of legislation need alignment to the Constitution.  Again, it is the role of Parliament, as we discharge our oversight function on the Executive to ensure that that happens.  I thank you Madam Speaker for giving me this opportunity.

HON. MANDIPAKA:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  I will be very brief.  I wish to congratulate the Committee for a brilliant enquiry in trying to ascertain the state of preparedness of ZEC.  I would have loved to hear in the conclusion by the Committee that ZEC did a wonderful job under very difficult conditions.  Why do I say so?  The by-elections came and went through very well with those limited resources and in any event, the elections as a result of the by-elections were rated as very credible.  So I wish to appeal to this august House to honestly support the role that ZEC is playing in Zimbabwe, given the meagre resources.

Madam Speaker, I am at pains to be able to define what we term distribution of goods tantamount to vote buying as outlined by the Chairperson of the Committee because when we go for campaigns, the idea of a campaign is to win favour with the people.  So when you are campaigning you use all methods at your disposal to be able to be voted in office and you would find some political parties have the resources to be able to distribute to their people.  It is only those little political parties which do not find favour with the people that cry foul when other bigger political parties distribute goods. 

I would also want to support the view that has been brought in this House by Hon. Kereke.  He raised a very fundamental point that we need to be wary of certain organisations in our midst that tend to want to say our elections in this country are not credible.  We have been in elections for some couple of years and I want to believe that Zimbabwe is one such African country that is now experienced in coming up with credible elections and we should congratulate ourselves for that. 

If we have organisations that have remained adamant and if we have organisations that are also proponents of the regime change, there is no way we can hear good comments about our elections.  Suffice to say we have come of age and we must applaud ourselves as a country that our institution such as ZEC is very capable to conduct credible elections.  I thank you. 

HON. ENG. MUDZURI:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  I want to add my voice to a good report from our Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.  It is important for this House to realise that it is a national duty to ensure that whatever we are doing is properly advised in a legal sense through this Committee.  I do not think the Committee would come here to mislead this House and make sure that we do the wrong thing.  When they bring in certain organisations to say an organisation has commented on an election, I think this House should take criticism as it is and work around to ensure that the correct thing is done.  If there is nothing wrong with what has been done, it would be found in working progress but surely, we cannot continue to have a scenario where ZEC remains non-independent due to lack of finance.  It owes three million dollars from the last elections.  It cannot move as it does not have enough vehicles, it does not have enough equipment to use.  It cannot do proper voter registration because of failure to have the finances. 

I am saying this Parliament approves Budgets but there is a limit to what it can approve in the sense that whatever this Parliament might recommend is also subject to scrutiny by Central Government and Central Government ultimately has final answers.  It is also the duty of Central Government which is the Executive to ensure that all urgent cases are taken care of.  Democracy is expensive.  We do not want to see violence in our elections.  Some people are arguing that people use all means to win elections.

People like me, standing here, have been victims of serious violence and myself being a victim of violence from certain quarters within the system; I can prove today by taking you to my house to see live bullets which have been used on my house.  I am not debating falsehoods; we can go and see them.  I am just trying to say violence is not accepted. I am not debating about myself, I am debating about violence which I have seen.  It is only those who have not seen violence who argue that it is not there and argue that the institutions which we are working with are not seeing the violence. 

          If you want to see violence, go to Mujuru’s house, you know how he died; he was burned to death and that is violence.  So, when we talk of violence, it comes in all forms.  We must not embrace any form of violence in our society. It must not be violence against women; it must not be violence against any voter. 

          Madam Speaker, this House has to recognise that …

          HON. HOLDER:  On a point of order Madam Speaker.

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  What is your point of order?

          HON. HOLDER:  Thank you Madam Speaker – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Members, I cannot hear what the Hon. Member is saying.

HON. HOLDER: Thank you Madam Speaker.  The Hon. Member, in his debate, mentioned that if you want violence, go and see Mujuru’s house. Does he have evidence because I do not want him to mislead this House?

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, can you please continue with your debate.

HON. ENG. MUDZURI:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  The issue of voter registration is critical taking cognisance of the fact that there is an issue of biometric Voters’ Roll which has been considered and is likely to take place.  It is important that ZEC takes its job from now onwards.  If we are targeting elections in 2018 and we want them to be free and fair and want every person who is willing to vote to participate; it is important for this House to ensure that we ask Central Government to provide all the necessary resources and allow the independence of ZEC to prevail.

I want to thank the Legal Committee for having advised this House I hope this House takes the advice and adopts the recommendations from the Legal Committee.  I thank you.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Before I recognise you, may I remind Hon. Members that when we are in this House, we do not attend to our cell phones.  Also, put them on silence or switch them off because I do not want to send anyone out.

HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker.  I want to thank the mover of the motion for their report but I want to put the practical perspective to this motion.  The new polling station system, I think it is credible and I also allude to that fact in that there was a bi-election that occurred in my constituency in Ward 6, Chegutu West, where we annihilated the other parties.  We took that ward from the Opposition and we then gained out of the 12 Wards that are in Chegutu West, a ward to make it 5 out of 12 Wards in the urban area, adding to the 3 Wards in the rural area to make it 8 out of 7.  So, I want to congratulate the system and using that election that occurred in Chegutu West, it is now proved that it can work without any flaws. 

In that same vein, I want to congratulate Mrs. Mariga for winning that council bi-election.  I want to say the issue of the system that has now been put into place is efficient but more-so, I want to speak to those that are being disenfranchised, the so-called alien community.  We might put in as much an electoral as is possible which is efficient but as long as we do not have the voters that are going to go and exercise their right to vote and being marginalised, being called aliens, being de-registered and being unregistered for that purpose and for that cause, we are not speaking to the needs of our local community.

Why do I say so? In Chegutu West in particular, there are a lot of people that are said to be aliens who are not being registered as voters because of the sins of their parents or the parents who came in and were said to be aliens and are said that they should denounce their alienship. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, these people, as long as it is said that they have not denounced, have no right to participate in our electoral system, these are the same people who were born here.  They were born in Chegutu West; they had their children, grand children and their great grand children here, zvizukurumvi. In the same vein, I want to make a clarion call for the Executive to make it easy for these people to go into the mainstream electoral system to be registered without any questions because the people that we are talking have just attained 18 years of age.  It is 36 years after independence; these people we are talking about know no other country but Zimbabwe. 

As long as these people are left outside the electoral system, we have an electoral system that is flawed, an electoral system that is not all inclusive.  As long as these people are not given the God-given right to vote, which God given right was brought in by the war of liberation in 1980 which gave one man one vote; as long as these people are left in the fringes of life of the voting system, we are not doing our nation any justice, in particular Chegutu West.  I know there a are a lot of people that have not been allowed to vote but who would want to participate in the voting system of our nation.  As long as we do not change our laws to include these people, we are alienating those people that we are calling ‘aliens’.  It is not for the good of this nation.  As long as we alienate them at the voting system part, we are alienating them, including in the inclusion of the economic benefit of this nation.  If our electoral system and if the Executive can be all inclusive and include these ‘so called aliens’ who know, no other country but Zimbabwe, we are going to benefit immensely, not only in our votes but also economically.  I thank you.

          *HON. PHIRI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I would like to thank the Committee for a job well done. They investigated ZEC and reflected that they got money to do their job well.  We would like to thank them for the recommendations that they have given.  Among the recommendations, there is one which relates to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), that the ZRP should be minimised at polling stations because they intimidate voters.

          If ZRP intimidate voters then, they are not carrying out their duties well.  They should be educated not to intimidate voters.  We want many police officers at the polling stations to curb violence.  There is a saying that goes, “it is only those who are crooks, who are afraid”.  If they see the police, they run away because they are crooks.  If you are not a crook, there is no need for you to fear the police.  We need many police officers at polling stations to curb violence, reflecting on what is happening in South Africa today.  People are shooting each other, parties engage in fights because of elections.  We do not want such a scenario in Zimbabwe.  So, our police should ensure that this does not happen.

          Another good example is Kenya, they are shooting each other over an organisation similar to the ZEC situation.  It means our Commission is doing a good job because there is no violence because of ZEC.  You see that others are ululating because what I am saying is a fact.

          The previous speaker also appreciated the polling based stations saying they have increased the number of voters.  We want to thank ZEC for introducing the polling station based voters’ register.  We should encourage our people to go and vote.  We have a challenge in our country of organisations that oversee elections and only mushroom when elections are due.  These are the same organisations that give false information but the organisations that have always been in existence, overseeing elections now and again, give correct reports.  These organisations, we term them ‘organisations in hibernation’.

          Hon. Nduna also talked about aliens.  We want that term to be removed totally from the vocabulary of Zimbabwe. I am a victim to the term ‘alien’.   That is derogatory and should be banned.  He also mentioned of sins of their fathers.  I was referred to as an alien; my father never committed any sin.  Most children are unable to obtain birth certificates because of that demonic name ‘alien’.  So, it should be banned to enable children to obtain birth certificates.  I have quite a number of things to say but for now, I rest my case.

          HON. E. GUMBO: Thank you Mr. Speaker.  I rise to add my voice to the motion.  I appreciate and understand that ZEC did a wonderful job under limited resources.  We also need to look at why ZEC ends up with limited resources.  One of the key things to undertake such an action is to plan forward.  To plan forward means to anticipate what might come, but there was a lot of unanticipated circumstances in the case of ZEC.

          I appreciate, the contributor mentioned the need to avail resources for very useful things; voter registration, education and making sure that people have the right particulars when voting time comes so that they can go and vote.  It is very unfortunate that the resources that could have been directed towards some of those causes have been brought in by unanticipated situations that happened.  Let us look at these by-elections; what is that, that forced us to have those by-elections.  Who can anticipate that a political party will fire 21% of their Members of Parliament?  We can anticipate people passing on but there were circumstances beyond the budget of ZEC or Government.

          Let us acknowledge and say we plan for the normal, we do not plan for such abnormal things.  I think it is totally unheard of.  We also look back at the history of elections, in 2005 we had people who were elected for terms of five years and we had to go to elections after three years.  Such things consume resources, hence the reason for this.  We need to plan forward; we need to make sure ZEC is equipped for the normal.  When abnormal things come like this, I think this august House should go back to the Central Government and request for a supplementary budget to fix this.  As Parliamentarians, I think we have failed ZEC as well in that when unusual circumstances like the 21 Members of Parliament that went out, that had to force ZEC to go for by-elections; we did not come and ask for a supplementary budget from the Central Government.  Thank you Mr. Speaker.

THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS:  Mr. Speaker Sir, it is not unprocedural for an Hon. Member to adjourn debate, it is possible. However, I move that the debate be now adjourned. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]-

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 8th June, 2016.

MOTION

BLOOD SUBSIDIES IN PRIVATE AND PUBLIC HOSPITALS

          HON. NDUNA: I move the motion standing in my name that this House;

          COGNISANT that due to the prevailing economic challenges and high levels of unemployment, the vast majority of Zimbabweans have very limited disposable income;

          AWARE that Section 76 of the Constitution makes access to health care a fundamental and inalienable right of every Zimbabwean and obliges the State to ensure that no person is refused emergency medical treatment in any health-care institution;

          ALARMED at the prohibitive cost of blood in both public and private hospitals with a pint going for USD 140 on average which has made access to blood a preserve of the rich;

          CONCERNED that the majority of Zimbabweans who require blood transfusions, particularly in district hospitals and clinics, are succumbing to avoidable deaths owing to their inability to afford blood;

          FURTHER CONCERNED that though emergency medical treatment is a fundamental human right, health institutions are refusing to give needy patients blood without prior payment yet the cost is beyond the reach of many;

          DISTRESSED that blood transfusion in district hospitals and clinics is only available for expecting mothers and is not extended to victims of accidents and trauma who account for 35% of the national blood requirements;

          MINDFUL that blood distribution by the National Blood Service in Zimbabwe in 2014 marginally increased by 0.7% primarily due to depressed demand owing to the harsh economic conditions;

          DISTURBED that the price of blood in Zimbabwe does not compare favourably with the price of blood regionally;

          NOW THEREFORE, call upon the Executive to:

  1. Subsidize the cost of blood to save lives by ensuring that it is available for all needy patients at private and public hospitals;
  2. To de-centralise the blood bank by establishing a blood bank at all district hospitals and clinics;
  3. To raise awareness on the importance of donating blood, particularly among adults who account for only 20% of the national blood donations yet use 80% of the blood so donated.

     HON. MUDZURI: I second.

     HON. NDUNA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I am going to be very brief. Mr. Speaker I see I rouse a lot of enthusiasm in my debate. I am talking about the issue of blood I need to give a brief background on what exactly blood is and what it does in person’s body and in somebody’s life.

     As I stand here before you, blood is life. Blood carries the oxygen that we breathe and transmits it to the vital organs of the body. Without blood we would not be here. So if there is anything, I would pray and ask that Hon. Members in this House support me in this motion Mr. Speaker Sir because the prohibitive prices of blood in this country do not to make for a continued life. If there is a prohibitive price attached to the cost of blood we will all perish and we will not have any reason to live because we will not be able to breathe.

     Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to bring you to the issue of antenatal health, where expecting mothers get blood for transfusion for free in district hospitals, national hospitals and any other place. It is an act, or it was arrived at after observation that during birth there is a lot of blood that is lost by expecting mothers or during the time they are giving birth. It was observed that as long as we at that point do not give sufficient blood transfusion and sufficient help to those expecting mothers, we will not have an offspring Mr. Speaker Sir. We will not have any nation to talk about.

The history of blood transfusion arose during World War 1 where there was a lot of loss of blood and then the doctors at that time said to themselves how do we mitigate the effects of blood loss? They took blood from animals and tried to transfuse it to the soldiers that needed blood. This was a fatal transfusion process and then it was developed from there on until we got to have classified blood groups of which O+ which is my blood group is a universal donor to all people that are in other blood groups A and such like Mr. Speaker Sir.

The History of blood transfusion was for the purpose of saving lives and I stand here today and I say it is not a crime to make sure that the cost of blood here in Zimbabwe aligns itself to the cost of blood in the SADC region. The cost of a pint of blood in Zimbabwe is $140.00. How many people that need blood can afford $140.00 per pint?  None!, in particular during the economic hardships that we are currently going through as a nation.

I also stand here as a Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport which Committee Mr. Speaker Sir speaks to issues of road carnage where we are losing about 5 lives per day through road carnage. The issue of road carnage involves those people and the issue of death involves those people that would have not afforded to get blood transfusion because they are expected to pay before they get blood transfusion because the health institutions are not directed to give blood for free.

My prayer includes adults who are basically 80% of the recipients of the blood that is transfused in this nation yet they are 20% of the donors. It also includes that we encourage adults to donate blood.

In that same vein, it encourages the executive to make sure that blood is given for free or it is subsidized to those that need it, in the same vein that it has been given to those expecting mothers in the hospitals. The reason I came up with this motion is that one day I attended a Combi accident in Chegutu where there were ten people that needlessly lost lives and we ferried those people to hospital. As you looked at those people, blood was gushing out.

Our bodies can only hold up blood if we lose about 15%, if they lose 40% blood of the 6 litres of blood that we have got in our body. At that point you nearly can lose life but 15% is allowable we can mitigate by giving them supplements so that they can, in a way revive their blood levels and at that point we are losing lives. As I watched those people ,the only notable and the only sane issue to do was to transfuse blood but we lost those ten lives because blood was gushing out.

It is my clarion call that we have a lot of money in various areas going as taxes and in particular as the Traffic Safety Council that is 12 ½ % coming from the Insurance Remittances for our automobile. Part of that money can be utilised  to mitigate the effect of blood transfusion. It can be utilised to buy blood for those people that would want to get blood. I have said several times that if Hon. Members were to be involved in road carnage, and five people die each day, exactly in two and half months we will not have any Hon. Member in this House. This is how serious the issue of blood transfusion is Mr. Speaker Sir.

          We should speak with one voice and say to ourselves, because of road carnage, the accidents that are occurring in this nation and we cannot revive that life because some of it, we need blood transfusion. We lose 5% of the country’s gross national product. As I have alluded to, we have in this nation a collision every 15 minutes and five people die daily. The issue of the need to give blood cannot be over emphasised. There are a lot of issues that we debate in this House.

          I want to take you to Section 117 of the Constitution which confers on us as Parliament the power to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of Zimbabwe. Peace and good order means nothing if five people are dying each day due to road carnage. If we can save part of those five people using transfusion, if we can save them by the laws that we make here, in particular, if we can enact a law that says there is going to be free blood to everybody that needs it, so that those that are involved in road carnage, road accidents and those that are injured, do not lose lives needlessly. We would be making laws for the good governance, order and peace of the people of this nation.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to take you to the issue of the right to life. That is Section 48 of the Constitution. It says nothing but void if we do not make laws for the people’s right to life. As you go to the district hospitals, clinics and quasi-district hospitals, there is already an Act that speaks to blood being given to expecting mothers for free. We can converge and make sure that we also say Government should subsidise. The Executive should subsidise the cost of blood so that everybody that needs blood can get it for free in clinics and district hospitals.

          Our people are dying because they have no blood. I have spoken so voluminously and ventilated that point to the effect that our people are dying because they have need for at least 40% of the blood that is in their body. I have said above 40%, there is no more life but there is still life if they lose 40% of their blood. So in a way, we are asking for the nation to give more than three litres of blood. We are asking for two litres of blood going down. I do not think that we will be asking too much Mr. Speaker Sir.

          I spoke about the right to life. As I conclude, let us decentralise even the issuance of that blood. I come from a place where people walk 30 kms to the next clinic. As they get to that clinic, let us give them blood if they need it. I come from a place which is infested with snakes like pythons, cobras and black mambas, only to mention a few. These people that get these snake bites lose needlessly a lot of blood. As they get to clinics they need both the serum and the blood. I ask fervently and I make a clarion call that our people should not be left to die in the rural areas because they cannot get blood for free.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, there are already organisations that are giving blood that is National Blood Transfusion Service which is a quasi private organisation. I applaud them first and foremost for existing. They are existing for a worthy cause. What I also call for is for Government to make sure they subsidise their operations so that they can at least bring down the cost of blood whilst we mitigate the effect of our people to give them blood for free. The issue that I alluded to earlier of accidents is within our control. Before we ask for blood Mr. Speaker Sir, accidents are within our power to avoid. There is a quotation that I need to make from the Australian Traffic Rule which says, “Road sense is the offspring of courtesy and the parent of safety”. This is because we are losing a lot of blood due to road carnage.

          As I conclude, I want to say something on accidents. As observed by an American legislator Ernest Greenwood, who rightly observed accidents - and in particular highway accidents do not just happen, they are caused. So it is within our power as Zimbabweans, as a nation because 85% of road accidents are human error. It is within our power to avoid those accidents. As a result, the onus is upon us to prepare and prevent and not to repair and repaint. It is also my clarion call that as we go to August holidays Mr. Speaker Sir, at least there would have been a response for the requirement and the need to distribute blood for free. There would have been a response so that our people that give birth during that time are joined by those that need blood that would have been involved in road carnage.  

          In the same vein, I ask that all Hon. Members in their places of placements and constituencies, hold a minute of silence for people that have been involved in road carnage and road accidents during the past two weeks. We have lost more than fifty people that have succumbed to road carnages Mr. Speaker Sir. On that note, I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity. 

          HON. ENG. MUDZURI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I rise to support the motion. It is great that Hon. Nduna has brought this motion in consideration of the crisis that comes in the country where a lot of people are dying due to shortage of blood. My worry is that the Minister of Health and Child Care can get advice from this august House. Blood should be made free. Donors of blood do not get paid. They are literally given Mazoe when they go to donate blood and they go away. I am not sure, through the medical field, why the blood ends up costing $140/$160 and when someone needs blood, it is not that they can help themselves.

This is an issue which the nation should consider to say, they cannot help themselves. There are a few people, yes that can go to private hospitals. Maybe in private hospitals, we can allow a certain prime price but in public hospitals and clinics, honestly we cannot call ourselves a people-oriented Government or Parliament if we cannot supply blood to those in need, especially women. I was just talking of a girl who was operated. She is 38 and has no relative who can help her. She is poor. She was found with cancer at Harare Hospital. She needed blood and they said she should find the $160 before she could be operated but she had no money. So a few people gathered a few dollars and she was operated on but what happened next.

After being operated, the hospital detains this girl from Friday up to date, the girl is still in hospital. She has nothing and you keep a person in hospital to say if you have no one to help you, knowing the dollar is not easy to get, let alone to get the blood and get the operation done. So, there are cases like this where the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Services should be able to visit hospitals and assess pre-delivery and post-delivery of the service. We cannot sit back and say social services are about food and food for work. Social service is about delivering this good service to our people who should live longer and get these services. If need be, these are the people who should be subsidised by Government.

A woman after delivering might need blood because they lose blood then you ask that woman, as if she applied to be a woman and to deliver a child who is adding to the benefit of the country to say go and buy your blood. After she has bought that blood for such a high price, they are also detained in hospital to say you must pay when they have no money. We know that our rural people do not have money, even in towns. My constituency in Warren Park has destitutes there. Each case must be considered as it comes and ensure that certain people are given treatment. The worst thing I want to appeal to this House is to say, why should a hospital detain a patient after treatment? I challenge this Mr. Speaker Sir that you go to Harare Hospital and you find people in verandas. They discharge you and make you sleep on a verandah. Are we doing a service to this country? We are not doing a service. We are actually destroying the same spirit we have given to say we are socially oriented and want to help people.

So I want to say the motion should actually come from the Minister of Health and Child Care to say how can we make blood cheaper? If it means everyone should pay an extra cent on fuel, let it be. With all the roadblocks we have, if we can collect one day’s roadblock fees and pay for this blood, we will be able to help people. What are we doing with all the money we are collecting from motorists? I am in the Transport Committee and we are worried that people are being fleeced of money and nothing is going to help these poor people. So, this august House must agree that when a person needs blood, you are actually borrowing something foreign, you need it and it must be given like it is delivered by the person freely.

The Minister of Education must come with an instrument of ensuring that we have a way of giving blood and probably certain services to certain people, to some extent, free as already pronounced in the Constitution and our statutes of social welfare. I thank you.

*HON. E. GUMBO: I rise to contribute to this motion. I

appreciate the need for blood as a life sustaining fluid. I agree to that and support the mover. I thank Hon. Nduna and Hon. Labode for bringing this motion. However, I would like to highlight that the motion is actually talking about two things and we must not go out of line. It is talking about the shortage of blood to give to patients and a cost. That is what the main thrust is there. I think we need to focus on why there is a shortage and why it is expensive. It is necessary but we need to get prepared.

On the other hand, it is a question of supply and demand. Is the supply okay? It is on the point of supply that I would like to touch on. I think we are misdirecting our efforts, like the last speaker said, to Government. This should take a community educational basis. We must educate people to donate blood so that the supply side improves. Yes, Government can subsidise blood but if there is not enough blood, what then happens? They cannot subsidise a shortage. We need to make sure that the supply side is looked into. Why is the supply side low? Because of donor ignorance. If I asked Hon. Members of Parliament to show me their blood donation cards which is given when you donate blood, how many of you have got those? It must start here at home.

We cannot just be telling people out there to do it, let us take the initiative at a community level by donor education, appealing for more people to donate not just pushing to Government. Government has got no blood, it is the people who have got blood. It is us here. Government has no blood to give. Let us go to the community and the people, that is where the blood comes from – [AN HON. MEMBER: Inaudible interjections.] – I have got my blood donation card here and I can show you.

Getting on to the shortage side, why is the blood so expensive? The National Blood Transfusion gets blood from various areas and they must travel but if they travel to a far away place and the donors are few, the cost of blood will go up. If they travel to that place and the community mobilises itself to give a lot of blood from that one source, it will bring the cost down. That is one of the cost drivers in blood. The second cost driver for blood being high is the prevalence that if a lot of blood is collected and rejected after screening because of many illnesses among us, HIV infected blood which they cannot give, costs are incurred on collection but it is not given to the patients and the cost factor goes up. So what must we do about that? Those who know that their blood is not so good, go and get tested and know your status so you do not waste time donating blood that is not good. That is what we must do so we minimise the loss on the National Blood Transfusion Services. For those who might know that their blood is not so good but wish to make the blood available, sponsor a donor.

Finally, I would also appeal to this august House if we can observe a day when all members are available here to donate blood to the National Blood Transfusion and we set an example. We will tell the nation, listen and then take an example from us their legislators. Let us call it upon ourselves as the august Members of this House to call a day ‘Parliament Blood Donation Day’ and we do it. We can even bring ZBC to televise and educate our people. They will understand we are taking the lead. Mr. Speaker Sir, I hope you will give those who are in positions to facilitate such a service so that the Hon. Members can be given a day to donate blood. Imagine 200 of us, if we all donate one litre that will support a hospital for a long time. On that note, I want to thank you.

HON. DR. MATARUSE: I want to add a few words to this

motion which is a very important motion.  First of all, I want to inform the House that it needs highly technical and specialised people to screen this blood for the diseases.  We need specialist pathologists and in Zimbabwe, we have only one and that person cannot cover the whole country.  Therefore, the issue of decentralising blood banks is almost impossible.

          We also need highly specialised technologists, they used to be called third party technicians, which means we start with the lowest grade certificates, part two and then part three.  They are highly skilled technologists and they are now given degrees and are called laboratory scientists.  We really need highly specialised people to screen this disease.

          Thirdly, we screen them of syphilis, HIV/AIDS, Zika and hepatitis.  I am sure from television or records, it is now the number one killer and in Zimbabwe, HIV/AIDS has a lower rate of deaths than hepatitis.  I will assure you that if we screen the people in this House, we might find out that 40% have hepatitis because during the Smith regime, we used to have a herf-gun which was used from one person to the next without being changed or cleaned and if one was infected, it would be transmitted to the next person.  We have got a high level of hepatitis and we have to screen it.  The cost of blood, despite that it is donated free, I am sure you will bear with me that the cost is around US$50 to US$60.  As Parliament, we are trying to request the Government to take over the costs and pay for these ones.  However, the cost is there.  In short, I am sure I have updated you.  Thank you very much.

          THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I move that the debate be now adjourned.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 8th June, 2016.

          On the motion of THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE), the House adjourned at Twenty-nine Minutes past Four o’clock p.m.     

 

 

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National Assembly Hansard NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 07 JUNE 2016 VOL 42 NO 62