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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 21 MAY 2019 Vol 45 No 53

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 21st May, 2019

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER

PETITION RECEIVED

THE HON. SPEAKER:  I wish to inform the House that Parliament of Zimbabwe received a petition from the Zimbabwe Centre for Equal Opportunities on the 7th May, 2019, requesting Parliament to facilitate public hearings by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development; and Industry and Commerce on price hikes on goods and services in the country’s major cities. The petition was deemed inadmissible and the petitioners have been advised accordingly.

         INVITATION TO A CATHOLIC CHURCH SERVICE

         THE HON. SPEAKER: I also have to inform the House that there will be a Roman Catholic Church service tomorrow, Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019 at 1230 hours in the Senate Chamber.  All Catholic and non-catholic Members are invited.

ADMINISTERING OF THE SECOND CHOLERA VACCINE

         THE HON. SPEAKER: I wish to inform the House that Parliament Clinic in partnership with the City of Harare Health Services Department is today 21st May 2019, administering the second cholera vaccine to those who received the initial vaccine.  Those members who missed the initial exercise are also welcome to be vaccinated.

         *HON. MATANGIRA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I rise on a point of privilege.  As a Member of Parliament, I realise that when we are in this august House, we hear a lot of issues that do not concern the people that we represent. I say so because the Zimbabwean economy is agro-based.  Water in the Kariba Dam has now reached low level and we are experiencing load shedding. Those who are engaged in agriculture are failing to irrigate their crops because of load shedding.  Hwange Thermal Power Station produces electricity, Munyati and Harare power stations should also come in to ensure that irrigation takes place. 

         Secondly, the Order Paper that is before us today has motions that affect the nation at large.  Poverty issues to do with livestock and climate change …

         THE HON. SPEAKER: Order Hon. Member. You must stick to one item of national interest.  You cannot raise two matters of national interest. So, I am accepting the first one but I cannot allow you to go to the second one. 

         HON. MATANGIRA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I will inform the people I represent that I have brought before this House their concerns. I thank you.    

         THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, I want notices of motions first.

          *HON. CHINOTIMBA:  I rise on a point of privilege.  I realise that if I wait for question time tomorrow it might be too late. Since the Minister of Energy and Power Development is in this House the country has experienced challenges this morning pertaining to the increase of prices in fuel.  Is this true, I think this House would like to know whether this is true or false

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, Hon.  Members, I would want to advise you not to abuse Standing Order No. 68.  You have all the time and opportunity to ask questions on matters of national interest tomorrow or you can put your concerns of national interest through written questions.  Secondly, if you observed - Hon Mutseyami, Hon Member, take your seats.  If you observed the ZTV news on Friday evening on 17th May, 2019, there was a focus on us here in the National Assembly.  The cameras revealed that the majority of the Members present were busy tweeting and not listening.  I am taking this matter very seriously because in other Parliaments no cellphones are allowed in the House during debate.  I am bringing this matter on Thursday before the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.  We want to come up with a proper position so that there is discipline in the House and people are prepared to be attentive all the time during debate.   -  [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjection.] - Order, order, You will do your research before.  You are not privileged to argue with the Chair.

SECOND READING

CONSUMER PROTECTION BILL [H. B. 10, 2018]

          First Order read: Second Reading: Consumer Protection Bill [H. B. 10, 2018].

          THE MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE (HON. N. M. NDLOVU):  Mr. Speaker Sir, thank you for the opportunity to present the Second Reading speech of the Consumer Protection Bill.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, I am honoured to present to you the Consumer Protection Bill [H. B. 10, 2018].  This Bill principally seeks to protect the consumers of goods and services by establishing the Consumer Protection Agency and the regulation of Consumer Advocacy Organisations.  The Bill will also repeal the Consumer Contracts Act [Chapter 803] and provide for matters incidental to or connected with issues of consumer protection.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, allow me to discuss the individual clauses of this Bill.  Clauses 1 and 2 provide for the Short Title and Definition of Terms used in the Bill respectively.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, Clause 3 provides for the application of the Act.  It applies to the jurisdictional transactions conducted within Zimbabwe.  Exceptions are goods or services promoted or supplied to the State,  services supplied under an employment contract and transactions which the consumer is a juristic person whose asset value or annual turnover equals or exceeds the threshold value prescribed in the Government Gazette Notice by the Minister of Industry and Commerce.  The Act shall not apply to transactions of the said letting or hire of immovable property and contract of employment.

          Madam Speaker ma’am, Clauses 4 and 5 provide for the establishment and functions of the Consumer Protection Agency.  The functions of the agency are centered on the protection of consumers from unjust, unreasonable, improper and unacceptable, deceptive, unfair and fraudulent conduct and trading practices.  The agency shall also promote fair business practices by coordinating and networking consumer activities with consumers vis-à-vis consumer organisations and protect consumer interests.  Further, the authority promotes consumer awareness and empowerment by referring and appearing before any court of law.

          Madam Speaker ma’am, Clause 6 provides for the establishment of the Consumer Protection Committee.  The committee shall be responsible for the controlling of agency operations and all such matters pertaining to running of the agency.

          Clause 7 provides for the funds of the agency and sources of such funds.

          Clauses 8 and 9 provide for the accreditation and suspension or cancellation of the Consumer Protection Advocacy groups.  The clauses further provide for the instances in which accreditation may be cancelled and punitive measures for non-compliance with accreditation criteria is also enunciated.

Madam Speaker, clause 10 and 11 provides for the consumers right to consumer education and right to fair value, good quality and safety of goods and services.  Clause 12 personed to the rights mentioned in the above clause.  This clause further provides for the implied warranty of quality, a the producer, importer, distributor or retailer are expected to give the consumer.  It further provides redress to the consumer when a violation occurs.

Clause 13 provides for the warranty on repaired goods as highlighted above.  This clause offers redress in giving six months warranty;  implied and or express, which warranty is to be given by a service provider.

Clause 14 provides for the warning concerning fact and nature of risks in that a supplier of goods and services shall not supply such subject to risk, of which ever nature and expect a consumer to be fully knowledgeable of such risk.  This clause attracts a qualitive measure to persons in contravention of this clause and its clear outlines of warnings to be given to consumers.

Clause 15 provides for the recovery and safe disposal of designated products or components.  This clause places liability on suppliers, producers and importers to be responsible for disposal of goods, components, ramnants, containers or packaging into a common waste collection system.

Clause 16 provides for safety monitoring and recall procedure.  The authority shall promote the development of mechanism to allow consumer complaints, reports and violations reported, received, investigated to be conducted.  These will in turn provide for the return, repair or recalling of such goods consumers are exposed to.

Clause 17 provides for the liability of damages caused by goods.  The clause extends liability of damages caused by goods to the producer. Any person who put in their name on the packaging of goods or services,  importers, distributors, retailers, suppliers and the exception to such liability.  The clause also covers service providers, installers and suppliers among others.

Clause 18 provides for the defences of the suppliers of goods and service in relation to the liability covered in clause 16 above.  Clause 19 provides for the right to choose goods or services of his or her choice without undue pressure and the right to reject or return goods within a reasonable time. 

Madam Speaker, clauses 19, 20 and 21 provide for consumer rights to choose goods and services of choice, right to select suppliers and cancel advance reservations, bookings or order.  Clause 21 which provides for the consumer’s right to cancel advance reservations, bookings or order also provides protection to the supplier who makes a commitment to provide these services in allowing deposits and reasonable payment, prescribe cancellation fees or charges and exceptions where such payment may be wavered for non-fulfilment. 

Clause 22 provides for the delivery of goods or supply of services.  The clause elaborates on the responsibilities of delivery of goods and specifications to be included in agreements in relation to delivery of goods.  Clause 23 provides for the unsolicited goods or services.  This clause defines what unsolicited goods or services are and covers contentious issues around the delivery, payment and return of such unsolicited goods.

Clause 24 provides for the expiry and renewal of fixed term agreements. This clause which does not apply to duristic persons gives an outline of the components of time, how a fixed agreement may be legally terminated and liability of parties to such agreement in the event of expiration or termination. 

Madam Speaker, Clause 25 provides for pre-authorisation of repair or maintenance services.  Clause 26 provides for the consumer’s right to cooling off period after direct marketing.   This clause allows a consumer to resend a transaction resulting from any direct marketing without reason or penalty within a certain number of days.  The clause also outlines instances in which this is not applicable.

Clause 27 provides for the right to disclosure of information regarding goods or services and disclosure of prices.  Madam Speaker, Clause 28 provides for the disclosure by intermediaries for persons who agree to be represented.  The clause also covers the areas in which the intermediary disclosure does not cover.

Clause 29 provides for the disclosure of reconditioned grain market goods.  Clause 30 provides for the identification of deliveries, installers and others.  Madam Speaker, clause 31 provides for the right to noticeable and legible information in plain and understandable language.  Clause 32 provides for description of product labelling and trade descriptions.  The clause also prohibits the use of product labels and trade descriptions that are deceptive and misrepresentative.

Clause 33 provides for the sales records.  This clause compels a supplier of goods to provide a written record of each transaction to a consumer to whom goods or services are applied.  The clause goes further to outline what should be contained in such a record.

Clause 34 covers the right for a consumer to be heard by the agency or court and the right to seek redress in terms of this Act or any other law.  Clause 35 which provides for the consumer’s rights to return goods, outlines the instances where such a right is applicable and also when not applicable.

Clause 36 provides that a consumer has the right to be treated fairly and honestly in any transaction or promotional activity by any supplier, marketer or service provider.  Clause 37 prohibits false and misleading representations in relation to the marketing of goods or services either through words or conduct by a supplier or anyone acting on behalf of the supplier.

Madam Speaker clause 38 prohibits fraudulent schemes and offers all such actions related to the distribution of false communication.  Clause 39 gives the consumer the right to assume that a supplier of goods and services is legally entitled to or has the legal right or authority to sell or supply goods for service.

Madam Speaker, clause 40 deals with auctions.  It provides the description of a sale or auction, conclusion of a sale and transactions related to sales at auction.  Clause 41 deals with over selling and overbooking.  It prohibits suppliers from accepting payments of goods or service they are not capable of supplying or delivering.  The clause also outlines the redress in instances where a supplier has accepted payment but fails to deliver due to various reasons.  The clause goes on to outline defences that are acceptable at law for the failure to supply goods or services or reservations where payment has been accepted.  Madam Speaker Ma’am, Clause 42 provides a description of unfair, unreasonable and unjust transactions, agreements and contract terms.  Clause 43 deals with disclaimer clause. This clause prohibits suppliers, service providers of goods or services, owners or occupiers of shops or other trading premises from displaying or causing to be displayed any sign or notice that purports, disclaim liability or deny any right to a consumer under this Act or any other law.

          Madam Speaker Ma’am, Clause 44 deals with notice required for certain terms and conditions.  This clause requires that a supplier must give notice to or alert a consumer of any risk or liability that they are liable to, where that risk or liability is not conspicuous. 

          Clause 45 provides for agreements that require to be reduced into written consumer agreements.  Powers of court to enforce fair and just terms of court to enforce fair and just terms and conditions are provided for in Clause 46. 

          Clause 47 provides for relief against unfair consumer contracts.  Clause 48 deals with changes, deferrals, waivers and substitution of goods.  It outlines how the changing goods or services supplied does not alter the terms of an agreement and how such changes, deferrals, waivers and substitutions are dealt with in regard to this Act. 

          Clause 49 provides for the right to confidentiality and privacy that a part to a consumer agreement is accorded and instances where these privacy and confidentiality rights are not applicable. 

          Clause 50 provides for an extension of the right to privacy and gives the consumer the right to restrict unwanted direct marketing.  Clause 51 provides regulation of time for suppliers to directly market goods and services to contracting consumers.  Clause 52 provides for suppliers responsibilities and outlines a number of responsibilities that this Act places upon and binds the supplier of goods or provider of services both formal and informal trading.

          The responsibilities range from provision of warrant undertaking to supply fairly priced goods or good quality of trading fairly, giving adequate information on representation on goods and services.  Madam Speaker Ma’am, Clause 53 provides for information that a supplier of goods or services is expected to provide online to consumers for electronic transfers.  Clause 54 provides for the cooling off period in electronic transactions.  Clause 55 deals with unsolicited goods, services or communications. Clause 56 provides for the Minister’s power to designate certain organisations to be Consumer Protection Organisations. 

          Clauses 57 to 60 establish consumer protection officers, their qualifications, registration, powers and prescription of disputes. Clause 61 deals with the effect of referral to compulsory arbitration.  Arbitral awards are registered and enforceable by competent courts.  Madam Speaker Ma’am, Clause 62 provides for the submission of the reports to the Minister by the Consumer Protection Organisations within three months at the beginning of every year.  Clause 63 provides for the reasons where a consumer protection organisation can be de-registered.

          Clause 64 provides for the procedure for renewal of certificates by consumer protection officers and arbitrators.  Clause 55 provides for the de-registration of consumer protection officers and arbitrators.  Clauses 66 to 68 provide for the enforcement of rights by consumer, accredited consumer protection advocacy groups and the court.  Clauses 69 and 70 deals with compliance notices and objections thereof. 

          Madam Speaker Ma’am, the appointment of inspectors and investigators is provided for in Clause 71. Clauses 72 to 74 provide for the outcome of investigations, consent orders and interim relief.  Clause 75 and 76 provide for the powers and conduct of entry and inspection or search.  Clause 77 and 78 provide for assistance of inspectors or investigators by the authority and the issue of summons.

          Clauses 79 to 82 provide for offences and penalties in relation to disclosure of confidential information, offences and penalties relating to the agency or court, administrative fines and vicarious liability.  Madam Speaker Ma’am, Clause 83 provides for the Minister to give policy directions.  Clause 84 provides for relations with regulators and Clause 85 provides for reports made by the agency to the Minister.

          Madam Speaker Ma’am, exemption of liability is provided for in Clause 86.  Clause 87 deals with the appeals.  Clause 88 provides for the regulations.  Clause 89 provides for the repeal of Consumer Contracts Act [Chapter 8.03), transactional provisions and savings. 

          In conclusion, the Consumer Protection Bill is fundamental in protecting the consumer of goods and services.  Madam Speaker Ma’am, I now move that the Bill be read for the second time.  I thank you.

          HON. MUSIKAVANHU: Thank you Hon. Speaker Ma’am, I stand to present a report of the Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce on the Consumer Protection Bill [H. B. 10, 2018].

          By way of introduction, the Consumer Protection Bill [H. B. 10, 2018] was gazetted on 21 December, 2018.  Consequently, the Bill stood refered to the Committee on Industry and Commerce, compelling the Committee to exercise its function of scrutinising Bills in order to make the necessary recommendations. 

          Hon. Speaker Ma’am, the Bill seeks to protect the consumer of goods and services by establishing the Consumer Protection Agency and repealing the Consumer Protection Act, [Chapter 8:03].

          Methodology

          The Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce held public hearings on the Consumer Protection Bill from 25 February to 1March 2019.  The Committee was divided into two teams, with team A covered the Southern part in the following areas; Gweru, Bulawayo, Gwanda, Lupane and Masvingo.  Team B, covered the Northern part of the country in the following area: Chinhoyi, Bindura, Marondera, Mutare and Harare.  This is in fulfillment of Section 141 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which provides that Parliament must ensure that interested parties are consulted about Bills being considered by Parliament unless such consultation is inappropriate or impracticable.  The Committee expresses its sincere appreciation to all stakeholders who attended and participated at the public hearings and many others who made written submissions.

          The public hearings were attended by the youths, pensioners, business persons, Government officials, members from the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, resident associations, various civil society organisations and the public at large.  In all the meetings the Committee managed to interact with vibrant participants; the majority whom welcomed the Bill and felt that the Bill was long over overdue.  There were common issues that arose during the public hearings which includes:

-  The economic challenges that the country is currently grappling with have led to violation of consumer rights;

-   Consumers were not aware of the existence of this Bill; hence appreciation of the Bill was very low;

-  The most topic of concern by consumers were currency related issues which have led to the violation of a number of consumer rights;

-  While the Bill seeks to protect the consumers, there was also need to ensure that suppliers are also not prejudiced of their rights as well.

          Subsection number 3 deals with submissions received and the Committee’s recommendations.  The following were the major concerns raised by the consumers across the country:

          Consumer Protection Agency

          The members of the public welcome the establishment of the Consumer Protection Agency and called upon the Government to ensure that the Agency is an independent office which operates along the lines of Commission and not under the Ministry.  It was also suggested that the Agency be adequately funded to ensure that performs its mandate effectively.  The Agency must be decentralised at least have offices at district and ward level so that the consumers can seek redress in the event of violation of rights.  A call was made that there should be a timeframe for the Agency to resolved disputes that may be brought before it.  it was also suggested that a Consumer Protection Agency work in collaboration with other existing  institutions such as the Standard Association of Zimbabwe; the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority and the Trade Measures Department in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in promoting and monitoring the quality of goods and services in Zimbabwe. The Committee supports the idea of independence of the Consumer protection Agency.

          Laybye Agreements

          The majority of the people highlighted that the lay-bye agreements were not being honoured by most retailers.  The agreed price of commodity could be varied without the agreement with the purchaser.  This emanated from inflationary pressures that in the event that the purchaser was unable to pay he/she was not refunded the amount paid.  Furthermore, consumers have no place to seek redress of violation of such rights.  The Committee applauds the Ministry for coming up with such a progressive provision to protect the consumers. 

          PROTCTING OF PUBLIC TRASPORT USERS

          The members of the public felt that there was need for the Bill to ensure that the users of public transport are protected by way of insurance by the public transport operators.  Passengers were not being refunded of their goods in the event that they got because of the disclaimer clauses that were written on bus tickets.  Members also raised concern over the bus fare charges that are proportionate with the distance covered.  In addition to that it was noted that in the event of an accident, most consumers would meet their own medical costs instead of the insurance to cover the expenses.

          Returns

          It was submitted that some shops refuse returns or refunds by customers for commodities that were defective.  In most cases consumers are forced to exchange for another alternative; any product commensurate with the amount paid and usually against the consumer’s preference.  The Committee calls the Government to bring to an end the practice of saying no refunds and no returns by making this illegal.  On refunds, under Clause, in the event that the supplier is unable to replace a defective commodity, the consumer should be compensated based on the prevailing prices.  A refund to the consumer may be eroded by inflation and other economic fundamental, therefore, the Committee recommend that the consumer should be refunded at the market price of the commodity.

          Three Tier Pricing

          Madam Speaker, the current economic environment has hit hard on the poor, especially the three tier pricing system based of  modes of payment which include bond notes, electronic, mobile and American Dollar; whose prices were different.  Consumers are being cheated through price distortions prevailing in the market because of shortage of basic commodities such as bread, cooking oil et cetera.  The members felt that there was need for the Bill to protect the consumers from the three tier pricing by enforcing that all retail shops should price their products based on the currency such as the RTGs which the majority of Zimbabweans have access to rather than the United States Dollar.  A case in point was that of pharmacies across the country who are only accepting the US$ as the only mode of payment for drugs and other necessities hence the majority of consumers do not earn this foreign currency.

          Recognition of all modes of payment

          The members of the public also felt that there was need for the Government to ensure all shops accept all the modes of payment available in Zimbabwe for easier transaction by the consumers.  It was pointed out that mostly fabric shops, Indians and Chinese shops only accept bond notes as mode of payment and refuse swipe and ecocash.  The Committee propose for stiffer penalties for defaulting retailers such licence withdrawals.

          Payment of Royalties

           A call was made that rights of book writers, musicians and other artists need to be protected by ensuring that they get their royalties.  There are a lot of counterfeit products on the streets, hence depriving these persons of their royalties. 

Failure to display prices; the members of the public noted with concern that the pricing system of some shops was deceiving as most shops were failing to provide or display the correct price of goods on the shelves.  It was highlighted that in most cases, the shelf price was different from that recorded electronically.

          Toll free numbers - call was made that the Consumer Agency should have toll-free numbers so that it is accessible to everyone throughout the country and for disputes to be resolved speedily.  There is need to increase awareness on consumer rights as enshrined in the Bill so that consumers are able to enforce their rights so that they do not continue to be exploited by unscrupulous business people.

          Consumer Protection Committee (CPC) members of the general public put forward the proposal that Parliament should play a role in the selection of persons to sit on the CPC.  It was recommended that representatives from Trade Unions and educationists should sit on the Committee since they represent the interests of workers and educationists, thus have the capacity to raise awareness on consumer rights.  Furthermore, the Committee should have fair regional and gender balance as enshrined in sections 17 and 18 of the Constitution.  In order to promote good governance, there should be limited terms of office for members of the Consumer Protection Committee.  On Clause 6, it was suggested that there should be limited terms of office for the members of the Consumer Protection Committee. This will ensure that the Committee members are focused and will not be prone to corruption.

          Absolute consumer rights - The rights of consumers should be absolute and the Bill should desist from using terms like ‘may’ as outlined in Clause 10 (2) of the Bill.  This will ensure persons with obligations are held accountable for their actions.  The term ‘may’ should be replaced with the word ‘shall’ to give the rights of consumers the absolute force of law.

          On specialised Courts, a suggestion was made that a specialized court should be set up to specifically focus on consumer rights violations.  In additional to that, contract forms should be in a language that is understood by consumers.  Terms like voetstoots should be put plainly in order not to deceive consumers.

          Deterrent fines - Clause 81 of the bill should clearly spell out that the fines imposed on offenders should be deterrent enough.

          Users of services; under the interpretation clause, there should be inclusion of ‘users of services’ so that citizens are protected from violations that occur when seeking services from sector such as education, transport, health et cetera.

          Search warrants - on Clause 75, concern was raised that this section may be abused by inspectors or investigators who enter private premises.  This Clause should be backed by the acquisition of a search warrant from either the police or any other designated authority with powers to do so.

          Monitoring of restaurants; members of the public said food inspectors should be on the ground to monitor public outlets, such as restaurants and supermarkets.  Consumers are vulnerable to food poisoning due to unregulated environments in which food is cooked.

          In Conclusion, the Committee welcomes the Bill which was long overdue and supports the input and recommendation from stakeholders.

          HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker.  I am going to be very brief.  I want to applaud the Minister for bringing this Bill to Parliament.  I will start on Clause 19; it is my call that as we talk about this Consumer Protection Bill, we also speak on issues that relate to 10% or 15% of the population in Zimbabwe, in particular those that are differently abled so that their consumer rights are also enshrined in this Bill.  Their rights must also be protected.  Time without number Madam Speaker, we often forget about this population that is often found in the fringes of our community. 

          Madam Speaker, having said that, I ask that in the same vein the Minister of Industry and Commerce who regulates the quality of goods that are imported in to the country, I am alive to Bureau Veritas who have been monitoring the quality of the goods that are imported into the country.  They monitor the quality of the goods for all the population, let them also monitor the goods and services imported for the differently abled, that is our disabled and also those that are blind.  They also need to interpret and know what is enshrined in this Bill by engaging and indulging in Braille publications to make their life and their job easy.

          I also make a clarion call here so that the Hon. Minister of Industry and Commerce can also confer with his counterpart the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development, in terms of making sure that all the goods imported for those that are differently abled are duty free. There is no reason why we need to continue to saddle 10% to 15% of our population with duty on equipment that they would otherwise better their livelihood.  I speak like this because from the Committee that I used to Chair, I know for a fact that there are five deaths everyday and there is more than 37 or 43 people that are disabled or maimed because of road carnage.  We are five minutes from disability because of road carnage injuries.  So it is time that we get to be alive and open our eyes and our thoughts to making the lives of the people with disability better. What a better way and time than this one to use this Bill to better the lives of the consumers who are differently abled.  So I am calling the Hon. Minister to confer with his counterpart and ask him seriously and earnestly that he removes duty on all equipment used by people who are differently abled.  So, I am calling the Hon. Minister to embed with his counterpart, confer and ask him seriously and earnestly that he removes duty on all equipment used by people who are differently abled be made free.  They can buy using their money but let duty be removed from those services.  I am directed accordingly to also protect the rights of those that are differently abled, the consumer protection by Hon Biti.

          I will jump to Section 141 of the Bill that speaks to overbooking and overcharging of consumers by consumers.  For an example at one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Victoria Falls where the lodges and hotels could with impunity overbook where their capacity is 300 and they overbook to about 500.  I just want to congratulate the Minister for bringing up this section which seeks to sanction such people who are engaged in that delinquent behaviour.  He has gone further to ensure these people will be sanctioned by a certain level fine or such incarceration.  This is applaudable, in particular, at a time when it is festive time and all local consumers want to visit the Victoria Falls and lodges in that area and then they find a larger number of people than the place can accommodate. So, this section really provides for sanctioning such delinquent behaviour. 

          I will now go to the report presented by Hon. Musikavanhu, which is pregnant with a lot of facts.  I will touch on the transport system that he spoke about, in particular in terms of insurance.  Madam Speaker, the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe is supposed to deal with awareness as it relates to traffic offences and anything that regulates the consumers in the traffic safety for their own safety.  How is the Traffic Safety Council empowered in order to police or inculcate the consumers on the issue of traffic safety awareness?  This is how they are capacitated; Section 12 of Statutory Instrument 45 of 2005 speaks to a 12.5% remittances from third party insurance to capacitate the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe.  Before the issue of third party insurance was computerised, this Traffic Safety Council department used to get about $200,000 per annum.  Currently, they are getting about US$10 million per annum arrived at by making sure that a million five hundred automobile are forced and it is by law that they are all supposed to remit third party insurance.  So they have the capacity to preach awareness because of the insurance sector.

Hon. Musikavanhu spoke vociferously and vehemently on the issue of insuring the people that use public transport.  Madam Speaker, the goodness, effectiveness and efficiency of the mass transport system is proven by the way the rich go on to the public transport as opposed to the poor going on to the public transport.  The rich will never go onto mushikashika, the kombis or the buses because it is not commensurate with their standard and dignity.   As long as we have the poor continuously using the public transport and the rich using private transport, we would not have an effective and efficient public and mass transport system.  This is how the current insurance system in the public transport system is regulated. 

There is what is called the passenger insurance Madam Speaker, borne out of $15 per seat.  Depending on the capacity of that kombi or the bus, the minimum that is paid for passenger insurance is US$3000.  What I want to talk about is the outcome of what is supposed to be given to those that are bereaved and those that are injured if the bus or mass transport system is involved in road accident.  What is supposed to be given to those that are bereaved is US$4000.  If you are injured, you are supposed to be given US$1500.  This is at law Madam Speaker.  What is currently accruing to the insurance sector because of the passenger insurance is US$157 million.  My clarion call is that IPEC and the Insurance Council of Zimbabwe make sure in conjunction with the Bill that has been brought before us, that they police the efficiency of this insurance sector first and foremost so that even before we increase the quantum to those who are involved in road carnage including remittances by the operators of this mass transport system.  We need to seek the indulgence of the Minister of Industry and Commerce and the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development in making sure that there is an efficient and effective disbursement of these funds that are currently being paid by the operators for the good order of unsuspecting innocent citizens who ply the width and breadth of Zimbabwe using the mass transport system. 

I thought the consumers should not be unfairly treated because of disbursement due to road carnage in the insurance sector which is regulated.  Now, we need to make sure that there is efficiency in terms of adherence to the values and the laws of the nation and the Acts that are currently dealing with insurance for consumers, in particular in the public transport system.  I have spoken quite effectively and ventilated on the issues of the Acts that border on this insurance for the consumers.

 Madam Speaker, Hon. Musikavanhu spoke of the courts that are going to adjudicate and sanction such delinquent behaviour in the consumer sector.  Madam Speaker, I come here also seeking that because there is insurance involved; there is also an establishment of the traffic courts so that the consumers are the ones that are involved in the day to day operation of traffic in Zimbabwe.  As long as we continue not to have a traffic court, we will continue to unnecessarily saddle our current courts with a lot of traffic offences. So it is my thinking Madam speaker ma’am that as they establish the consumer court; the traffic offenses court is also embedded in the consumer court.  Why do I bring this to the fore?  Because 70% of our road users – [AN HON. MEMBER: Inaudible interjections.] -  Ukanyarara zvinogona kukubatsira, just take notes.

          70% of our consumers who are involved in road carnage die because they have not reached the definitive place of healthcare.  In the same vein, I also ask that these consumers be protected, by protecting these consumers, we are also protecting the country’s’ GDP.  If we can stabilize the people who are involved in road carnage within the first hour after the accident using what is called, the Accident Victims Stabilisation Centers borne out of the 5% that can be removed from Third Party insurance for the establishment of the same.  We are doing a lot of good service to a lot of our citizenry by the way.

          We come here to make laws for the good order of the people of Zimbabwe…

          *HON. MADZIMURE:  On a point of order Madam Speaker!  If Hon. Nduna continues with his line of debate, he will end up confusing people on what exactly he is debating on.  People will find it difficult to distinguish if he is debating on the Transport; Insurance or the Consumer Act because what he is debating on is all to do with transport issues.  It would be helpful if he was to revert to the Bill.

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order, order Hon. Nduna, please stick to the Consumer Bill.

          HON. NDUNA:  Thank you Madam Speaker ma’am, I will stick to the Consumer Bill, if we lose lives unnecessarily on our roads, we will not have any consumers to talk of.  We come here to make laws for the good order and governance of the people of Zimbabwe.  One of our issues is the representative role, the second one is legislative and the third one is oversight.  Thank you Madam Speaker ma’am.

          As I conclude, I would like to thank the Hon. Minister for bringing this Bill and also say that the people of Chegutu West Constituency sent me here to also ensure that in this Bill is the issue of regulating pyramid schemes.  They asked me to come and completely talk about this issue that they get to be protected in the shafts and tunnels where they are as they try to formalize the informal sector in terms of gold extraction.  That when they are utilizing their hard-earned United States dollars they not be are accosted by pyramid schemes when they travel to urban areas.  They request that the fines and sanctions of those who get to be involved in the pyramid schemes be heightened and that they serve as deterrent enough a sentence because it is difficult enough for them to extract and get the hard earned money that they are getting through artisanal mining.  These are the short and sweet words of the people Chegutu West Constituency.  I thank you.

          HON. MUSHORIWA:  Thank you Madam Speaker for according me the opportunity to debate on the Consumer Protection Bill.  Let me start by thanking the Hon. Minister of Industry and Commerce for bringing the Bill before the House.

          Madam Speaker, the Bill as you see says Consumer Protection Bill.  I want to point out that the Hon. Minister is actually paying lip-service to the question of consumer protection.  What the Hon. Minister has done and I will subscribe when I debate further in terms of this Bill, is that he is actually hoodwinking the people of Zimbabwe.  This Bill will not protect the consumers.

          Firstly, if you analyze the manner in which the Bill was drafted – the drafting itself has problems.  The Hon. Minister talks of a Consumer Protection Agency yet when you go into the Bill, there are several areas where it is regarded as authority - even in the definition.  The way that the Bill was drafted leaves a lot to be desired.  It is even worse when you compare this Bill to those of other countries that have enacted Consumer Protection Acts.  You will note that the manner in which this Bill was crafted was hurried and with the intention to deceive the consumers of this country.

          Secondly, if you look at the Bill, the Hon. Minister in creating an Agency – the Agency does not have power.  In effect, the Agency is actually a department the Minister of Industry and Commerce and there is no way that you can have a Consumer Protection Agency that is department under the ministry and serviced by the people who are working in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.  It defeats all logic.

          The third crucial aspect when looking at this Bill is that when you read the Bill, the Hon. Minister states that there is a Consumer Protection Committee.  He just put the Consumer Protection Committee, a committee without any function as its function is not even stated.  To prove that it is just lip service, when you look at the number of people on that committee, here they are about 15 and there is more room for the Hon. Minister to expand it.  Why did the Hon. Minister do that?  It is primarily because this Bill does not intend to serve the consumers.  If the Hon. Minister wanted and the Government was serious in terms of putting the consumers first – they should have done what other countries have done.

          HON. MUSIKAVANHU:  On a point of order Madam Speaker Ma’am.  The Hon. Member is actually a member of the Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce and is making a contrary position to the one that we presented together.  I thank you. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order, order Hon. Member, you can dispute what you agreed on in your Committee.  – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

HON. MUSHORIWA:  Madam Speaker, there is no point here where there is a dispute.  What is contained here is actually giving flesh to that report.  Madam Speaker, even if you read the report, to state that the Consumer Protection Committee does not have a function in this Bill, it is factual and it is actually contained even in that report.

Madam Speaker, the idea of bringing a Bill before this House is to make sure that we come up with a law that serves the interests of Zimbabweans.  The idea is also to make sure that the Minister, when he leaves here, should consider some of these inputs.  If we do not do that, Madam Speaker, I think we will be failing the people of Zimbabwe.

Madam Speaker, I wanted to raise the issue which has also been contained even in the report.  The people want an independent Consumer Protection Agency.  What is contained in this Bill is not an independent Consumer Protection Agency.  The way this Bill is crafte,d it is as if the Consumer Protection Agency is like a department of the Tariffs Competitions Commission.  There is no reason why we should fail to have an independent Consumer Protection Commission in the same manner that we have got an independent Tariffs and Competitions Commission.  This question of trying to save costs, Madam Speaker, will not help the people of this country and it is in this regard that I ask that the Minister needs to actually take heed of this, take cognisance of what the generality of the people in Zimbabwe have actually been calling for.  All the things that have been raised in the report call for one thing.  People want an independent Consumer Protection Commission.  Anything else, Madam Speaker is lip service to the interest of the consumers.  I thank you.

HON. PARADZA:  Thank you very much Madam Speaker.  Firstly, I must commend the Minister for bringing this Bill, the Consumer Protection Bill.  Madam Speaker, for several years now, consumers in this country have been receiving a raw deal from the business community.  Why I say that is because the current Consumer Council is a voluntary organisation and because of that, the nature of its operation is not really serving the interests of the consumers.

This current Consumer Council, if I can just give a historical perspective; way back in 1985when the Ministry of Industry and Commerce was then Ministry of Trade and Commerce, it assumed that role of funding the Consumer Council.  It then became part of the Ministry of Industry and it was inherited now by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.  Madam Speaker, in the early days, it was more effective than it is now because there were price controls then.  I used to be part of it.  I worked for the Consumer Council as the first Research and Information Officer of the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe and we used to research a lot about the things which Hon. Musikavanhu said. 

At that particular moment, we used to have what we call POPCO (Police on Price Control).  We used to take the police around and making sure there was sanity in the market place.  However, this was discontinued because of the shifts in the dynamics of our economy.  I agree to some extent with Hon. Mushoriwa that this body, the Consumer Protection Agency must be a standalone from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.  Why is that?  This is because we have seen that over the years there was too much interference in the manner in which the current voluntary organisation, the Consumer Council is being run. So we need to have that as a standalone so that it has some authority, some teeth to make sure that it counters what is happening in the market place.

So, Madam Speaker, also, if it is an independent body, it is going to do away with the conflict of interest and also the bureaucracy which we see now.  They must have their own separate budget to do their own work, independent from the Ministry.  This is what Hon. Mushoriwa was trying to say.  In the United States where we have a gentlemen called Ralph Nader – he is actually the doyen of consumerism in the United States and it is working very well.  It is an independent body.  Also we have Malaysia.  There is an independent consumer council in Malaysia which is very strong because it is a standalone, it is not part of the Ministry.

Also, Madam Speaker, the other issues are that it is also to do with the visibility of the consumer council.  During the early days, right now most consumers are not aware of to the existence of the consumer council regarding where it is and so forth. Back then,  Consumer Council of Zimbabwe offices used to be at the Old Shell House along First Street.  So most of the people used to come and complain but now it is located somewhere outside the CBD and most of the consumers are having a raw deal but they are not getting any assistance because of where it is located.

The other issue, Madam Speaker, which needs to be in this Bill is to have consumer education.  Consumer education if it is an independent body, is going to deal more with consumer education because right now consumers are not aware of their rights.  Do you know way back we used to work hand in hand with the Standards Association of Zimbabwe?  We used to send goods there to measure the standards.  We used to go to the Government Analysis Laboratory to deal with drugs.  We used to go to the Drugs Control Council which is now the Medicines Control Authority to make sure that drugs which are on the market are tested before they are on the market.  So these are the issues which I think can best be dealt with when we have an independent consumer body.

Madam Speaker, what also lacks in this country is that we do not know what is called consumer boycott.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order Honourables!

HON. PARADZA:  If our consumers are organised in such a way that whenever businesses increase prices, we have consumer boycotts; I think this was going to assist in making sure that we have sanity in the market place.  So Madam Speaker, I just thought I must add my voice.  I know that now, because of the current economic situation, we do not encourage price controls, but Madam Speaker, we need a body which effectively monitors prices on the market and this can only be done through a well resourced independent consumer body.  Thank you Madam Speaker. 

HON. BITI:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  I rise to give my qualified support to this Bill.  I think the Bill is a very important part of our legislation.  Consumers need to be protected against nefarious trade practices and conduct by our business people and market in general.

I need to say, Madam Speaker, before I go into the Bill, the ultimate consumer protection will actually come from a stable and sound macro-economic environment that protects consumers, that protects workers.  Where you have a skewed macro-economic environment lacerated by hyper inflation our rate of inflation right now Madam Speaker, according to ZIMSTART, is now in excess of 78%, but those of us who measure prices on a day-to-day basis, the prices of our goods is way above 300%.  Our rate of inflation is only second to Venezuela in the world as I speak.  Where you have a run-away inflation and hyper-inflation, there is no consumer protection. So, it is important to have a solid and sound macro-economic environment.

          One of the off-shoots of our unstable macro-economic environment is the multiple, four-tier pricing system.  There is a price for the US$ and RTGS$ that is not sustainable when you have a regime of multiple pricing operating in a country.  We also have a problem – when you have the commodification of the US$, that has occurred in Zimbabwe and has given birth to the black-market.  Wherever you have a parallel market or black market, you have unregulated territory.  No one regulates fourth street, no one regulates Road Port but it has a direct multiplier-effect on the economy because the US$ has been commodified.  That makes consumer protection very academic.

Consumer protection is also made academic when you are consuming other people’s goods.  Zimbabwe is not producing and because of that, it becomes a dumping ground.  Madam Speaker Ma’am, we have become a huge dumping ground of cheap Chinese imports which are dysfunctional and do not meet our health and manufacturing standards.  We have become a huge dumping ground of Japanese vehicles, 60% of the 1.5 million vehicles that are on the roads of Zimbabwe are second hand imported from Japan. 

When you import rejects, they are not allowed to operate in their own country or be driven in countries like South Africa.  When you buy defective Japanese vehicles, you have nowhere to complain to and there is no consumer protection.  So, the long and short of what I am saying is that; where you have a dysfunctional economy, where there are no macro-economic fundamentals, then there is no consumer protection.  The ultimate consumer protection is a sound, solid, macro-economic environment, which regrettably we do not have at present.

Away from the political economy, I want to move to the Bill itself.  I want to marry this Bill to the Constitution of Zimbabwe.  In the Constitution of Zimbabwe, we have created a rights-based society.  The Bill of Rights in Chapter 4 of the Constitution applies to everyone, Juristic and non-Juristic Acts, State and Non-State players.  We have got so many rights that are codified in that Constitution.  We have the right to Freedom of Association, movement, Right to Equal Protection of the Law codified under Section 56 of the Constitution.  We have the Right to Human Dignity, which is the most important right codified in terms of Section 50 of the Constitution.  We have the Right to Life that is codified under Section 48.

When you come to Chapter 13 of the Constitution, you see the creation of bodies that look after some of the key rights that are mentioned in Chapter 4.  So, you have got the Human Rights Commission, which generally looks after every right that is in the Constitution.  However, we have other commissions like the Media that looks after two specific rights in the Constitution, the right to freedom of the media, Section 60 of the Constitution.  There is the right to freedom of expression in Section 61.  So, that is given protection. 

We also have the Peace and Reconciliation Commission and the Gender Commission.  What you will not find in the Constitution Madam Speaker Ma’am is a Commission that looks after consumer rights, you will not find it.  However, the silence of the Constitution in creating this right does not mean that this was not the intention of those who made the Constitution to create a commission to protect consumer rights.  Why do consumer rights need to be protected?  They need to be protected because the field of trade and market rights is so huge.

Madam Speaker Ma’am, there are two contracts that are specifically protected in our Constitution.  The contract of marriage is specifically protected in Section 83 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.  The contract of employment is protected in the Constitution through the provision of labour rights.  The majority of Zimbabweans are employed informally or otherwise.  The right of employment is there in the Constitution. 

I see that the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, is going to come up with a new Marriage Act that now recognises what we used to call informal marriages or kuchaya mapoto, partnerships or small houses.  So, that contract is being protected.  What have not been protected are the rights of consumers.  However, every second, you are entering into a consumer contract.  When you board a commuter bus or mushika-shika, visit a doctor, go to Mbare market to buy a dress from second hand clothes or visit a lawyer, these are all consumer contracts.  In other words, consumer contracts are more than marriage or labour contracts which are already covered by the Constitution. 

What does this mean for the purposes of this Bill?  It means that in the area that we find all our people - as you are seated there Madam Speaker, you probably have gone through 15 consumer contracts this morning alone.  You went into a shop and bought something, you visited Pick n Pay and bought a packet of pork, visited Farm and City and bought a packet of fertilizer, that is a consumer contract.  This means that we must give the same protection as provided in the Constitution to these other contracts to consumer contracts which are so humongous and multifarious. 

It therefore means that the board that we must create to protect consumer rights must be on equal footing with other constitutional bodies that are found in Chapter 13 of the Constitution.  In Chapter 13 of the Constitution, we have the Human Rights Commission, Gender Commission and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission.  Madam Speaker Ma’am, it also follows that we need a Consumer Protection Commission and not a Consumer Protection Agency.  The difference is important because the Commission becomes independent, appointed by Parliament and answerable to Parliament and not the Minister of Industry and Commerce.  We have nothing against the Minister but consumer rights are so important because they represent the day-to-day reproduction of an individual. 

For you to be an individual Madam Speaker Ma’am, you need these consumer rights.  When you wake up in the morning, you use a tooth-brush, you visit the bathroom and use a tissue and you eat corn flakes for breakfast which you bought from Pick n Pay.  That is a consumer contract.  So, consumer rights are so important and we need to protect them through an Independent Commission.  I urge the Minister to revisit this point and create a Commission in this very important Bill.

          The second aspect of my submission lies with the Consumer Protection Committees in Section 6.  Section 6 of the Bill creates Consumer Protection Committees.  There are certain functions of the Agency which are executive, like the carrying out of inspections.  I submit Madam Speaker that those should be taken away from the Commission I am proposing and given to another body. So you cannot have the Commission monitoring – they could, but going to factories or places of trade, we could reduce now that executive day to day function to the Consumer Protection Committee but give it another name.  We could perhaps call that the Consumer Protection Agency and then give it functions.  If you go to Section 6, the functions of the Consumer Protection Committee are not given, so we could then call what we are calling the Consumer Protection Committee we could call it the Consumer Protection Agency.  What we are calling the Consumer Protection Agency will be an independent Commission. Then we give it now the day to day executive functions of running around which you do not want your Committee to do.

          I want to move to Section 8 of the Bill.  Section 8 refers to accreditation of Consumer Protection Advocacy groups.  Advocacy groups are important and until this Bill and the Consumer Contracts Act, which I am going to speak on - the issue of monitoring these agreements was left to volunteer organizations. Hon. Paradza used to work for one of them the biggest, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe.  Self regulation is also important but because we have created the Commission, we must recognise these independent self regulating Chambers like the Consumer Protection Agency.  I would like Madam Speaker, with great respect that we bolster Section 8, the recognition and accreditation of voluntary self regulating groups like the Consumer Protection Council of Zimbabwe, but there must be an interface.  The interface is that these voluntary organisations must have a direct interface with the Consumer Protection Commission.  They must give reports and they can carry out studies and produce reports.

          Another addition I want to give is the harmonisation of this law with other pieces of legislation and other bodies that already protect the consumer but from a different angle.  A case in point is the Competition Act and the Anti-monopolies legislation. There must be a marriage and harmonisation of this law and those laws.  Our economy suffers from the existence of monopolies and oligopolies.  If you go into a supermarket Madam Speaker, every product that you will look at, not more than four or five companies produce that.  If it is cooking fat, there are not more than four companies that are producing cooking fat.  If it is detergents, there are not more than four companies that produce detergents.  So, monopolistic behaviour; oligopolistic behaviour is rife in this economy.  If we are to achieve proper consumer protection, we must bolster this legislation so that that conduct is monitored and that there is harmonisation of this law.

          The fourth aspect I need to speak to Madam Speaker and I hope the Minister and the drafters that are sitting in this room - I have seen Dias there, is that this Bill seeks to repeal the Consumer Contracts Act.  Speaking as a lawyer, over the years we have found the Consumer Contracts Act a very useful Act, particularly its provision that deals with exemption clauses which are called disclaimers in this Bill.  Particularly its provisions on installment sale agreement – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Members.

          HON. BITI: I notice that this Bill no longer applies to anything to do with immovable property.  Whilst I agree that it should not apply to sale of a house which is covered by the Deeds Registry Act, the Bill must continue to apply to installment sale agreements of immovable property.  Our public requires protection.  So my submission therefore is that do not jettison the baby with the bathwater.  Do not jettison the Consumer Protection Act in its entirety, incorporate the terms of the Consumer Protection Act in this Bill; do not throw them away.  They are very useful provisions.

          One of the provisions are what we call contractual penalties – so there are many agreements, particularly building agreements that say if you default you must X amount of dollars and there are pre-determined damages.  They seek to exclude the courts.  The Consumer Contracts Act deals very effectively with those contractual penalties and my submission to the Minister is that incorporate those provisions in the Consumer Contract Act in this Bill, instead of jettisoning the Consumer Contract in its entirety.

          My next point has to do with dispute settlement.  If we have to have an effective consumer protection, then there must be strong deterrence against those who commit unfair trade practices and also those who make people sign unfair contracts.  There are two things: first, the Bill is strong …

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You are left with five minutes Hon. Biti.

          HON. BITI: I am winding up.  If you look at Section 5, the functions of the Agency shall be to protect consumers from the unconscionable, unreasonable, unjust or otherwise improper trade practices.  I would like that you add ‘unfair’ in that sentence.  I would like the addition of the word ‘unfair’.  I would also like the Bill to demarcate, to separate, to criminalise or proscribe contracts that we sign.  I think the Bill does a decent job of it, but what the Bill does not deal not with are practices by business people.  Just to give you an example, many Members of Parliament in the previous Parliament bought vehicles from Ford Duly’s.  Those vehicles are defective. When you go there you are told the manufacturer is General Motors in the United States of America.  So we need the Bill to proscribe conduct - both contact and conduct; both contract and behaviour, hunhu wemabusinessman edu muZimbabwe.  I would like to see that codified.

          Coming to my submission on dispute settlement, the Commission, once you make it as a Commission, like the Human Rights Commission it must have judicial or quasi-judicial powers.  The Human Rights Commission today has got judicial powers, but when someone appeals - we already have commercial courts.  The High Court has got a separate commercial division.  The Commercial courts in the High Court must have jurisdiction over this Act.  Also Madam Speaker, I would suggest and submit that the Magistrates Courts must have a separate division that deals with consumer protection. 

          I am very worry of the arbitration provisions and I submit that instead of going to arbitration, let us go to specialized consumer protection courts which will be Magistrates Court and the Commercial Division of the High Court.  I so submit Hon. Speaker.

          HON. SHAMU: Thank you Madam Speaker.  I rise to add my voice to this very important debate.  Throughout the world, the establishment and adoption of consumer protection legislation has been successfully used as a vehicle for sustainable, social, economic and environmental growth.   It has seen growth in those three aspects.  Now, in Zimbabwe Madam Speaker, we have been lagging behind, lagging behind what has already been done by our neighbours such as South Africa and Malawi, only to mention a few.  Therefore, Madam Speaker, this Bill is indeed important for our country. 

          This Bill is in line with the United Nations guidelines which advocate for different aspects of consumer protection such as the need for fair market dealings, the need for us to curb abusive practices in the market place. The need Madam Speaker, for adequate information to be given to the people so that they know exactly what it is it that has to be done in order for them  to be protected from the various people who are so greedy in terms of wanting to enjoy unjustified profits.  People need protection in the financial sector Madam Speaker where they find themselves ending up owing so much to banks by virtue of not getting any kind of protection from various transactions that they go through. 

          Finally, the need for availability and access to justice for consumers so that they can get redress. These are important aspects Madam Speaker that are in line with the...

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: It is now Mr. Speaker.

          HON. SHAMU: My apologies Mr. Speaker, in line with the United Nations guidelines.  Mr. Speaker Sir, Zimbabwe ushered in a new political dispensation in 2017.  Now, this Bill is a landmark legislation enhancing the ushering in of this new era by introducing a new era for consumers in Zimbabwe – [HON. MEMBERS:  Hear, hear.] – Mr. Speaker, I really want to thank Hon. Musikavanhu who moved the presentation of their Committee on this matter for calling for an independent Consumer Commission – [HON. MEMBERS:  Hear, hear.] –

Now, why do I say so Mr. Speaker? There has to be a separation of the Commission from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce because this helps in curbing bureaucracy. Secondly, we remove conflict of interest and thirdly, we remove suppression of consumer rights. This is why I feel that this position should be seriously considered and indeed adopted by this august House.  I thank you Mr. Speaker – [HON. MEMBERS:  Hear, hear.] –    

*HON. MATAMBANADZO: Thank you Mr. Speaker for affording me this opportunity to add my opinion on the Consumer Bill.  Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Minister of Industry and Commerce for giving us a background and the contents of the Bill. What I want is to support what is in the Bill so that it will not embarrass us tomorrow like the way people raised their views when we went on public hearings. Their concern was that the legislation that we are enacting is not effective because you bring in amendments today then after a short while, you find yourself making amendments again.

There are continuous amendments being made after six months you keep re-writing and people will be asking what we are doing.  The people who were asking are those people in the rural areas and we were embarrassed, especially when we presented ourselves well dressed in suits.  They gave us examples of other countries that have enacted legislation that is over 200 years in existence and that legislation is still working and those countries are doing well.  That is why I decided to add my opinion, so I urge the Minister to write and enact legislation that will last.  Even the Minister will leave a legacy for having enacted such a good piece of legislation. With the current life expectancy, it is estimated that no one will go beyond 100 years but it will be a legacy he will leave behind.  

Mr. Speaker Sir, these are the concerns being raised by the people of Zimbabwe.  We went to Gwanda, just to add on to what our Chairperson said.  There is a young person who asked a question and he said that you are here for our views in enacting legislation but the legislation that you are putting in place is not being implemented because you find people committing crimes and they are not brought to book.  When we go to the shops, our rights are violated and when you report nothing is done about it and yet legislation is there.  This shows criminal activities - Mr. Speaker we were embarrassed and were told the reason why we were there does not make sense. I sat down and said to myself, the Bill that we have brought before the people is a challenge considering the economic situation.  Mr. Speaker, it is a legislation that if you tomorrow become the Head of State, you will be able to use the same legislation but those words are now to comfort each other because of what is happening in this country.  We are going out spending a lot of money going on public hearings but we were told that we are enacting a legislation that is not implemented neither is it respected. 

So, my request Mr. Speaker Sir, is that the Minister should come up with an Act that will protect the consumers to enable their protection because they have aired their grievances. 

          Hon. Paradza said he worked for a long time under the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe but if we are to interrogate the Consumer Council, it was an Act that was there for that time.  You cannot go soliciting for public opinion when there is no law but now that law has loopholes and that needs to be amended.  Now, if we come up with a law and it is not implemented and followed, we will still come back here to do more amendments and we behave like uneducated individuals yet we are very much educated.  What does that mean? 

Today you see a person who only went up to Grade 2 in this House and that is me.  Mr. Speaker, if you look at people who have not gone to school in Zimbabwe, they are very few.  That is why I am the only one or maybe there are two of us and that includes Hon. Chinotimba.  He is my colleague and when he is speaking English, we joke about it but today I am telling you the educated ones – the lawyers, the accountants, the scientists and engineers in this House.  Please, come up with a piece of legislation that will protect the consumers, that will last for a long period of time and that will not entangle us the enactors of that piece of legislation.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, people were concerned and told us that for this legislation to be implemented and respected, it should be decentralised to all the provinces so that when people’s rights are violated, all the shop owners are aware and even the transport operators and people can rush to those offices to report their rights that will have been violated.  I appreciate what the Minister has brought but we are here to try and ensure that we come up with a good piece of legislation.  You said there are 15 people and you put a clause that has enabled you to expand.  So my suggestion is that this should be expanded to the rural areas in terms of decentralisation because right now 2 litres of cooking oil is being sold at such an exorbitant price. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, this will assist even on what happened today where we have had fuel price increases.  When price controls are there, that will assist us to understand what is happening.  The rise in the cost of fuel has led to the price increases of all basic commodities because everything has gone up.  All this is painful for the consumer and the populace of Zimbabwe in the towns, cities and also in the rural areas.  Everyone is concerned about the fact that the fuel prices have gone up.  So, that Bill is in this House and those outside, I hope that the Government and the Minister will understand that even though he is still new, the measure that he has taken to increase the price of fuel is something that the nation is not happy about.  So Mr. Speaker, I wanted to talk about that. 

I want to look at the issue of timeframe.  I am looking at the turnaround time from the time a person reports to the time that action is taken.  When an issue is reported at the Consumer Council, and after having reported there, it takes about five years for that issue to be dealt with.  The shop will have closed or the aggrieved person is no longer available.  The turnaround time is so long and that is what is of concern to the people of Zimbabwe. It results in the piece of legislation being useless.  What we want Mr. Speaker Sir, is that they should look at the issue of the turnaround time for a reported case.  It should be time framed in terms of issues that have been reported to the Consumer Council.  So, the Act should also have this timeframe.  This has affected the nation. 

There are so many disputes that are happening and even in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, people have lost their mines.  They are consumers though it is the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.  They have lost their mines and the Government has taken over because they say that you have not paid and on the other hand, consumers complained that you had raised the prize by 400%.  So, people could not afford to pay for those licences and if this Bill is properly enacted, it will deal with such issues.  The small-scale miners are the ones producing gold and they exceed the large scale miners but they are not treated as humans.  Today, they have lost their mines and the Government is not even looking into the issue. 

The Government only becomes aware of the challenge when they cannot raise foreign currency to buy fuel.  Gold is what is sustaining this country.  Zambia’s economy is based on copper and Botswana on diamonds.  Here in Zimbabwe, all the children who are the artisanal miners no longer have mines.  I believe that they are consumers as well and it is a painful situation.

          Lastly Mr. Speaker Sir, in cities and towns that we reside in, there is concern over the rates that are being paid especially in towns, cities and growth points.  There are houses that were built long ago by the Smith regime and the former President said that these should go under the ‘Rent to Buy Scheme’.  These were built by the people that worked for the Smith regime. Now their children have grown up and are there but those houses are being taken over by the councils through the lawyers who also want money. Do you understand what I am saying Mr. Speaker?

What I am saying is that the Minister should take this issue seriously because these houses were bought for a long time ago by their parents but now the children are being thrown out of those homes and are becoming squatters and street kids. You then ask yourself why we have street kids and that also affects shops. There are other shops which were built around the same time. People were given the said shops but they are losing those shops to the council and council employees are taking those shops and giving them to their relatives as if there is no legislation but the legislation is there. What we are saying is that the legislation that has been brought before us by the Minister should be enacted. I thank you.

HON. S. BANDA: Mr. Speaker Sir, on a point of order. My point of order is that I believe that Members of the Portfolio Committee on Industry and Commerce should be given the first priority to debate because it is privy of our portfolio oversight. So, if I can be given the first chance that will be good.

HON. MUSANHI: I rise to support the Minister of Industry on this noble Bill. Mr. Speaker Sir, the people of Zimbabwe have been subjected to business people who do not have the ethics. If consumers are not protected, people will just profiteer and make a lot of money overnight to make sure that their pockets are full and make a lot of money within a shortest period. With the de-regulation of our transportation you find that consumers, especially in the transport sector have been very vulnerable because of the ethics of a lot of our transporters who are now using the small cars in town overcharging passengers willy-nilly. I think this Bill comes at the right time if not too late.

The de-regulation of prices in the wholesales and supermarkets also makes it very difficult for the consumers to be able to live in a comfortable manner like they used to before. I think without having to repeat what has been said by others, it is very important that this Bill looks more importantly at the issue of enacting a Commission than for it to reside in the Ministry of Industry. I say that because Mr. Speaker Sir, what will come out in the newspapers is that Zimbabwe is back to price controls. Those are the headlines that are going to come as soon as this Bill resides in the Ministry of Industry. With our President being on record for saying ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’, this is going to scare a lot of investors who may want to come to Zimbabwe.

It will be important for the Minister to recognise that this Bill does not reside in his Ministry but has to be under an independent commission if we are to be transparent on this. It will also help the Minister that it is not a complete conflict of interest like the previous speakers have said, we will not be there at all. So I think Mr. Speaker Sir, it is important that this Bill sails through but on those lines, I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE (HON. N. M. NDLOVU): I do move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 22nd May, 2019.

CONSIDERATION STAGE

TRIPATITE NEGOTIATING FORUM BILL [H. B. 5A, 2018]

Amendments to Clauses 3, 14 and the 3rd Schedule put and agreed to.

          Bill as amended, adopted.

          Third Reading: With leave, forthwith.

THIRD READING

TRIPATITE NEGOTIATING FORUM BILL [H. B. 5A, 2018]

          THE MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE (HON. N. M. NDLOVHU) on behalf of THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. DR. NZENZA): Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that the Bill be now read a third time.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Bill read the third time.

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER

NON-ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: I have received a Non-adverse Report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the Companies and other Business Entities Bill, [H.B. 8A, 2018].

CONSIDERATION STAGE

COMPANIES AND OTHER BUSINESS ENTITIES BILL [H. B. 8A, 2018]

          Amendments to Clauses 2,4,8,11,60,61,62,72,73,135,136,151,195 and 277 put and agreed to.

          Bill as, amended, adopted

          Third Reading: With leave, forthwith.

THIRD READING

COMPANIES AND OTHER BUSINESS ENTITIES BILL [H. B. 8A, 2018]

          THE MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE (HON. M. NDLOVHU): I move that the Bill be read the third time.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Bill read the third time.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          THE MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE (HON. N. M. NDLOVU):  I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 2, 3 and 4 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 5 has been disposed of.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE  SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY’S BILATERAL VISIT TO THE SHURA ADVISORY COUNCIL IN DOHA

          HON. MUTOMBA:  I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the Report of the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Advocate J.F. Mudenda’s bilateral visit to the Shura Advisory Council, Doha, Qatar from 30th March to 4th April, 2019.

          HON. NDUNA:  I second.

HON. MUTOMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I would want to present the Report of the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Advocate J. F. Mudenda’s bilateral visit to the Shura Advisory Council, Doha, Qatar from 30th March to 4th April, 2019.

1.0   Introduction

In tandem with Zimbabwe’s re-engagement efforts led by His Excellency the President Hon.  E. D. Mnangagwa and in pursuit of Parliamentary diplomacy, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Advocate Jacob Francis Mudenda, led a delegation on a bilateral visit to the Shura Advisory Council of Qatar from 30th March to 4th April 2019. The visit was timed to coincide with the onset of the 140th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly hosted in Doha, Qatar, from Friday 5th to Wednesday 10th April 2019. 

1.1    Background to the Bilateral Visit

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Advocate J. F. Mudenda, has embarked on a complementary diplomatic charm offensive aimed at strengthening bilateral relations with Parliaments in Africa and beyond in line with the Second Republic’s operative mantra, “Zimbabwe Is Open For Business.”

Pursuant to this, the Hon. Speaker had occasion, during the 139th IPU Assembly held in Geneva, Switzerland, to meet with the Speaker of the Qatar Shura Advisory Council, His Excellency, Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid al-Mahmoud. The meeting revealed several areas of mutual interest between Qatar and Zimbabwe. His Excellency, Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid al-Mahmoud had extended an invitation to Hon. Speaker Advocate Mudenda to visit Qatar in his capacity as the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Parliament of Zimbabwe and as the Chairperson of the Africa Geo-Political Group at the IPU. The bilateral visit, therefore, was a concretisation of that invitation compelled by the following objectives:

1.    To strengthen bilateral relations between the Qatar Shura Advisory Council and the Parliament of Zimbabwe

2.    To explore areas of mutual interest and engagement between the Qatar Shura Advisory Council and the Parliament of Zimbabwe

3.    To discuss areas of co-operation between African Parliaments and the Shura Council.

The delegation, led by the Hon. Speaker, comprised the following designated Members of the IPU and officials:

1.    Hon. Senator Chief Mtshane-Khumalo, Deputy President of the National Council of Chiefs;

2.    Hon. Senator Tsitsi. V. Muzenda;

3.    Mr. Kennedy M. Chokuda, Clerk of Parliament;

4.    Mrs Martha Mushandinga, Principal Executive Assistant to the Speaker;

5.    Mr Clive Mukushwa, Security Aide to the Speaker; and,

6.    Mr Ndamuka Marimo, Director in the Clerk’s Office

Hon. Tinoda Machakarika, a Member of the National Assembly and Parliament of Zimbabwe’s representative on the Forum of Young Parliamentarians at the IPU, failed to travel as he was still recovering from an operation. On the Qatari side, the meeting was attended by Hon. Mohamed bin Ali al-Hanzab, Member of the Shura Advisory Council and the Chairman of the Qatar-Africa Parliamentary Friendship Association and three other Members of the Association as well as the Secretary General of the Shura Advisory Council,  Mr Fahd bin Mubarak al-Khayareen.

2.0    Meeting Between Hon Speaker Advocate J. F. Mudenda and His Excellency, Ahmed Bin Abdullah Bin Zaid Al-Mahmoud

2.1   Introductory Remarks

The meeting between the two Hon. Speakers was held at the White Palace in the bustling city of Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday 2nd April 2019. The White Palace houses the Shura Advisory Council, that is, the Parliament of Qatar as well as the administrative offices of the Ministry of Health. His Excellency, Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid al-Mahmoud, extended a warm and fraternal welcome to Hon. Speaker Mudenda and his delegation. He expressed his appreciation for the Parliament of Zimbabwe’s support for Qatar in hosting the 140th IPU Assembly. The host Speaker informed his guest that a record attendees would grace the 140th IPU Assembly. In the interests of Parliamentary diplomacy, His Excellency, Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid al-Mahmoud, undertook to reciprocate the visit in the near future. He also highlighted his passion for peace and development in Africa by chronicling the work he had undertaken in facilitating the peaceful resolution of the Darfur crisis and helping to rebuild that country in the aftermath of the crisis.

 

An enthralling revelation from the Hon. Speaker’s introductory remarks was the invention of a micro-chip to be inserted in the brain, from which human beings could download any information they required without having to pore over the pages of books or the internet. While the Hon Speaker of Qatar expressed excitement over this recent invention, he also cautioned on its implications with respect to the redundancy of some professions such as teaching and lecturing. That notwithstanding, the invention underlined the strides that the world was making through technological advancement and the necessity of investing in research and technology to spur national development through digitalisation of education.  I hope we will live to witness this new invention.

2.2    Brief on the Shura Advisory Council

The Hon. Speaker of the Shura Advisory Council briefed the meeting on the composition, roles and functions of the Shura Advisory Council. He highlighted the following:

·       The Shura Advisory Council is a unicameral legislative assembly with 45 Members of Parliament comprising 30 Members elected through universal suffrage and 15 appointed by His Excellency, the Emir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hammad al Thani;

·       The Legislature is empowered by the Constitution to:

                               i.            Approve the national budget;

                            ii.            Monitor the performance of Ministers; and,

                         iii.            Draft, debate, and vote on proposed legislation, which only becomes law by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the total Membership of the Shura Advisory Council and upon assent by the Emir.

·       These constitutional obligations are carried out by the Shura Advisory Council through five Portfolio Committees, namely,

                               i.            Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee

                            ii.            Financial and Economic Affairs Committee

                         iii.            Internal and External Affairs Committee

                         iv.            Committee on Public Services and Utilities; and,

                            v.            Cultural and Media Affairs Committee.

The Council may also form other permanent or ad-hoc committees as and when necessary. Furthermore, the delegation was advised that the work of these Committees is bolstered by the engagement of technocrats with expertise in various fields from within and outside Parliament, and in particular from various universities, including foreign universities with fully-fledged campuses in Qatar. These reputable institutions of higher learning include, among others, the Qatar University, Cornell University, Georgetown University, The Canergie Institute, North-Western University, and North-Atlantic University.

Of interest to note from the Hon. Speaker’s presentation was that the people of Qatar had expressed their collective desire to do away with elections and move towards appointment of people’s representatives on merit. The tacit agreement among the generality of Qataris was that, once a Member of Parliament was elected, quite often the MP focused on self-aggrandizement  at the expense of serving the people. To that end, public opinion had swayed towards meritocracy rather than holding democratic elections.

It was apparent that the roles and functions of the Shura Advisory Council, notwithstanding their small numbers, conform to the three universally recognised roles of Parliaments, namely, legislation, oversight and representation. The Shura Advisory Council has also played an active role in national economic development particularly in the wake of the illegal economic blockade imposed on Qatar by her sister Arab States.

2.3   Role of the Shura Advisory Council in Economic Development in the Face of Sanctions

         The Hon. Speaker of the Shura Advisory Council chronicled the history of the illegal sanctions imposed on Qatar by her Arab and Gulf neighbours, particularly Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain, the Maldives, Comoros, Senegal, Djibouti and Jordan in June 2017. In the Hon. Speaker’s opinion, Qatar had differed with her neighbours on a matter of principle which would have undermined her sovereign right to make decisions for the greater good of the people of Qatar. The Saudi-led coalition had proceeded to sever diplomatic relations with Qatar, expel Qatari diplomats from its countries, and ban Qatari airplanes and ships from entering its airspace and sea routes respectively, while Saudi Arabia blocked the only land crossing into Qatar. Qatar could equally have reciprocated the embargo. However, it did not retaliate cognizant of the immeasurable suffering this would bring to the over 300 000 Egyptian nationals living in Qatar as well as the people of UAE who depended heavily on Qatari liquefied gas.

         Far from decrying the negative effects of the illegal blockade, the Hon. Speaker welcomed the sanctions for inspiring inward-looking innovation and inventiveness among the Qataris. In a compelling rendition that confirmed the time-honoured adage that says “necessity is the mother of invention,” the Hon. Speaker indicated that prior to the illegal blockade, Qatar had been importing all but 1% of her agricultural products.

         However, in the aftermath of the blockade, the country had embarked on a massive production drive led by His Excellency, the Emir, which had culminated in the country reaching a commendable level of agricultural self-sufficiency. In fact, Qatar had already started exporting milk and was set to export its first farming produce beginning that year. 

         The country had also invested heavily in industrialisation resulting in the growth of numerous industries, among them steel-producing conglomerates. It was a measure of the country’s resilience and refusal to break under the weight of the illegal economic sanctions. Consequently, it had steadily grown to be one of the leading economies in the region.

         The Hon. Speaker affirmed the central role that the Shura Advisory Council had played in mitigating the effects of the sanctions within the remit of its constitutional obligations. The Shura Advisory Council had adopted His Excellency, the Emir’s vision to look inward for solutions to the challenges posed by the illegal sanctions and expeditiously passed legislation that improved the ease of doing business in Qatar and facilitated domestic investment.

         The Shura Advisory Council had also used its control of the purse to allocate adequate resources towards manufacturing and agricultural production, both of which spurred the growth of the Qatari economy. The Legislature had also taken the Minister of Finance to task regarding the sanctions busting strategy and the post-sanctions strategy for the country.

         Pursuant to this, the Minister had been summoned to Parliament to present the sanctions-busting strategy and the post-sanctions plan to the House. This ensured Qatar’s preparedness to embrace a shared vision in overcoming the sanctions as well as an assured developmental trajectory post-sanctions that every Qatari could identify with. 

         However, what was also clear from the Hon. Speaker’s rendition was that the success enjoyed by Qatar in fostering self-reliance in countering the effects of the illegal sanctions was premised primarily on the unity of the people of Qatar in driving the inward-looking vision espoused by His Excellency, the Emir, as well as in speaking with one patriotic voice in support of the country’s principled stand against the Saudi-led coalition.

         The lesson is thus very clear for Zimbabwe which has been a victim of illegal economic sanctions for over 20 years and yet continues to be riddled with discordant voices in the call to end the illegal sanctions.

         2.4    Relations between Qatar and African Countries

         The Hon. Speaker of Qatar acknowledged the cordial relations that existed between Qatar and Africa which had inspired the establishment of a Qatar-Africa Parliamentary Friendship Association chaired by Hon. Mohamed bin Ali al-Hanzab. Through the Qatar-Africa Parliamentary Friendship Association and in liaison with the United Nations, Qatar has been able to provide philanthropic support to:

1.    Human capital development through the provision of scholarships towards the education of one (1) million girls in Africa. Qatar was targeting to enhance support to the girl child in Africa by increasing the quantum of scholarships to five (5) million.

2.    Infrastructure development, including the construction of roads, schools and health facilities through the Qatar Investment Bank.

3.    Humanitarian aid for countries in need through the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society.

         The Hon. Speaker of the Shura Council was at pains to emphasise that the assistance rendered to African countries by Qatar had no strings attached but was premised on ensuring that everyone lives in dignity and peace. Pursuant to this, he revealed that the theme for the 140th Assembly of the IPU ‘Parliaments as platforms to enhance education for peace, security and the rule of law” had been deliberately chosen to bring the spotlight on the need to support education in Africa and garner financial and material support for the same. He stressed the fact that without education, there is no development and without development, there is no peace. Accordingly, the Shura Advisory Council intended to leverage on the 140th IPU Assembly to spread the message that Parliamentary diplomacy is necessary in helping the disadvantaged and disenfranchised. To that end, the Hon Speaker of the Shura Advisory Council expressed Qatar’s willingness to strengthen bilateral relations with Zimbabwe and invited the Parliament of Zimbabwe to join the Qatar-Africa Parliamentary Friendship Association.

          In response, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Advocate J. F. Mudenda, expressed his appreciation and that of the Africa Geopolitical Group for Qatar’s unconditional support to human capital development on the African continent. He informed his Qatari counterpart that the African education system in general and Zimbabwe’s education system in particular was gradually moving towards a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), in a bid to enhance research and technological development. However, the major hindrance remained that of inadequate funding for the construction and equipping of laboratories to enable students to pursue science subjects. Related to this was the need to electrify schools in the hinterland so as to provide internet services that would allow students in the rural areas to compete on an equal footing with their urban counterparts as the world moves unrelentingly towards the digital economy.

         With respect to Qatar’s humanitarian aid initiatives, Hon. Advocate Mudenda briefed the meeting that Zimbabwe was in dire need of assistance in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai which had displaced over 120 000 people and claimed over 200 casualties to date. He acknowledged the assistance rendered by countries in the region and beyond in terms of food aid, medical aid, and infrastructural reconstruction efforts. He also expressed optimism that with this benevolent assistance, Zimbabwe would be able to rebuild and recover from the horrendous effects of the natural disaster.

         In relation to Qatar’s investment drive in Africa, Hon. Advocate Mudenda reiterated His Excellency, President Mnangagwa’s clarion call that “Zimbabwe Is Open For Business” and assured the meeting that Zimbabwe is generally a peaceful country that is conducive for investment. He indicated that investment opportunities abound in mining, agriculture, tourism, infrastructure development and even in liquefied gas, which Qatar was a leading producer of, following the discovery of gas deposits in Muzarabani. He undertook to ensure that Zimbabwe joins and actively participates in the Qatar-Africa Parliamentary Friendship Association.

         The Hon. Speaker commended the Shura Advisory Council, the government and people of Qatar for uniting in the face of the illegal economic blockade and using their own initiative and resources to overcome the sanctions. He indicated that Zimbabwe, which has similarly been under illegal sanctions for more than a decade, must draw lessons from the experience of Qatar and find home-grown solutions to overcome the effects of the illegal sanctions. The Hon. Speaker pledged Parliament of Zimbabwe’s unwavering support for the theme of the 140th IPU Assembly and the intentions of the Shura Advisory Council to elicit support for human capital development in Africa and other needy countries.

         In turn, His Excellency, Speaker Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid al-Mahmoud, noted Hon. Mudenda’s responses and promised to engage the government of Qatar to extend relief aid to Zimbabwe for those affected by Cyclone Idai through the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society. He also undertook to actively pursue the issue of investment in the liquefied gas production in Zimbabwe. The Hon. Speaker of Qatar further expressed his desire to create strong trade and tourism linkages with Zimbabwe and undertook to engage the government to link Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls via Qatar Airways direct flights.

         3.0    Update on Preparations for the 140th IPU Assembly

         His Excellency, Speaker Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid al-Mahmoud reiterated Qatar’s gratitude for the support to the 140th IPU Assembly by the Parliament of Zimbabwe. He indicated that an unprecedented 2 217 participants had confirmed their attendance comprising 147 Member Parliaments, 80 Speakers and 65 Deputy Speakers. This was much more than the anticipated number of 1 500 participants. The Hon. Speaker underlined Qatar’s readiness to host the 140th IPU Assembly and push for support to human capital development in Africa.

4.0   Conclusion and Recommendations

In the final analysis, the Hon. Speaker’s bilateral visit to Qatar was invaluable and timely in consolidating bilateral relations and mutually beneficial co-operation between the Shura Advisory Council and the Parliament of Zimbabwe and, hopefully, between the governments of Qatar and Zimbabwe. It must be noted that:

1.    The Qatar-Africa Parliamentary Friendship Association provides a unique platform for the two Parliaments to enhance co-operation for the mutual benefit of the two institutions and the citizens of Zimbabwe particularly the girl child, through the scholarships offered by Qatar. Parliament of Zimbabwe, through its IPU delegates must actively pursue membership of the Association.

2.    The Zimbabwean Ambassador to Kuwait who also covers Qatar, Ambassador C. Marongwe, must be obligated, as part of economic diplomacy, to engage the Qatari authorities without delay and market Zimbabwe as a safe investment destination to lure investment in liquefied gas production, mining, agriculture, tourism and infrastructure development. 

3.    The Zimbabwean Embassy, in conjunction with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education as well as Higher and Tertiary Education must follow up with the Qatari authorities on how Zimbabwe can access the scholarships that Qatar has availed to the girl child in Africa. The potential for the expansion of the scholarships to five (5) million provides an opportunity for Zimbabwe to tap into and benefit from the scholarships.

4.    Parliament of Zimbabwe, through the office of the Hon. Speaker, must also expeditiously follow up on the undertaking by His Excellency, Speaker Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid al-Mahmoud to engage the government of Qatar to provide relief to the victims of Cyclone Idai through the Red Cross and Red Crescent Society. 

5.    The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development must engage their Qatari counterparts, through the office of the Hon. Speaker, to explore the possibility of establishing direct flights between Zimbabwe and Qatar which will enhance trade, tourism and investment.

 

Thank you very much for the quietness Hon. Members.  Thank you, I certainly appreciate.

          HON. MUTSEYAMI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I move that the debate do now adjourn then we will debate on Thursday.

          HON. MUSABAYANA:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Thursday, 23rd May, 2019.

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER

STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS GAZETTED DURING THE MONTH OF APRIL 2019

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  I have to inform the House that the Parliamentary Legal Committee met on the 21st May, 2019 and considered all the Statutory Instruments that were gazetted during the month of April, 2019.  The Committee is of the opinion that Statutory Instruments gazetted in the month of April are not in contravention of the Declaration of Rights or any other provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

          HON. MUTOMBA:  With all due respect Mr. Speaker, I do understand that the debate has been adjourned as per the Speaker’s report but I understand that I had a seconder who was supposed to support the report.

          I do not understand why debate has been adjourned but I mean we need to understand that the Speaker is the head of this parliamentary institution.  So I really feel that we need to respect our Speaker of Parliament.  I thank you. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Mr. Speaker, I stand to withdraw my point of order.  I had not understood the reasons why as I had been informed by those close to me that there was a reason as to why they did that.  So, I hereby withdraw my objection. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

          On the motion of HON. MUSABAYANA, seconded by HON. MUTSEYAMI, the House adjourned at Twenty Nine Minutes to Six o’clock p.m.

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National Assembly Hansard NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 21 MAY 2019 Vol 45 No 53