You are here:Home>National Assembly Hansard>NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 12 MAY 2016 VOL 42 NO 58

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 12 MAY 2016 VOL 42 NO 58

Download attachments:

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 12th May, 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

CHANGES TO PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP

THE HON. SPEAKER:  I wish to inform the House of the following changes to membership of Committees:  Hon. Goche will serve on the Portfolio Committees of Foreign Affairs and Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services; Hon. Mudyiwa will serve on the Portfolio Committee of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services; Hon. Chasi will serve on the Portfolio Committee of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Hon. Muzondiwa moves from the Portfolio Committee of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture to the Committee on Health and Child Care.

COMMITTEE STAGE

PUBLIC FINANCE MANAGEMENT AMENDMENT BILL [H.B. 14, 2015]

First Order read:  Committee Stage:  Public Finance Management Amendment Bill [H. B. 14, 2015].

House in Committee.

Clauses 1 to 7, put and agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported without amendment.

          Third reading: With leave, forthwith.

THIRD READING

PUBLIC FINANCE MANAGEMENT BILL [H.B 14, 2015]

        THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA): Mr. Speaker Sir, I now move that the Bill be read the third time.

        Motion put and agreed to.

        Bill read the third time.

COMMITTEE STAGE

SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES BILL (H. B. 15, 2015)

Second Order read: Committee Stage: Special Economic Zones Bill [H.B. 15, 2015].

        House in Committee.

          On Clause 1:

          HON. CROSS: I think with the insertion of a new Section on Section 59 proposed by the Minister, the title of the Bill should be broadened to include this Section because it relates to an amendment to another Bill which is not included in this Bill.  In my view the long title of the Bill should be amended.

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA): It is in order as it is Hon. Cross.  Any Bill can amend in a small way, not substantive any provisions of any Act of Parliament but it must not be substantive and when we come to this amendment, you will realise it is a very small issue where the Board of the Infrastructure Bank currently is, I think at 15 and we think that is too unyielding and we are reducing it to nine.  So, I would want you to appreciate that understanding.

Clause 1, put and agreed to.

On Clause 2:

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA): I move the amendments standing in my name that: On page 4, in the definition of “Minister”, delete the words, “the Minister of Finance and Economic Development or any other Minister’ and replace them with “a Vice President or Minister”.

Amendment to Clause 2, put and agreed to. 

          Clause 2, as amended, put and agreed to.

          On Clause 3:

          HON. CROSS: There is an amendment to Clause 3, relating to the reports of the authority, section 21.  Mr. Chairman, the amendment which the Minister is proposing to this particular Clause refers to the Annual Report. In fact, there is no reference in this Bill to an Annual Report of any kind. The reports of the authority are general reports of the authority, and I thought that was the intention of the Committee to propose that if any reports are received by the Minister from the authority they should be tabled in the House.

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA): Chair, it is better handled when we come to Clause 21. Currently, we are dealing with Clause 3 not 21, we are going section by section. The Chairman was on Clause 3 and there is no amendment to Clause 3 but as you rightly pointed out, we had made a mistake that it was amendment Clause 7 when in fact it should be Clause 21.

          Clauses 3 to 20, put and agreed to.

          On Clause 21:

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA): Mr. Chairman, I move the amendment which is on notice of amendments but which has been wrongly designated as section 7, disqualification for appointment as members, that on page 10 of the Bill, in subsection 2 of Clause 21, delete the words “the Minister may lay a report submitted to him or her by the Authority before Parliament.” and insert the words, “The Minister shall table before Parliament every Annual Report submitted to him or her by the Authority.”  The correction should be Section 21 (Reports of Authority) if that correction is made I therefore, move the amendment standing in my name under that caption. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

          HON. CROSS: Mr. Chairman, I just want to raise the point that the question of an Annual Report is never mentioned in the Bill anywhere else. In fact, the import of this particular clause in the original draft, before amendment was that the Minister may lay any report of the authority in front of Parliament. What the Economic Affairs Committee wanted in this particular Clause was that all reports of the authority should be brought to the House by the Minister. I do not know whether he is prepared to amend this particular Clause slightly.

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA): The Hon. Member, I think generally, otherwise this House will be inundated, if every report that I get to ZIMRA, you ask that I table it here the point is that the reports of any parastatal, in this case the authority will be on an annual basis covering the activities of that authority over the period of 12 months. That I think is what should oblige the Minister to submit to this House for debate, but not every 2 months or so. I do not think that is fair even to the Minister or even to the authority. So I would want to insist that the amendment remains as we have put it here that the Minister have an obligation to submit to this august House Annual Reports of the authority. I thank you.

          HON. CHIRISA: Thank you Mr. Chair. I think there is some misunderstanding, I do not know. What the Hon. Minister is saying is the annual audited financial reports those are annual reports but what Hon. Cross is talking about is the narrative reports that are supposed to come to Parliament quarterly. I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA): My apologies I did not get the question.

          HON. CHIRISA: I was saying Mr. Chairman, what the Minister is saying are annual reports. Are those audited financial reports that are brought into Parliament annually? What Hon. Cross is asking for is the narrative reports that Ministers and parastatals are supposed to bring to Parliament quarterly, that is the case.

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMSA): Under the Public Finance Management Act, all financial statements of parastatals are tabled through Parliament, so there is no need to make that provision again in this Bill, because all parastatals are obliged to lay their financial statements before Parliament. Yes, the only problem that is there which we are trying to address both at Parliament and at the Ministry is when those reports are laid before Parliament, they are not scrutinized. It is almost like just it is a formality - in your pigeon holes, you have hundreds of those reports but no one takes notice, no one raises a motion, no one has analysed them and even to study them. That is the problem now that we need to address, so as to enhance the oversight role of Parliament but clearly, every parastatal is required to table its financial statements, but no one reads them, and it was happening not just here, but also at the Treasury.

Amendment to Clause 21, put and agreed to.

Clause 21, as amended, put and agreed to.

Clauses 22 to 28 put and agreed to.

On Clause 29:

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA) Thank you Mr. Chaiman. I move the amendment standing in my name that on page 12 of the Bill, in sub-clause 2 of Clause 29, delete the words “on payment of the prescribed fee, if any.”

Amendment to Clause 29 put and agreed to.

Clause 29, as amended, put and agreed to.

Clauses 30 to 33 put and agreed to.

On Clause 34:

HON. MUKUPE: On Clause 34, I think we felt very strongly about the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe. This Clause says that the Minister has got about sixty days to come back on any appeal that would have been put across to him. The feeling is that sixty days is just too long. We are trying to shorten the period that papers do turn around. So, if we can reduce those sixty days. The feeling was that let us make it five days, but if five days is too short, can we have it at least at thirty days?

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA): Mr. Chairman, I have no problem. We were trying to make it more flexible for people who are aggrieved and to give them adequate time to prepare their papers and to carry out the necessary consultations with their legal practitioners. But, if the august House feels that we reduce it to thirty, I agree. So, in that event Mr. Chairman, I move that in Clause 34, sub-clause (2), we delete the word “sixty”, and substitute it with “thirty”.

Amendment to Clause 34 put and agreed to.

Clause 34, as amended, put and agreed to.

Clauses 35 to 39 put and agreed to.

On Clause 40:

HON. CROSS: Mr. Chairman, there is a spelling mistake in Section 40(b). The reference to activity “with” a Special Economic Zone. It should be “within.

On Clause 40:

HON.  CROSS: Clause 40 (1) (b), there is a spelling mistake.  It should not be with, it should be within.

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA): I thank the Hon. Member for drawing that to our attention.  Accordingly, I move that an amendment be moved in Clause 40 (1) (b) by deleting the word with and substituting with the word within.

Amendment to Clause 40 put and agreed to.

Clause 40, as amended, put and agreed to.

Clause 41 to 55, put and agreed to.

On Clause 56:

HON. MPARIWA: Thank you very much Hon. Chair.  For the record, I stood up during the report of the Committee on Finance when this Clause was put across to say that the application of the Labour Act should not apply on the Special Economic Zones.  Hon. Chair, I note with concern when we have laws that we can deliberately violate or put aside simply because we want to please investors at the expense of our own human beings.  Hon. Chair, workers are human beings, they should not be slaves and for the record, I want it recorded that I am opposed to the provisions of Clause 56. 

I am disheartened that at a time when we talk about decent work, it therefore means that workers in the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) have no rights at all.  They cannot have decent wages; any employer can treat them the way they wish.  We do not need to copy because from the report it even says that is what is applied elsewhere.  Do we need to just copy what is applied from elsewhere simply because we want to fast track this Bill and violate the rights of the workers?  As Parliamentarians, let us be reminded that we have a duty to protect and serve the voiceless people who cannot represent themselves but have sent us to Parliament to legislate laws that are user friendly to both men and women.  Thank you Hon. Chair.  I do not agree with the provisions of Clause 56.  Thank you.

HON. KHUPE: Thank you very much Hon. Chairperson.  As much as I understand that it is important that we attract investors, it is also important that we strike a balance between attracting investors and protecting workers’ interest.  I strongly believe that if we look at the Act, there are so many incentives which will attract investors apart from the Labour Act not applying in Special Economic Zones, for instance, the tax holidays. 

What it means is that if the Labour Act is not going to apply in Special Economic Zones, what it means is that workers will be harassed and victimised.  As alluded to by Hon. Mpariwa, they will be hired and fired any time, their wages will be low and they will work for longer hours.  Hon. Chairperson, we appeal to the Minister that it is important that he strikes a balance between attracting investors and protecting workers’ interests.  The Labour Act must apply because without it, there is no other instrument which is going to protect the workers.  They will just be there as workers.  We are appealing to the Minister so that he considers the issue of making sure that the Labour Act will apply in Special Economic Zones.  I thank you.

HON. NDUNA: Thank you Hon. Chair.  I stand as a mover of this motion.  One of the issues that is in the Special Economic Zones and brings it to life is employment generation.  The nation can benefit immensely from these Special Economic Zones through taxes such as PAYE because of the multitudes that will be employed in that sector.  What I want to expand on is the issue of our current labour laws.  They do not compensate effort.  They are basically skewed towards payment for somebody who is present.  When you visit places like the United Kingdom, those who have worked there will tell you that they are engaged in what is termed moonlighting, they hop from one job to the other and are paid for production.  Mr. Chair, what I want the Minister to understand is, if we continue to be moribund in the manner that we approach the issues to do with workmanship, we will shoot ourselves in the foot in terms of investment.  It is my fervent view that the issue to say, we are suspending labour laws should not sound like that.  We should have flexible labour laws inside the special economic zone, in so far as employment, production and investment are concerned.

          It is my fervent view that, let us not impede upon investment by sticking on to the archaic, historic, flout and legacy flout laws that we currently have in this nation.  Let us have investment coming in, premised on the point that they are going to be attracted by labour laws that protect or that recognise compensating effort.  I believe in all honesty, no business person in his rightful sense, will want to go and invest where they are paying for mediocrity; where they are paying for somebody that is going to attend.  Let us not be in reverse mode if we want to attract investment. I thank you.

          HON. MUKUPE:  Thank you Mr. Chair for recognising me.  There are a couple of things I think I would also want to bring out to the House concerning this issue of the suspension of labour laws as well as indigenisation. I must say I am very much supporting the issue that labour laws and indigenisation should actually be suspended in these zones.  The issue that Zimbabweans are going to be turned into slaves, I think it is mere sensationalisation because I would want to believe that from our Constitution, there is a thing called ‘the Bill of Rights’.  There is nothing that is saying that the Bill of Rights is actually being suspended as well. 

So, it means our people will continue being afforded their rights as individuals.  The other thing that I would also want to make clear to the rationale why we are actually supporting this, is that if you are going to suspend the labour laws as well as indigenisation, what you are actually doing is that you are creating a level playing field for domestic firms and our goods are actually going to be able to compete on the global market.  We will actually end up having a situation where we are not necessarily becoming recipients of dumped products like toilet paper and other things that are dumped into our markets. 

The other thing that is also important is that, by the establishment of these SEZs, we are actually creating a lot of jobs and we are doing so in terms of the low skilled labour force that we have and that should go a long way in terms of meeting the 2.2 million jobs that we want to create. 

The other thing that is also important is that by the creation of these SEZs, the suspension of labour laws and the indigenisation is that we are going to reduce the pressure that we are having in the metropolitan areas.  At the present moment, you find that every other person who is thinking that the minute they finish O’ levels or whenever they finish schools, everyone is rushing to Harare or Bulawayo.  If we are creating these special economic zones  in the areas in which you have got certain specific advantages that you have, be it a tourism zone or be it a zone yemakorokoza or whatever it is, you are keeping the people in their areas.  There is no need for people to be able to come to the metropolitans. 

I think the last thing that is really important is that we are all complaining about the high cost base of all our manufacturing companies.  We need to bring down the cost of doing business and the transaction costs. This will actually go a long way in terms of making sure that our goods that we are going to be exporting are actually going to be very competitive.  I thank you Mr. Chairman.

HON. CHAMISA:  Thank you very much Hon. Chair. I was looking carefully at Clause 56, and I know that there is a saying that says “the horse is always equal to its strength”.  I have always appreciated the Minister’s robustness and kindness in appreciating the force of logic as opposed to the logic of force.  It is in that context that I would kindly ask and urge the Minister to have regards to Section 65 of the Constitution.  I am very livid to support Clause 56 in the context of two aspects.  The first one is the issue of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.  The second one is the issue of public policy and what we call public morals.  I would submit that clearly, this clause is contra bonos mores. When I say that, I mean it is contrary to good morals; it is also contrary to public policy. 

I will motivate what I am trying to say Hon. Chair, if you have regard to Section 65, every person in Zimbabwe which is a constitutional right has the right to fair and safe labour practices and standards and to be paid a fair and reasonable wage.  The obligation on the State on all non-State actors even private player within Zimbabwe, including investors, is to respect certain rights.  Those rights are embodied or enshrined in the Labour Act.  Now I do not think that to then argue or to then legislate against the Constitution is sustainable.  What we are not doing is to legislate against the Constitution. We cannot take away a right that has been given by the Constitution through an Act, it is unconstitutional.  I would submit that what we probably need to do, instead of having a ‘catch all approach’; an omnibus approach, we may need to then look at a way of not just attacking the Labour Act in toto but then having specific aspects that do not affect the rights of workers.

I would say constitutionally and speaking from a stand point of the superior law of our land, we cannot have the inferior law trying to negate and undermine what has been endorsed and given by the superior law [AN HON. MEMBER: Inaudible interjection] – yes, yes, it is a very serious issue that has to do with how we respect our own laws.  The better view would have been to then go the Labour Act and then negotiate with the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Services to try and deal with the aspect from that end. 

I have made the point that clearly this is contrary to public policy. Public policy dictates the protection of members of the public, particularly against other strong forces within and without Zimbabwe.  Our pursuit of capital cannot be done at the expense of our own people.   We cannot be like other countries that are so determined to see the sweat and blood of their citizens just to make sure that there is capital.  We need to protect our people and to protect our people, there is an Act that is already there, that Act has to be respected and it cannot be overthrown through an Act of Parliament like what the Minister intends to do.  I would say those are the two points I just wanted to make.  Thank you very much.

HON. DR. KEREKE:  Thank you Hon. Chair, for allowing me to contribute.  I was debating with the Hon. Minister earlier on, to say Special Economic Zones are meant to give incentives for investors to come but no incentive whatsoever should be allowed to tamper not even to contemplate tampering with the Bill of Rights, chapter four of the Constitution.  We can allow tax concessions, we can allow reduced duty importation - that is fine, but the contemplations in the Section as proposed to suspend Labour Laws, I can understand Indigenization.  Labour Laws, Mr. Chair, because it does not affect the Bill of Rights, I will be specific, let us not be emotional about this.  Let us not formulate laws that violate the Constitution, it is very important

          The first Section, chapter four requires that there be no discrimination, the principle fundamental right of non-discrimination.  It gives the Constitution an alphabet of what aspects are regarded as discriminatory.  Mr. Chair, when you have an enclave in your society where laws created for the common good by Parliament do not apply -  picture this Mr. Chair; I am the same person, I wake up, I am a craftsman maybe I fix electricity. In the morning I am fixing electricity at Delta then my company in the afternoon is called into the Economic Zone to fix electricity, all of a sudden, my rights have been stripped off – the same person. 

          The contemplations in the drafts are ultra vires the Constitution also because Section 51 requires that we put laws that respect human dignity.  Human dignity is a fundamental right, where Labour Laws have been stripped off completely from applying to an individual, so that the Minister concerned just agrees with the investor on how to discipline you, how to fire you.  Everything else, every other protection given to the worker by the Labour Laws has been stripped off. It violates, without doubt in my mind, Section 51 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

          There is Section 68 of the Constitution which talks about Administrative Justice. In other words the contractual relationship between the employer and the employee has to be undertaken under the framework of Administrative Justice.  Even the vertical relationship between the State and workers in the Special Economic Zones has to be administered under the principle of Administrative Justice.  When you suspend the Labour Laws for companies that are in the Special Economic Zones, you would have automatically without doubt, removed the guaranteed protection to all employees in the Special Economic Zones from the right to Administrative Justice which says, where the aggrieved party, which is quite usual and normal for a company and its workers to have disputes, these things happen - but if you say the Labour Laws do not apply, it will be difficult to guarantee if not impossible Administrative Justice on the relationship between that company and the person as an individual.

          There are several other Sections of the Constitution that are violated, the Right to private property - which is indirectly on the relationship between a company and the person in respect of personal effects in the office and so on. So, my recommendation very humbly, is that let us not be regimented on the overall goodness of the policy intention into then violating the Constitution to please investors. I want to speak very strongly and urge the Hon. Minister to re-consider that particular Section.  The Indigenization, Hon. Chair, that one is debatable; we can be subjective about it but the requirement for fulfilling Chapter Four of the Constitution is not a debatable issue, it is an absolute imperative that we keep the Constitution.

          I want to close my comments by quoting Section 86 of the Constitution which talks about the conditions under which the rights can be tampered with but within limits.  Section 86 of the Constitution says, “Under a State of emergency then within certain limits, certain rights can be tampered with”.  Let us say there is a war that is breaking, the state of emergency is declared then people’s homes can be entered into, people being asked to vacate.  It is a war situation but the same Chapter, specifically says, “No law, practice or custom shall violate the individual rights as stipulated in chapter four”.  So I really want to say Hon. Members let us not create a law that violates the Constitution. I thank you.

          HON. M. KHUMALO:   I want to support the Provision because if you read Section 65 of the Constitution, if you want to be a solder, do not go and join the security forces because there are special exceptions that do not give you the right like every other labour force.  This is a Special Economic Zone area; it is not an economic zone only. It serves the needs of special exporters.  If you are an exporter who does not want to enjoy the provisions that apply to Special Economic Zones, do not get there.  If you are a labour force; an employee who does not want these special Sections of this Act to apply to you, do not get recruited there.  Section 56 of the Constitution says, “Freedom from forced or compulsory labour”. 

The Special Economic Zones looks like there are some benefits, and some holiday benefits in it.  It says, “No person may be made to perform forced or compulsory labour”, which means when we are in a special zone area, there are certain benefits that apply.

 So, those who do not want to have their rights treated against the labour law, those who do not want the Indigenisation Law to apply, let them not get there because there are other zones that allow you to get employed in terms of the Labour Act.  So, I want to support this Section of the Bill Mr. Chair because it is targeted to make sure exporters enjoy these benefits.  The Labour Law will delay the activities of the Special Zone area.  So we want to avoid those delays and please do not get employed there if you want to avoid being forced to follow the rules that apply in the Special Economic Zones.  I thank you.

          HON. SARUWAKA: Thank you Hon. Chair.  My contribution on the controversial suspension of the Labour Act operating in the Special Economic Zones and the suspension on the indigenisation provisions. I would like to say yes, for the indigenisation provisions, I am happy that they are suspended, not only in the Special Economic Zones but everywhere else in the country. We do not need those.

          Coming to the suspension of Labour Laws, I want to say if you look at the Chiadzwa operations, we had the operations happening in Chiadzwa where to a certain extent that area was treated like a Special Economic Zone. There are so many stories of labour abuse that happened in that area. I am afraid, Mr. Chair, to say as a country we become so desperate as to sacrifice our own labour force for the purposes of saying we are going to benefit as an economy yet we have had many situations where people who came in the economy never really did anything to the benefit of the nation. So, I am trying to say what are we sacrificing to get in return? What are we really getting out of it? The Chiadzwa example will really show you that the balance sheet for that operation left us in the negative. So, I personally would not support a situation where we sacrifice our own labour force.

          Secondly Mr. Chair, I want to say currently Zimbabwe’s formal employment is so low. Figures differ but I want to believe figures that put our formal employment at below 5% and for someone to think that the Special Economic Zones would be open to only those people who are willing to go there. More people in Zimbabwe are unemployed and would naturally want to get employment. By wanting to get employment, it does not mean that they are available for abuse. As a country we must always make sure that we protect the interests of the locals because you would find that when you suspend the Labour Act provisions, it is not the foreigner who is going to suffer. You are sacrificing your own people and I do not foresee any reasonable Government really supporting a situation where we can sacrifice our own people.

I will tell you Mr. Chair that capitalists by nature can be very cruel and if we allow them to do as they wish with our people, you can be guaranteed that you might not be able to control them in as far as the amount of trampling of the rights of our employees are concerned. The simple example is, where our girls went to Kuwait for employment.  We might import the same conditions that were exposed to our girls and have the little ‘Kuwaits’ in Zimbabwe where our own people will be suffering at the hands of the so-called foreigners and investors. So I vehemently disagree with the Hon. Minister in as far as this provision is concerned.

I believe any investor who really wishes to prosper must put the interests of the worker ahead of everything else. A happy worker will produce and not sabotage any operation. So it would be sad for us to believe that we need workers who do not have rights for the operations of an investor to succeed. I want to believe it would be best if we actually insist that those who want to operate in Zimbabwe, first and foremost, really respect the rights of the workers because we cannot afford to have our own people being abused any further. That is my take and I thank you for giving me this opportunity.

          HON. CHASI: Thank you Mr. Chair. First of all I would like to make the point that it is common practice in drafting of legislation to arrange the law in such a way that certain laws or sections of laws do not apply to a particular situation. So, this is not anything new. It is something that happens every day. Mr. Chair, I would like to draw the attention of this House to the architecture of that section. Section 56 creates a situation where there is suspension of the two laws that are under discussion here. The concept and logic of it is to present an opportunity to the investor to negotiate the terms, conditions and rules that apply to a particular economic zone.

          The speakers before me have, I think, completely ignored the provisions of subsection 2 of section 56 which states, “The authority may, in consultation with the Minister responsible for the administration of the Labour Act provide rules for conditions of service, termination of service, dismissal from service, disciplinary proceedings that apply within every Special Economic Zone”. So, whereas the first subsection has suspended the application of the two laws, the second subsection gives an opportunity for investors in a particular Special Economic Zone to negotiate the terms.

Now, what rights are contained in the Labour Law? The Labour Law will contain rules pertaining to conditions of service. The Labour Act will contain rules pertaining to termination of service. It will also contain rules pertaining to dismissal from service as well as disciplinary proceedings that are supposed to apply within the Special Economic Zone. So, I would say that given the provisions of Section 56 (2), there is an opportunity for an investor to negotiate with the authority and come up with rules that affect the various areas that I have spoken about. The interests of the workers are catered for because this negotiation is done with the consultation of the Minister and quite clearly, the authority and the Minister will have to come up with agreements that are within the purview of the Constitution. So, all the rules that Hon. Kereke has spoken about will be taken care of at that point when this negotiation takes place.

I think it is very important to understand that if we want to attract investment and we say our labour laws are rigid, we are unlikely to get people that will want to come and work with us. So this section is creating an opportunity for negotiations around a very key area of investment. I want to say that the section as it is by and large, proper and correct. It may be amplified by making it a requirement that the negotiation must take place as opposed to making it optional. So, one could suggest an improvement in sub-section (2) to say ‘The authority must…’ as opposed to ‘may’. I thank you.

          *HON. MAONDERA: Thank you Mr. Chairman. What surprises me is that the Minister wants us to remove some of the labour regulations within this new amendment, but my belief is that workers who are under Chinese projects are highly abused.  They are physically assaulted and what makes me wonder is how much suffering; how much assault will they go through when we introduce this law which suspends the regular regulations on workers?

          We find that when people are working for employers such as the Minister in ZiFM or in Chegutu for Nduna or grind stones for Mudarikwa in Mutoko, workers will be abused.  My observation is that, those Members of Parliament who are calling for the suspension of regular protective labour laws are oppressors who are afraid of losing out if these labour laws are removed, especially Special Economic Zones.  What surprises me is that this law is being promulgated by Hon. Members who are saying they are freedom fighters, who went to war to liberate the people of Zimbabwe.  Why are they re-introducing these oppressive laws?

          HON. DR. KEREKE: Thank you Mr. Chair.  I do not intend to hog the opportunities to discuss this matter.  But, the contributions by Hon. Chasi and my other fellow Honourable who quoted Section 65- Section 65 (1) says, and this is the Constitution.  I can confirm it is in Chapter 4, which Chapter cannot be violated by any law.  It says, “Every person has the right to fair and safe labour practices and standards and to be paid a fair and reasonable wage”.  Section 68 says, “The right to administrative justice” mapabata ipapo?

          The suggestion by Hon. Chasi, that we only improve the section to say, ‘the Minister may’, we then change it to must.  Suspension of the labour laws, the mere fact of suspending the labour laws contrary to what Hon. Chasi said that, it is not a new thing to exclude certain areas in a piece of law, except here we are talking of human beings.  You can exclude tractors from paying duty; chemicals from paying import duty in your laws but when it comes to human beings, you cannot be selective about a segment  of people on whom human rights apply and another segment on whom human rights are suspended.  That cannot be constitutional.

          So, it is on the basis that suspension of the labour laws violates several sections of Chapter 4.  As Parliament, we are not supposed to pass laws that violate Chapter 4.  That is my point. 

          HON. B. TSHUMA: Thank you Mr. Chairman.  My humble contributions will also be on the line of Hon. Kereke.  While we do anything, let us understand the essence of this august House.  The first prerogative of our duty is to safeguard the very same people that we represent when we come here to Parliament.  We are Members of Parliament because we are voted for to come here and represent people.  Now, if we find ourselves being caught up in trying to resuscitate the economy or in trying to come out of our doldrums, and then sacrifice the very same people, we might be judged very wrongly in future.

          What I want to believe is that, as much as we want to make it look lucrative and easy for people to come and invest in our country, let us not do it at the expense of our people.  Let us try and come up with ways of trying to make sure that once the investor comes; yes with the money that we desperately need, let us not sell our souls to the devil because that is exactly what we are going to do.  To be honest with you, I always want to ask our Finance Minister what is the exact value that China is bringing to Zimbabwe.  I am not seeing it at all.  I know that but I am just saying those people are abusing our people down there.  I have got proof to that because some of them operate from my Constituency.  People always come to my office every time complaining about the behaviour of the Chinese.  

          Now, Bulawayo is being earmarked as one of the Special Economic Zones, and those people will now have the liberty to do as they please.  Here, I am talking merely because I have got people who send me from my Constituency, to say represent us.  So, let us make laws that will protect those same people.  Everything else, I agree, but when it comes to people aiwa.   I want to definitely differ to say, let us protect our people, that is our mandate as this House.  I thank you.

          HON. CHAMISA: Thank you Hon. Chair.  We have a duty to knock sense into the head of a sensible Minister and Hon. Chinamasa is a sensible man.  We have no reason to doubt that he will be sensible enough to see that this clause is a decimation of the Constitution.  The problem is that as Parliament, we are also bound by this Constitution.  In terms of Section 119, the role of Parliament, we are supposed to protect this Constitution.  We have a duty to protect it.  Yes, the Minister can choose to tamper with it but we have to protect the Constitution, even against the Minister.  We are now saying to the Minister, you have a duty to protect your people. 

          IMF, Britain whose institutions/ investors may come with a sweetener and give you a sweet, but please resist the sweet and protect your people.   How do you protect your people?  You protect your people by removing Clause 56.  I was just looking at the Labour Act.  The Labour Act has certain rights.  It has rights of young people.  Now, if you are going to get rid of the Labour Act, you are simply going to subject even young people at the age of 6.  They are going to be taken for child labour.

          I know the Minister used to understand these things before he became an employer in Headlands.  Now, he is a problem because he is an employer.  He was telling me that when I used to be with you, we did not have problems but now he is an employer.  He cannot understand that we still need to have that responsibility of protecting our people.  This is servitude and a slavery clause.  This is a slavery clause Hon. Minister.  We are taking back our people to servitude; we are taking back our people to slavery; we are taking back our people to Rhodesia.  This is a Rhodesian clause - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

          This can only be inspired by the ghost of Ian Smith and the sell outs.  Why should we take upon ourselves to have the sell outs influencing our laws?  Why should Smith smile in his grave to say, I have my friend Hon. Chinamasa, why Hon. Chinamasa?  Hon. Chair, this is a very serious issue.   It is about the rights of our people –[HON. CHINAMASA: You are talking about it  three/four times before I reply. I need time to reply but why stand up saying so many times and repeating the same things?]- You will reply Hon. Minister. Logic is sufficient enough to be repeated. Hon. Chair, I am a firm believer in the liberation struggle. Part of the reason – [HON. CHINAMASA: I know you are not.]- Hon. Minister, why are you undermining our liberation? Why are you taking away; why are you affecting and attacking our liberation? Why then do you want to take us back to colonialists?

Okay Hon. Chair, revolutionaries would never support such a clause and I know that Hon. Chinamasa is going to see the sense of the Hon. Members. This has nothing to do with him as an individual but it has all to do with what we want to see for our country. What we cannot do is to keep quiet and be silent when there is a decimation of the Constitution. We cannot be accompanying the Minister to the slaughter house of a Constitution.

We need to make sure that we stop the Minister mid-way and say, there we should not go. We have a duty in terms of this Constitution to support, to defend and to protect the Constitution. These provisions are very important. What we cannot do is sit and say we are overthrowing an Act of Parliament. We are overthrowing laws that we passed in this Parliament simply because we want to serve the interests of the capitalists or the investors. At no point in time, should we serve the whims and caprices of investors, their interest at the expense of our people. We have a duty to protect the weak, indigent, unemployed, and we have a duty to stand up as a people and say, when this matter came, Hon. Chinamasa wanted to introduce this law and we knocked some sense into him. He realised that being an employer is not being everything.

THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Address the Chair.

HON. CHAMISA:  Okay Hon. Chair. Let me attack the clause –and leave the Minister. The clause is unconstitutional, anti-liberation, against our people; it is an anti-people clause. The clause is taking back our people to slavery. The clause is unAfrican and it is something that we must all stand up across the political divide and say this is not a good clause. It is not good for us. Yes, we may be poor but we still have our dignity – [AN. HON. MEMBER: Yes] - unemployed but we still have our dignity. We cannot allow our dignity to be stripped off simply because we are being told we are poor. Thank you very much Hon. Chair – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]-

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA): Mr. Chairman, I thank Hon. Members who have been very emotional, very strong on a motion and very little on substance – [Laughter]- but I still welcome their contributions because they are seeking to politicise an otherwise very straightforward matter. I think this House needs to understand that at our peak we used to employ two million people and as we speak, it is half a million. We need to understand the extent of our economic situation if we are to get out of this situation. The economy has been informalised, which is making it difficult to collect revenue. So what we are talking about here Mr. Chairman, is that we need foreign direct investment. I know a lot of colleagues have been arguing that we do not need foreign direct investment. We need foreign direct investment. We need technology. All our industries whether you are talking about Bulawayo, Gweru, Harare, Kwekwe, Kadoma, Mutare, Rusape and Masvingo – the industries are down, yet we spend the whole afternoon talking about that we do not need foreign direct investment because that is what it comes down to. We are basically saying we do not want to create an environment which is conducive for attracting foreign direct investment.

This country needs foreign direct investment and what we are saying through the establishment of these Special Economic Zones, we want to attract technology back into the country. We want to attract capital back into the country. We want to attract managerial skills back into the country. We want also to promote value addition  when those companies come into these Special Economic Zones,  they will use our resources and value-add and we will be able to be an exporter of value added commodities unlike currently where in fact, we are an exporter of raw materials. I want it to be understood that our situation is bad and we need to craft measures that take us out of this situation. We do not need to be emotional about it. We do not need to politicise these issues.

Now, if you look at Section 56, you know people have not read it and even the lawyer, Hon. Chamisa decided not to read it – [HON. CHAMISA: Ahh]- The section is very clear. The labour law will not apply, then in subsection 2 it says, “The authority, with the approval of the Minister responsible, will craft rules to deal with the special conditions in the Special Economic Zones”. It says so. Now, when only those rules are made will you be in a situation to attack whether those rules violate the Constitution. Before the rules are made, this is merely speculative discussion, speculative debate. Late the rules be made and then see whether or not those rules violate the Constitution. As of now, this discussion is just speculative, emotional, and vindictive in fact.

Let me basically deal with the issues. Hon. Mpariwa – there is nothing in this clause which says rights in the Constitution are going to be violated. There is nothing in this clause which says employees employed in the Special Economic Zones will not receive decent wages nothing. As I mentioned, the rules are going to be made which will, to the extent possible, introduce flexibility for those who are going to locate into these Special Economic Zones. Until those rules are made, you have no platform, no basis for discussion. When the rules are made, you can then come and through the PLC, say that they violate the Constitution. For now, this Bill passed through the PLC and there is no violation. So do not talk as if there is a violation. It is just in your view because you do not want employment creation in this country –[AN. HON. MEMBER: Vaudzei]-

Hon. Khupe when we debated this clause, the point you raised about striking a balance is what came in and it is what produced sub- clause 2. We said, let us have rules and we cannot have an open ended situation. We must have rules which are specific to Special Economic Zones and these we will debate with any investors who are going to come. In fact, we envisaged that the investors will come and the wages will be higher than in the territory.  They are now outside the zones. What we want is to focus on exports, foreign currency earnings, attracting new technology and capital. The talk here seems like we do not need capital, and then there is an attack on capitalists and so on. Please bear with me that we need capital. It can come without violating the Constitution and the rules will be made so that it does not violate the Constitution. Let us not be emotional about it.

          Thank you Hon. Nduna for your support for the Bill. I want to say that you raised the issue of workmanship. Basically, we are talking about skills development. What we envisage if we are able to attract investors into the Special Economic Zones, through employment in those zones, skills technical and managerial, will spill over into the territory which is outside the zones. That is how we empower our people. They will then go out to start their own businesses because they have been working in those special economic zones. You ask those countries in particular China. China is now able to start industries that compete with industries that were established by foreign investors, and you can go right across whether it is making tractors or Mercedes Benz. They make a Mercedes Benz under a different name because the investor came and was working in the Special Economic Zone. – [AN HON. MEMBER: Inonzi Mercedes Benz] - Ah, whatever. – [HON. MEMBERS: Laughter]-

          Hon. Mukupe, I thank you very much and I want to emphasise in particular that when workers go into the Special Economic Zones, you can say that they are agreeing in terms of skills development, but we hope that in three or five years time, they will have gained the necessary skills that will benefit the wider economy. That is the intention of these Special Economic Zones. As he mentioned, the idea is that we establish Special Economic Zones and I have in the past indicated the areas where we have intentions to establish Special Economic Zones.

          Let us take the Lupane/Gwayi area where we think that this will be a Special Economic Zone for petrol, chemical industries and fertilizers. This will make that area a hub of growth, genuine growth, not just the previous Growth Points where it was more or less, there is no economic activity around and we seek to set up a Growth Point. This time, it will be centred on a natural resource that we want exploited. In the Gwayi/Lupane, it is natural gas and coal. We can consider making fertilizer from coal, diesel and making fertilizer from natural gas. That is what the intention is about. When you get that investor to come, we will negotiate special terms why he should be in that zone. It is from there that the Minister responsible for Labour will be able to make rules which provide that the environment is conducive for that investment.

Hon. Chamisa, I wish you could –[AN HON. MEMBER: abuda]- He runs away because he has no legal basis. He tried to argue like a lawyer when in fact, there is no legal basis at all. There is nothing in this Clause violating the Constitution.  When the rules are made, it is up to this House to examine those rules which should be applicable within the zone as to whether, and in what respect they violate the Constitution. There is nothing, which is why I am not surprised that he has disappeared from the House. This Clause does not make reference to any fair wages or to anything. It merely says rules will be made for conditions that are applicable.

I want to emphasise that when those rules are made, it is for this House to determine whether there are in violation of the Constitution. He talked about morality and so on. As it turned out, he was just emotional in order to make a political point. I have been at pains Hon. Members on both sides of the House. The problem about our country is that we have politicised every discussion, and when we politicise the economy, we are creating a disaster for our country. We should not politicise things. At the end of the day, it will affect all of us. It does not matter on which side of the divide you are. It will affect all of us.

 I think the argument that I have made is also applicable to the contribution of Dr. Kereke. The logic is that the Constitution is very clear and there is nothing violating the Constitution. The problem is that you have not decided. You have been very selective in your reading of the Section. You read only subsection (1) and you do not read subsection (2), and subsection (2) is very clear. Rules are going to be made. The rules have not yet been made – [AN HON. MEMBER: Why putting a “may”?]- I have no problem if you want a “must”. If that is the case, I have no problem whatsoever, but I am very clear that the rules have not yet been made. So, if you want, we can do so, so that it is not permissive. I have no problem because some rules have to be made and it is us now to determine whether those rules basically violate the Constitution or not?

Thank you very much Hon. Khumalo for supporting the Bill. Hon. Saruwaka, you have no basis, moral or legal to oppose this Bill. Hon. Chasi, I thank you for clarifying. It is not fair to anybody for people to do selective reading. You read and only take, and argue on the basis of sub-clause (1) and you completely ignore sub-clause (2). You completely ignore that the rules are not yet in place and then you go on to argue as they say in English. ‘You give a dog a bad name and you go on to hang him’. That is exactly what this debate has been about.

The same argument Hon. Chuma, I want you to understand that there is no violation of the Constitution. The rules are going to be made. When the rules are made, it is up to you to say in what way they are violating the Constitution. We want that flexibility. We want these zones to be unique and to be distinct from the rest of the territory for the reasons that I have mentioned. I will not want to stop what we are planning for Bulawayo because we are misunderstanding a provision of the law. 

With that remark Mr. Chair, I think I must concede that in sub-clause (2) of 56, we delete the word “may” and we put the word “must”. I also want you Hon. Members to know that when we say in consultation, it means with the approval of the Minister. So, if I could delete the “may” and substitute with the word “must”. I so move Mr. Chair.

HON. MPARIWA:  Mr. Chairman, I call for the division of the House.

[Bells rung]

House divided.

AYES 75: Hon. Beremauro G, Hon. Chakona P, Hon. Chasi F, Hon. Chibagu G, Hon. Chigudu M, Hon. Chikuni E, Hon. Chimwamurombe A, Hon. Chinamasa P, Hon. Chingosho C, Hon. Chitindi C, Hon. Chitura L, Hon. Chivamba K, Hon. Dhewa W, Hon. Dziva T. M, Hon. Gezi T, Hon. Gumbo S, Hon. Goche N. T, Hon. Guzha K. N, Hon. Haritatos P, Hon. Holder J, Hon. Hungwa G, Hon. Kachepa N, Hon. Kagonye P, Hon. Kaundikiza M, Hon. Kazembe K, Hon. Khumalo M, Hon. Kwaramba G, Hon. Machingura R, Hon. Madanha M, Hon. Mahiya M, Hon. Makoni R. R, Hon. Makunde T, Hon. Makweya M, Hon. Mangami D, Hon. Mangwende S, Hon. Mapiki J, Hon. Masamvu L, Hon. Matangaidze T, Hon. Matimba K. M, Hon. Matiza B. J, Hon. Dutiro P, Hon. Katsiru L. L, Hon. Shava J, M, Hon. Nhambu B, Hon. Mawere M, Hon. Mbwembwe E, Hon. Mkandla M, Hon. Mpala M, Hon. Mpofu B, Hon. Mpofu R, Hon. Mpofu S, Hon. Mtingwende T, Hon. Moyo J, Hon. Makari Z, Hon. Gangarahwe G, Hon. Mufunga A, Hon. Musanhi K. S, Hon. Mutomba W, Hon. Ncube D. M, Hon. Ncube H, Hon. Ndhlovu Annastancia, Hon. Ndoro L. F, Hon. Nduna D, Hon. Nhema C. F. D, Hon. Nkatazo M. M, Hon. Nyere C, Hon. Paradza K, Hon. Hon. Phiri F. P, Hon. Porusingazi E, Hon. Shongedza E, Hon. Shumba K. D, Hon. Tshuma J, Hon. Uta K, Hon. Zemura L, Hon. Zhou P.

NOES 22: Hon. Bunjira R, Hon. Chamisa N, Hon. Chirisa F, Hon. Cross E. G, Hon. Dube S, Hon. Khupe T, Hon. Majaya B, Hon. Majome F. J, Hon. Maondera W, Hon. Maridadi J, Hon. Matienga M, Hon. Matsunga S, Hon. Mguni N, Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga P. M, Hon. Mpariwa P, Hon. Muchenje M. S, Hon. Munochinzwa M, Hon. Musundire A. L, Hon. Ndlovu N, Hon. Saruwaka T. J. L, Hon. Sibanda L, Hon. Tshuma B.

Tellers: Hon. Dziva and Hon. Mpariwa         

                   THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (HON. MARUMAHOKO):  Order, order Hon. Members! Order in the House. The results of Clause 56, I have 22 Noes and 75 Ayes.  

                   Amendment to Clause 56 put and agreed to.

                   Clause 56, as amended, put and agreed to.

                   Clauses 57 to 58 put and agreed to.

                   On New Clause 59:

                   THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA): Mr. Chair, I withdraw the

new section which was to become Section 59.

                   New Clause 59 put and withdrawn.

                   On Schedule (Section 19):

          HON. CROSS: Mr. Chairman, I just want to point that in the Schedule, Item 17 to 22 provides the authority with the right to give very generous conditions of employment to their staff.  I want to raise with the Minister the fact that these clauses have been abused in many cases.  I seek his assurance that he will keep an eye on any abuses that might occur as a result to the adoption of those particular sections.

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA):  I give that assurance, generally these are part and parcel of many conditions with most employers.  They give staff loans, they help staff with mortgage lending or borrowing.  They help staff with purchase of cars and generally to make the conditions of the employees more comfortable.  We will keep an eye as we have been with a lot of parastatals.  You remember that we did an exercise to see generally what boards of parastatals were paying to their staff.  We have had to come in with interventions with a view to reducing to reasonable levels.  So, I take your point and will keep an eye. 

          House resumed.

          Bill reported with amendments.

          Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION TO KUWAIT

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA): Madam Speaker, a Parliamentary delegation went to Kuwait and the delegation would want to present their report on that visit and to seek the leave of the House to do so without giving notice.   I therefore, move and seek leave of the House to suspend the provisions of Standing Order Number 68, to allow Hon. Paradza to present the report of Zimbabwe Parliamentary delegation on the bilateral visit they made to Kuwait from 25th to 29th April, 2016 and to do so without notice.  I, so move Madam Speaker.

          HON. PARADZA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I move that the House takes note of the Report of the Zimbabwe Delegation on a Bilateral Visit to Kuwait, held from 25th to 29th April, 2016.

         HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: I second.

         HON. PARADZA: Mr. Speaker Sir, let me start with the introduction.

         1.0    INTRODUCTION

         1.1    The Bilateral Visit to Kuwait was undertaken from 25 to 29 April 2016. The invitation for this visit was made on 12 October 2015 by the former Ambassador of the Republic of Kuwait to Zimbabwe, H.E Mr. Ahmed Al Jeeran inviting the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Advocate Jacob Francis Mudenda to lead a Parliamentary delegation to Kuwait.

         1.2    The Speaker was accompanied by the following Members and Officers of Parliament:-

Hon. Enos Musakwa, Chief Musarurwa, Member of Parliament;

Hon. Kindness Paradza, Member of Parliament;

Hon. Priscilla Misihairabwi - Mushonga, Member of Parliament;

Hon. Sabbina Thembani, Member of Parliament;

Mr. Frank Mike Nyamahowa, Director in the Speaker’s Office;

Mr. Robert Sibanda, Security – Aide to the Speaker; and

Mr. Cleophas Gwakwara, Principal External Relations Officer and Secretary to the Delegation.

         1.3 From the onset, let it be known that despite the unfortunate incident of distressed housemaids encountered on arrival in Kuwait City, the main focus of this bilateral visit was to exchange best practices between the two sister Parliaments and the invitation was at the behest of the Speaker of the National Assembly of Kuwait H.E MarZouq Ali al-Ghanem. Therefore, let it be clear that our visit was not a rescue mission for the 32 distressed maids.

         1.4    The issue of the distressed maids only surfaced during a briefing session by the Zimbabwe Ambassador to Kuwait, H.E. Mr. Mark Grey Marongwe who advised the Speaker of the National Assembly and his delegation that he had a desperate situation at hand. This is when the delegation found it necessary to intervene and assist in the repatriation of those unfortunate young ladies who had fallen victims to a human trafficking syndicate of criminals operating between Harare and Kuwait City.  The delegation took a stand and resolved to formally raise this issue, through diplomatic channels, with the relevant authorities in the Kuwait Government. This was subsequently done at the meeting with the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah, who, during the visit, was the Acting Prime Minister.

         1.5    Hon. Members this is indeed the context that this report must be understood. This matter shall be dealt with in greater detail, later in the report.

2.0    BRIEF BACKGROUND ON THE STATE OF KUWAIT

         2.1    Kuwait has known the consultative system (Al-Shoora) since 1920. The First State Consultative Council in the region was formed during the reign of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. The first elected Legislative Assembly was formed in the country in 1938 which consisted of 14 members. Though it was short-lived, it speaks volumes of Kuwait's serious attempts to create democratic institutions way back in the 1930s.

         2.2    Modern Parliamentary life in Kuwait began on June 19, 1961 with the elections to the Constituent Assembly. This was followed by the first session of the National Assembly held on January 29, 1963.

         2.3    Kuwait is a small country but has the fourth-highest per capita income in the world and relatively open economy with crude oil reserves of about 102 billion barrels, enough to last for more than 100 years, representing about 7% of the world reserves and the third in the world after Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

         2.4    Petroleum accounts for nearly half of the GDP, 95% of export revenues, and 95% of Government income. The Kuwait Government has committed to increasing oil production to 4 million barrels per day by 2020. It is trite to note that the fall in global oil prices has affected the economic growth of this nation. However, its currency, the Kuwait dinar, is the highest valued currency in the world with US$100.00 equivalent to KD30.00.

3.0    NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF KUWAIT

         3.1   The Kuwait National Assembly is made up of 50 elected members. These are elected for a four-year term through a secret ballot. The legislative term may be extended by law in times of war or may be cut short if the Assembly is dissolved through a decree. If that happens then general elections will have to be held within two months from the date of dissolution. Voting is done by those over 21 years and Parliamentary candidates are strictly Kuwaitis who are above 30 years old. The country is made up of five constituencies which are required to elect 10 MPs each to make a total of 50 members. Every MP has a right to initiate bills while Parliament approves State budgets and has an oversight role over the Executive.          

         3.2    Kuwait Parliament has the power to institute a vote of no-confidence against a Cabinet Minister forcing him/her to resign. The Assembly can also choose not to co-operate with the Prime Minister and when this happens the matter is taken to the Amir who may either fire the Prime Minister and appoint a new Cabinets or dissolve Parliament leading to the holding of fresh elections.

         3.3    The Kuwait Parliament has Standing Rules Orders and Portfolio Committees that are almost similar to those of Parliament of Zimbabwe.

         3.4    The current Kuwait Parliament was constituted on August 6, 2013 and has no female Members of Parliament, except for one Cabinet Minister appointed.           

4.0    MEETING WITH HON. FAISHAI ALSHAYA, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT AND CHAIRMAN OF THE KUWAIT–ZIMBABWE FRIENDSHIP COMMITTEE

         4.1    On arrival, the delegation was hosted for dinner by the Chairman of the Kuwait-Zimbabwe Friendship Association who reiterated the need to continuously engage with each other bilaterally and further strengthen cooperation between the two countries through bilateral exchanges.

5.0   MEETING WITH THE HIS HIGHNESS, THE AMIR, SHEIKH SABAH AL-AHMAD   AL-JABER AL-SABAH

         5.1    The delegation paid a Courtesy Call on His Highness, the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Ruler of Kuwait. In his remarks to the Amir, our Speaker, Hon Mudenda conveyed fraternal greetings from the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Excellency, Cde R. G. Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe. He expressed gratitude for the warm welcome the delegation had received from the friendly people of Kuwait. Hon. Mudenda briefed the Amir, the purpose of the visit, which was mainly to learn, exchange notes on Parliamentary affairs and cement the already solid bilateral relations which exist between the two sister countries. The Speaker of the National Assembly also briefed the Amir about the prevailing drought situation that has ravaged the Southern Africa region, including Zimbabwe.

         5.2    Zimbabwe and Kuwait enjoy cordial relations since 1980 when diplomatic relations were established between the two countries. Hon. Mudenda noted that these relations were further strengthened after the Iraq invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 when Zimbabwe played a leading role at the United Nations in condemning the invasion.

         5.3    The Amir responded by conveying a goodwill message to President, R. G. Mugabe and the friendly people of Zimbabwe. He underscored the fact that he “adored” His Excellency, President Mugabe very much. He revealed to the delegation that he had bought a piece of land in Zimbabwe during his last visit here and he expressed his willingness to come to Zimbabwe and “occupy” that land and possibly claim “citizenship.” The Speaker promised the Amir that his land will be preserved but urged him to set up some structures on that piece of land.

         5.4    The Kuwait Ruler then extended an invitation for President Mugabe to undertake a State Visit to the Gulf country, although the official invitation was to be done through the normal diplomatic channels. The Speaker has since conveyed this message to H.E., the President R. G. Mugabe.

6.0    MEETING WITH H.E SABAH AL KHALID AL SABAH, FIRST DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

         6.1    Within the Amir’s palace, the delegation met with the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs who pointed out that the visit was historic in that, it was coming soon after the 25th Anniversary of the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. He applauded the bold stance taken by Zimbabwe against the Iraq invasion in 1990 when Zimbabwe was the rotating Chair of the Security Council. 

         6.2    The Kuwait Foreign Minister impressed on the delegation that his country was still waiting for the activation and subsequent ratification of the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) which the Kuwait Government signed on 7, March 2000, while Zimbabwe has not. Both parties were in agreement on the need to move with speed and ratify this agreement, with the Hon. Speaker promising to raise the matter with relevant authorities back home. The Foreign Minister, who is also Chairman of the Kuwait Fund, emphasized that the signing of this agreement was necessary as it protected Kuwait Investments in Zimbabwe and would unlock other investments opportunities between the two nations.

         6.3    The Minister said while Kuwait was willing to continue funding projects in Zimbabwe – five projects, so far, however, the two countries needed to sit and resolve the loan repayment plan. This was important as Zimbabwe would also benefit from the proposed US$1 billion project financing facility in Africa pledged by the Kuwait ruler during the Africa-Arab Summit in 2014.

  • Through the Kuwait Fund, Zimbabwe embarked on the following projects:-
  • The Mhandamabwe-Chivi-Tokwe road project which was completed and commissioned;
  • The Hoyuyu- Nyadire and Copper Queen Resettlement Projects still being implemented.
  • The Bulawayo- Nkayi Road project which is still outstanding whose funding was withdrawn due to lack of a loan re-payment plan.
  • The Electrification of the Harare-Gweru Railway Line.
  • The Rehabilitation of the Zhove Irrigation Scheme.
  • The construction and equipping of two district hospitals and the building of two hydro-electric power stations.

         6.4    In response Hon. Mudenda assured the Kuwait authorities that the protection of investments was well anchored in the New Constitution of Zimbabwe and that the Indigenisation policy had now been fully clarified by H.E the President in a recent Presidential statement. In this regard, the Speaker then handed over to the Deputy Premier, President Mugabe’s statement and stressed that Parliament was ready to ratify the bilateral agreement between Zimbabwe and Kuwait.

         6.5    Hon. Mudenda also explained that the non-payments of loans was largely due to sanctions and other restrictive measures imposed on Zimbabwe resulting in the banking sector unable to access offshore loans. This has resulted in the static growth of the domestic economy. He, however, assured the Deputy Prime Minister that Zimbabwe will service its debt as soon as possible for it to access more loans from the Kuwait Fund. 

         6.6    To show that Parliament was serious in helping to attract foreign direct investments, the Speaker also told the Deputy Prime Minister that after the Kuwait visit, a big Indaba was to be held in Bulawayo to discuss the “ease of doing business” through the alignment of  investment laws to be in tandem with the Constitution.

         6.7    Already the Government has made the following initiatives to show its seriousness in creating a conducive investment platform:-

  • Zimbabwe has tabled a Bill creating Special Economic Zones. It is envisaged that Companies that will take advantage of the Bill when it becomes Law will enjoy tax holidays and other incentives; and
  • The Government is also creating a One-Stop-Shop to remove any hassles for investors.

         6.8 The Speaker of the National Assembly also inquired from the Deputy Prime Minister, if it was possible for the Parliament of Zimbabwe to access the Kuwait Fund in-order to equip the proposed Budget Office with computers, equipment and other accessories. This Office will be a repository for analysis of all laws that relate to investment, including unpacking all documents and other statements from the Office of President and Cabinet and other Government Agencies.

6.9 This Office will also print documentation for distribution to the public. In response, the Deputy Premier, who is also head of the Kuwait Fund, urged Parliament to make a formal proposal and submit the request through the          Embassy of Zimbabwe in Kuwait for consideration.

7.0    MEETING WITH THE SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY: HON. H.E MARZOUQ Ali Al-GHANEM AT THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, KUWAIT CITY

         7.1    Hon Members, your delegation visited the National Assembly of Kuwait, which is an imposing building in the Al-Keblah area of Kuwait City. During this visit, the Speaker Hon. Adv. J. F. Mudenda reiterated the warm hospitality extended to his delegation by their hosts. He emphasized the existing cordial bilateral relations between the two countries, dating back to the early 1980s when the two nations established diplomatic relations. He explained that, in modern day Parliamentary Diplomacy, Legislatures need to continuously exchange notes on mutually beneficial issues. Parliament of Zimbabwe was keen to learn about the functions of the various Committees which were unique to the National Assembly of Kuwait.

         7.2    As mentioned earlier, the Kuwaiti National Assembly is made up of 50 members.  The legislative term is divided into annual sessions which are of no less than eight months' duration. The delegation had an opportunity to attend a live Parliamentary session for about 30 minutes, where MPs were complaining about the poor state of some road networks.

         7.3    During the meeting, the Speaker of the National Assembly of Kuwait, explained the functions of the following Committees which are a beacon in the Kuwait Parliamentary democracy:-

(a) Committee on Petitions and Complaints:- This Committee deals with  petitions and complaints submitted to the National Assembly by the citizens which, according to article no. (156) of the Rules of Orders examines them and takes final decisions in accordance with their seriousness and importance.

(b) Priority List Committee:- This Committee prioritizes legislation to be debated in Parliament and sets the agenda for business in the House, in the process resolving any disagreements between parties before legislation comes up in the House for debate. In this regard, the current Parliament has passed a record number of Bills because most of the contentious issues will have been dealt with previously by this Committee. Since its inception in 1962, this current Parliament has passed a record number of Bills due to the cleaning process that is done before legislation comes before the House.

         7.4    Among other best practices, the Speaker of the National Assembly meets weekly with the Prime Minister to discuss matters of mutual interest. The relationship between the Executive and the Legislature thus can aptly be described as “full independence with full cooperation.”

         7.6    H.E. Al.Ghanem noted with concern the need to fight the Islamic State (ISIS) which he described as a creation of the West. ISIS recruits, were mainly from the youths who continue to fall victims to religious propaganda. He believes the Palestinian question which remain unresolved to this day was fuelling terrorism in the Middle East. It was therefore, necessary to resolve the two-state existence between Palestine and Israel as a way of ending terrorism in that part of the world.

         7.7    The Speaker of the National Assembly of Kuwait then impressed upon our Speaker, Hon. Mudenda to support the motion to be moved at the next 135th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union calling for the suspension of the Knesset (Parliament of Israel) from IPU until such time when President Netanyau’s Government ceases to carry out acts of aggression against defenseless Palestinians. The National Assembly of Kuwait has already solicited widespread support from other countries on this motion. Hon. Mudenda concurred with his counterpart noting that Zimbabwe was ready to support that motion as Harare was against any form of oppression.

         7.8    Hon. Mudenda later invited his counterpart to visit Zimbabwe on a reciprocal visit at a mutually agreeable date.  

 

8.0    MEETING WITH HON. HIND AL-SUBAIH, MINISTER OF LABOUR AND MINISTER OF STATE FOR PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT AFFAIRS

         8.1    The Zimbabwean delegation also met with Kuwait’s Minister of Labour who also doubles as Minister of State for Planning and Development Affairs and the only woman in the Cabinet who outlined her duties and responsibilities as;

  • Planning of 5 year Mega Projects which began in April 2015: in all there are 29 mega projects at different stages of development.
  • These projects are meant to address a range of challenges and economic imbalances facing Kuwait. The aim is to institute reforms by removing the imbalances in the economic sector through a free reign to the private sector to play a bigger role in development. This is done by the implementation of such mega projects;
  • Some of these projects include KD 1 billion ($3,3 billion) metro project and KD 8 billion ($27 billion) rail project to link the five partners of the Gulf Cooperation Council as well as a media city; privatization of some public schools and cooperatives and University; further development of the controversial Mubarak Al Kabeer Port on Boubiyan Island.
  • The Labour Ministry also supervises the “People’s Shops” which are managed by the community for the community.
  • Her Ministry is also in charge of cooperatives for women, the unemployed, and the elderly as a way of  contributing  to the economy without burdening it;
  • Kuwait is a rapidly developing country and because of this, it requires a huge skilled labour force. The Embassy of Kuwait in Zimbabwe was tasked to liaise with their Zimbabwean counterparts, to put structures in place and ensure that there is recruitment of appropriate labour to work in Kuwait. She said Zimbabwe, as a country, needs to explore the possibilities of exporting labour with the requisite skills and qualifications to assist in the construction industry in Kuwait. At the moment, there are a few professional Zimbabweans working in Kuwait. Those professions that are in demand in Kuwait include Accountants, Engineers, Doctors and Nurses and other specialized fields.
  • The Zimbabwean delegation applauded Hon. Al- Subaih for being the only woman in the Kuwait Cabinet.

9.0    MEETING WITH THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION, Dr. BADER HAMAD Al-ESSA

         9.1    At this meeting, Hon. J. F. Mudenda outlined Zimbabwean Government’s initiative aimed at promoting the teaching and learning of Mathematics and Science subjects in secondary Schools in order to boost Zimbabwe’s technological advancement. The focus on sciences will not necessarily neglect the arts. The following observations were made during the meeting;

         -        Kuwait is prepared to receive up to 100 Zimbabwean students each year to study sciences, under scholarship, at both State and Private universities. Only two Zimbabwean students are currently studying in Kuwait. 

         -        The entry level would be a minimum of 12 points at “A” Level.

         -        The Kuwait Government was willing to also offer scholarships to university teaching staff wishing to further their academic studies through staff development programmes.

         9.2    Hon. Mudenda confided with Dr Hamad Al-Essa that the partnership with Kuwait will augment the current Presidential Scholarship in Zimbabwe which mainly targets Universities in South Africa.  

10.0  MEETING WITH THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS AND MINISTER OF STATE FOR NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ISSUES, DR ALI SALEH Al- OMAR

         10.1  Hon. Members, our delegation met with the Minister whose Portfolio also includes Agriculture and the Environment. The following observations were made during the meeting:-

  • The Kuwait Minister reiterated the importance of an existing healthy relationship between the Executive and the Legislature;
  • In terms of environment protection, Kuwait is actively involved in climate change monitoring and is advocating for a clean environmental management systems which include the use of solar energy and investment in wind farms; and
  • The delegation urged the Kuwait authorities to find ways of boosting trade and investments between the two countries through barter deals involving the exchange of food for oil.
  • Up to 67 percent of Kuwait food are imports. The Kuwait Government, through its investment fund, was asked to invest in the construction of accommodation structures at State Universities here in Zimbabwe and science laboratories in Secondary Schools.
  • Hon Speaker Mudenda gave an assurance that Kuwait’s investments in Zimbabwe would be protected through a bilateral agreement.

11.0  MEETING WITH THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND MINISTER OF OIL: HON. Mr. ANAS  KHALED Al-SALEH

         11.1  The Minister outlined the Portfolios that fall under his purview, which include the following:-

         The Treasury; The Public Pension Fund; Taxation Department, Public Property; Accounting; Kuwait Investment Agency; Management of Reserves; Customs; the Anti-Money Laundering Unit; Legal Department, Central Bank of Kuwait; Oil Production and Refineries.

         11.2  The delegation was briefed that Kuwait had oil reserves of about 100 billion barrels, which is about 10 percent of the world’s total oil reserves. Hon. Members, please note that in some instances, oil is only five meters deep!

         (a) Kuwait boasts of being the largest supplier of jet fuel in Europe, especially for Italy;

          (b) The country has a thriving Sovereign Wealth Fund, which receives 10 percent allocation from the budget each year. Kuwait Investment      Agency (KIA) was founded on 23 February 1953 to manage the funds of the Kuwaiti Government in light of financial surpluses after the discovery of oil. KIA is the world's first and oldest sovereign wealth fund;

         (c)  KIA manages the Kuwait General Reserve Fund, the Kuwait Future Generations Fund, as well as any other assets committed by the Ministry of Finance. To put KIA's size into perspective, the Kuwait Future Generations Fund has 15% of annual oil revenues added to it. Zimbabwe can learn from the investment fund noting that the country also has abundance in its mineral resources; and

         (d) The Kuwait budget focuses on developmental needs which include public services, education, health, social services and security.  Kuwait’s annual budget is about US$35 billion.

12.0  MEETING WITH THE MINISTER OF ELECTRICITY; HON. AHMED KHALEB Al- JASSAR

         12.1  Hon. Khalib Al- Jassar outlined the strategic initiatives that have been made by the Kuwait Government to improve national reserves in renewable energy which include the use of Solar and Sea Water.

         12.3  Kuwait has no sources of fresh drinking water. The country relies on the expensive process of distilling sea water for domestic consumption. Because of water shortages, the country has set up water reservoirs across the country with the capacity to last up to three months in case of machinery breakdowns or other unforeseen disasters.

         12.4  The processing of water combines desalination of water and production of energy at the same time to achieve efficiency. Kuwait was the first country in the world to adopt desalting sea water for fresh water. It was also the first to use the multi stage flash (MSF) desalting system in its present design since 1960. Prior to that, the country’s population used to travel to Iraq in search of fresh water.  12.5 Kuwait is also exploring other forms of conserving energy which include load shedding, pushing up tariffs and allowance of Public Private Partnerships (PPP). Up to 70 percent of electricity is consumed by air conditioning due to excessive heat. The focus now is on solar energy. Kuwait’s national requirement of 15 000 megawatts or 90 percent of the energy, are generated by huge diesel-powered generators, a system that is both expensive and unsustainable. An experiment is in progress to have a complete shift from diesel-powered to solar energy.

         12.6  The Ministry of Water and Electricity is in the process of unbundling the entire ministry into SBUs which include:- Generation, Networking and Distribution, a similar to our situation here at home. The main aim is to have 15 percent of energy coming from solar in Kuwait by 2030.

         13.0   CONCLUSION

         13.1  The delegation expresses gratitude to the Government of Zimbabwe for arranging the visit in a short space of time and under a very constrained resource envelope. Special gratitude also goes to the Kuwait Embassy in Harare and our Embassy in Kuwait for arranging and co-ordinating this very successful visit.

         14.0  RECOMMENDATIONS

         14.1  Parliament of Zimbabwe should convey the message of goodwill from the Ruler of Kuwait, His Highness Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to His Excellency, President R. G. Mugabe and extend the invitation for him to visit Kuwait on a State Visit.

         14.2  Zimbabwe to engage the Kuwait Government vigorously on renegotiating terms of payments for already advanced loans drawn from the Kuwait Fund.

         14.3  Parliament to make a follow up on the prospective scholarships that can be extended to Zimbabwe by the Ministry of Education in Kuwait. This should be done through the Zimbabwe Embassy in Kuwait.

         14.4  Parliament of Zimbabwe to make a formal invitation to the Speaker of the National Assembly of Kuwait to visit Zimbabwe on a mutually agreeable date.

         14.5  Parliament of Zimbabwe to make a formal follow-up for job opportunities being offered in  Kuwait noting that massive construction work is being undertaken in that country.

         14.6  There is an urgent need to make a follow-up on the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) which needs to be ratified.

         14.7  Parliament to learn from best practices in budgeting which include the rationalization of fiscal policies and the preparation of a development budget that meets the needs of citizens for public services, education, health, social services and security. In addition, Government should provide the necessary funding for the implementation of important projects, including infrastructure and public utilities.

         14.8  Zimbabwe needs to tap knowledge on the efficient and clean use of renewable energy as demonstrated by the long term plans being instituted by the State of Kuwait.

         14.9  Zimbabwe needs to table its proposals under the US$1 billion pledged by Kuwaiti Government in project financing for Africa.

         PART B       

1.0    THE CASE OF DISTRESSED MAIDS STRANDED IN KUWAIT

         BACKGROUND

         1.1    As mentioned earlier, on arrival in Kuwait, the delegation received a horrifying           report   from our Ambassador that up to 32 distressed Zimbabwean maids were stranded in Kuwait. This group was just part of a larger contingent of hundreds of young Zimbabwean girls who were lured to Kuwait since June 2015 under the guise of landing lucrative job opportunities and good living conditions. These women fell victim to well-co-ordinated human trafficking syndicates involving local criminals and those in Kuwait. In some cases, some of the maids who had gone to Kuwait earlier were being used as baits to lure their friends to Kuwait, in the process creating a vicious circle which exploded as from February this year. There are about 350 000 domestic workers in Kuwait, most of whom are from Philippines, Bangladesh, India and Africa.

         1.2    Agents in Zimbabwe working in cahoots with their criminal counterparts in Kuwait identify and supply the maids. Unsuspecting young girls are taken for HIV tests and those who are negative are then promised lucrative job opportunities in Kuwait – ranging from high salaries, free air tickets and free accommodation, including the opportunity of changing jobs. It is only when they arrive in Kuwait do they realize that they have sold themselves into slavery through the country’s Kafala laws which gives Kuwait nationals powers to enslave or own foreign nationals working for them as domestic workers.

         1.3    The Kafala system forces anyone holding a section 20 visa, mostly women, to lose their freedoms upon landing in Kuwait. They are then sold for anything between US$2 500.00 and US$3 000.00 to anyone who needs a house slave.  The maid is not free to leave until after two years, when the contract expires. Apart from sexual abuse, most of the problems they also encounter include long hours of work, beatings, starvation and low or non-payment of wages, including being on perpetual house arrest.

         1.4    To avoid questioning at security check points at Harare International Airport, some of the women -the delegation has been told, now use Botswana and South Africa as exit points before flying out to Kuwait.

         1.5    Statistics provided by our Embassy in Kuwait showed that around 190 visas were issued by the Kuwait Embassy in Zimbabwe as from July 2015, with 90 girls still to enter Kuwait.

         1.6    The Embassy with assistance from well-wishers, family and friends, was able to   assist in the repatriation of 44 maids who had run away from their prospective employers, complaining of various forms of abuses. However, to secure their release, relatives of the victims have had to fork out between $1 500 and $3 000 to compensate the “sponsor” for the cost of the air tickets, the agency fees and examination fees.

         1.7    It was after this briefing from Ambassador Marongwe that Hon. Speaker and his       delegation took a position to raise this issue with the Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Sabah Al Khalid Al-Sabah, which he did.  The delegation is grateful to the Kuwait authorities for acting with speed in clearing the girls and facilitated the release of the two who were in prison.

         1.8    On April 30, the Speaker and his delegation arrived in Harare with the 32 young women and handed them over to Government through the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Hon. Prisca Mupfumira. In attendance to welcome the girls at the Airport was the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and his Deputy, Hon. Edgar Mbwembwe, Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr. David Parirenyatwa and Minister of Women’s Affairs, Hon. Nyasha Chikwinya, including the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women’s Affairs, Hon. Biatta Nyamupinga.

         1.9    Hon. Members may be interested to know that our innocent women are lured by private agents who benefit from their trafficking. While countries like the Philippines, India and Bangladesh have agreements with Kuwait that allows a labour exporting country to benefit from taxes, Zimbabwe does not have such an arrangement with Kuwait.

         1.10  During the time of this visit to Kuwait, Malawi and the Philippines were also repatriating their own citizens back home who had fallen victims to similar abuses. A total of 143 distressed Overseas Filipino Workers were repatriated home by their Government which had to charter a plane for that purpose. Up to 300 more Philippians were waiting repatriation.

         1.11  It is important to note that some African countries have since blocked the issuance of Kuwait visas under Article 20. South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana and Sierra Leone have since banned their nationals from migrating to the Middle East as domestic workers. Now these syndicates, taking advantage of the economic situation in Zimbabwe, have turned their focus on us and were recruiting our desperate young girls, some even degree holders.

         1.12  Hon Members may be interested to know that one girl was so traumatised from the abuse to an extent of being mentally-challenged up to this day. The girl is currently under the care of the Department of Social Welfare. While in Kuwait, the girl could not access medical help because hospitals there refused to admit her because she had no identification particulars on her as her passport had been confiscated by her employer who refused to release it without compensation for the money he had initially paid to an employment agency. Such was the distressing nature of cases in Kuwait.

         1.13  The situation had become so untenable to an extent that the Zimbabwe Embassy in Kuwait was finding it difficult to support the escaped maids in Kuwait. The influx of the run-away maids on daily basis meant the Embassy was now working full time carrying out rescue missions for our girls.

         What was disturbing, however, was that despite several appeals to Head Office for   help, the Ambassador did not receive any response. The only response he got from the Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Joey Bimha, was on April 1, 2016, informing the Ambassador that the Ministry was unable to help in any way, effectively telling him that he was now on his own.

         1.14  The delegation would like to commend our Speaker for his robust intervention and for taking a firm stance to ensure that the 32 distressed maids were cleared by Kuwait authorities and return home together with the delegation. This was achieved.  Also the delegation would like to thank a local businessman, Mr. Wicknell Chivhayo who paid for the women’s return air tickets to Zimbabwe. It must be pointed out that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs refused to assist these distressed women with airfares, citing budgetary constraints.

          To buttress this point let me just read letters from the Ambassador so that we are complete. First letters were written way back in November and this was on the 3rd March 2016 to the secretary of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bimha.  Reference, Maid Influx in Kuwait – this is our Ambassador Marongwe writing: We refer to all our previous communications reference ZKWT/CON/2 dated 20 October 2015 and ZKWT/CON/7 dated 24 November 2015, respectively.  We also acknowledge your response ref B/117/60 dated 1 December 2015 on the above subject.

The maids issue escalated to unprecedented levels, with more than ten distress calls per day made to the mission.  From the 15 maids we reported in our first letter, number has swelled to more than a hundred.  Apparently the increased inflow is a result of the many labour agents that have mushroomed in Zimbabwe.  Some of the maids themselves also act as agents, creating a vicious circle that we fear could lead the countries’ name being brought into disrepute.

Agents in Zimbabwe supply their counterparts here with maids.  Unsuspecting job seekers are promised lucrative job opportunities, offering high salaries, free air tickets and free accommodation.  Only when they arrive in Kuwait do they realise that they have sold themselves into slavery.  These maids lose their freedoms upon landing in Kuwait.  They are then sold for approximately US$2 500 to anyone who need a house slave.  The transaction is not illegal in Kuwait, though back home we would call it human trafficking.  The maids are not free to leave until after two years, when the contract expires.  During the two years the maid is locked away, the employer may do whatever he or she deems fit, without government interference.  Most of the problems they encounter include long hours of work, beatings, starvation, sexual abuse, and low wages, over and above the house arrest.

The Mission visited some African Embassies to try to benefit from their experiences.  It would appear no agreements exist between these countries and Kuwait.  The maids are lured by private agents who benefit from their trafficking.  A few countries including the Philippians, India and Bangladesh have agreements that allow the labour exporting country to benefit from taxes.   Ethiopia, Ghana and Sierra Leone have since banned their people from migrating to the Middle East as domestic workers.  This is why agents in the Middle East are turning to Southern Africa where awareness about the way unskilled job seekers are treated has not been raised.

There is need to spread awareness so that all unsuspecting job seekers are not duped into this forces labour system since these agents are now boldly advertising in local newspapers and television.  Security staff at our airport has been casually informing those leaving the country to notify the Embassy of Zimbabwe as soon as they sense problems.  Under the current circumstances, the Mission has very little to offer as the agents demand a refund on expenses totaling US$3 000 minus the ticket needed to return the girl home.

In view of the above the Mission would like to make some recommendations as follows:

  1. All maids coming to Kuwait require a police clearance certificate. The police could be concientised to deny anyone who wants to use the certificate in Kuwait until verification is made with the Mission to weed out those lured to be maids under false pretexts.
  2. Kuwait has various types of visas depending on profession. Maids fall under Visa 20.  The Mission could be instructed to write to the Kuwait Government, banning all Visa 20 requests except those recommended by the Mission.
  3. Newspapers and electronic media could also be concertised so that they do not publish these adverts. This is the letter from Ambassador Marongwe. 

Let me take a response which came on the 1st April from Ambassador Bimha – Attention Ambassador M.G Marongwe, Ref: Urgent repatriation of an ill distress Zimbabwean Maid, the one that I have talked about who is now mentally ill.

Your minute ref: ZKWT/CON/7 of the 31st March 2016 refers: while I do appreciate the seriousness of the situation and the need for swift action to remedy it, the reality, Ambassador is that we have no money.

Of late, we have been engaged with Treasury on a daily basis regarding SOS messages we have been receiving from Missions to no avail.  Just a few hours ago, we were advised that there were no funds available.

We will forward this request to Treasury but the chances of getting anything are slim.

I am sorry that the Ministry cannot address this serious situation without assistance from Treasury.

So, as of today Madam Speaker, the news we have just received is that 21 more maids are arriving tomorrow at 0530 hours aboard Emirates and the money has been provided by the International Organisation for Migration, an organisation which deals with migrant, labour and refugees, not the Zimbabwean Government.

2.0    RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE MATTER

         In view of the above, the delegation would like to make the following          recommendations: -

         2.1    To obtain a work permit visa for Kuwait a police clearance certificate is required. Therefore, the police must be instructed to deny the issuance of such certificates to all young girls wishing to travel to Kuwait and any other Arab countries without relevant educational or professional qualifications.

2.2    Kuwait has various types of visas depending on a specific profession. Maids fall under Article 20 of their visa regime. The delegation recommends that the Speaker of the National Assembly writes an official note to the President appealing to him to request the Kuwait Government to ban all visas issued under Article 20 in relation to Zimbabwean nationals. It is important to reiterate that the trafficking of young girls is done by some criminal elements in Zimbabwe and Kuwait and has no direct link to the Kuwait Government.

2.3    Government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, must set up an ad hoc Special Fund to assist in the repatriation of young Zimbabwean women still holed up in Kuwait and other Arab countries.

2.4    Government must carry out investigations to establish the exact number of young Zimbabwean girls who have travelled, between June 2015 and April 30, 2016 under Article 20 of the Kuwait visa regime. A formal request must be submitted to Kuwait Authorities to assist in locating all those maids who have not been accounted for.

2.5 Newspapers and electronic media could also be instructed not to publish the advertisements which source for maids in Kuwait.

2.6 Awareness campaigns must be mounted by Government, Parliament, Women and Human Rights activists discouraging young Zimbabweans from being lured to work in Kuwait as housemaids.

2.7    All local agents who assisted Kuwait human traffickers must be brought to book.

3.0    EMBASSY STAFF WELFARE IN KUWAIT

         3.1    Our Ambassador, Cde. Marongwe painted a gloomy picture on the situation at our Embassy in Kuwait which is similar or worse than what is prevailing in other Embassies dotted around the globe. He told the delegation he was humiliated when he was summoned, on 22 February 2016, to the Kuwait Foreign Affairs Ministry over outstanding rentals after owners of properties occupied by Embassy staff had approached their Government for redress.  The rentals are seven months in arrears and landlords were demanding immediate evictions.

3.2    Rentals for the Official Residence and Chancery, which are due every six months, were now four months in arrears. The Kuwait Government, in terms of their laws, have no option but to support their citizens.

3.3    In all rental arrears accrued currently stand at over $130 000. Apart from threats of possible evictions, the clinic providing Embassy staff with medical care is also threatening to cut services due to an outstanding debt of $1 700 while the telephone bill is $2 000 in arrears and these could be disconnected anytime. It was distressful to note that one of the Embassy Staff almost had his wife detained after giving birth due to failure to pay for the hospital bills. It took the Ambassador's personal intervention for the woman to be released.

         3.4 Another burden is that of salary arrears of up to $25 000.00 for the locally-recruited staff, who have not been paid for over three months.

         3.5    Meanwhile, the Ambassador and his three other home-based support staff are collectively owed more than $275 000 dating back 15 months ago from July 2014 to August 2015. Now these four receive their salaries through the Salary Services Bureau in Harare.

3.6    To add salt to injury, the Public Service Commission, with effect from May 1, 2016, downgraded the Conditions of Service for all diplomats manning our Embassies abroad with monthly allowances for Ambassadors, Ministers Plenipotentiary and Ministers Counsellors reduced by 25 percent, and 22 percent for Counsellors, First and Second Secretaries while Third Secretaries had theirs cut by 18,5 percent.

3.7    Among other raft of cost-cutting measures, Treasury will pay a maximum of US$1 340.00 as school fees in secondary schools and US$560.00 for primary education, while rental ceilings for staff accommodation has been set according to rank with mission staff directed to join group medical insurance schemes wherever they are stationed or make arrangements with Premier Service Medical Aid Society back home for a similar package.  

3.8    Ambassador Marongwe has since written to the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Joey Bimha, pointing out that in the event that the Government was failing to sustain its foreign missions, consideration should seriously be given to strategically “scale down (because) quitting while you are still ahead is not the same as surrendering.”   

3.9    Ambassador Marongwe was also bitter that when his wife died in Kuwait in June 2015, Government failed to assist him financially in repatriating the body home and had to borrow from the Bank of Kuwait to pay for airfares, embalming and other expenses. This is despite the fact that Treasury owes Ambassador Marongwe US$127 000.00 in salary arrears.

  • OVERALL RECOMMENDATIONS
  • Treasury must avail money and pay off all outstanding salary and rental arrears for our diplomats serving in foreign missions.
  • The Executive should consider cutting staff or make a bold decision and close down those embassies where there is no business benefits accruing to Zimbabwe as the focus is now on attracting Foreign Direct Investment. I submit Madam Speaker.

          HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: I think my colleague has done a good job of giving you the broader view of the report. I am just going to speak on two or three issues just to give some emphasis. The first one is to speak to the issue that, for all intense and purpose, this was a bilateral visit. I think one thing that you notice from the issues that come out from the meetings is that there is a role for Parliament in bilateral engagements. What is unfortunate is that we have got only one Deputy Minister here. The Ministers are not here to listen to the things that are being discussed which they are supposed to follow up themselves.

The reason why we are not moving as a country is that of the three Arms of State, there is one that is not taken seriously and we have raised this over and over again. Because you do not take it seriously, you do not use the opportunities that are available to push for certain things. If you look at the things that we got as part of the Speaker’s delegation in this process, if the Executive took it seriously, they would have a lot of milestone, but they are not here because as far as they are concerned, Parliament does not matter. So, it does not matter how many bilateral meetings we are going to have, nothing will happen because the Executive has not put it in its mind that when they engage the international or any other community, it is important to bring with you the Legislative Arm because it can make a difference.

So to link that point Madam Speaker, to what happened with the distressed maids, like Hon. Paradza has said, the delegation had not gone for the distressed maids but when we got there we found that the Ambassador was in serious distress. This is an Ambassador Madam Speaker, who had just lost his wife sometime in October/November, 2015 to breast cancer and it had been a traumatising experience for him. This is an Ambassador Madam Speaker, and I have to bring this point because he was very bitter about it; who has been part of the liberation struggle and who feels that he is being treated so badly in spite of the role that he played in this country.

Madam Speaker, just to go back to the point around the role of Parliament, we realise we have a crisis and as a delegation we sat to discuss. I must thank the Hon. Speaker because he was amazing. There is nothing that he did without communicating with the delegation. The first thing that we had to decide was, ‘ we have come here on a bilateral mission and to seek for assistance, do we raise the issue of vana vedu from Zimbabwe and perhaps, mess up our bilateral conversations and lose whatever resources that we were likely to get’. As a delegation, some of us were literally in tears. All of us decided that if these people were going to say, get out of this country we do not want to if these people were going to say, ‘get out of this country, we do not want to talk to you’.  We have to deal with the issue of the distressed maids. 

Let me make you understand that there were two issues.  The first issue was to do with resources to get those young women out of Kuwait.  The second one was that even those girls that had resources, you could not get them out of Kuwait because they would be blocked upon taking them to the airport because they were now somebody’s slaves.  When a slave runs away, you report them, therefore they cannot leave the country.  So in your mind and for some time, it would not make sense to me because I thought you can run away and go to the police.  You cannot run to the police because your owner is the one that runs to the police to report that my slave has run away.  So we had to find a way of diplomatically opening up that space so that they could leave Kuwait.  Otherwise even for those that could leave even if we had money to buy tickets for them, we still could not get the young women out of Kuwait.

This is where I want to get to the point about why as Parliament we need to be angry and upset.  We now have this problem, we agree.  We are angry because the Ambassador said, “I have been talking to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and getting no joy in terms of dealing with the diplomatic issue, dealing with the visas and the help with resources”.  Remember, this is an Ambassador who is now living on his own, he is now single. 

          First when these girls run away, they come and live with the Ambassador in his house.  He is the one who has to deal with whether they are having their menstruation … [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – who needs sanitary pads?  I am telling you the reality! I am telling you the reality!  He is the one that has to talk to all of them on whether they have been sexually abused or not.  So, he has become a counsellor cum mother, everything in one…

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order, order Hon. Member.  Hon. Members, is there any need of kubhonga because of this issue? – [HON. MEMBERS: No!] – Hazvisi kukubataiwo mwoyo here? - [HON. MEMBERS: Zviri kutibata!] -  You may proceed Hon. Member. 

          HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA:  Madam Speaker, literally this man is the one who has taken the responsibility for doing this.  Fortunately and I have to say this because some of the people are never acknowledged.        The wife of one gentleman, who is operating as the Deputy Ambassador, again a young woman, is the one who literally became almost like an adoptive mother to these girls.  The Ambassador would then say when I am dealing with some of these sensitive issues, may you please be the one who talks to these young women?”  Literally, the Embassy had to find a way on their own, with absolutely no support, to organise themselves and see what would happen.  When they wanted to make a rescue, you know a young woman would desperately call the Embassy, “I am somewhere but not sure where”.  The Embassy would look at the number and identify the location and say, “When you are going to throw litter out, I am going to be driving around that area.  Just go out, do not pick your passport’, so many of the young girls had no passports on them. ‘Do not pick up anything, just walk and jump into the car’. 

          So, he would be doing his own rounds and because this is a cartel, like a $15 billion thing, remember it is not just about Zimbabwe.  It is about East Asia and West Africa, you know I love $15 billion, it is close to billions of monies that are in the cartel.  So, even the risk that you are taking is massive because anybody who is seen as working against the cartel can easily be killed because you are messing up.  This is a lot of money if you are going to be selling somebody for $3 000.00 and you have a 1000 coming in, you are making good money.  So, they are being put at risk of doing this.

          The delegation heard of this whole story and was now trying to see what they could do at a diplomatic level.  All we needed from here was the accession that we would get the tickets and make a proposal.  We now have a Civil Servants Travel Agency.  When people are travelling now and there is no money, the Civil Service Travel Agency does that.  We called in to request for 32 tickets for the young women because the Speaker had taken a position to say, ‘give me my children, I am not leaving without them”.  That is literally what he said in the meeting, ‘All I am asking is – give me my children so I can go with them’.  We called here and the answer was, ‘we have no money’.

          What made it worse was that you have a whole Speaker of Parliament, who is like number three at State level.  As a Minister, you do not even have the decency of saying, ‘may I speak to the Speaker?’, so that you have a conversation with him and be briefed on the problem.  No one did that because no one cared and as a whole nation of Zimbabwe, we are not embarrassed that we are now being reduced to asking an individual like Chivhayo to buy the 32 tickets.  Does it not embarrass us?  We think we can continue to pretend that we are running a country when we have to resort to one person to do something like that.  For me, it is not about the fact that you do not have money but that you are not prioritising what is important.  You have been informed that these children are going through hell. 

I call them children because Hon. Majome was telling me not to call them girls.  You know, when you are an older person and you see these people, what you see are your children, your babies.  When I called one of them, she was in mid-speech and I asked if she could run away.  She said, ‘Okay auntie Priscilla, I think I can…’, before somebody snatched the phone away from her.  What I felt was not impersonal because it was like my own child/baby because I did not know whether she was now going to be beaten up or not. 

So you are thinking the same level of urgency that you have is the same level of urgency that is at home.  But no, people carried on with their business, life went on; those that were travelling did so and those returning from travels did so.  As far as they were concerned, we could have been stuck in Kuwait and no one would have cared if we had not tried to seek assistance.  I must confess that I am one of those people who had serious issues with Chivhayo but when people said, ‘Chivhayo’.  I did not care where the money was coming from and would have consented even if an Arab man had sought to spend ten minutes with me in a room so that we could have money to buy the tickets… - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, Hear.] – because I was at the point where I would do anything to get money for those girls to return home… - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – That is the level at which I was.  You know the level where you sell yourself in order to be able to bring these girls home? 

We are not going into intricacies that these women shared with us because the problem is, the more we talk about it, the more they are having problems in their own homes.  Some of them left young husbands and right now are being told, ‘you went and somebody was sleeping with you in Kuwait, so I do not want you anymore’ and others left were from broken homes where the stepmother was happy they had left for Kuwait.  Now you are returning with nothing to your name.  We will not go into details but the stories that the young women were sharing were horrendous.

We come back, this is what makes me angrier, and Hon. Paradza spoke about the entire delegation that was at the airport.  I had arrived on an earlier flight and thought I would be able to brief my counterparts before the arrival of Mr. Speaker’s delegation.  It was now an executive affair as Parliament was nowhere to be seen.  I was trying to say, can we sit down because I think there are certain things that we need to arrange.

Not the Ministers, but the officials were the ones who were literally looking at me and saying, ‘we are still talking to the Ministers, what do you want?’  I was like, even these Ministers were not in Kuwait; I am the one who was in Kuwait, so I can tell you what to do.  It became an executive affair.  I must thank Minister Mupfumira because she was able to involve Hon. Biata Nyamupinga and myself into the conversations of what would happen when the young women come in, but for me it was a clear attitude.  The Executive had an attitude.  First, it was like what were you doing anyway dealing with those people in Kuwait. It had nothing to do with Parliament; this is an Executive job.  An Executive job from someone who was getting these letters day in and day out and not doing anything about it.  An Executive job from people that were being told day in and day out that this is what is happening and ignoring.  All of a sudden now, because we have brought the young women, we are very responsible, now we are there as the Executive and we do not want anything to do with Parliament.

I think it is an attitudinal problem and we need to deal with it as Parliament.  We are either equal partners in this State, where Parliament is taken seriously and is respected for its role or we are not because that whole behaviour and attitude that was displayed at the airport, even when we came back, leaves a lot to be desired.  This is why I said both from a bilateral point of view; the attitude is that Parliament has no role in dealing with bilateral issues.  Even when Parliament does something that is commendable, no one cares.  Even the way we engage and relate with our Speaker, I think people relate better with their follow Ministers than they relate to the Speaker.  They think the Speaker is just perhaps a Permanent Secretary whom they can treat in whatever manner they want to treat.

Madam Speaker, I want to support the recommendations that have come here, but I am tired of repeating the same story around foreign affairs.  Either President Mugabe takes us seriously about what we have said about foreign affairs and sees what he can do.  For example, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is never here in this House.  He is not the President of this country, he is not.  So, where the President is going, he does not necessarily have to go all the time.  He should be sitting in his office and dealing with some of these particular issues that happen.  He should let Hon. Mbwembwe go because this is why we have a deputy so that he can deal with some of these issues.

If that cannot happen, then President Mugabe has to shift and change and say, let me do some changes and have a new Minister of Foreign affairs – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order Hon. Members, I know it is touching you, but we are in Parliament.  You will have your own chance of standing up and debating.  So, we want to hear what the Hon. Member is saying.

HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA:  So, I am making that proposal.  Either he just goes, we have a new person or we change the way we do business, and he sits here and deals with the needs of his Ministry because this is not working.  Every day we have, ‘this embassy, that embassy’.  We cannot continue to be saying that story over and over again.

Secondly, we need to find a way of dealing and making sure we buttress that particular embassy until they are able to deal with this maid issue.  We need to send either one or two officials from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Services to go and be at the embassy and make sure that they are the support system and that they are resourced to be able to do so.  As my colleague has said, we need to cancel that Chapter 20.

Madam Speaker, in Dubai they have the same thing around maids, but when maids come, they are registered first with the Ministry of Labour.  They sign a contract and if they are abused they can go to the Ministry of Labour in Dubai and be protected.  So, it is possible for us to have those kinds of discussions with Kuwait.  Like my colleague said, I did not find the Kuwait Government being part of this process.  Of course, there may be legal laws they need to change, but I found engaging with them can make a difference, so we can make a difference.

Lastly, the agents are walking free in Chitungwiza and in Marlborough.  They are even boasting as it is.  We have a Human Trafficking Act.  They should be arrested as soon as possible so that we show people that things are going to change. In conclusion, because this is something that has touched my heart and I am angry about, for me there was no man that was part of their group.  It is young women,  pretty and slim.  It is as if there is a profile for what kind of woman she has to be.  If we are not going to be serious and we are not going to implement the recommendations that we are doing, I have no business sitting on these chairs and pretending that I am a Member of Parliament who is equal to every other person in this particular room.  With effect from today and I am inviting my other sisters, I am not sitting on these chairs.  I am sitting on the floor because that is where I belong as far as Zimbabwe is concerned, until they are able to recognise the rights of young women and do something about those children that are left in Kuwait so that all of them can come home.  I will sit on this floor Madam Speaker, until such a time it has been done and its starts now.  I thank you.

HON. MARIDADI:  On a point of order Madam Speaker.  I would have wanted us to sing a song – ‘Mumbengegwi must go’, but in the interest of time…

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order, you are out of order Hon. Member.

*HON. MPARIWA:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  I would like to start by singing a song.

Hon. Members broke into a song – Ndinoshamiswa Kwazvo.

*HON. MPARIWA:  Hon. Speaker, I am not going to make a lot of contributions on this issue because everything has been clarified in the report, but the source of all these problems is the lack of jobs in the country and this is mainly affecting women.  I am told that in the report, of course it was not put in detail, but members of this delegation who went to Kuwait from the Parliament of Zimbabwe made a contribution of US$100 so that they could be able to buy a return ticket for one of these fugitives and this shows the commitment of the people.

I also want to thank the head of the delegation, the Speaker of the National Assembly.  Now, the Parliament has become a poor cousin of the State and they are not given the treatment and respect which is due to them, because if the Speaker was given that respect due to him, he would have raised funds to repatriate these destitute children.  The problem in this country is that we have people and when they donate some money we really feel happy and elated about that, but my feeling is that we need to put aside a fund which will be for doing these assignments such as these tickets.

During my tenure as the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Services and visiting outside, there was a sorry sight on our machine because they were under-funded.  As far as I am concerned, I think we need to put more money in our budget allocation to Ministries such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Services.

I also support the notion that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Mumbengegwi should be a part of this discussion, but unfortunately, he is never here whenever discussions are held.  We would also like to thank our Ambassador in Kuwait, Hon. Diplomat Mark Marongwe because of the sterling job he has done in taking care of these destitute maids in Kuwait.  He is someone who is recently widowed, but has taken care of all those people.  I would also want to thank you for the support given to these embassies

I do appreciate that there is a lack of jobs in the country but we do not have to dehumanise ourselves by taking menial jobs in countries such as Kuwait as women.  This is disgraceful for a country like Zimbabwe which is held highly in educational circles, that we are demeaning ourselves to an extent that you go to sexual slavery in Kuwait.  We need to have industries revamped so that we have these things sorted. 

          We have a motion on our Order Paper which looks at some of these issues.  I am sure with this background, we will include this issue.  Let me talk about this delegation.  We have a Women Parliamentary Caucus of which I am the Vice Chairperson.  We also have a Gender Committee which is chaired by Hon. Nyamupinga but when we are in those gatherings, we do not talk on partisan lines.  When we are going to welcome such people at the airport, I feel that all of us should go and talk to those returnees so that we may conscientise these people.  When the delegation was going to Kuwait, it was a balanced delegation but going to welcome those returnees, partisan politics creped in.

 I want to thank our Ambassador in Kuwait and I also want to thank the Committee led by the Speaker which scrounged in supporting these destitute maids in Kuwait.  I would like to further urge this House to support the recommendations which have been put forward.  Also, we would be very happy if the Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Mumbengegwi could come and make a contribution on this issue.  I thank you.

          HON. DZIVA:  Thank you very much Madam Speaker for giving me this opportunity to add my voice on the report that was presented by the Hon. Chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Hon. Paradza.  I would like to thank you for the feedback that you have given us.  You have always been doing that and we appreciate the work that you are doing.  Let me also thank the Speaker of Parliament who was the head of the delegation for doing such a good job of consulting the Members of Parliament when he is outside the country and making decisions that are very positive towards Zimbabweans that are also outside the country.  I really want to appreciate him, his work and the support that he is giving on international trips – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] - The issue of relations with the Parliament of Kuwait, we had a good rapport and we wish to continue to have those relations strengthened.  Thank you so much Parliament of Zimbabwe!

I want to go straight to the issue that has touched me as a woman, the issue of human trafficking.  As a country we have to condemn human trafficking, this is wrong. It is affecting women especially young people.  Even young men are also affected but in this matter, we have seen in relation to Kuwait, it is affecting women.  We are not going to be apologetic but to say that our Government, through the Ministry of Women Affairs which also deals with women issues, must take a clear position of condemning acts of human trafficking that are happening from Zimbabwe to Kuwait.

The issue of the people that are facilitating this human trafficking, as I have heard from the report, it shows that these people are there and they call themselves agents - agents of what?  Agents of evilness.  I think the courts and Parliament must enact a strong law in the form of a Bill that will make sure that these people are answerable to the law of Zimbabwe.  This is the time that we can make an amendment to the Bill so that it can be effectively implemented.  I think it is important as well for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, like all the Hon. Members have spoken before that, they must take these issues seriously. 

Madam Speaker, these issues are not only affecting Zimbabweans but they are affecting other countries.  Like you have heard from the report that even the Philippians in Kuwait, they are also being affected, the Malawians and so on.  Let me say that, as much as we are talking about Kuwait, human trafficking is happening even to people that are being taken to other countries in Europe and even here in Africa for greener pastures and for better salaries that they are being promised and everything else.  Only when you arrive there, you are surprised and you are already a prostitute or a slave. 

So, I want the women of Zimbabwe to join hands with us especially the Zimbabwe Women Parliamentary Caucus to take an active role, to make sure that we speak against human trafficking.  We presented a report from the Inter-Parliamentary Union of the 133rd Assembly that was held in Geneva.  To my surprise, we never heard Members of Parliament supporting that report.  It is important when these international Acts and decisions thereon, when they come to Parliament that we support and decisions are made. 

I also want to add that as Parliament, we are not supposed to react to situations.  We are supposed to make laws before these things happened.  It has also happened here in Parliament with the issue of the Labour Act where we then had to act after employees had been affected – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -  As Parliament, we must take a position of protecting our people.  Let me also add to say as women, let us continue to be united on issues that are affecting us.  Let us also make sure that we support our Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament for all that they will be doing – (Hon. Maridadi having joined women sitting on the floor) - Thank you very much Hon. Maridadi for joining women – [Laughter.]So, finally, I just want to say that the report that was presented by Hon. Paradza is a good report.  The Government must also take into consideration the recommendations that have been made.  I support the recommendations and the Ministry must take action.  I also want to thank the Deputy Minister, Hon. Mbwembwe who is here to hear us as Parliament.  Thank you so much for supporting this move.– [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

 Let me end by saying women of Zimbabwe, it is our opportunity to make sure that we stand.  We have an embassy of Kuwait here.  Let us go and speak to them so that something is done that will not jeopardize our diplomatic relations with Kuwait. I thank you very much.

HON. KWARAMBA:  Madam Speaker, I move that the debate do now adjourn. 

HON. MANGAMI:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 17th May, 2016.

On the motion of THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (HON. MBWEMBWE), the House adjourned at Twenty Five Minute past Six O’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 17th May, 2016.

           

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS
National Assembly Hansard NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 12 MAY 2016 VOL 42 NO 58