You are here:Home>National Assembly Hansard>Vol. 38>NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD - 17 MAY 2012 VOL. 38 NO. 35


Thursday, 17th May, 2012.
The House of Assembly met at a
Quarter-past Two o'clock p.m.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) will be hosting the 2013 and 2014 Brazil World Cup Qualifier matches in June 2012. ZIFA is inviting all members to attend the home matches. ZIFA is also inviting all members to play against Captains of Industry as curtain raisers to the Zimbabwe versus Guinea match to be played on Sunday, 3rd June, 2012. Interested members should contact Hon. Chitando, Hon. Mupukuta, Hon. Saruwaka and Hon. Senator Chief Charumbira.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: I have to remind all women parliamentarians that they have been invited by D.P.M. Khupe to a function to be held from 24-25 May 2012. The check-in date is 23rd May. All those who would want to attend will have to confirm. The numbers are there in their invitations. So they have to use those numbers to confirm.
THAT WHEREAS, SUBSECTION (1) OF SECTION 11B of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that any convention, treaty or agreement acceded to, concluded or executed by or under the authority of the President and with one or more states or Governments or international organisations shall be subject to approval by Parliament;
AND WHEREAS, the International Plant Protection Convention was revised and approved by the FAO Conference at its 29th Session in Rome in November 1997;
AND WHEREAS, the entry into force of the aforesaid protocol is subject to ratification by the signatory Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional procedures;
NOW THEREFORE, in terms of subsection (1) of Section 111B of the Constitution, this House resolves that the aforesaid protocol be and is hereby approved.
Madam Speaker, what I intend to do is give a summary of the justification for the ratification of the International Plant Protection Convention and in doing that, I will just give a bit of background. The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) is an international plant health treaty. The Convention is deposited with the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) since its initial adoption in 1951. It came into force in 1952 superseding previous international plant protection agreements. The Convention was revised in 1979 and amendments enforced in 1991. Further amendments were made in 1997 and came into force after acceptance by two-thirds of contracting parties. In 2001, 117 Governments were contracting parties and as of June 2010, 177 Governments have become contracting parties across seven FAO regions. The Convention aims to secure common, coordinated and effective action to prevent the introduction and spread of pests of plants and plant products and to promote appropriate measures for control. The revision of the IPPC in 1997 represented a major updating of the convention. The changes related primarily to strengthening the IPPC through the provision of a mechanism for developing and adopting International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs). The Revision aligned the convention with the agreement on the application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures (the SPS Agreement) to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The IPPC places more emphasis in three main areas of work which include international standard setting, information exchange and capacity development for the implementation of the IPPC and associated international Phytosanitary standards. The IPPC is a legally binding international agreement, but the standards developed and adopted by the Convention are not legally binding under the IPPC.
Contracting parties participate in implementing the IPPC through:
a. Involvement in standard setting activities;
b. The implementation of standards and International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs);
c. Involvement in Commission on Phytosanitary Measures meetings;
d. Membership of international organisations;
e. Membership of Regional Plant Protection Organisations;
f. Participation through National Plant Protection Organisations;
g. Involvement in phytosanitary capacity building;
h. Sharing of technical information, experience and expertise; and
i. Supporting the IPPC Secretariat by making financial or in kind donations.
Governing Body
The IPPC is governed by the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM), which meets annually to promote cooperation to help implement the objectives of the IPPC in particular, the CPM:
Reviews the state of plant protection around the world;
Identifies action to control the spread of pests into new areas;
Develops and adopts international standards;
Establishes rules and procedures for the sharing of phytosanitary information; and
Cooperates with international organisations on matters covered by the convention.
In the 1997 New Revised text, there is collaboration on systems to promote effective implementation of the convention which are:
Emphasis on cooperation and information exchange;
Harmonisation as much as possible of Phytosanitary measures throughout the world based on international standards;
Description of the framework of a Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) that develops and promotes the use of ISPMs; and
Formalisation of the IPPC secretariat and procedures for standard setting.
There is an additional responsibility given to contracting parties to promote the provision of technical assistance to other contracting parties especially those of the developing countries. The New revised text introduces modern plant protection practices such as Pest Risk Analysis to support Pytosanitary measures, the designation of pest free areas and Phytosanitary security of export consignments after certification. The convention extends beyond the protection of cultivated plants to the protection of natural flora and plant products as it considers also direct and indirect damage by pests. The convention also covers research materials, biological control organisms, germ-plasm banks, containment facilities and anything else that can act as a vector for the spread of plant pests for example, containers, packaging materials, soil, vehicles, vessels and machinery.
The IPPC framework allows countries to analyse the possible risk to their national plant resources and use science based measures to safeguard their cultivated plants and wild flora. By protecting plant resources from pests and diseases the IPPC helps in:
a. Protecting farmers from economically devastating pest and disease outbreaks; and
b. Protecting the environment from loss of species diversity and ecosystem functions.
The IPPC has always played an important role in international trade. The Convention has encouraged countries to ensure through phytosanitary certification that their exports are not the means for introducing new pests to their trading partners. Likewise importing countries strive to ensure that measures they have in place for protection are technically justified.
The relationship of the IPPC to international trade is strengthened by the WTO-SPS Agreement which names the IPPC as the international organization responsible for phytosanitary standard-setting and the harmonization of phytosanitary measures affecting trade. Both agreements are distinct in their scope purpose and membership. The two agreements are complementary in the areas where they overlap. The SPS Agreement makes provision for plant protection in a trade agreement and the IPPC makes provision for trade in a protection agreement.
Zimbabwe is already a signatory to the WTO SPS agreement and is a member of the National SPS committee and a member of the SADC Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) known as the Plant Quarantine Services (PQS), which is within the structure of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development. The mandate of PQS is entrenched in the Plant Pests and Diseases Act [Chapter 19:08] which was enacted by the Parliament in 1958.
The act provides for the eradication and prevention of the spread of plant pests and diseases in Zimbabwe for the prevention of the introduction into Zimbabwe of plant pests and diseases, and for the matters incidental thereto. Regulations in the act provide for matters such as regulatory powers to eradicate pests and regulatory powers to inspect, disinfect and fumigate. The NPPO has a National Enquiry Point on phytosanitary issues, a Contact point and International Plant Protection portal (IPP) editor registered with the IPPC Secretariat for promotion of information exchange on the IPPC website ( Zimbabwe, through the NPPO (Plant Quarantine Services), has of late been involved in several regional and international meetings on international standards organized by regional bodies such as SADC and COMESA. The status of Zimbabwe of having not yet ratified to the New Revised Text of the IPPC has been discussed as impeding the harmonization of phytosanitary activities and standards and benefiting through assistance on research pertaining to phytosanitary issues.
Zimbabwe, in the last two years failed to attend the 6th and 7th Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM 6 &7). Previously, contracting and non-contracting parties had membership to CPMs on the basis of them being members of FAO. This has since changed as non ratified members, who have no voting rights at the meeting, can no longer participate at the CPM meetings. The CPM meets annually or as when necessary to implement the objectives of the convention which include:
a. Reviewing global plant protection needs;
b. Developing and adopting ISPMs;
c. Establishing resolution for dispute settlements that could arise amongst contracting parties;
d. Promotion of the provision of technical assistance to develop the phytosanitary capacity of contracting parties; and
e. Cooperation of Regional Plant Protection Organisations with other relevant international organisations on matters relating to the convention.
In the cooperative endeavor to implement the convention, Regional Plant Protection Organisations (RPPOs) play a vital role. Currently, they are nine such organisations worldwide. If Zimbabwe's NPPO was to be a contracting member, it could belong to the Inter African Phytosanitary Council (IAPSC) comprising to date, of 51 of the 56 countries in Africa. Not all contracting parties to the IPPC are members of the RPPOs but contracting parties to the convention can belong to more than one RPPO. The convention supports greatly joint efforts to control trans-boundary pests so as to extend pest free areas. In light of this, it is of great importance for the protection against invasive pest that Zimbabwe ratifies to the IPPC and becomes a contracting party to the IPPC.
Motion put and agreed to.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: I wish to advise hon. members that the second paragraph of Notice of Motion, Number 2 was skipped during printing. The paragraph reads:
AND WHEREAS the Convention for the establishment of the African Centre for Fertiliser Development was approved by the OAU Council of Ministers during the 41st Ordinary Session held in Addis Ababa in March 1985.
THAT WHEREAS, SUBSECTION (1) OF SECTION 111B of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that any convention, treaty or agreement acceded to, concluded or executed by or under the authority of the President and with one or more states or Government or international organizations shall be subject to approval by Parliament;
AND WHEREAS the Convention for the establishment of the African Centre for Fertiliser Development was approved by the OAU Council of Ministers during the 41st Ordinary Session held in Addis Ababa in March 1985
AND WHEREAS, the entry into force of the aforesaid protocol is subject of ratification by the signatory members States in accordance with their respective constitutional procedures;
NOW THEREFORE, in terms of subsection (1) of Section 111B of the Constitution, this House resolves that the aforesaid protocol be and is hereby approved.
1. Background
The policy decision to establish a Centre for Research on fertilizers, soil fertility and related issues was taken at the First Economic Summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now African Union (AU) held in 1980 in Lagos, Nigeria which adopted the "Lagos Plan of Action for Economic and Social Development" as well as the Final Act of Lagos which inter alia stated the importance of food and agriculture.
The Convention for the establishment of the centre was approved by the OAU Council of Ministers during the 41st Ordinary Session held in Addis Ababa in March 1985. It was also decided that the headquarters of the centre would be located in Zimbabwe.
Article XVII of the Convention states that:
1. All member States of the AU may become parties to the Convention by the:
a) signature of the Convention followed by deposit of an instrument of ratification or
b) deposit of an instrument of accession.
2. Instrument of ratification or accession shall be deposited with the Secretary General of the African Union as Depositary.
The Convention shall enter into force with respect to all member States that have ratified or acceded to it, on the date when instrument of ratification or accession have been deposited by the Host Government and by the Governments of at least five States. Any other member State of the AU shall become a part to the ACFD Convention on the date of the deposit of its instruments of ratification or accession.
Under the erroneous understanding that the ratification process had been completed OAU set up a Board of Directors (in 1987) chaired by its Chief Executive of the Science and Technology Research Commission based in Lagos, Nigeria. The board of directors was set up in accordance with Article VII of the Convention. The OAU also went on to appoint International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC) as Executing Agency for the African Centre for Fertilizer Development in 1987. The International Fertilizer Development Centre appointed the Managing Director of the Centre in 1990 and activities started in 1991.
2. Host State Obligations
Article XXII of the Convention stipulates the obligations of the Host State. In this regard, Zimbabwe as the host, did the following towards implementation of activities of the centre.
(a) An agreement was signed between the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe and OAU on 13th May 1983.
(b) The Ambassador of Zimbabwe to Ethiopia signed the Convention for establishment of ACFD on 31st December 1986
(c) A similar agreement was signed between the Government of Zimbabwe and ACFD on 28th February 1992 and in accordance with the Zimbabwe Law ACFD was gazetted on 16th June 1992.
(d) Provision of 27ha of land for the ACFD headquarters in accordance with Article XVI of the Convention.
(e) The Government provided the equivalent of US$1 million towards start-up funds.
(f) The equivalent of US$800 000 counterpart funds from the OPEC Fund for International Development was also availed.
(g) When the centre experienced serious financial problems especially in 1995 and 1996, the Government of Zimbabwe agreed to provide bridging annual subventions. These subventions started in 1997 and have continued to the present day. ACFD has since initiated its own programmes that will contribute to financial sustainability.
(h) In 2004, the Government of Zimbabwe provided additional land (375 ha) to the African Centre for Fertiliser Development to facilitate seed multiplication for its innovative drought resistant fertilizer use efficient dwarf maize varieties. The Government further provided two tractors, a disc harrow, disc plough and a fertilizer distributor to facilitate seed production. Recently, the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe approached the Government of India to seek a credit line that will be utilized to develop infrastructure and provide additional farm machinery and equipment to enable the centre to develop and utilize the new farm.
3. Ratification Status of ACFD Convention
The ratification status of the AFCD Convention is found in the report of the African Union Secretary General on the status of AU organs (as at 1 May 2002) which was presented to the Council of Ministers Ordinary Session on 28th June to 6th July 2002 in Durban, South Africa.
"Paragraph 41 on section XII concerning the establishment of the African Centre for Fertilizer Development states that the Convention has been signed by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It has been ratified by Libya and Mali only. Therefore it has not yet been entered into force."
According to Article XVII of the Convention, at least 5 member States
plus the Host State should ratify fully the Convention before it enters
into force. Zimbabwe is now in the process of finalizing the ratification
process. A recent visit by a Senior Policy Officer from the AU
Secretariat urged the Secretary for Agriculture to speed up the
ratification process.
4. Benefits to Zimbabwe
Among the priorities of ACDF are the improvement of fertilizer supply, distribution and use. The achievements of ACDF so far are only commensurate with the level of resources the organization was able to secure. The following programmes have been developed and benefited Zimbabwe and other countries in Southern Africa.
a. Agribusiness development
ACDF developed a professional training and networking of rural entrepreneurs programme designed to building capacity to provide services to the rural folk. ACDF started activities in 1995 and has to date trained more than 3 000 agro-dealers in Zimbabwe. From Zimbabwe agro-dealer training and support activities spread to many other countries in Africa making it easier for rural farmers to access inputs at modest prices.
b. Sustainable Farming Management System (SFMS)
The SFMS is designed to achieve the multiple goals of the farmers such as improved crop yield, cash income, nutritional balance, time and labour saving and enhancement of soil fertility. Soil and water conservation are central to the system. In developing this farming system ACDF has combined practices,
i) Proper and timely use of agri inputs,
ii) Conservation farming
iii) Diversified cropping system such as strip cultivation, intercropping and agro forestry
The current activities promoting conservation farming through-out Zimbabwe started with ACDF working organization. The farmers realize many benefits such as:
i) Improved crop yields and incomes
ii) Soil and water conservations improved diets
iii) Time and labour saving
ACDF is coming up with reached innovations which further improve on the benefits stated above.
c. Development of drought resistant dwarf maize varieties
Perhaps the most visible achievements of the Centre so far is the development of drought resistant fertilizer use efficient dwarf maize varieties which, with good basic husbandry, lead to bumper harvests even when the rainfall is below average. The varieties have already proved to be popular with farmers and started to make substantial contribution towards reduction of seed shortages in the SADC region. ACDF has linked with the private sector and the Agricultural Rural Development Authority (ARDA) to produce seed for farmers. The project among other benefits creates wealth and employment opportunities in Zimbabwe.
d. Regional Fertilizer Conferences
The Centre has organized a series of SADC region conferences in order to achieve:
i) Greater understanding of issues and constraints related to fertilizer policy, production, importation, distribution and use. Regional consensus on importance of collaboration in fertilizer procurement and distribution.
ii) Creation of a frame work for continued information exchange, resource sharing and networking.
ACDF has worked as technical partner with the Private Sector to stimulate fertilizer production in Zimbabwe. Perhaps the most successful example is the increased production of organic enriched fertilizer which has been achieved by NICO ORGO (Pvt) Ltd. The company for years produced 5 000 tonnes of fertilizer per year. Through this collaboration they now produce 60 000 tonnes and plan to go on and produce 100 000 per year.
5. Recommendation
The ratification of the ACDF convention should be taken as a matter of urgency as the Centre has operated with difficulty for the past 21 years. It is envisaged that completion of the ratification process by the Government will be followed by advocacy activities and ratification by other member states especially those in Southern and Eastern Africa. Completion of the ratification process will enable the AU to strengthen the capacity of the Centre to discharge its mandate on fertilizer development and related issues in accordance with the decision of the Special Summit of the AU on Fertilizers. In light of this it is of great importance for the improvement of crop productivity in the country that Zimbabwe ratifies to the ACDF and becomes a contracting party to ACDF.
Motion put and agreed to.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT: I move that Order of the Day, Numbers 3 to 7 be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day, have been disposed of.
Motion put and agreed to.
MR. CROSS: I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion on the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA's) operations at border posts.
1.1 In exercising its oversight function and following complaints of the congestion and alleged corrupt activities at all border posts, the Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion resolved to conduct an enquiry into ZIMRA's operations at the border posts. Operations at the border posts by ZIMRA and other players in both the public and private sectors is critical in facilitating trade which is expected to exceed $15 billion this year. The operations are also important in projecting an image of the country to tourists who are estimated to reach about 350 000 this year. Particularly at this juncture, as tourism is expected become one of the leading sectors in contributing to the recovery of the economy. The traffic through these border posts plays a role in the revenue generated by the country hence the need for adequate, efficient, reliable and effective services for traffic passing through all ports of entry.
1.2 Much of the traffic presently using Zimbabwe's ports of entry and exit is regional with trucks buses and ordinary vehicles transiting through Zimbabwe to and from Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, the Congo and even Rwanda. (See Annex 1 which captures the volume of traffic through each border post in 2011). Because of the problems associated with border posts in Zimbabwe, regional States are planning a new bridge across the Zambezi at Kazungula in Botswana. Once this is open, traffic diverted around Zimbabwe will cost Zimbabwe millions of dollars in lost transit and business income.
1.3 With the railways services being restricted by capacity constraints and regional air services costly, tourists, travelers, cross border traders and other business people are all obliged to use road transport and in the process, use our border posts on a regular basis. The Committee observed that conditions at all border posts are similar and all users have similar complaints.
The objectives of the enquiry were as follows:
To verify the reported delays in clearing travellers and transporters and also to verify the alleged high levels of corrupt practices involving staff and other players involved in administration of the border posts;
To establish the causes of the problems; and
To solicit input from ZIMRA officials and stakeholders, including the members of the public, on ways these challenges can be overcome.
In pursuit of the objectives stated above, the Committee heard oral evidence from ZIMRA officials and other stakeholders namely: the Transport Operators' Association of Zimbabwe, Shipping Clearing and Forwarding Agents Association of Zimbabwe and the Cross Border Traders Association. The Committee visited Beitbridge, Forbes and Chirundu border posts with special interest in respect to Chirundu being the first one Stop Border Post (OSBP). Public hearings were held in Beitbridge and Mutare. After the Committee's findings the Committee invited the ZIMRA's Commissioner General to respond to the Committee's views.
4.1 Infrastructure
4.1.1 The Committee learnt that at the time when all the border posts were established, they were not meant to handle the current levels of traffic. Forbes Border Post, in particular, was a port of entry with customs clearances previously carried out in Beira. The increase in traffic has not been matched by a corresponding increase in staff levels or expansion of facilities. This has now resulted in shortages of staff and office accommodation and parking space for motorists and transporters. The nature of existing accommodation and particularly offices for Government departments and clearing agents leaves a lot to be desired as it is often made of wooden cabins. At Beitbridge the buildings need extensive maintenance works and at Chirundu the air conditioner was reported to have functioned only for a week after the new building was commissioned.
4.1.2 The Committee noted that toilets and ablution facilities for drivers and other travellers are overstretched and the conditions that exist are a potential health hazard. The Committee was informed that the absence of secure parking space has resulted in thefts of cargo and fuel from the trucks. In addition the border community at Chirundu does not have adequate health facilities to cater for their health needs and have to go into Zambia to access health care. Your Committee was fully briefed by ZIMRA officials on plans for the provision of adequate infrastructure at all border posts. It was noted that in the past two years significant progress has been made in the provision of staff accommodation although a great deal remains to be achieved in this sphere. Of particular concern was the information that the contract for the expansion and refurbishment of Beitbridge border post had been cancelled. The Committee urges that the processing of awarding a tender be expedited.
4.2 Abnormal Delays at the Border Posts
4.2.1 The Committee established that ordinary travellers often spend between three to eight hours before being cleared whilst transporters often have to wait for two to five days. ZIMRA officials blamed the delays on clearing agents who they accused of delaying in the preparation of the necessary documents. The Committee's considered view is that the absence of signage and lack of general information of border procedures and charges levied were some of the factors contributing to the delays and general congestion.
4.2.2 The Committee also observed that the situation is exacerbated by touts and unregistered clearing agents who seem to work in collusion with officials on duty. Travellers and truck drivers pay bribes, referred to as "push money", to ZIMRA officials via the touts and others who are in the border posts illegally, in order to facilitate and expedite the processing of documents. As such, the Committee is tempted to conclude that some of the delays experienced may be deliberate so as to induce payment of the "push money" from clients. The stakeholders also complained bitterly about lack of professionalism and even hostility on the part of ZIMRA and other officials on duty at the border posts.
4.3 Poor General Security
The Committee also noted that the border posts lack secure boundaries
thereby allowing unauthorized persons within the border post areas.
Control of the area of the border posts by the security agents is rendered
ineffective by lack of resources such as transport and the supporting
infrastructure for example at Forbes where the installed lighting system
does not help operations at night and the terrain makes the task of
controlling movements even more difficult. At Chirundu, there is
inadequate separation of the residential area from the border post.
4.4 Communications Infrastructure
The Committee gathered that the operations of the Authority and clearing agents is seriously hampered by poor communication systems such as slow Internet speeds and unreliable telephone communication. The continuous power outages imposed by ZESA were also impeding operations especially at Forbes and Chirundu Border Posts where there were no generators. There was no back up manual systems to enable the processing of goods while the systems are down. Steps are being taken to install solar power systems at those border posts that are most affected and this is a welcome development.
ZIMRA staff briefed the Committee on the progress made in the installation of new data processing equipment and servers to maintain a national IT grid to control all activity at border posts. This is regarded as a welcome initiative and should ultimately enable Zimbabwe to monitor all activity at border posts on a continuous basis.
4.5 Flow of Traffic
4.5.1 The Committee learnt that commercial traffic has now been separated from ordinary travellers. Although this move should have translated into much improved traffic flows, the Committee was informed that the location of facilities such as the weighbridge at Beitbridge and the scanner at Chirundu need revisiting as they are wrongly situated. Stakeholders submitted that the pre-clearance system has not been effective mainly due to document requirements by ZIMRA which are considered too rigid. Concern was raised on the need for a fast track lane clearance system for dangerous and other special cargo to facilitate passage through the border posts in order to prevent potential disasters. Control and supervision of parking is often non-existent and the management of queues at all border posts was not evident. People can jump the queue, push their way to the front at will and there are no systems for dealing with the flow of people on a systematic basis.
4.5.2 Plans to split traffic at Beitbridge border post into three streams were outline to the Committee by ZIMRA but are dependent on the provision of enhanced infrastructure. It should be noted that this is the largest and busiest border post in Africa and this should be regarded as a urgent priority.
4.6 Border Post Management
Stakeholders complained lack of accountability for the overall border post management resulting in each Government agency being its own boss. They submitted that it was desirable that ZIMRA be put in charge as it is the senior agency involved and be made responsible for directing and coordinating the activities of the different state agencies operating at border posts. It was noted that the Bilateral Agreement on border post management between South Africa and Zimbabwe seems to have been neglected since the Joint Route Management Group meetings are not being held. We would benefit if such meetings could be held on a regular basis with not only the South African authorities, but also Mozambique and Zambia. Complaints were heard that Zimbabweans were being badly treated in neighboring border posts with allegations of rude staff, corruption, unnecessary delays and poor facilities with inadequate signage.
4.7 ZIMRA's Structure and Focus on Revenue Collection
The Committee was informed that ZIMRA's arrangement dealing with both customs and tax matters was problematic. Stakeholders strongly believe in the separation of the two aspects and are convinced that this would create the desirable specialisation and improved efficiency. The Committee agrees with stakeholders that Customs and Trade Facilitation are very different from revenue collection. The Committee was pleased to note that restructuring at ZIMRA has since addressed this concern. Related to this was the reported focus by ZIMRA on revenue collection and neglect of the trade facilitation aspect in the manner in which the border posts were administered.
In view of the importance of foreign trade, tourism and transit traffic, it is the Committee's considered view that there is need to address the problems being experienced at the border posts with some sense of urgency. To this end your Committee makes the following recommendations:
5.1 That all relevant stakeholders should be required to take practical steps to improve housing and social and service amenities at all border posts for staff and travelers who are obliged to spend time at border posts, for whatever reason;
5.2 That security be tightened at all the border posts and no unauthorized persons be allowed into the controlled area of the border post. All boundaries must be clearly demarcated by maintaining the barriers, which are being breached, and erecting some, where they are nonexistent;
5.3 Where wild life is a potential hazard, steps should be taken to either remove them from the vicinity of the border post or to physically control them by patrolling;
5.4 That ZIMRA takes immediate steps to ensure that a full range of clear signage instructions be made available at all Border Posts for both drivers and travellers. This initiative should be augmented by action to ensure the improved management of parking areas as well as queues;
5.5 ZIMRA should embark on awareness campaigns on border clearance requirements and processes. Staff should undergo periodic training and refresher courses in public relations or customer care;
5.6 Steps should be taken to ensure that traffic at all border posts is classified in terms of standard international best practices by introducing sections such as immigrants, returning residents and visitors to facilitate speedy processing:
5.7 That in the short term, transit traffic procedures be simplified and streamlined to allow quick transit of all vehicles to their respective exit points and that if required appropriate penalties be introduced to punish transporters who violate the system. In the long term, consideration be given to changing the whole system of customs clearing from a border post operation to specially designated ports of entry in all major urban centers;
5.8 That ZIMRA and other relevant authorities deal decisively with corrupt individuals. An anti corruption drive should be initiated at all ports of entry with signs being put up urging people not to pay bribes for any reason and to report any requests for such bribes; and
5.9 That Government should examine ways in which it can streamline and strengthen the management of border posts on a day to day basis.
MR. MATSHALAGA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I wish to congratulate our committee and the presenter for such a sanctity fact report. The committee, under methodology, as has been said, the committee physically visited these ports of entry. I want to highlight certain points particularly one of infrastructure. If you go to Beitbridge, one of the major problems is that the situation at Beitbridge is that the entry, the border post and the town are not well demarcated. So what we have is that people will be milling within the border and milling outside the border. So in the absence of signage, perhaps this is the reason why there is no signage because you sometimes do not know whether you are in the border or outside the border. Worse still, the design of these ports of entry are such that there are so many actors. Besides Customs, Immigration, the police, the security, President's office, EMA, clearing agencies and what not, you can imagine if you are a visitor to Beitbridge, it is very difficult to know. You probably have now to depend on what they would now call touts because they are the ones that are more visible. They come to you and say can we assist you before anything else. This is why our recommendation says customs entry points should be security zones so that we do not have people wondering or profiteering out of travellers.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order hon. member, can you resume your seat? Hon. members, I can see there are a lot of caucuses going on. Whoever feels that they have got more important issues to attend to, can you excuse us so that those who are interested in the debate can listen to the debate. The hon. member can continue.
MR. MATSHALAGA: Thank you Mr. speaker Sir. It was also evident, even in the presentation by the Commissioner General, that any person, who is on leave, can walk in and start clearing people. So you have a combination of touts. You also have a combination of anybody who is even on leave who wants to assist his relative before he is discovered, he has probably cleared the few things. When we went to Forbes Border Post, it was even worse because Forbes Border Post is so small and is in Manicaland Province. Manicaland Province is very mountainous, the face work was non-existent, unlike in Beitbridge there were holes. At Forbes Border Post, you could not call them holes because you could actually see people and pathways going across mountains avoiding the border post.
We were told by the Officer-In-Charge of Customs there that if somebody comes with some goods, he can just throw them down the hill and later on some boys will carry them across the hills to Mutare. The parking place for major vehicles is done right in town and not at the border post due to the fact that there is no parking space for large vehicles. In Chirundu, notwithstanding that it is one stop border post, the design is different because now you are introducing certain technologies which require us to have those buildings where the vehicle can go in and be scanned. We discovered that the x-ray building and the scanners were now located on the wrong side of where they should be, so the vehicle has to turn around contributing to some of these delays. However, they are working out to correct this.
Worse still, the Chirundu Border Post is such that those officers are marooned, if the border gets closed, the officers are put on the other side of the border such that when the border has closed, they still have to pass through the border going to buy their necessities. This we discovered was most unsatisfactory but as hon. Cross has said, there are no ablution blocks. We did ask the Commissioner General and the officers, their response was that, their main duty of course is revenue collection and trade facilitation. We had also the privilege of going to Zambia where we discovered that most of the clearing agencies and the drivers were provided with facilities not by, probably Customs and Excise or ZIMRA…
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Dongo, if you are not interested in what is going on here, can you excuse us?
MR. MATSHALAGA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, we discovered that the Government there has taken the initiative in partnership with the private sector to construct facilities which are rented facilities which are used by both drivers and clearing agencies.
Corruption at the border post, it was evident of course because of the chaos there that corruption could be rife. We did ask the Commissioner General on what he thought about corruption. His answer was that, it is a problem. It is a problem because during the economic meltdown, most of the professional staff left the department and they have done massive recruitment. Most of the people, the new officers are tempted by these touts towards corrupt tendencies. Also, because of delays, caused by management's culture which is not transparent, it turns to facilitate corruption. We understood that it makes economic sense for a traveler to pay R250 and avoid the 16 hours delay. There is demand and supply at the border post and the only way to get rid of this is to make border areas security areas so that nobody is there to make money.
We also discovered that there was problem of inter-departmental cooperation. As I said, he was saying they were forthright, they want to nip corruption on the borders. If you are caught in offside as far as corruption is concerned, they want it to be dealt with as quickly as possible. However, where you have several departments and where you have a justice system where the Minister has said is also getting affected by corruption, it becomes difficult. Once you make the arrest and hand over the person to the police, you do not know what has happened. We said, what are you doing to make sure that you sensitize these people to corruption. They said the new syllabus is such that it tests recruits. It gives them a test of what it looks like in the prisons. The new recruits are taken to see the conditions of the prisons. It is not a good illustration that you want to show your recruits how bad your prisons are. He has gone all the way to try to demonstrate, to review customs and excise to the ZIMRA officials that he is serious about fighting corruption.
We were given also an example because there are a number of legal controls; they have to implement a number of things as customs in addition to control of goods and services. They also check whether you have the correct amount of money or not. I understand sometimes they have difficulties because security is sometimes putting these people aside and maybe allow them to pass. This is exactly why in our recommendation, we are saying we need to have a man in charge, a man in control so that coordination is enhanced.
The problem of public relations, I think it was evident and it is evident for anybody who passes through our borders that the Customs officers, even the way they do their work is such that they are more interested in the collection rather than in the facilitation or in the welfare of the people. What is pleasing is that the Commissioner General did acknowledge that weakness and promised to take steps to ensure that they construct a public relations company to build capacity so that at least they can assist travellers without some element of hostility. We were also impressed with the work the Commissioner and his staff were doing despite problems. They were introducing electronic friendly measures though we were suspicious that if it becomes too centralised, it may not be able to work efficiently. We were told that you could now pay your duty at a bank and it is automatically reflected and now technologically, all border posts are now connected to the headquarters such that even what you call consultations or further decisions requiring hierarchy can be done on the wire. We were also told that they were in the process of installing electronic devices to ensure that these transit vehicles can be electronically cleared when they pass through Zimbabwe to other countries. This is because some of the traffic that gets into Zimbabwe is transit traffic and there is a risk that it might get lost through the system.
We asked the Commissioner General why these delays, he confessed that there were delays. He said the number one problem is that even when they had all these ideas of trying to address the delays, they are financially or resource constrained. Accommodation was the main problem. They do not have sufficient accommodation to house staff to respond to immediate situations particularly during Easter and Christmas, the festive season. So they cannot house their staff even if they want to bring them. The current officers like students from the VTC are sharing rooms sometimes. That is one of the biggest constraints. They were appealing to us to make sure that enough resources are provided to build more houses particularly in the form of flats so that they can house their staff, so that they can have staff complement sufficient to work with these big figures that Hon. Cross was talking about. 1 000 trucks per day is not a mean figure.
The other cause of delay was the clearing agencies. There is proliferation of clearing agencies. I do not know their qualification; we asked what qualifications they needed to be a clearing agent. If the clearing agent makes a mistake, they will not admit to their client that they are the ones that are causing the delays. In areas like Chirundu, one of the biggest problems as has been mentioned, was that the electronic system requires power and with our power off, power on situation and also with our slow electronic processing system, delays were unavoidable. Clearing agencies did admit that they would prefer to work log-in at night rather than trying to do it during the day because you spend a day trying to log in and it will be impossible to do that.
We were also told that ZIMRA is in the process of trying to make itself the collector of revenues throughout the Government system rather than currently where they are limited only to maybe income taxes, customs and excise, ZINARA for tollgates. They would want to professionalize the whole of the revenue collection system so that where any fees are payable or collectable, it should be by a ZIMRA official. When we asked why they wanted that, he said, perhaps it will reduce corruption where revenue is being collected from several points in Government.
Mr. Speaker Sir, with these few words, I would like to commend the cooperation that we got from ZIMRA staff. They went all out of their way not only to sweep under the carpet but to admit some of their challenges for which they would need your assistance as parliamentarians.
MS. T. KHUMALO: I would like to commend the committee that has tabled this report today. Sadly, I would like to remind this august House that bad habits are like a comfortable bed, it is easy to get into but hard to get out. The presentation that we have had this afternoon - I heard Hon. Zhanda mentioning the word 'try', they are trying this, they are trying that, we are trying this, we are trying that. As a country, we have adopted a strategy of coming up with half baked policies, half baked implementation of projects, at the end of the day, we come up with nothing.
Mr. Speaker, we are in a world of technology and here we are as a country. Two years ago, we saw the digging and cabling on something to do with ICT. We said, hallelujah, it meant that most of our things are now computerised and we are home and dry. All what you see along the road is the youths who are being abused to cover, kufushira, those cables, the same youths who are being paid US$5. Now we are saying at Beitbridge, our people and our tourists are being treated like common criminals where they are meant to stand at a border post for untold hours without food or water. The Ministry of Tourism is saying that we are a tourist destination. What destination are we talking about when our own borders do not even respect us? This august House and this Government is not respecting the people that are coming into this country let alone, the Zimbabweans that have gone there for survival, they are not being respected. What it means to me is, we have what we call misplaced priorities as a country. Very misplaced priorities, we have forgotten to sit down and look at issues on what we are doing; we talk of trivial issues that are not building the country. We have missed priorities, you pick up a newspaper today, instead of the media challenging the Government to deal with real issues affecting real people in order to achieve a country that is respected - they are talking of trivial issues which are all about de-humanizing people, forgetting that this country is sliding into chaos.
Talking of tourism, surely which tourist would want to come to a border post and they have been driving for the past 400km and they would want to relieve themselves and at the border post the toilet; you do not know whether it is male or female. Can you imagine it is a female going to a male toilet and finds a maniac there and all those things; and the scoop in the media will not be about the toilet without a label, it would be about Zimbabweans being rapists. We are talking, Mr. Speaker of workers; the workers of this country have been reduced to beggars. The same workers are supposed to perform miracles at these border posts when they are paid peanuts and if you pay peanuts you are going to get monkeys, as simple as all that. What it then means is that why these workers are able when they are on leave to walk into a border post and clear whatever they are able to clear is because they would have run out of money to sustain their families. We are teaching the same workers to be corrupt because we have missed priorities and we are violating the Labour Relations Act which says we must respect the workers' rights. If you look at the contract of employment for the ZIMRA workers, especially those at the border posts. They have to be supplied with proper accommodation and that has been violated and the same workers are the same workers who are gobbling three quarters of the budget of this country as salaries but we are sitting and boast that we have got natural resources. Which natural resources when they are not benefiting the people of Zimbabwe but benefiting a handful of those that are in the thick of things.
We have Chiadzwa, nhai Mwari, Inkukhulu Somandla. Heavenly Father ,why are we suffering when we have got natural resources that can alleviate this problem overnight and that money is going to areas that are not going to help this country. We have a toilet that had no labels, I want to believe that those toilets did not even have water. If you walk out of this august House, on the walls there is a cholera alert poster if we have an outbreak of cholera at these border posts, what is going to happen to us as a country and remember, there is revenue that is generated by ZIMRA that goes to our fiscus. What is going to happen? Only time will tell.
Mr. Speaker we have a nation that is corrupt like I said, bad habits are like a comfortable bed - it is easy to get into it but very hard to get out of it. The time has come for us as Zimbabweans to come up with a new mind set. If we are serious in this House that we are defending people that are out there that need to survive and have a living wage and normalcy to prevail, the time has come for us to change, regardless of the political divide. The issue of Public Relations in terms of visitors has nothing to do with political parties, it has got something to do with the image of this country. As long as the image of this country is tarnished by what we are, what we are experiencing at out border posts, I have no clue of where we are going and if ever we are going to get there. Mr. Speaker Sir, today ZRP's acrimony stands for Zimbabwe Road Block Police and this is what the people out there are saying. The reason is simple, there is so much corruption in this country, including the police. So who is going to police who, when the police officers are the ones that are corrupt and alas! We are being told recruits are taken in terms of syllabus for them to be taken to prisons. The same prisons - prisoners have been sentenced to go and serve their term in prison; the same prisoners are being sentenced to another death because they are being denied their rights as prisoners. They have no clothes, they have no food there is no medication, and there are no blankets. So what is that they are going to teach them in that prison when that prison is hell on its own. So basically what they are teaching them is for you to survive wotoona kuti uri kutodya wodya chikatyokera. What are we teaching those prisoners; we cannot feed our own prisoners and here the same youths from a Vocational Training Centre that we talked about on Tuesday is the same youths that you are now saying let me go and show you a prison where there is more disaster than where he is coming from. At the end of the day, that person has got nothing to lose but to make money and sustain his family without any remorse because we have taught him to do that and we are saying there are no resources; what resources - we have Chiadzwa.
Chiadzwa are the resources that must be used by the Government to make sure this country is stabilized whether we want it or we do not want it; this country can stabilize with Chiadzwa. Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to end by saying happiness is what you say and what you do and how you do it; it should harmonize. If it does not harmonize ha -a, that once upon a time, Zimbabwe that I once knew is gone and gone for good.
MR. NYAUDE: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker for allowing me to contribute to this very important motion. As I stand here Mr. Speaker, let me own up and say I come from the Castles Profession and a lot of issues that have been raised, I concur with and I also was on the tour with the Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion Committee where we visited various border posts and witnessed first hand, the delays that were being occasioned to the travelling public, to the clearing fraternity; to the tourist etc, etc. I stand here Mr. Speaker, to give what I believe is a sum total view of the problems facing our ports of entry. Ports of entry per-se are not the physical border posts that we see. They also include your Post Office here in Harare; your bonded warehouse- anywhere it is declared Customs area; your Bak storage; your Manica container depot etc, etc. Operations in these areas have been characterised by a lot of delays in the processing procedures that obtain therein. Mr. Speaker Sir, one of the issues that have been mentioned, that I will mention yet again, is the issue of housing but I will extend that to housing and social amenities. It is quite okay for ZIMRA as evidenced by the presentation done by the Commissioner General as well as his staff a few weeks ago. They put up a very ambitious proposal which would include the revamping of the whole border post, introduction of accommodation to the officers, etc.
However, this proposal does not look at the flip side, the invoice side is that for a border post, for a customs controlled area to be a complete customs controlled area, it also requires the other players, especially your clearing agents. These people need to be around the border post. They need to be within the vicinity of the clearing areas. We noted that the plans submitted by ZIMRA did not include issues to do with housing and office accommodation for the clearing agent.
What it means is that at the end of the day, we have a half solved problem because as the person with his cargo, as the truck arrives at Beitbridge or Forbes or anywhere where there is a customs area, you have a person who is literally hunting for a clearing agent. The next thing is they will bump into a taut and the negative issues start occurring. What do you have when you bump into a taut? You are induced to become corrupt and corruption by its very nature will result in those delays. What do you have when you bump into a taut? Your entry, many times out of ten, is wrongly submitted. So as you get your Form 45s or your vouchers to correct that entry, the delays become inevitable. It will be advisable that the new set ups that we are going to see at the border post must verily include accommodation for the clearing agents so that you have the professional people who work hand-in-glove with the custom guys. That way you will have taken very good steps to address a problem that has become very perennial at our border posts.
We want to look at the issue of the truck drivers, a trucker will come, park into the customs yard and he has nowhere to go and spends 3 - 4 days in his truck at the border post. He is a person or she is a person who has other social interests to take care of and a period of three days certainly, will result in that person finding and devising means to take care of those other social interests. What you will invariably have is a congested border post because they will find means and ways of entertaining themselves.
One of the problems that has been sighted by the previous speakers is the issue of the multiple window facility or concept. This has to be seen vis-a-vis the single window concept. The single window concept simply means that customs will do work for the plant protection officer, for VID, EMA, National Parks and all these other agents. But post 2001, there was introduction at our ports of entry, of the multiple window system. What did it result in? Just from the police side, whereas previous to that, you had a single police post in a border post whose officers would be called by customs as and when the need arose. Today what you have is, just from the police side alone, you have Police Internal Security Intelligence (PISI), they have their function within the border. You have CID, the normal Criminal Investigation Department, they have their function in the border. You have Police Support Unit, they are a separate unit from the rest. You have the normal police post that has always been within the border, they are there to do the other things. You have again immediately after the entry booms, the roadblock police.
So already you have subjected the importation, the cargo and the traveler to five steps. Add to that, you have your EMA, the Port Health Authority, Plat Protection Officer, you have National Parks, and in the case of Beitbridge, the Limpopo Bridge Authorities. So the long and short is if you look at the processing of a Bill of Entry, previously an importer would submit his entry to customs and things would be handled by customs. Today what you have is an addition of twelve other clearing stations. Inevitably and quite obviously, that will lead to delays. The entry has been subjected to twelve new steps. It is no surprise why there is this hue and cry.
The way to go is to look closely at the operations of all border posts today and certainly conduct what I call a functions audit of all these departments. You need to come to EMA and say here you are in the border, what are you doing that the previous set up did not address adequately and then decide whether to eliminate EMA or not. Do the same thing with National Parks, CID and Police. An ideal situation would be to have a border post where a person who comes in reports to immigration, from immigration to customs, from customs probably to third party insurance, from third party insurance off you go. If the police have to be involved, they get involved by way of being called by customs or immigration, etc.
If you look at the delays being occasioned to the walking traveler, to the private driver of his or her own motor vehicle, it is solely down to the issue that the procedures that used to be there are no longer existent. They are none existent when you go into Beitbridge or Forbes Post. You do not know where clearing starts and you do not know where it ends. I will give you a very funny story that takes place in Beitbridge. There is this male person, a Government employee. He has contacts through and all over the border, across the border into the South African side in Messina and in Morcador. All those networkers who identify a Zimbabwean who is going back home and say we offer to clear you at Beitbridge. If you turn down that offer you will never cross the border with those things. That goes to show how bad, how the system has completely broken down and mainly, it is due to the proliferation by these unscrupulous operators by the multiple agency system.
I would like to go to the next issue. We have been talking about the borders, et cetera, et cetera. We have also experienced, the clearing public, the whole economy has experienced serious delays in inland ports. You are talking of cargo that is parked there at Bak Storage at Railways, all over the inland ports. The issue or the time that it takes to clear an entry might be a day or two but we have an issue where ZIMRA currently operate at 100% search system. That means the 100 containers that are in Bak have to be opened and examined to compare the contents with what has been declared on the Bill of Entry. What you have today is that you can have your entry processed on Monday, you book for the physical examination on Monday but you get an officer availed to you on Friday. That alone means a delay of four days. What it means is that ZIMRA currently has no capacity to conduct delays, even if we say it is important for them to do these physical examinations. The need to search has not been re-enforced by the results that you see from the physical examination. Surely, what you want to see from a physical examination if things are happening untowardly is the seizures that come out of those searches but alas, they are few if no seizures at all. What we want to see is not the situation that you find out there in town.
Mr. Speaker, go the other side of town, you find that you have a pair of shoes or a pair of footwear that costs a dollar. What does it mean vis-à-vis the issue of 100% search? Normally, when you clear your cargo of footwear, the minimum duty that you pay on a pair of footwear is five dollars ($5.00) and when you go into a shop you will find that a pair of shoes, a pair of sandals costs a dollar. That means these searches are not being effective because goods are literally being smuggled - how can you then charge below $5.00 when you know definitely when the law says you have to pay $5.00 and below? So, the searches are not yielding any positive results, they are not yielding anything that can compel us or ZIMRA to say, let us maintain these searches.
Mr. Speaker, the main function for those of us who went to Beitbridge and things like that, we were informed of the intention by government or ZIMRA to introduce the Red route and Green route system and it did not take off properly. It did not yield the results that were required. We want to look at the positives of that - it is very simple, the proliferation of a lot of Agents who are interested and beneficially interested in collecting revenue other than the ZIMRA people and here you can narrow down the issue to police.
If you privately talk to the ZIMRA officers, they will tell you the Red route and the Green route system has solely failed because each time they tried to implement it, a person who has opted to use the Green route because he has goods less than three hundred dollars ($300.00) on his person is intercepted somewhere in Masvingo by Police. And you know what they will do to him? They will say, 'You have smuggled these goods', when in fact he has tendered a legal declaration because Green route means you can walk through and that is a declaration because you do not have anything to declare. You have less than the required threshold and that person is sent back to Beitbridge. What does that mean to the officer? He has been treated with contempt by a person who is not trained and that alone is a serious cause for delay. Imagine that someone has traveled all the way - four to five hours into Masvingo and he is told simply go and complete Form 47, that is stamped and he must travel all the way back to Harare again. I think, it is just unacceptable and issue of these multiple Agents has to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Mr. Speaker, events taking place, events happening elsewhere within the SADC region should be an eye opener, should be cause for serious preparations by the ZIMRA guys. Today, we are mainly concerned about Beitbridge that there is congestion at Beitbridge but I see a very serious situation coming out of this. Why do I say so Mr. Speaker? If you look at what is happening in Mozambique, they are dredging the Beira Port; in Malawi the Nisanje dry Port has been constructed on the Shire River and it is up and running; the Zambians, they are actively participating in the Caprivi Bay Corridor; the Batswana are very much active in the Gaborone/Plumtree/Forbes highway - the dualisation of that highway.
What it means, Mr. Speaker, is that looking at conditions obtaining in Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town that are less user-friendly. The routes have obviously become very expensive for these countries that I have just mentioned. What we are going to see in the very near future is a drift and a shift of traffic to Beira that has to be processed at Forbes Border Post; a drift and shift of traffic to Nisanje that has to be processed at Nyamapanda; a drift of traffic that shall congest Plumtree Boarder Post. In order for us never again to cry about these delays, we now need to give as much attention that we are giving to Beitbridge to these Border Posts. We need equal attention for Forbes Border Post; we need equal attention for Nyamapanda; we need equal attention for Plumtree because this is where the traffic is heading to now.
I will tell you why. A round the trip journey from Beira to Lusaka is two thousand six hundred (2 600) kilometers shorter than a round trip journey from Durban to Lusaka. All the shippers are now concentrating on Beira because if you are a Zimbabwean importer and you are importing by road via Beira - it costs you four thousand dollars ($4 000.00) less on each truck than you would when using Durban. When you are using the rail system - it costs you three thousand dollars ($3 000.00) cheaper as compared to employing the Durban route. So, Mr. Speaker, we should not be surprised if one day we were to wake up or your officers at Beitbridge who have been manning there, properly trained, well staffed at Beitbridge wake up one day and have to wait for traffic that will never come because certainly, the routes in the east are promising to be more economical, they are promising to be more viable.
So I submit Mr. Speaker, that the attention being given to Beitbridge must go to all the other border Posts so that tomorrow we will not then be crying about delays etc, etc. We would rather be meeting new challenges.
Mr. Speaker, as most of the issues that I wanted to discuss have already been discussed. I will just end up by saying, I am sure it is important for our ZIMRA officers to treat the issues that are related to the imports and exports of cargo passengers as a duty bearer responsibility to the promotion of industry in the country; as a duty bearer responsibility to the promotion of tourism in this country; as a duty bearer responsibility to the promotion the taking care of all our health concerns and anything that is incidental to the importation and running of our Ports effectively. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
MR. F.M. SIBANDA: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I am so excited by the research that has been given by these Hon. Members of Parliament from this hon. committee. It has enlightened some of us who always use border Posts for other reasons other than socialisation.
Border Posts are naturally the mirror of the country on a first impression of any country. Therefore, they have to be maintained so that any visitor will have an attractive and impressive impression of our country Zimbabwe. We have to zero much on value systems and virtue system of our nationhood in order to curtail and deal with corruption because all members that have spoken before me have alluded to the fact that corruption is cancerous to the workers, the officers and everybody possibly found in the border ports or entry of Zimbabwe. I would need to start with the new terminology that Port of entries is also Post Offices and other installations like warehouses. So, I am now persuaded to say tollgates in Zimbabwe are also border posts. How do they match and meet the requirements of the impression of a country through a window? As I have said, first impression is tantamount to psychological acceptance of a country. We have tollgates throughout all provinces, hence probably we are now talking about profitalisation or devolution because each province has one tollgate to a country. Therefore, is manning tollgates on behalf of the Ministry of Finance. How is the infrastructure of our tollgates?
Notwithstanding that, they serve Zimbabweans only, but they serve the whole world or universe. I would have loved to have gone further to give a critic on our tollgates. Are they conducive to better travelling or they are temporary structures which are being built daily on temporary basis. As I read previously, I thought these structures were temporary but they are permanent because the new ones that are being built have the same architect as if you are approaching a service station. How come that we are using massive funds for things that we think they are temporary. So, it is a challenge through you Mr. Speaker, that we have to zero much on our internal provincial tollgates.
If you go to South Africa today, you need not to move out. You pay while you are in your car and those officers seated comfortably. Our workers there, they do not have shelter. Some are working on open space, be it windy days, rainy days and during rainy days they leave the location. S it will be free for all and then we lose revenue. I am also saying this has to be taken critically. We have workers who need protective clothing.
Today I will be driving to Bulawayo. You find them shivering of cold. This is pathetic. This is also a new dimension I call port of entry. So that has to be taken seriously. I have been in Beitbridge, Chirundu and so forth. Is it because of lack of values, virtues that the points of entry have been turned into hives of elicit deals. Some of you are saying they are touts, but they are hives of criminals. I am afraid to say this word because women are going to fight me, hives of prostitution. Prostitution is done by both male and female. So, why we are talking about millennium goals, we want to curtail the infection of AIDS. Go to Beitbridge. Somebody said there is no fence, you cannot demarcate the protected area and the locations.
You would possibly feel we are in Sodom and Gomorrah. Move in the morning and what you see there, I cannot say it. We need to maintain our values and the value system of respect of chastity and morality of some sort. I am worried here. I want now to speak on behalf of the ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe. What is the relationship of ZIMRA officers and ZRP officers? As soon as you are cleared by the qualified ZIMRA officers, 100 meters from the boom where you have been cleared, you find people searching you. You move 2 km from the first road-block, you find other people, whether they are police officers or pseudo police officers, I wonder but they will be wearing ZRP uniforms.
Our ordinary folk particularly in Bulawayo where there is no employment, they are made to undress the goods so much so that each item would be taken one by one being searched. Ironically, they do not even return you to the border post. They will be telling you, if you want this thing, can you give me $10. Those police officers are fat like pigs because they have a lot of money that they cannot spend. People are being bribed. It takes two to tango but this bribery is one sided because police officers demand. As a senior citizen, I am not familiar to them. I will be wearing a big hat as a farmer and they will always say madhala, can you pay for this. They will only be surprised when I show them my card that I am a legislator. So you can see people without protection, without authority, they are being abused by the police officers who should be policing people.
Now the question is; who is to police the police because it seems like there is no relationship with the police officers and the ZIMRA officials. So this has to be seriously investigated because it would appear police officers have no faith in ZIMRA officers. If there is no faith, it means they should book those people. They should make them pay to ZIMRA but they pay to their individual pockets. This is corruption of the highest order, hence I say let us mobilize our people to respect our value systems. Let us come again to vehicle insurance. I have been approached severally in Bulawayo where people pay third party insurance at the border post in Zimbabwe. After an accident of some kind, they want to claim and they are told this insurance is not registered. It is a fake. So did you do any research to ascertain the authenticity of some of these insurance companies that are at these border posts? It is a challenge that we will have to go through as this hon. House.
There is this other issue that I think we need to emphasise as the hon. House. Criminals not touts; our people are not all literate. We have disabled people who need assistance at the border post. Are our border posts friendly structurally for the disabled or they are taken as able bodied people? We have to also have structures that are friendly to the disabled people. They are criminals and not touts that cheat the old and literate people. The disabled and the foreigners, why are they being cheated/ I have done a survey as I move around the country. They are private security firms and if you want to get the genesis of those firms, they belong to certain big people of this country. They have been put there strategically. I will prove what I am saying. If you go to the International Airport of Zimbabwe as somebody was talking about the green and red route. These security firms were structured and put there to avert thorough search. The communication before somebody with gold or diamonds, you will be told as long as you see somebody with a red pen here he moves. It is an in-house arrangement to cheat this country with our limited resources. We have to go further and find out who owns these security firms throughout the border posts and also within the internal entry points like Air Zimbabwe and other entry of points? They are scandalous, done deliberately to hasten other people to smuggle our resources outside. That is a point I need people to zero-in very seriously because this is an opportunity to reveal the truth before this Hon. House.
Lastly but not least, there is the issue of border jumpers, people with no travel documents. Some of us come from the southern region where employment is zero. A lot of our children depend on menial jobs such as farming in Botswana, South Africa (SA), etc. We have lost several children particularly from Gwanda, Mtshabezi, Tsholotsho, Bulawayo and other areas. They have no documents to apply for passports because they do not have parents. Their parents were subdued by the disturbances that happened in this country 1983 to 1987. Therefore, you can find a vicious cycle of a family without a figurehead, there are children, there are grand children and they do not have anybody to vote for them to have birth certificates and IDs. So if they have nowhere to be employed, they think of going to Egoli, SA. How? They have to cross Limpopo where it is infested with crocodiles. That is also dangerous because border jumpers are being eaten alive because of stringent rules of having birth certificates and passports. Let us accept that there are certain children who cannot identify their parents. That is an international scenario. If a child has no anybody, let us assist them to get documentation so that they can cross these borders without undue dangers.
On, the issue of smuggled children by kombis, amagumaguma, Bulawayo is suffering. A lot of children are smuggled out by transporters at night and even day time. As long as you pay $10, children will cross to SA without even a guardian, so we have to see how these children are being moved without documentation and without parents, up and down, in and out every day. Our border posts are serving nothing other than being physical; naturally they are serving nothing because there are a lot of smuggled children going elsewhere without documentation. We are losing population for other developmental use like census and voting because our children are somewhere out in the world. Three million of our Zimbabweans are out because of these unprotected borders.
On human trafficking, Zimbabwe is known as an entry and as a passage of human trafficking. This has been scientifically proven; a lot of people are using Zimbabwe as get way to other countries using our border posts. So, this has to be also taken seriously to come up and say we have border posts, entry ports that are of international standards. Hon. members, I need to emphasize that corruption is cancerous but as long as we do not change our value systems, it will be rhetoric for an internal as long as we do not change our values through curriculum, through schools and through our behavior, we will suffer until amen. I thank you.
MR. DZIRUTWE: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I would like to congratulate the Committee for coming up with a well researched report. I do not have much to say except to probably say the way to the soul of a nation is really through its borders. Beitbridge epitomises what Zimbabwe is all about, there is chaos. I have had a misfortune of going through Beitbridge a few times. Like Mr. Cross said, there is no single responsible authority. At airport, at least there is an airport manager whom you can go to his office or to their desk. They are able to give you some directions of where you want to go but at Beitbridge, it does not happen that way. I have got a feeling that it is probably the way we as Government want it to be. Maybe if we were to make the system efficient, I can imagine how many people we could have dumped into the job market if we were to get rid of all the touts, all the unscrupulous clearing agency. It means we would have made a lot of people jobless, maybe as Government we are happy to see things that way. I would like to draw parallels of Beitbridge with the issue of kombi drivers. If we were very serious as a nation, there is no way we could have failed to deal with kombis but you see so many police officers trying to deal with the issue of kombis but they are unable to do so. This is not because they are incapable but they are unwilling. As long as the kombi drivers are willing to pay bribes to be allowed to continue operating, it is the same as Beitbridge Border Post. No one wants the mess to be cleared up. Most of the people who go through there do not want to pay duty anyway. They only want to pay a portion of the duty. The officers there do not want to charge the full amount, they want to give and take with the clients. Therefore if the authorities are saying, they do not have resources, it is not true. If they were to charge the correct amount of duty, they could be able to raise so much money for Zimbabwe, even the budget deficit we have would be looked after.
Also, the issue of leadership, if you take into account that those who have been in charge of customs and duty, I am talking about Mr. Pasi. For as always I remember, he has been the one who has been in charge for so long. I am sure he has run out of steam of how to renew or reinvigorate the organization. So if you do not renew and keep the same old guard in place, and not bring in new ones, there is no way we are going to improve the situation at the border.
I have been to Chirundu only once and all I can recall is the issue of wild animals, as a tourist country it is okay to have some animals but there are times when they get to be such a nuisance and you see nobody is there to try and make something happen. Therefore, I would like to urge the Committee to take the ministers responsible, i.e. Immigration, Customs and the top brass of Immigration and Customs to sit down and try to win some commitments from these people to make sure that the border is improved. It is not really a question of lack of resources, it is unwillingness to solve the problem and as long as we have the economic situation we have in Zimbabwe, it will be mirrored at Beitbridge. It will be a very good starting point, if we sort out Beitbridge, then the traveler will see a new Zimbabwe.
MR. HLONGWANE: I want to pass on my accolades to the committee especially as represented by Hon. Eddie Cross, the version that he presented and the technocratic version that was presented by Hon. Nyaude both of which have been very pregnant with issues that I think must not be ignored. There are very pertinent and important issues that need to be attended to immediately in order to resolve issues of efficiency and flow of traffic at our border posts.
Recently, in the month of March, I had the privilege of visiting Rwanda to attend a conference on the World Bank and IMF on private sector development on the African continent. As part of that process, it was to visit a one stop border post called Nimbe which is a border post between Rwanda and Burundi, a very small border post but one of the second busiest for Rwanda. Their biggest border post is between themselves and Kenya. For the first time, I saw for myself how a one stop border post operates. Now, at the expense of belabouring the point, Hon. Cross is on record very consistently as having raised the issue of Beitbridge needing to have a one stop border concept being implemented in order to improve efficiency at the border. I need to just emphasise that point, obviously he has made the submission that the plans are afoot to begin to employ this concept at the border post. I think this cannot wait any longer, this is far too important to wait. When you are running a one stop border post, the staffers of the two countries work in the same office. Once you are cleared in there, you do not have to stop the other side, you just proceed. This, in my view is very important at Beitbridge in order to improve efficiency because the congestion there as already been alluded to sometimes is unbelievable.
Another point that Hon. Cross has also been consistent about which I want to emphasise, we do not have a shore line in Zimbabwe, we are a land locked country. If we had a shore line, obviously we would be having our goods much cheaper. We benefit from our ports of entry like Beitbridge. Another hon. member made reference to the potential that the border in Mutare has got, Forbes border post, given the distance to Beira. Clearly, that is one artery that if explored to the maximum potential, we would generate a lot of revenue for Zimbabwe. A problem that I think we need to look at as Members of Parliament is the fact that for sometime now, certain of our sister countries have been planning another route in Botswana that then connects into Zambia, that is to try and avoid congestion at Beitbridge border post. Now, as I was doing a small chat with Hon. Cross, he makes the point that 25% of our national revenue is generated at Beitbridge. That is too significant to ignore, that is too significant to allow Botswana to benefit from part of that cake. So I think this is a very urgent matter to the extent that Beitbridge is our busiest port of entry at the present moment. It deserves urgent attention and it cannot wait any longer.
As far as the issue of touts, customs clearance officers, etc are concerned, it has become a tradition that if someone migrates or moves to Beitbridge and they stay there for two, three years, when you visit them down the line, you find that they are already customs clearing officers. How they became that, it is a question that I have not been able to answer. So I want to suggest that, maybe it is important to come up with a regulatory framework that deals with regulating customs clearance officers as a professional body so that not anybody who knows a thing or two about clearing goods that are in transit can claim that they are customs clearing officers. I think this is important, I am not sure whether this is there. If it is not there, I think some form of regulatory framework needs to be put in place to deal with the profession of customs clearance so that this is managed.
Talking about loss of revenue, this is with regards to issues of corruption at the border posts, I also know that there is umalayitsha, Hon. Cross you are very familiar with that, in Bulawayo, I think this is where this whole process started from. Umalayitsha will come with lots and lots of goods being pulled behind their small minibuses, I can assure you Mr. Speaker that a large number of those fellows do not pay any customs duty at the borders. I think that is an issue that needs to be attended to. This is the situation that leads to inland searches on traffic that is coming in on people that are importing goods. This is clearly an admission by the customs authority that they would have failed to do what they are supposed to have done at the borders. They are now trying to do inland and I think that is not fair. What needs to be done is to put a framework which is professional at the border which does not have corruption, which is efficient and proficient in terms of the manner in which it is dispensed.
The last point which goes a long way to show that as a country we have arrived at a situation where we need, not just a holistic approach, but also an integrated approach in terms of having to lift our economy from the abyss that it finds itself in, is the issue of electricity that has been made reference to. When you do not have electricity, therefore your systems cannot operate at the borders, and then you have to wait for long hours for electricity to be brought back after a period of load shedding, it means that these things are symbiotic. We may not be able to do one thing without the other. Therefore it is important for Government to take the advice from this august Assembly that says, perhaps it is time to begin to implement a holistic and integrated approach on resolving the economic challenges that we are faced with so that these embarrassing incidences that are experienced at borders are not recurring. Otherwise the report, as presented, is the most excellent report. I think it shows a lot of seriousness, it has got depth, I think it has a lot of issues that have been raised. I wish that this kind of report be commended to Government and Government would look into it and try to implement some of the recommendations that this committee has raised. Perhaps this will go a long way to resolve some of the problems that we are faced with.
MR. HOVE: I rise to make two observations and two recommendations. I would like to applaud the Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion Portfolio Committee for a wonderful presentation. However, in their recommendations, I did not hear as to whether currently we are of the same mind with the South Africans in terms of the business that is passing through. Do we see things the same way, are we operating at our different capacities as opposed to the South African side? The reason why I am conveying this concern is, if on the South African side they are able to process visitors or cargo faster than the Zimbabwean side, then may we see the increase in the ZIMRA staff that is processing the visitors and cargo from the Zimbabwe side to curb the inefficiencies that are building up on the Zimbabwean side.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I am proposing that if at all we are inefficient, that is, the number of people that are being handled by ZIMRA staff is higher than that on the South African side, then to cover up, let us increase the ZIMRA staff on the Zimbabwean side since there is quite a significant revenue that we are realizing at Beitbridge border post. Secondly, I also want to suggest, if the capacity of Beitbridge is restricting the flow of traffic, could we also not recommend the expansion of the Beitbridge border post. I have had the misfortune of passing through, the bridge is a bit narrow, I know it manages a lot of cargo trucks that are passing through there but I am also proposing probably that we either dualise that bridge, maybe to increase to 4 length or 3 length that allow the free flow of traffic faster. That alone will allow a little bit of inefficiencies on our side and also increase I think our revenue flow. With those few remarks I want to thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
MR. MUCHAURAYA: I want to thank you Mr. Speaker and the Portfolio Committee that has brought this report to this House. Our border posts should give the correct image of Zimbabwe, they must collect the revenue that should be used by the nation but what we see at the border posts these days is something that is not appreciated. You take 5 to 10 days at the border for you to get into the country and when you look at the facility even a blind man who cannot see whether we are now in Zimbabwe or we are still in South Africa if you ask him to take you to the toilet, the smell itself will actually show you that we are on which side. On the South African side it is okay but on the Zimbabwean side it is quite bad. The issues that are happening at the border especially what is being done by the ZIMRA officers instead of Zimbabwe getting revenue as a country being collected from those who were coming into the country on business, 60% of the money is actually going to the worker of ZIMRA through corruption? If you go to town in Mutare where they sell second hand clothes in boutiques you will find that most of those operating boutiques and flea markets are ZIMRA employees and these things are not being declared at the border which means that Zimbabwe is losing a lot of revenue because of the corruption that is taking place by ZIMRA employees, the soldiers and all those who are at the border posts.
With the issue of wealth to the poor you actually find that the youth stay at the border. They have boom there and they harass you and so on, so you would find the disabled and those who are disadvantaged end up paying $10 or $20 for them to gain passage to where they are going. What we also realized is that ZIMRA officers planted guys known as gumaguma so that if you get there, if you do not know the language of Zimbabwe, the form that they will use, is in very small letters written in economic jargon. If you look at it you become confused and the print is so small. Probably you are Portuguese so you are forced to engage these gumaguma guys and you pay. Instead of saying Zimbabwe is now a good tourism destination it has become a tourist prison. It is now a problem to come into this country. If we realize what ZIMRA is doing it is not appealing at all. If you leave here with your car whether it is a BT50 or Navarra, the TIP you are charged to the equivalent of US$2 but road access by ZIMRA is $10 yet you are now coming back to your country.
So it is cheaper to go another country than to come to your country in the search that is done by the ZIMRA people at the border, it is so embarrassing; they open your suitcase, your under wears, bras and they actually start checking everything as if they have so many things they will be looking at. The idea is not for you to pay duty but for you to pay a direct bribe to the ZIMRA officers. This normally happens towards school opening when people need schools fees.
On one occasion on my way from South Africa at Oliver Thambo airport I travelled with one of the Minister's children from Zimbabwe and she bought her jewellery and wine and most of these most expensive things at the airport. When we got to the Zimbabwe airport, she went into the queue with her father with very expensive things and I was putting on a pair of shoes written Kim, a new shoe; I was told to bring a receipt but the child of the Minister of ZANU PF just went direct.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Zhuwao, you are not allowed to eat in the House.
MR. MUCHAURAYA: Thank you Mr. Speaker for protecting me but you should also have mercy on him because he is running away from workers he is failing to pay. Mr. Speaker Sir, lastly I want to urge the Government of Zimbabwe to be more serious on the operations of ZIMRA and be serious on the issues of workers at the border because what we see does not give a good picture or image of Zimbabwe even the way that they provide service at the border. The other recommendation I can provide is that the workers at the border should not stay there for too long because that will promote corruption. ZIMRA should also not allow police, soldiers and militia to bring in goods into the country without paying duty because the country needs revenue for it to survive, so the soldiers, CIOs, the leaders in Government should pay duty. If not, we will continue seeing that the country does not have revenue. Where will the money come from if we are not collecting revenue from where we are supposed to get it? Thank you.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: The Organising Committee of the Members of Parliament Soccer Team is inviting all interested members to converge at the car park on Monday, 21st May, 2012 for the first training session. Members are reminded to bring the appropriate gear for the occasion.
MR. CHEBUNDO: I move that the debate do now adjourn.
MR. MUSHONGA: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
Debate to resume: Tuesday, 5th June, 2012.
On the motion of MR. CHEBUNDO seconded by MR. MUSHONGA, the House adjourned at Three Minutes to Five o'clock p.m. until Tuesday, 5th June, 2012.
Last modified on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 06:33
National Assembly Hansard Vol. 38 NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD - 17 MAY 2012 VOL. 38 NO. 35