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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD - 28 MARCH 2012 VOL. 38 NO. 32

Wednesday, 28th March, 2012.

The House of Assembly met at a Quarter past Two O'clock p.m.

 

PRAYERS

(MR. SPEAKER in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENT BY MR. SPEAKER

ERROR ON THE ORDER PAPER

MR. SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that there is an error on today's Order Paper where the Prime Minister's Question Time should appear in place of Questions Without Notice.

SUSPENSION OF COMMITTEE BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that all Committee business is suspended with effect from Thursday, 29th March, 2012 until Monday the 7th of May, 2012 in line with the approved sitting policy of Parliament.

PRIME MINISTER'S QUESTION TIME

MR. CHITANDO: My question is directed to the Hon. Prime Minister, what is Government policy on the distribution of food in drought affected areas where partisan distribution manifest?

THE PRIME MINISTER: I want to take this opportunity to pass my condolences to the accidents that occurred in Nyanga and also another accident that occurred in Midlands. It is with regret that we continue to face these accidents. Coming back to the member's question, I was in Zaka over the weekend and all the way it was evident that there is drought everywhere and the country has already discussed the issue and came up with the grain loan scheme. We concluded that even if you have to give grain loan to people there is no way that it can be paid back. We are now moving from grain loan scheme to drought mitigation strategy, and there are a number of measures. Firstly to ensure that the logistics are available to move grain throughout the country to the needy areas and the second crop assessment indicates that in Masvingo, Matabelaland South, Midlands and Matabeleland North and the low veld in Muzarabani, the drought situation is very very evident.

We want to deal with the question of logistics, transport and roads so that food can be transported. There are also concerns that have been raised even when I attended one funeral it was evident that people were very unhappy about the abuse of Government programmes to relieve drought or even the distribution of seed during the rainy season. We are reviewing the mechanism because the current is open to abuse and we want to ensure that the mechanism should be able to respond to every household. There is also another disturbing thing on what to do with livestock especially in the livestock areas like in Matabeleland and the same task force will come out with measures to respond to the plight of livestock situation in Matabeleland and Midlands and those areas that depend on livestock.

There is a policy that no-one must starve even with our grain which is 500 tonnes we still need to import more grain into the country and to allow the NGOs to assist us in alleviating drought situation. I am aware in certain provinces that I will not mention that there will be a deliberate attempt to affect the work of NGOs, I want to say here that it is not Government policy to shun down NGOs, but to ensure that they are there to work with us as partners to respond to the plight of our people. It is ridiculous to start shunning down people who are trying to assist Zimbabweans. So those are the variety of measures that we are putting in place to respond to drought measures. I thank you.

MR. MAZIKANA: Mr. Prime Minister, justice delayed is justice denied. Why is there a conspiracy of silence over our envoy to Australia case? Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Mazikana, you are aware that this session is dedicated to policy questions. That question can be rightly be directed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

MS. D. SIBANDA: Thank you Mr Speaker, Hon. Prime Minister, some quarters of the media claim that you have not lived to your promises to civil servants in the review of their salaries. What is your response to this allegation and what progress if any has been made since your meeting with APEX on the 14th of February?

MR. SPEAKER: Before the Prime Minister responds, I will again appeal to honourable members to make sure that your questions have policy element in it.

THE PRIME MINISTER: Mr. Speaker, the issue of civil servants' salaries is an issue that I have constantly stated in this House and I have made commitments on the part of Government. I think that Government over the past two or three years has reviewed salaries for civil servants. So as far as the question of commitment is concerned, I think that it should no longer be a bother to honourable members because Government is committed to reviewing salaries for civil servants from time to time. The question is, are those reviews adequate? But as far as committing ourselves to reviewing salaries constantly from time to time, I think that we have fulfilled. When the Government's fiscal position improves, I am sure we should be in a position to meet the demands that the APEX Council has put to me. You know that we shared very valuable information about the state of affairs of Government finances and that they appreciate from time to time that when they engaged in this discussion, they need full information and full disclosure. That is what we are committed to do.

MR. MHANDU: Under the land reform programme, Government policy is to allocate 20% to war veterans. Is there any Government policy that has been put in place to cater for war veterans and ex-detainees under the indigenisation and economic empowerment programme currently being implemented by the Government? If there is no such policy? Can such a policy be put in place as a matter of urgency as we are all aware of the crucial and critical role played by these people?

MR. SPEAKER: VaMhandu, you do not have to answer yourself, just pose a question.

THE PRIME MINISTER: Hon. Speaker, the honourable member is, like you said, answering his own question. I do not think that there is anyone in this House that will doubt the contribution of war veterans and ex-detainees. Specifically to the indigenisation policy, that has not been put in place in that discriminatory form because we believe broad based empowerment cannot be limited only to war veterans. It has to be broad based in the sense that every Zimbabwean who wants to participate is able to do so. Therefore, I think that specifically discriminating this particular policy for war veterans even if it is necessary, will have to be discussed.

I must underline the fact that it is not for free, so he who has the funds to participate in the programme, which is a limitation at the moment must be able to seed for value. That is going to be the biggest handicap in the face of the liquidity problem that we face. So it does not matter whether we say 20% or 30%, but if there is no provision for people to borrow money in order to pay for the value of those shares or participation in those companies, we will still have the same problem that people will not have the capacity to participate because they are limited in terms of the finances. So, the chicken and egg situation is solved if they have the money. If they do not have the money, how do they participate in this programme? So, we have to look back and see how we can facilitate all these groups to actually seedfor value and be able to meet those value terms.

*MR. MUCHAURAYA: My question is directed to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe. I want to find out if the Government has any plan to compensate people who were murdered during the Gukurahundi period in Matabeleland?

THE PRIME MINISTER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is treading on very sensitive ground. So far, Government has not put in place any compensation mechanism for that very unfortunate and sad episode in our history. There is no policy yet, but I think that overtime these are matters that should be considered and should be taken seriously. It is not just about that, any person who has lost a loved one, it is a very serious issue. So we need to review the whole policy of compensation rather than that specific issue, but it is a very significant and very painful issue.

MR. BHASIKITI: My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Is Government doing enough to lobby the Americans and the British to reconsider removing sanctions on the companies selling diamonds in Chiadzwa? I would also like the Prime Minister to shed light in view of his recent visit abroad where he met the Prime Minister of Britain, Mr. Cameroon, whether he also engaged them on this issue of our companies being able to sell our diamonds and the removal of such sanctions?

THE PRIME MINISTER: I think Hon. Bhasikiti, we must call him Hon. Sanctions - (laughter) - I recall very well, every time I stand before this Hon. House, he always ask me this specific question. Nevertheless, I think he is right in seeking an update on this issue. First of all, we have set up a policy thrust. We as Government believe that the removal of certain people from the list is not proper. They should have removed everyone, I think that goes without saying. You cannot remove certain members of the same Government and expect to have an outcome that you would like to encourage. I think it is very unfortunate, they should have considered that. What we have also done is to ensure that the Chairman of the Engagement Committee, Mr. Mumbengegwi is seized with the issue, to follow up on the issue with the Americans.

Above all, coming to your question of meeting Mr. Cameroon, yes, I met the Prime Minister of the UK, Mr. Cameroon specifically on issues of this nature that you cannot encourage reform by removing certain people and leaving certain people on the list because it is actually a discouraging move.

But above all, I also raise the issue of debt overhead. One of the reason why this country is suffering is because of the liquidity constraints that we have got, which that is the issue of debt overhead. We cannot borrow, not because of sanctions, but because we have so many debts with so many people that, unless we resolve those issues, we are unlikely to be in a position to borrow further. That is the real situation. At the recent meeting we held with the ADB, Zimbabwe was placed on the agenda to discuss the debt overhead because it is a limiting factor. Those were some of the issues that we discussed.

MR. BHASIKITI: My supplementary Mr. Speaker Sir, is that I indicated the issue of two companies specifically selling diamonds in Chiadzwa. Also, whether the Prime Minister engaged the British on this matter.

THE PRIME MINISTER: Mr. Speaker Sir, my apologies. If we are talking about removal of any restrictions, it includes those business companies. So when we are talking about re-engagement, we are not talking about re-engaging on a particular area only. We are talking for the whole gambit of restrictive measures that have been placed including on diamonds. So we do not separate diamonds from any other restrictions.

MR. CHIMBETETE: My question to the Prime Minister is about indigenisation. You recently attended an investment conference in South Africa and CEO Times Africa in London, what would you say were the major concern raised with regard to investment in Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular?

THE PRIME MINISTER: Our country needs foreign direct investment because, one of the biggest challenges is we need to of course create jobs. At any forum that we are invited to speak about Zimbabwe's potential, we speak to foreigners in the diaspora about investing in the country. The unfortunate thing is that these are the same issues. Let me start with Africa. My address to the Chief Executives on Africa is that, we are now moving from afro-pessimism to afro-confidence or afro-optimism. There is a huge interest in Africa and we expect about $150 billion in the next three years to come to Africa. This is not going to be realised as long as we have two issues that are of critical importance.

The question of infrastructure - because the investment is going into mines and other resources, you need transport to move these goods and services outside Africa. So the issue of infrastructure becomes very important. They also raised issues about roads, railway and all the other things.

The second issue of policy predictability. This is what they put across to us if they are going to put money into a mine, I need a 30 year horizon in order to assess the risks and the potential profits. I also need consistence of policy so that I am able to make that assessment. If there is confusion and policy retreats, then I cannot plan in a 30 year horizon. That is one of the major criticisms we face. Particular to Zimbabwe is the issue of indigenisation. There are various interpretations and there are two perceptions that have been created out there. One is that the indigenisation policy is another reform and it is another grabbing of other people's assets, and it is another nationalisation. That is very negative when you are trying to attract people. The second perception is that why should I come to Zimbabwe, put in $2 billion and out of this amount 50 percent I have to give up immediately. These are questions that we need to clarify. We need to go with one voice on this indigenisation policy. So far there are conflicts and there is discord in Government. Until there is one message that can be put across that this is intended for broad based voluntary participation by Zimbabweans we will continue to have that perception strengthened. It is a very negative perception being created. However, I must say that amongst the African Investment climate, Zimbabwe has a huge potential because they know we have the infrastructure, we have the resources, personnel and we have got the agriculture potential. So we stand a big chance of attracting foreign direct investment above all African countries that are at the fore front.

MR. BALOYI: Mr. Speaker Sir, my question to the Prime Minister is that given the serious grain deficit that we are about to experience in the country, does Government have any plans for winter cropping. How prepared is Government to provide input support to farmers who have irrigation facilities.

THE PRIME MINISTER: Mr. Speaker Sir, I notice the Minister of Agriculture is here and he must have an answer to your concerns. However, this has been discussed in Cabinet and I want to state here that investing in agriculture, especially maize and wheat is priority in Government. We have been declining in our wheat output for so many years now and that everything will be done to ensure that farmers grow wheat. Unfortunately, I must say that there is not sufficient funding at the moment to ensure that we have put all the land which was originally under wheat farming to be funded. There is a limited extent to which Government can help. Perhaps farmers after selling tobacco, you can put that money in wheat cropping but to continuously rely on Government to to fund agriculture, I think it is a mis-noma. It is a wrong agricultural policy to continue to depend on Government to fund agriculture. We have to find ways in which private financing goes into agriculture mainly wheat, tobacco and other activities. That is the only way to encourage agricultural activities.

If you continue to rely on fiscus, then the problem is that as long there is fiscal deficit, it affects your planning. I want to appeal to those farmers, especially honourable members here and to start looking for finance because Government will not continue funding agriculture forever. I do not think so.

MR. MACHACHA: My question to the Prime Minister is that the Minister of Information has been slow in instituting reforms as envisaged by the GPA. Is it Government policy that the Minister can defy the principals and Cabinet decisions with impunity.

THE PRIME MINISTER: I do not think it is Government policy for anyone who is sworn to uphold the Constitution to uphold the collective decisions for Cabinet to file. In this case specific reference to Ministry of Information, you are aware that Cabinet made a decision on these reforms and that the principals of the global political agreement followed suit by instructing the very same Minister to follow the implementation directive. He has chosen not to do so.

My only conclusion is that this has nothing to do with him. Perhaps the person who is giving him instruction must come forward and say why are you giving him that direction. It is a conflict with the GPA's objectives and therefore it becomes a highly politically sensitive issue which myself, vaMutambara navaMugabe are ceased with. But I do not think that any Minister would stand up would stand up in defiance against a directive of Cabinet and of the Principals, there must be a reason for it. Especially were a civil servant stands up to confirm that defiance, I think we have gone totally bonkus on that.

It is not a simple issue of an individual. Right to the core of the reform agenda is this issue of the media. I said last time that if we do not have media reforms, then we must as well forget about a free and fair elections. Not only are you undermining Zimbabweans to have what they are supposed to have, but you are also undermining the right of Zimbabweans to free information and free expression. I do not think it is anything to do with defiance and I think we will be able to deal with it.

MR. ZIYAMBI: My assumption is that Cabinet is run just as good as any board of directors. So there is a miss-match in agriculture that people who produce using water and electricity for wheat and maize are paid 15 months later, yet they are forced to pay electricity every end of the month. How can he explain this miss-match?

MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Ziyambi, I was hoping that you were going to ask a policy question. In any case your question is specific and I think you will be happy to get more information from the question that you are putting forward. If you can put it in writing and probably forward it to the Minister of Agriculture in order to get a detailed response to your concerns. Unless if the Prime Minister wants to shed light, I will allow him to do so.

THE PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely, I think it is important that this important issue of agriculture is responded to. I know that the Minister of Agriculture will give specific details. When services are given, they must be paid for. Inga kun'anga wani munobhadhara, kana kumapostori wani munobhadhara. In this case, the issue of use of electricity and water, definitely, I think there has to be a sympathetic policy towards farmers so that the appropriate time for payment is arranged between the service department and the farmer, either ZESA or ZINWA. But to refuse to pay which has been a point of contention, I think it is totally unacceptable. What you need Hon Ziyambi to do is to go to ZESA or ZINWA, we have directed them that they have to be sympathetic to respond appropriately when your payment plan suits your income from either GMB or tobacco sales. It is not as if everything is rigid and inflexible. You must go and talk to them and I am sure that you can make a payment plan that should be acceptable to your convenience.

* MS. CHADEROPA: My question is directed to the Hon. Prime Minister. When you get a chance to compensate those in Matabeleland are you going to have a chance to compensate those who were maimed and murdered during the Smith regime? Some have disabilities and some were thrown in deep wells, however, their children and relatives are still alive so can be compensated.

THE PRIME MINISTER: I said this is a very sensitive issue and I want to repeat that no policy has yet been adopted by Government on compensation of any sort, but what I know is that in the Ministry of Labour there is a War Victims Compensation Act, which should have responded to some way to victims during the liberation struggle, but it is not everyone who has been covered under that. That Act does not cover Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina and it does not cover even people who have been killed over the last 10 - 15 years. A specific response is that there was an act which was specifically responding immediately after independence, which was called War Victims Compensation Act, but that is not the law that is going to apply to the issues and the broad agenda that have been raised over the issue of compensation. When that policy is adopted, sure, why should we just look at particular victims. If it is victims, they have to be all victims. When we have the funds and the timing, I think that is a debatable issue.

MR. DONGO: Since the launch of the Public Private Partnership framework in this country, not many projects have been concluded despite the potential economic value for this country. What is the draw back to the speedy implementation of these projects since they are meant to boost the infrastructure and development in this area.

THE PRIME MINISTER: The hon. member is asking about the progress report on the Public Private Partnership, he is not asking a question and I know that my Deputy Prime Minister is very much spearheading that. Ther has been very few PPPs that have been realised. It is the whole investment environment. It does affect the ability. The first PPP that we were looking at was the Beitbridge-Chirundu road which at the moment the funding has been withdrawn because of other reasons. So, we really have to encourage people to come and invest because in the process, that is the only way we can finance infrastructure.

MR. MAFIOS: My question is directed to the Prime Minister regarding the indigenisation policies of this country. What is Government policy towards foreign banks which are failing to comply with the indigenisation policies of this country?

THE PRIME MINISTER: The issue of indigenisation does not apply to specific sectors. It applies to all sectors and when it comes to the question of banks, like other sectors, the minimum threshhold and negotiations for partners will be done in terms of the law, but we shall not stand up and say you shall do one, two and three things. You shall go and partner with this one and that one.

No, like somebody said, hazvisi zvekudzima malights tombodya tiri muno umu tozoona kuti vanhu tave kuvapa chii. It should be open, transparent and broad empowerment of the people. That is the way to go. But particularly on banks, if you have $25 million, go and open your like the governor of the Reserve Bank said. Go and open your own bank.

MRS. KARENYI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. My question to the Hon. Prime Minister is, what is the policy of the Inclusive Government with respect to chiefs participating in partisan politics?

THE PRIME MINISTER: The issue of traditional leaders participating in politics is well articulated in the law and in the GPA. You can not have any clearer position than that, but perhaps you are confusing between individual chiefs who choose to be political and go against the Constitution. I am sure that Chief Charumbira as Chairman of the chiefs should be able to explain that very clearly.

MR. TAZVIONA: My question is directed to the Hon. Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe. We know electricity is a problem in Zimbabwe, ZESA is owed huge amounts by Ministers and senior Government officials, what is the policy position with respect to such a situation?

THE PRIME MINISTER: There is no discrimination in the payment of electricity bills. As I said earlier, services rendered must be paid for if you want the service to be provided. You can not on one hand expect ZESA to be churning out electricity for nothing and then on the other, expect ZESA to continue to churn out electricity when it needs repairs, coal and all that. So, it is not for free.

Senior Government officials especially, should be at the forefront leading by example in paying for these services. It is very interesting you do not even understand the vicious cycle we have to deal with. The inter-parastatal debt has now risen to over $600 million. ZESA is owed by National Railways and National Railways is owed by Hwange Colliery and so on. All that accumulation of inter-parastatal debt is affecting the efficient running of these institutions.

One of these days we are going to wake up one morning and there will be no ZESA. So my appeal to my colleagues in Government, either Ministers or senior Government officials is, pay something. The same applies to you Members of Parliament. I know that you have excused and that is why you are doing all sorts of things, but pay something.

The same applies to water. I hope that one of these days we will hear who owes what in terms of water bills. ZINWA will not be able to produce necessary support service without payment. This culture of getting things for free must end. We all have to pay.

MR. F.M. SIBANDA: My question is on scholarship funding and accounting, and is directed to the Prime Minister. What is the Government's policy on scholarship funding in view of the Presidential Scholarship which is funded by the fiscus but no oversight by the Parliament on its operation, that is accounting, funding and reporting.

THE PRIME MINISTER: The problem we have is that for the last couple of years, families have been affected by HIV/AIDS leaving orphans. We also have faced the issue of hyper inflation economic conditions that led the President to institute this scholarship scheme in order to assist these vulnerable groups.

Unfortunately, over the years, it has now been overtaken by events. We are now back on the multi-currency regime and everyone does not have these foreign currency constraints. So, it should normally resort back to a Ministry, especially the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education. Although it was supposed to be a national programme, now we want to make sure that that scholarship scheme is national in character and that the vulnerable are targeted.

Vana vemachef I think they are just beneficiaries by accident. I think in future it should be a national programme which is administered by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education for the benefit of everyone.

MS. A. NDHLOVU: My question to the Prime Minister is that, the country, just like other members at the global level has MDGs that it has to achieve. MDG No. 1 on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger is one of the MDGs that the country has prioritised. My question is, what is Government's policy with regards to eliminating hunger faced with the realities and challenges of climate change and what role is science and technology playing in mitigating such?

MR. SPEAKER: Hon. Ndlovu, the first part of your question was answered by the Prime Minister. However, I will allow the Prime Minister to respond to the second part of your question.

THE PRIME MINISTER: The hon. member is aware that I responded to the issue of drought mitigation, but it is not just a question of responding to the drought, the Minister of Agriculture has now been tasked to come out with a 3 to 5 year agricultural response and we are in the process of discussing that. Once it is ready, I am sure that the Hon. Minister will be able to articulate because the drought is now recuring and it is now becoming a frightening issue.

So climate change is a reality and it is now becoming a frightening issue and we need response to it including science and technology response.

MR. GARADHI: Hon. Prime Minister, is it Government policy that a Minister can fire an elected Council or Councillors willy-nilly as is happening now?

THE PRIME MINISTER: Some of these questions are not direct questions, does the Minister have powers to fire an elected councilor. The Ministers are there to administer Acts of Parliament, which clearly stipulate what the powers of the Minister are. In the Local Government Act I am sure that those powers are there. It is unfair to dismiss elected people because the mandate is not coming from the Minister, but from the people unless you are despising the people. I do not have a specific case, but I know that there are a number of mayors or councilors that have been dismissed. In the cases of corruption the Minister has those powers because we are all committed to zero tolerance on corruption cases. If those people have to be dismissed there is a process to follow. You cannot just wake up and say I want to dismiss elected people, otherwise I might wake up one day and dismiss all of you here. Some of these dismisals you find them in the newspapers, which is unfortunate, because I am supposed to supervise these Ministers, and to find something in the newspapers without my knowledge, is an unfortunate procedure.

MR. KAPESA: Ever since the formation of the G.N.U we have had too many investment conferences, may you please advise this House what we have achieved as a Government vis a vis distressed industries.

THE PRIME MINISTER: It is part of the planning process to hold conferences, it is part of the planning process. There is nothing wrong in doing that, but there is something wrong if you do not follow the commitments that come out of these conferences. The country's grand has been affected yes, but investment is not going to come into your country until you go there and market yourselves, and is the purpose of why we have a Ministry of Investment Promotion. How much has been realised I think that is specific to the Minister of Investment Promotion to articulate in terms of numbers and number of companies. I know that there has been some significant improvement in the numbers.

The second part of your question was on the distressed companies fund. It has been specifically targeted and funds have been made available through a bank I know CABS is dealing with applications in Bulawayo and is the same in other provinces. Though the fund, is not enough we will continue to review it and one needs to go to the particular bank where the funds have been made available.

MR. BEREMAURO: What is the Government policy on Chisumbanje ethanol project which is collapsing?

THE PRIME MINISTER: It is a very important national project, it is not collapsing and there has been a number of problems with regard to the start of the project. We have set up ministerial task force from agriculture and the displacement of the people and the issue of marketing of that ethanol, the question of blending and what percentage over time will, we be able to increase the ethanol component and the question of employment. I want to say that it is not a dead project. The committee which has been set up needs to be thorough in some of the constraints that we are facing. The current price of ethanol is more than the current price of normal oil we should be able to see a decrease in price. Those are some of the issues that the committee is dealing on and I am sure that once they are through, the project will be viable. It is a project that only needs to be looked into and some of the problems solved.

MR. ZHANDA: Can thePrime Minister explain the ownership or structure of that deal?

THE PRIME MINISTER: That is part of the project in terms of reference, his whole question is, what is the share of Government in terms of the whole project? I think people must be patient until that report articulate those kind of questions, the structure, ownership, marketing and of course the question of the ethanol in our fuel deals.

MR. CHINYADZA: My question relates to the transparency and accountability of local authorities. There has been widespread abuse of financial and material resources in local council authorities. The issue is on Parliamentary oversight in respect to audited accounts. Is there any policy as far as oversight from Parliament as the respective Audit reports are not presented for Parliamentary scrutiny?

THE PRIME MINISTER: I am sure that there is a Parliamentary Committee on Local Government. If it is there, that is the committee that will continue to ask for these accountability issues. I am sure that you as Parliamentary Committees, you have the right of oversight. No-one has stopped you from saying let us get Harare City Council to come and account for its actions. So it is up to you to utilise your role and function as the responsible authority.

Prime Minister's Question Time interrupted by MR. SPEAKER in terms of Standing Order No. 34.

ORAL ANSWER TO QUESTION WITH NOTICE

UTILIZATION OF LAND BY FARMERS

18. MR. CHIMBETETE asked the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement to explain to the House the plans that are in place regarding farmers who were allocated land between 2000 to date and have not been utilising the land.

THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT on behalf of THE MINISTER OF LANDS AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (DR. MADE): The central issue affecting the land utilisation for agricultural production is capacity building for farmers. To date, a total of 145 775 A1 farmers and 18 289 A2 farmers have benefited from the Fast Track Land Reform Programme. In its day to day operations, the ministry has established that farmers are facing various challenges which interfere with farm productivity and farm utilisation as follows:

· Financial support to farming operations is very limited from financial institutions.

· For the limited financial support there are unrealistic requirements for collateral.

  • Erratic power suppliers from ZESA.

· Farmers delivering produce to GMB without being paid in time

  • Inadequate extension services

· Generally infrastructure is poorly maintained (roads, social services)

These are issues which would have been captured in the proposed national land audit had funding been provided for its implementation.

In the absence of funding for a larger land audit, the ministry plans to carry out verification assessments on a farm by farm basis. If resources are availed to the ministry, the plan is to do verification assessments on a farm by farm basis to establish specific challenges per farmer, land utilization and productivity trends per farm and assess land up take per farm. Again, implementation of this programme will depend on the provision of finance, material and manpower resources. It is from the results of these that the ministry will be able to come up with a policy position to address the concerns raised by the honourable member.

WRITTEN ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE

VILLAGE HEADS AND HEADSMAN ALLOWANCES

14. MR. SAI asked the Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development to state the measures the Ministry is taking to address the plight of Village Heads and Headmen who have not received their allowances despite having served in those capacities for a long time after appointment by their Chiefs.

THE MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT, URBAN AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT (DR. CHOMBO): It may please this august House to note that Chiefs are appointed by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe in terms of Section 3(1) of the Traditional Leaders Act (Chapter 29:17). The payment of their allowances is with effect from the date of appointment by His Excellency.

The appointment of Village Heads and Headmen is vested upon the Secretary and the Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development respectively. Sections 11(1) of the Traditional Leaders Act (Chapter 29:17) provides that, subject to subsection (2), "the Secretary shall appoint a sufficient number of persons nominated by a headman, with the written approval of the Chief of the area concerned, as village heads for each village to assist the headman to carry out his duties." The payment is also with effect from date of appointment.

Section 8 provides that the Minister shall, subject to subsection (2), "appoint a sufficient number of persons nominated by the Chief as headman for each community to assist the Chief to properly carry out his duties." The same Act requires the Chief to make written recommendations supporting the appointments, but does not appoint either Village Heads or Headmen. A person only becomes Village Head or Headman after the above appointment has been effected by either the Minister or the Permanent Secretary. The payment of allowances becomes effective from the date of appointment. It should be noted that my Ministry has been able to pay appointed village heads. However, there could be logistical challenges hampering the timely disbursements.

COMPLETION OF THE GUTU-KURAI ROAD

19. MR. MAKAMURE asked the Minister of Transport communications and Infrastructural Development to inform the House about the progress being made in the completion of th Gutu to Kurai Road.

THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (MR. GOCHE): Mr. Speaker Sir, there are no immediate plans to complete this road because of the unavailability of funds from Ministry of Finance. The progress to date is as follows:

The Gutu - Kurai Road is surfaced up to the 76km peg, gravel road up to the 125km peg, and a sistance of 49kms which still need to be constructed and surfaced.

This project was initially funded by the Japanese government through JICA when a number of bridges were constructed and equipment donated to the department of roads. Funds ran out and the project had to be stopped about 5 years ago. As things stand, we must find our own funds to complete the road. Again, I am not in th position to state when this shall be as this is purely a function of the National Budget.

MAINTAINANCE OF SILOBELA AND KWE KWE ROAD

20. MR. SULULU asked the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development

(i) to explain why the Ministry is not maintaining the 15km dust road between Silobela and Kwekwe despite numerous requests by the Hon. Member of Parliament;

(ii) to inform the House when the said road will be tarred;

(iii) to explain the criteria used in prioritising the completion of road projects for instance, the tarring of the Silobela-Kwekwe road, since it has now been over twenty (20) years before its completion.

THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (MR. GOCHE): Mr. Speaker Sir, Hon. Sululu is a regular visitor to my Ministry. Whenever the gravel section between Nkayi and Kwekwe has developed corrugations he constantly knocks at my officials' door for something to be done on this road and grading has always been done on this road. It is acknowledged that this is one of the important roads and provides a short cut to Victoria Falls for the Eastern and Central part of Zimbabwe.

The 13.3km dust road between Silobela and Kwekwe has been regraded every year since 2009 to date. It is therefore, surprising to hear that it is not being maintained. Due to limited financial rescources, not many gravel roads in Zimbabwe are in fact receiving this level of attention, please note.

There are no immediate plans to contruct and surface the section of road because the Ministry of Finance is unable to provide the necessary funds at this stage. Road construction and maintenance are both capital intensive.

The criteria used in prioritising the completion of road projects is based on traffic volumes plying the road. The greater the traffic volume th higher the priority.

The Kwekwe-Nkayi road is 86.5km is narrow mat and 36.5km is wide mat leaving 13.3 km of gravel section which is the Kwekwe - Silobela section. Ideally, the whole road should be upgraded to a wide mat. This shall only happen as and when funds are availed to my Ministry for the purpose.

REVOCATION OF MANDATORY DRIVER RETESTS

22. MR. SARUWAKA asked the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development to inform the House whether there is a Statutory Instrument in place to enforce the mandatory driver retests revocation being published by the media.

THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT, COMMUNICATIONS AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (MR. GOCHE) : Mr. Speaker Sir, my ministry is not aware of the 'mandatory driver retests revocation' and consequently the question of a Statutory Instrument falls away. In fact my ministry has mandatory driver retests under Statutory Instrument 168 of 2006.

MOTION

FIRST REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES, ENVIRONMENT AND TOURISM ON CONSERVANCIES AND FORESTRY PLANTATIONS

MR. NEZI: I move the motion standing in my name; that this House takes note of the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism on Conservancies and Forestry Plantations (S. C. 11, 2012).

MR .MAZIKANA: I second.

MR. NEZI: Introduction

The Portfolio Committee on Natural Resources Environment and Tourism resolved to investigate and inquire into the challenges faced by the conservators and timber companies in the implementation of the Wildlife and the Forestry-based Land Reform Policies. The Committee called for oral evidence from the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe and the Forestry Commission through the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management to be updated on the implementation progress of the two policies. Both the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the Forestry Commission indicated that they had numerous challenges in the implementation of the said policies. The committee then resolved to visit Save Valley Conservancy, which is one of the eight existing conservancies. It also conducted a fact-finding visit to Selbourne Estate owned by the Wattle Company and Erin Forest which is owned by Allied Timbers, a government company.

Objectives

The objectives of the visit were as follows:

A) To appreciate the policies' implementation challenges faced by both the Forestry industry and the Wildlife business.

B) To ascertain the existence of illegal settlers in the conservancies and the plantations.

C) To develop a wealthy first- hand information on the impact and the disturbances caused by the settlers in the conservancies and plantations.

D) To recommend to the Executive specific actions to take in order to address, alleviate and rectify policy implementation shortcomings.

1. Methodology

The Committee employed the following methods in order to achieve its goals:

i) Written submissions from the Save Valley Conservators, Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe and the Forestry Commission.

ii) Oral evidence from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management,

the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe and the Forestry Commission.

iii) Fact-finding visits.

2. Findings of the Committee

a) Save Valley Conservancy

The Committee found out that the Wildlife-based Land Reform Policy (WBLRP) was developed in the context of the general Land Reform Programme and sought to address land redistribution in wildlife production and ensure its access to the majority of Zimbabweans.

All conservancies were handed over from the then Ministry of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in August 2007. The Ministry of Natural Resources Management began issuing 25-year leases to the beneficiaries in 2007 whose selection was not consistent with the adopted selection criteria.

The selection criteria stated that the beneficiaries had to demonstrate interest and experience in Wildlife conservation, demonstrate capacity for business development and ability to contribute to the asset base.

It is the committee's finding that the allocation of indigenous beneficiaries that include General Rugege, Hon. Sithole, Hon. Senator Hungwe, Mr. Ndava, Hon. Minister S.Mudhenge, Hon. Governor T. Maluleke, Mr. Cladman Chibemene, Rtd. Lt. Col. D. Moyo, Mrs Mahofa and Mr. A. Baloyi according to the list submitted to the committee was not based on business principles.

These beneficiaries were merely imposed to conservators despite assurances from the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment that there was a transparent system in place to identify indigenous partners through the Zimbabwe Investors Authority's Independent Board using the databases for both foreign and local investors. The current white farmers were not included on leases and have been ignored.

The Committee also found out that the original government directive to spare conservancies from occupation was only partially observed. The Committee observed that the conservancy had been occupied or settled illegally by persons without offer letters. Those who had been legally settled were in the middle of the conservancy occupying approximately 33% of the South of the conservancy. As a result, there is extensive habitat destruction, large scale fence destruction and rampant poaching of animals.

The veterinary implications of the destruction of the Save Valley Conservancy fence were the spread of the Foot and Mouth disease and outbreaks of Anthrax. Of great concern was the human /wildlife conflict that has developed. Settlers' livestock in the conservancy are killed by predators. Their crops are also destroyed by elephants and other wild animals. For instance, the Chegwite residents informed the Committee that a pregnant woman had recently been trampled to death by elephants. The residents claim for compensation for the loss of lives and crops by the wild animals.

The Committee also found out that Rhino poaching was escalating in the conservancy and tourism industry was being destroyed. The dwindling rhino species is offsetting Zimbabwe's impressive record of wildlife conservation. The Country continues to lose significant numbers of wildlife and that there is a possibility of restocking the conservancy by using game from the national parks. It is also the Committee's finding that the conservancy had ceased to exist in its original form because of the increasing occupation by both legal and illegal settlers.

The Committee found out that the implementation of the WBLP was proving to be very difficult. Its implementation is stalled by lack of support from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management in consultation with the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement and the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development in dealing with the illegal settlers. It is also hampered by the discussions of concerned parties, which are not in good faith, causing a slow and uncoordinated implementation.

Another challenge noted by the Committee regards the lack of meaningful dialogue between existing farmers and new beneficiaries. There is confusion and misunderstanding that resulted in the implementation of the policy amongst the beneficiaries. Some beneficiaries believe that they would be given shareholdings in the conservancy without investment while others perceive the value of the wildlife industry as coming from meat and not from the exportable trophies and photographic safaris.

New partners believe that the present owners should not lay claim to the wildlife as this was not paid for and that by virtue of utilisation of animals, the present owners have already received full benefit and payment and should have recouped their costs, a position strongly refuted by the conservators.

Finally, the existing conservancy owners argue that the industry as a business is not currently a viable investment. Thus, they are pushing for the adoption of suggested changes to the WBLRP. Parks and wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe recommends that the policy be implemented with all its imperfections and address them as the process unfolds.

b) Forestry-Based Land Reform Policy

The Forest-based Land Reform Policy (FBLRP) was also developed within the context of Zimbabwe's Land Reform Programme. Forests and plantations are important for watershed management and forests are important for ecological protection, biodiversity conservation and revenue generation through timber concessions, photographic and hunting safaris.

The Committee found out that the illegal settlers are causing extensive damage to the plantations through forest fires. Erin forest lost over 80 hectares of land to fire caused by arsonists.

The illegal settlers' activities have reduced the size of the total planting area from 110 000 hectares to 90 000 hectares since 2010 for the Forestry Industry. At Erin Forest, a total planting area of 589 hectares have been occupied by these settlers, at Gwendingwe 700 hectares have been consumed while at Chisengu an illegal settler took 150 hectares to himself.

Furthermore, the settlers are causing intolerable land degradation in these forests which will result in the siltation of rivers and streams.

The Committee found out that, when the Land Reform Programme started, the Wattle Company's Board of Directors took the initiative to cede 3 200 hectares of land in Chimanimani community from the Wattle Company to be used for timber production. The resettled people then changed the land use from timber plantation to subsistence farming in direct contrast to the thrust of the policy.

The committee also observed that the people who have occupied these plantations through the general Land Reform Programme had not been capacitated and conscientized to stick to the original land use. They had neither capital to invest in the industry nor expertise and knowledge of the business. Although informal training exists in Christmas Pass, in Mutare for the management personnel and the general farmers, there is no formal training institution that helps these new settlers to run their own timber plantations.

The Committee learnt that the Forestry industry contributes about 5% to the country's Gross Domestic Product. Its market stretches from Botswana, Zambia, South Africa, United Kingdom and United States but the industry is seriously under-capitalized. As a result of these challenges, the quality of timber is gradually diminishing. Although some private companies have been borrowing money from banks, their constraints are the high interest rates.

The industry requires new fire fighting trucks to replace the old ones and to cope with the escalating forestry fires caused by the mushrooming of illegal settlers.

1. Recommendations

From the findings , the Committee made its recommendations to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management as follows.

a) WBLRP

As a matter of policy, the leases that are issued to beneficiaries should be consistent with the set selection criteria. There should be no imposition of beneficiaries to conservators and the whole process should be transparent and open to the Zimbabwean populace who meet the criteria. Currently, the selection criteria are shrouded in mystery.

The Committee recommends that the Ministry needs to consider the issuance of inclusive leases to deserving people as the current white farmers are not included on the leases. It would be prudent that the selection of beneficiaries be done by the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.

In view of the magnitude of poaching of animals in conservancies, diseases and habitat destruction taking place, the Committee recommends that all illegal settlers be relocated from all the conservancies nationwide and all invasions of conservancies must stop. Those settlers with offer letters should be encouraged to form partnerships with the conservators and embrace the wildlife business maintaining the best land use option or risk relocation.

The Committee recommends that the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management engages the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement and the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development to combat the illegal invasion of conservancies. The Committee is convinced that indegenisation can be achieved through share transfer, joint ventures, community participation and the involvement of public enterprise. As it is now, there are no leases currently set up and available to accommodate local communities in the awarding of 25 year leases but for individuals. Rather than the awarding of 25-year lease to individuals, the Committee recommends that in the Spirit of indigenisation, the Ministry needs to award leases through share transfers, joint ventures and community trusts.

It is also the Committee's recommendation that the Ministry considers the suggested changes and amendments advocated for by the conservancy owners to the WBLRP to encourage investment and the marketing of the industry. This required urgent attention to minimize the decimation of wildlife in the conservancies by poachers who are really threatening Zimbabwe's heritage.

b) FBLRP

The Committee recommends that the illegal settlers be relocated by the government through the responsible Ministries. The legal settlers need to be educated and encouraged to take up the timber plantation business.

The Committee recommends that the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management has to liaise with the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement and the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development and take a firm stance on the land use issue to facilitate the removal of settlers who refuse to comply with the provisions of the FBLRP.The Committee strongly recommends the Ministry to maintain the original land use option because the terrain, soil type and climate is unsuitable for agricultural practices and that farming reduces the available hectares of land for timber production resulting in the loss of the critical revenue required by the nation.

It is the Committee's recommendation that the beneficiaries of the FBLRP before allocating them plantations, ought to be given sustainable pieces of land of a minimum of 500 hectares, be strictly vetted on the basis of their experience and knowledge of the business and adequately educate them.

The Committee recommends that the government ought to exempt the timber industry from the import duties when importing fire fighting engines to allow the industry to fully combat the fire outbreaks.

The Committee also recommends that the government ought to consider setting up a fund to recapitalize forestry industry so that it is enabled to buy new machinery in order to upgrade its operations and the quality of its timber.

In view of the electricity outages that affect the operation of the industry, the Committee recommends that the government establish mini-hydro-power stations that would generate power from the local rivers.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, economic progress is never attainable if our natural resources and environmental issues are sidelined. The challenges highlighted above call for immediate redress if the nation is to sustain its natural resources. Provision of adequate measures are required if the successful implementation of both the WBLRP and the FBLRP is to be achieved so as to attract investment and bring confidence and stability into the wildlife and forestry sectors. I thank you.

*MR. MAZIKANA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I want to second the mover of the motion of our report. I want to thank him for the presentation that he has given.

I would want to say that the conservancies that are being said were created in the 1990s after the 1992 drought that hit Zimbabwe and resulted in so many animals/livestock dying because of hunger and starvation. This pushed those who were occupying those areas to sit down and come up with a strategy to address this situation to protect the animals. So these are farms whose fences were collapsed and these were joined together to form conservancies and these are in areas such as Save Conservancy in Chiredzi.

This is where the lists were done to come up with wild life based land reform policy. As a Committee, we became interested in looking at the Ministry that looks at that policy and how it is implementing that policy. Our Committee had the opportunity to go to Save Conservancy in Chiredzi. When we got there, we were well received and we went into the Conservancies and we were able to see the animals that were kept there and w also came across a place where people were settled. Then we also got to an area where people invaded and they are staying there without Government authority.

Then we also met the problems that were mentioned by the mover of the motion, Hon. Nezi of poaching and human and animal conflict such as the destruction of livestock by wild animals and also the problems of water shortages especially in Save. We realised that the people do not have access to clean water. There are no boreholes, no clinics and no schools as well.

Children also walk many kilometers to go to school especially secondary schools and they pass through exposed to the danger of wild animals. We also realised that the illegal settlers those inside the conservancies, are actually moving further and further into the conservancies and this is affecting the wildlife reform policy. This policy is focused on protecting the animals and bringing tourists to the area and not farming.

So, we find that those who have invaded the Conservancies, actually went there through poaching. They are destroying the plans of the policy. We were happy to hear that there were others of our fellow blacks who are also getting into partnership to look after the wild animals. We did not understand the criteria used to choose people who are relevant to go into partnership with those who were looking after animals in that area.

The issue of poaching is a problem because we as the Shona and the Ndebele, before the white men came, the issue of hunting was our game. So, if you happen to go to people who have been resettled or who have resettled themselves amongst the wild animals, to make them understand that the wild animals should not be hunted down for meat, they do not understand. This is because they see them in their numbers and they do not see a reason why they can not use their bow and arrow and acquire these as food.

So, there is need for capacity building especially to those who were resettled in a proper way in conservancies that the animals need to be protected. We also realised that the Conservators who were there before can not accept the blacks that have acquired leases . So, working with those people is actually a problem. There is no management structure that is good for those partnerships. We also ask that those who are involved through the assistance of National Parks should address this so that we move forward because the issue of wild life and marketing with the experience that we have through campfire is very sensitive, and does not require us to go to America to invite tourist hunters to come and hunt animals and yet there are people resettled there. They will see carcases of dead animals, it is just now a good sight. We also had questions as a Committee that the new lessees are being given 25 years to get into conservancies so we, as a Committee were not convinced with those years. We were appealing that they be given more years like the ones given to the people in the new resettled areas of 99 year leases.

The Ministry responded by saying that in this industry when you reap well for 25 years you should give others a chance. We then appealed to the Ministry to review this issue since it had just commenced. We are encouraging the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management to look into the issue and see if there is a way of making amendments to the policy and other areas. Our Committee had the opportunity of going to Inyanga where there is a tree plantation though others are coming in and cutting down trees, farming potatoes and yet such crops are not meant for those areas and you will find that the maize will not grow well. When we got there we realized that the forest was good for timber and timber is exported to Botswana, Mozambique and Britain and we use it here in Zimbabwe for different things. We also realised that they are other people who are resettling themselves in the forest and causing veld fires that are destroying trees that have taken years to be where they are before they are ready for harvesting.

Your committee realised the good work of the company that gave funds to Government. The problem that we had is that the people who were allocated these forests after cutting down the trees ended up planting maize and potatoes so we ended up saying, no, this area is not suitable for that. We need capacity building for the people to know that this area is suitable for timber plantation. People where given 50 - 100 hectares and after our research we actually realized that was not sustainable. A beneficiary must get a minimum of 500 hectares that is what provides a living for him because a tree takes 25 years to be planted and after being given that forestry when you are about to harvest the lease expires. Government must review the years and we should not fear to go into that industry. The other issue that was said by the foresters was to protect forests from veld fires and to remove illegal settlers. There is need to buy fire extinguishers and the duty on fire extinguishers must be removed because timber is helping thousand of Zimbabweans because if you go to Mbare, PG, DS Timbers, children are using desks made of timber, all the buildings that we have use timber so you can also see how valuable timber is.

If we do not do something now tomorrow we will be forced to go and buy expensive timber from Mozambique because we would have let down our timber industry. I am happy I got this opportunity to speak. I thank you.

*MR. NDAVA: Thank you, I want to thank the Committee for the research that they did on wild animals as well as how forest and timber plantations are manned. I want to look at the Save Valley conversant, 65% of the area is in my constituency so I am going to talk as a person who has knowledge in that particular area. I want to go back and say that amendment No. 17 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe actually made it clear to say that all the land here for farming and other issues is for the Government belongs to Government and does not belong to any other individual. The Government has the mandate to assign those people who can use the land, it is not different from having a white man on the farm who was once a rancher now giving him a new title that he is now a conservationist this we say because prior to 1992 drought, some that we call conservancies today the last batch of cows was removed. Conservancies is a grouping of farms that brings about a partnership whereby animals can be kept together and protected meaning that wild animals can survive drought and they have a higher chance of surviving a drought than cattle. It is unfortunate that the Committee did not give an opportunity to the new lease holders so that the report can reflect that they heard their contribution and people did a good job and they were objective.

I stay in Chiredzi and that is my home area. That is where wild animals are found, that is our livelihood. If we are to allocate conservancies for wild animals, you can see that the names that you find there are from Chiredzi and it should not surprise you because that is what is in Chiredzi. Looking at this issue, we want to agree that it is not bad because in 2007, the Government saw it fit that the farms that we took were meant for tobacco were allocated to tobacco farmers. In terms of wildlife farming, something had to be done. Therefore, Government came up with wildlife land reform policy, that actually gave people leases from the Government for those people who wanted to get into business and look after those animals because the Government is the custodian of the land.

The whites who were interviewed as far as I know, no-one brought out his lease. What was supposed to happen is that they were supposed to accept the Government programme without preconditions. It would have been good for them to partner with the new farmers and use their acquired knowledge to work together with the new farmers. This shows that the whites have not yet changed their mindset and they need assistance for them to be able to change their mind set so that they can see where exactly the country is heading to. Their problem is that when they see someone with a piece of paper, claiming to have come from Parliament, for example this Portfolio Committee, they think everything is okay. The people who were given leases in 2007 still want to work with the whites today. No whites were evicted from the farms even though they are illegal settlers because they have no right to be where they are. What we need is to tap into the knowledge that they have about wild animals, so that those who work there can maintain their livelihood. That is the problem that people with 25 year leases in the conservancies have because whites do not want to share with others.

In those conservancies, people who were displaced in 2000 especially in Chief Mabika's area were settled in one area. When farms were being taken by their owners, they resettled themselves in those areas. Wild animals are there but in our culture, we live with our animals. So we are saying that if a person comes to hunt, the people in the area should benefit in the form of money. The policy that we are talking about here which the committee has recommended that the farm owner should give about 10% of their proceeds to the community. They should employ people in that community to create a conducive and good working relationship with the community.

Madam Speaker, let me now talk about the 25 year leases. I agree with the previous speaker that 25 years is too little. The farming of wild animals and tobacco, there is not much difference. For those in wildlife, they also look at the business outlook and that should be considered. Since 2007, there is no white farmer who has been evicted, so if someone has got a right to be given land by the Government and is given up to 5 years, it means that person can have a chance to come up with something in the 5 years that he has been on that farm. If the white farmer can show to the people and the committee of Parliament that he has a right, from what I know, they do not have that right.

I want to end up by saying that they should not continue singing about the 25 year leases. They should partner with the new farmers so that the new farmers benefit from their knowledge. If they do not want to partner, they should go back to where they came from. There are others who pretend as if nothing has happened and they think that without the white man they cannot do anything. That assists us in opening up our minds. We are working as parliamentarians, we are all black, there is no white so we should not cry for the white man to be here so that we could have good ideas. I know where such ideas come from. We should all agree that the issue of land reform is good for our people because it will assist them to control their resources, to improve their livelihood and improve their communities and develop them.

People who work in the Department of Parks and Wildlife and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism should intervene in this matter and ensure that the white farmers understand. They were given a chance to use these farms, 5 years have gone by without them partnering with the new farmers. Our patience is running out and I urge them to do something as a matter of urgency.

*MR. HOVE: I want to thank you Madam Speaker. I rise to talk about the report that has been presented by Hon. Nezi. I have been listening to the report and to the previous speakers and then from what came out, I realised that it was not right for me to continue being silent, looking at the good issues that are brought before this House. It was now being watered down. I want to say that the issue of conservancies and the forest should be interrogated in the way they are being used. The problem that happens is that people who came into the area that was meant for wildlife, it might be conservancies or for forest plantations, did not come to continue with what was taking place already. The knowledge that had been kept for those conservancies were not carried forward. They came with the idea of just reaping the rewards, it might be wild animals, hunting or through farming. If I was talking in English I should have said poaching. No tax or any amount of money is being paid for such activities in those conservancies. Some of the important by-products that can be used to manufacture other things such as the leather from slaughtered animals can be used in the production of shoes are left to rot.

The issue I want to talk about Madam Speaker, is that the conservancies cannot host a whole lot of people like what is being talked about here. We are going back to the areas of our ancestors. The issue at hand Madam Speaker is, there was need to call in few people and not many people that were given to conservancies because as they go to conservancies they end up fighting for a source of livelihood, ending up killing wild animals that have brought in tourists for us. One thing that we have to accept is that the country's economic performance has not yet reached the peak where local tourists can sustain our tourist industry. We have not yet reached a stage that we as the people of Zimbabwe cannot afford to tour conservancies.

So those who can access those conservancies are people from outside the country. We should extinguish the issue of racism. If you see an analysis that is given between the whites and the blacks, it means we are talking of racism. People should not be afraid to visit these areas because of the issues that we say. Madam Speaker, I would like to say that in our debate we should look at the issue that the people who came into these conservancies are they the right people with the economic activities that were suitable for those areas. Are those wild animals safe and protected to move forward the tourism industry that is there. What I foresee is that we will end up seeing animals in cages like what is happening in the West such as keeping animals in the zoos and yet here we are fortunate to have our wild animals still in their natural habitat. If you go to the West and you want to see wild animals you have to go to the zoo. They are making green houses for their animals to survive. What pains is that we have very valuable resources, but we do not see its valuable nature.

Right now we are asking for totems of people who are there and yet we should be looking after and protecting our wild animals and we should be looking at how we should protect them in their large numbers. That is where we should be focusing our efforts so that we will not be found wanting and going to see elephants and giraffes in other countries. I would like to say the issue of conservancies was an idea brought by the Government a long time ago when the farms where converted into conservancies because among other reasons, the issue of poaching that was taking place. Poaching especially of the black rhino was taking place especially on the Zambezi escapement. That is when animals were now being moved and brought further inside with the hope that they will be better protected.

Madam Speaker, let us make sure that we actually encourage that the areas with conservancies should be protected. We should not be engaging in competition with wild animals but I see that people no longer feel safe in those areas. We are saying that the domestic animals we have are easy prey to the wild animals. So people who are coming to those conservancies should not come with their livestock or domestic animals. They should leave them if they want to farm in areas without rainfall. That is why they were turned into conservancies because they are regions that are known to be not suitable for farming. I would like to say that let us go back to the knowledge of our predecessors and build on that knowledge and not to say that we are using the white man's things. We are taking this country as if it is not ours and we do not know that it is our heritage. We forget that it has to be sustainable. We should keep it for our future generation so that they have something for the future. A few months ago, I was driving to South Africa and what pained me most was that after passing Rutenga, I was surprised to see a giraffe that was grazing alongside the road. This means that the people who went to conservancies actually destroyed the fence and therefore have now exposed those wild animals to the dangers of the whole host of vehicles travelling along our roads. What I want to urge is that the Government should ensure that the people who came and built homes in the conservancies should be removed so that the conservancies remain the homes and the habitat of the wild animals so that those in the urban areas, if they decide to visit, are able to go and get some fresh air as well as seeing those wild animals, not that we have wild animals used as food.

What I want to say Mr. Speaker is that we have a problem concerning forest plantations. I remember one day when I went to Nyanga, it was a sorry sight for those who invaded those plantations. Yes, they managed to harvest the trees that were there but they did not manage to continue with the plantations that were there. So no trees were planted to make sure that new trees were grown. What pains me is that we all know that plantations take years to mature for harvesting but no-one is taking an initiative to replant those trees because the mentality of our people is that they just think of the stomach and therefore plant maize.

We should conscientise our people that you can create wealth, it is not about farming but you should also be technically, financially and economically sound so that the wealth of the country actually grows. The mentality is that people think that by planting maize you are safe and if you want to eat peanut butter you end up having a field of groundnuts. If you think of our traditional beer, you should have plant rapoko. I think we need to encourage our people that whatever one grows can be a source of livelihood. There is nothing wrong in having a field of grown trees, tea or Inyanga or five roses or Stella Tea. We want our people to be conscientised and be proud of having fields of tea plantations. This issue is also evident in the areas that grow sugarcane, people are no longer growing sugarcane.

Let me to go back to the issues that were raised that forest plantations need to be encouraged and sustained. For those people who want to go to those areas, yet do not have the initiative to continue with the production that was taking place there in order to add on to our national wealth, they should be removed. I want to end up by saying that we should see things with foresight. We should not just look at the issue of racism because the issue of looking at issues with a racist perspective is actually derailing us.

MR. SITHOLE: I want to add a few words to the issues that have been brought to this House by Hon. Nezi. First, I want to thank the Committee that they did all they could do to look at the advantages and disadvantages of what is happening in forests and conservancies. I want to say that the issue of conservancies in Chiredzi and Bikita actually started in 1992 when there was a drought. Those areas were the hub of ranching in Masvingo and that is where the meat for CSC in Bulawayo and Masvingo come from.

After many cattle died of drought, a feasibility study was done on how that area could now be utilised. Consultancies were called in and they suggested that it will be good for wildlife management. We had 19 - 21 farmers who actually came up with a Constitution and agreed to remove the fences inside and leave the outer fences so that the animals could be able to move around freely.

On the issue of animals I heard the Committee but I think that as a citizen of Zimbabwe coming from Chiredzi district, there are some provinces where if you want to see wild animals, you do not even see the ants or mice. But I never heard the Committee acknowledging and appreciating the people of Chiredzi for having an area that is not in a park, yet that has got so many wild animals. The Committee should have thanked the community for such a situation.

On the issue of the tourists, I never heard from the report that because of the reduction due to the sudden decline in tourists the contributions that have been done by the conservatives on the GDP contribution. If it is very low in terms of wealth, what is it they have done to increase the wealth of the country? I think the Committee overlooked this area or maybe they asked but did not get any response, we do not know.

Then we go to the issue of poaching, those who are actually killing animals for no reason. I was looking forward to hearing a report about poachers, having looked at poaching for the pot such as the plains game and the rabbit just for the sake of food and not for commercial issues. We were supposed to have been told how that situation is in the conservancies. Secondly we are going to the issue of those who arepoaching animals for business purposes. The Committee should also have highlighted this so that this august House can come up with a position. Police and National Parks will be in a position to react positively. Those who keep on poaching are they residents of the area or people coming from othe areas like Highfields or maybe the Zambezi area?

The Committee did not tell us how many rhinos were actually poached. If they were really poached, how many people were arrested and how many people were brought to book and what was the sentence given to those people for killing those animals? This would assist this august House to see the way forward in regards to our national wealth because the act of poaching the hippo and the elephant is not done by an ordinary person. It is done by someone who has communication and transport. It is probably those who are supposed to protect them and you might think that they will be off-duty.

It is an issue that the Committee should have highlighted and noted in its report.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to look at the issue in the report that there was a pregnant woman who was killed by an elephant. From what I heard, it ended up there but we were not told where she was killed and where she was going. Was she going to fetch firewood or water? Was she in the fields or was she in her house or was she was coming from the clinic? It would have assisted us to realise the problem of human habitation and wildlife. So we can not say that the human conflict has come to an end but we need to reduce it and make sure it comes to an end.

We can not protect animals more than we can protect our people but we will also need to reduce that to sensible levels.

There was an issue that was mentioned on the 25 year leases. I heard one man say that if you want to fix a black man, if you do not want to give him information, make sure that you put it in writing because they do not know how to read. I do not know if the Committee took time to read the 25-year lease or the draft or to look at what is good in the policy, what is bad and what should be added. We did not hear how good the policy is and where it is lacking. So, I feel that that was not properly done by the Committee.

I do not want to waste your time Mr. Speaker. I want to go on to the issue of Inyanga Forests in Manicaland. I think it would be good that if something happens at a particular time, if we leave people to do what they think is right and what they want at that time that they want without us coming in to assist them on the good and the bad, people just do what they want and it is not their fault. I believe that it is the duty of the Ministry and the Department who should educate the people on the need to conserve our forests and trees.

We can blame them but if we have not given them the knowledge, the country will be losing out. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

*MRS KARENYI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. Let me add to what has been said by the previous speakers and I want to thank Hon. Nezi who gave us the report on the Conservancies. Let me say, before that, especially for those that were not members of the Committee who were debating without full knowledge on this report to be there. What really transpired and what did we see when we went there?

One of the problems is that some of the people are interested parties - those who debate. So they will always look at what they want. Let me talk to those who are known as beneficiaries or those who benefited from those conservancies. Please listen to their names, consider this and you will see why the Committee came up with what it came out with because these things were not done in a transparent manner. Those who were given had no knowledge of how to look after the wild animals.

Most of them, let me say, 1) General Rugeje; 2) Hon. Sithole; 3) Hon. Senator Hungwe; 4) Mr. Ndaba; 5) Hon. Minister S. Mudenge; Hon. Governor T. Maluleke; Mr. Gladman Chibemene; Rtd. Lieutenant Col. D. Moyo; Mrs Mahofa and Mr. A. Baloyi. I mentioned the names so that you can see why the Committee talked of this issue because some of these should have transparency so that those who had the knowledge and the experience would have been part of that. So, this is a recommendation that came from the Committee that it needed transparency and should have involved people from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism so that all of us could be convinced.

Let me request to those people who were not in the committee that they should not look at the issue of the white men because at the end, the white men is not there because he is white but he is there on the issue that he is bringing any added value to our economy. At the end of the day what we want is to get money from those conservancies. Let me say that those that they call white men, the Committee went and talked to them. They were saying that they do not have any problem with people coming in to the wildlife management but what what they were saying is that the animals did not come from nowhere. They went and purchased these animals.

Whoever is saying it is a lie, it means that that person has something to do with it. If it was a person who wanted knowledge, he should go to the ministries that deal with wildlife management. There, they should be given documents because we as a Committee were given receipts. Let me say Mr. Speaker, those who say they were not purchased, I want to tell them what we noticed as a Committee, for example, an elephant was bought for $1 000. It did not just end up in Save. Hon. Ndaba said that long back there were livestock - cows, there were no animals. So for hon. members who are debating, you should know that money was invested, the animals did not just come from nowhere. It is an investment that has papers, they went and actually got loans to buy these animals. They are saying that even if we bought them, we are not refusing that you come here and engage into partnership with us but, we are saying, when you come, you should also come with an investment not to come and reap the rewards only just because you were born in that area. Mostly if you had not invested in anything you will not have that passion, even if it is a car that you never purchased, if it hit a pothole, it does not hurt you, but if it is yours, if you hit a pothole, it really pains you.

Mr. Speaker, what we realised as a Committee is that people should not just reap from the investments that were made in the area. Even if the Big Five were just given by God, and you say the whites actually came and took our resources, but they transported them from Gonarezhou to come to Save Conservancy. So, we are saying to hon members, you should also consider to look at some of these issues that we are saying as a Committee. You are not being told not to get into conservancies, but we are saying you should come in with added knowledge. Let me say that the whites did not only take over, they actually have documents. We looked at this as a Committee. We took the Ministry of Lands and they showed us the step that they had walked for them to get to the stage of conservancies. They did not just set up themselves as conservancies. They have background from the Ministry of Lands. Mr. Speaker even those who think that the Committee did not have the knowledge, I urge you to go to Ministry of Lands to go and get the documents so that when you debate in this House, you debate from an informed position. As a Committee, we actually looked at this and we were convinced that this was in line with policy.

Mr. Speaker Sir, there was an issue that was mentioned about the pregnant woman who was killed by an elephant. Yes, it is those people in the conservancies who gave us this information. Mr Speaker, when we went there, we saw that there are others who were resettled by the Government, then we have some illegal settlers. The problem is with the illegal settlers because they are actually in the middle of the wildlife. So their agricultural produce is being consumed by the animals including their livestock, they are being devoured by the animals. These people end up going to the offices claiming compensation.

As a Committee, we are recommending that people who are illegal settlers in those conservancies should actually be removed as soon as possible because this actually has a bad image and you also find there are people dying because of those animals. We are still saying the Government has land, it should resettle those people. The Government should take the mandate to resettle those people to go and grow their crops and rear their domestic animals as people.

Let me continue by saying that the issue that we are talking about as a Committee is that we need to address these issues urgently. Where there is wildlife management and where farming takes place, there should be a demarcation of where farming should end and where wildlife management should end. The problem is that the moment you hear of farming, our minds go back to maize or groundnuts planting. So, the problem in Chiredzi is that they do not understand that where there are animals it is not good for farming. Ever since they settled in those areas, they have not realised any reasonable harvest. The reason being that the area is not meant for farming. If people can walk for 30 kilometers to fetch water, it shows that it is not good for human habitation. So we recommend that these people be resettled in areas where they can live with their families and improve their livelihoods where they are safe.

Our Committee is also requesting that the politicians who are more interested in Save Conservancies should be well equipped in terms of knowledge and should also invest in those areas and not just to reap where others have sown so that we all benefit.

Let me go to the issue of 25 Year-lease, especially when looking to the issue of forests. I heard Hon. Sithole saying that if the Committee actually analyse it, the 25 year-lease was good. When we analysed the issue - Hon. Nezi said that the trees that are planted for your children to have books, benches and for you to have roofed houses need actually time to mature. So, if you are planting trees that will give you 25 years to harvest and if you have a 25 Year-lease, a person can say that is actually not feasible, a 99 Year-lease would be feasible. We actually analysed that if you are saying you farm beans and maize, if you can get a 99 Year-lease, what more for a person who have been given 25 years and yet he can harvest after 25, is that really fair. That is the analysis that we did as a Committee. That is why we are advocating for a 99 Year-Lease. Let me say that what we analysed as a Committee was that, our Government and our Ministry of Lands and Resettlements and the Ministry of Agriculture should ensure that forests in Manicaland are protected because people keep on invading and settling in those areas. They end up burning those trees and cutting those trees. We are saying these people should be evicted as soon as possible and resettled where they can grow crops that they want or they should engage or continue with the timber plantations. I feel that it is very difficult to wait for 25 years, this may be very difficult for some of the people.

Mr. Speaker, we appeal to the august House not to attack the motion that has been raised regarding conservancies. We want our country to develop so that we will be the best in terms of tourism. So, we are saying let us develop our tourism sector. Thank you.

MR. MACHACHA : I want to thank Hon. Nezi for the report on tourism that he gave in this House. Let me also say that I am one of the members of the Committee and we actually went on tours to see what has been reported here. Let me say that we should not allow a mad person to wash his clothes in a well where other people get their drinking water from because it is bad. We saw very painful things in the areas that we went to. Zimbabwe is a beautiful country with its mountains, rivers and wild life, that gives us proudness like any other African countries in the region.

It was painful to see that people left areas which were suitable for crop farming to go and settle in the middle of a forest despite there being large arable land where people should have settled. They have gone into areas where it is dense with trees and the wildlife is supposed to get food from such forests and they have been cutting down the trees. What we saw there was painful. The people who went to those conservatives have their own concerns as well which they gave to us as a Committee. They were saying their livestock were being devoured by lions and they were also saying some of the people were being killed by the wild animals, yet they chose to go and settle in areas that are habitats of wild animals. They were also complaining that they did not have clean water to use and they were expecting those who run the conservancies to give them the water, together with the wild animals.

They need to be helped by people who have the knowledge because if you have little knowledge you will find yourself in problems because of your ignorance. You can also see that the people are victims because they are attacked by wild animals simply because they moved from arable land to live with animals. I come from Kariba and if somebody was to come and drain the dam, I would fiercely fight off that person because that is our source of survival. Let us have respect for our environment for the benefit of every Zimbabwen.

When we went to Chimanimani in the timber growing areas, we saw people who had settled right in the middle of the forest and were cutting down the trees and growing potatoes, which is very wrong. It is such a pity that when you look at most of the people who went to settle in these conservancies these are people of influence who are supposed to be role models to the people around them. Contrary to that, they should be aware that these are areas that should be helping the people of Zimbabwe.

My wish is for us to look carefully at the report that we have because we have to look at the people who are disturbing the lives of the animals in these areas despite their small numbers. My plea is that these people should be moved out of these areas and be settled in arable land. People who remain in the conservatives should be interested in game ranching and be experienced. The resettled people should be conscientised so that they are aware that they are in the wrong place but can do better if they go to arable land.

I am talking about people like those in Chiredzi, who have the knowledge of game ranching. These should be resettled in areas like Ngezi so that we increase the number of game and space for the game. Those with expertise in plantation maintenance should also be relocated to areas where they can use their skills so that Zimbabwe can become a place where wood products can be exported. If skilled people work hand in hand with communities in certain areas there will be development in the country.

I plead with this august House to sympathise with the situation and work together in areas which are of benefit to our country so that our country develops. When looking at this report, let us not be selfish but look at the benefit to the country. We should not think of our families benefitting by living in such areas at the expense of the whole nation.

I salute Hon. Nezi and his Committee for the report that they compiled on their findings because they also looked at the positive side of those areas where people resettled in conservatives and plantations. We could also see that when these people settled in these areas they did not have much knowledge because they are facing a lot of problems. As human beings they are being attacked by wild animals, their crops are also being destroyed by these wild animals so therefore we all need rethink over this report.

Those people who were resettled in these areas should thank the Tourism Committee for representing them by putting across issues which affect them. I say this because whenever you are a footballer and you are playing in the field, you cannot assess yourself but the spectators will judge, appraise and critique you. Therefore this Committee has been your mirror which is coming to you in the future, especially if you follow the recommendations that they made. I plead with you to please accept the advice that has been given and sift through the criticism and use the information to your benefit for the future.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order. I am saying that I know that you have that right to do so but it is the practice that when a Minister stands up - we normally give in and give that respect. But if you insist that you want to debate, I will give you that opportunity to do so.

MR. BALOYI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I thought, maybe, I really needed to respond to some of the issues that have been raised in this debate because some of the issues are factually wrong - not necessarily to say we totally disagree with what has been said but I just wanted an opportunity to present what I think is factual and helpful to everyone else. If you will allow me Mr. Speaker.

*Mr. Speaker, we all agree that the plantations are to be conserved. I also agree that conservation of our natural resources is a priority in this area and also these game parks and conservatives should really be preserved for the benefit of the country. We also do agree without any doubt that when we are in these areas we should talk about business investments so that people do whatever they do in business terms and in all sincerity. This will lead to the prosperity and development of the country.

I have a problem with what has been presented in this House. There are two issues which I will handle. In the Sabi Valley, we find that there are two groups of people that were resettled in these areas. The first group is made up of people who went in when the resettlement programme was first launched jambanja, where people came from areas as far away as Chiredzi, Chipinge and other areas. These are the people who came up and moved in with their domestic animals - cattle, donkeys and goats because it was the prevailing trend during the land acquisition.

The second group is that of those people whose names were read out in this House by Hon. Karenyi and these are the people who had conservation in mind. These are not poachers but genuine experts with a business approach to the conservative areas. Therefore, let me say, I feel it is not very true that we, the people who benefited in settling in the conservatives are destructive and went there to poach or went there with domesticated animals. No, we are not part of that group - I am one of those people who benefited in this resettlement programme in conservative areas and am not a poacher but business minded farmer. Also when we look at those people that were selecting settlers , we find that the team was made up of officials from local authorities, the Parks and Wildlife and the Governor's Office. They were responsible for selecting people who were to be resettled, therefore, we are talking about the Governor and the PA in the province taking part in the selection of farmers. The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources was also involved in the vetting of people who were supposed to be resettled.

Mr. Speaker Sir, in the Save Valley, if we do not rectify the problems found in this area - there is going to be a continuation of the problems we have, such as the destruction of natural resources and the ecosystem. As a nation, we are articulating Indigenisation and Black Empowerment Programmes. We should speak with one voice because we are talking of people who got this chance which is hard to come by. These people have been there because of indigenisation. These people are supposed to be supported because they did not go there to destroy the wildlife and the plantations but also wanted to invest.

My second critique is that, we find that this Committee was not told about this second group of people. They were ill-informed about what we were doing and did not get the chance to come to talk to us as individual beneficiaries so that we could give them our own perspective on what we had done in preserving the wildlife and plantations. Therefore, I will tell you about what really urged us to come to the Save Valley to do what we are doing. That we are treating all this as serious business.

We wrote a document that we circulated amongst the senior farmers of this area which was discussing business development in the Save Valley Conservative for their perusal and analysis. In the second place, we are also talking of the people who resettled at the peak of land acquisition. We find that these people cannot really be chucked out if we do not have a place where we want to resettle them. We first of all must identify a place to resettle them and then we can move them to the identified piece of land and the Government policy says, there is nobody who was resettled up to the period of 2004 who can just be driven out of the land without being resettled at some place. What we have known is that, this person moved into the new area because they were in arid and congested areas in the reserves. Therefore, they have to be resettled and not just be driven out of the resettled ares.

So, what I suggest should be done in the newly resettled Conservative areas is that, there has to be re-subdivision of these areas into two segments whereby the first portion will be made to resettle people and the second area will be a conservative area. This is not a new thing - when we talk of the experience Gonarezhou Game reserve, we find there are people who were there who resettled from the Chitsa area. These people negotiated with Government that they should be moved to a place where there was suitable land. Therefore, what has since been done is that the area in which they were resettled, they were made to settle there permanently The Game Park was demarcated for the benefit of wild life and settlements. The other part of the Game reserve was reserved for the conservative of the wildlife - we found that this was done in unison with many ministries involved in the conservation of the wildlife. So, people are now settled because there was an agreement.

Let me now turn to the programme of Indigenisation - this is a very dear discussion to the people of Zimbabwe because the people really look back at where we were living under oppression. We find that in the past, there were deficiencies because the people of Zimbabwe especially the black Zimbabweans were not part of the mainstream economy of the country - they were living like foreigners in their own land. We are saying, let us rectify this anormally so that we all live well.

Please hon. members listen, we are not saying the whites should be driven out of this country, but we are saying let us give each other opportunities and support. What is happening is that, the whites who are in those conservative areas are saying they bought each and every wild animal on those conservatives. We should go to the National Parks and Wildlife Authority and be given the facts as they stand because what we know is that most of the animals, the rhinos and lions were not bought.

Let us look at what kind of year 1992 was , there was great drought and famine in the country and you find that these farmers then decided to abandon cattle ranching and had to resort to wildlife management. They were given these animals by the State so that they can look after them having been translocated. What is happening is that, some of these people in the Committees are not accepting the truth that is being said because they did not come to us so that we could explain to them. These people were given game by the State - go to National Parks and Wildlife Authority and they will tell you what I am stating now. These people were given USD1million by the International Finance Corporation so that they could make improvements, fence off, some portions of their farms in the Save Valley Conservative and also develop water conservation points for the wild animals in those areas. These people did not buy those animals but were given by the National Parks and Wildlife - this is what I wanted to correct. Hon. members, let us tell the truth.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE MINISTER OF NATIONAL HOUSING AND SOCIAL AMENITIES: I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 2 to 12 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 13 has been disposed of.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

FIRST REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC WORKS AND NATIONAL HOUSING ON PHASE TWO WILLOVALE FLATS HOUSING PROJECTS.

Thirteenth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and National Housing on Phase Two Willowvale Flats Housing Project.

Question again proposed.

THE MINISTER OF NATIONAL HOUSING AND SOCIAL AMENITIES (MR MUTSEKWA): Mr. Speaker sir, I would like to thank you for affording me this opportunity to respond officially to the first report on Public Works and National Housing on Phase II of the Willovale Housing Project.

Mr. Speaker Sir, arising from the report compiled by the relevant Committee there are compelling issues raised in the report on the Willowvale Project which require that I put the record straight. First and foremost, I am disturbed by the use of the word corruption in the report, which, according to my definition means, an act of practice of giving or accepting a bribe or moral pervasion or pervasion of integrity. There is no substantial information to back up the allegation.

I would like to set our the origin, conditions and objectives of the National Housing Development Loan Facility (NHDLF) as follows:

1.0 Origin of the Facility

In 2010, Government allocated an initial US$25 million to establish the National Housing Development Loan Facility (NHDLF). The money was part of th International Monetary Fund (IMF) Special Drawing Rights (SDR) to Zimbabwe.

1.1 Conditions of Disbursement

The conditions of disbursement to the Ministry through the Infrastructural Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) who are the agent appointed by the Ministry of Finance were:

· The facility should revolve in order to grow the Fund and

· Projects should target people who can afford to enable the fund to revolve quickly.

1.2 Objective of the Facility

Mr. Speaker Sir, given the above policy framework, the objectives of th Facility are:

3. To reduce the national housing backlog and improve the housing delivery process in Zimbabwe.

4. To preserve and grow the value of the US$25 million Housing Facility through funding and implementation of commercially viable projects.

5. In the long run, to achieve 100% national coverage in the provision of decent and affordable accommodation.

6. To ensure long term support for commercial viable housing programmes and projects.

7. To stimulate economic growth and development through direct financing of housing infrastructure development.

2.0 Implementation Modalities

Mr. Speaker Sir, to implement the above objectives as stated in the Agreement (see attached copy) signed between the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities and the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities shall, in conjunction with local authorities and the private sector, identify land suitable for housing development as well as provide on-site and offside infrastructure. In addition, the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities working together with IDBZ shall create a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for housing development.

2.1 Conditions Precedent

The following conditions are precedent to the operationalisation of the Facility as per Agreement:

E) The Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities having entered into and concluded a project administration agreement with IDBZ providing for modalities of implementation, payments as well as monitoring and evaluation of project milestones and the impact of the project;

F) The Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities having created a revolving fund with the IDBZ into which proceeds from the sale of stands/houses shall be deposited for reinvestment in the housing sector.

2.2 Mr. Speaker Sir, Pursuant to the stated objectives of the Facility, the Ministry identified the following projects to be implemented:

Willovale Phase II, Harare

Mbizo 22, Kwekwe

Chikanga, Mutare

Lower Paradise, Marondera

Parklands, Bulawayo

Among other projects identified for possible implementation are:

i. Tshovani Extension, Chiredzi

ii. Nemamwa, Masvingo

iii. Spitzkop, Gwanda

iv. Makonde

The two housing cooperatives, Nehanda and Ushewokunze also applied for loans. The Ministry approved but, after assessment by IDBZ, they did not qualify for disbursement through this Facility.

3.0 Given the above modalities, the need to pay back the loan in the short term led the Ministry and IDBZ to base the selection criteria on affordability and the need to grow the fund hence the scheme is as presently constituted. I am surprised that the Committee has deliberately chosen to vary with conditions of the Facility creating the impression that it was meant for the pro poor, the vulnerable group and the civil servants.

I refer you to Clause 5.3 of the Agreement signed between the Ministry and IDBZ which states that, "To provide medium to high cost housing units for the medium to high income earners as a way of improving returns (through commercial pricing) in the medium to long term scenario.

It is true Mr. Speaker Sir, that Willowvale project is one of the success stories of the Ministry and in the spirit of densification, we have come up with the idea of constructing 18 blocks of flats (288 family units).

3.1. The 18 blocks are being constructed in phases with the first 5 blocks (80 units) already complete and were allocated using the criteria highlighted in some oral evidence given to the Portfolio Committee. The criteria, is as follows:

a) Applications should be on the housing waiting list of the respective local authorities.

b) Civil servants should be on the Ministry's waiting list;

c) Applications should not own other houses/properties within the particular local authority;

d) Applicants should be able to afford the deposit and the attendant/requisite conditions of sale;

e) 20% of the flat units will be set aside for civil servants;

f) Preference shall be given to applicants who are physically challenged/disabled but who can afford to meet the terms of sale.

3.2. Selection of civil servants

Mr. Speaker Sir, all the honorable members have highlighted the plight of civil servants which the Ministry took cognizance of. Civil servants were selected at Ministry level (at their ministries) to enhance transparency. For this project, 20% was to be allocated to civil servants. As a result, each Ministry had to submit a name. Some of the civil servants who were not nominated by their ministries could afford were given first preference to pay the commercial deposit of US$10000. This explains why we have civil servants who paid different deposits of US$3 600 and US$10 000 respectively.

3.3. To achieve objective number one (1) of the Facility, the following process of informing beneficiaries was followed:

a) The Minister made a press statement on the disposal and pricing of the flats and subsequently the public inquired with both the Ministry and IDBZ.

b) For civil servants, the Ministry sent our circulars to all ministries and Government departments so that they could identify candidates that could afford and who do not have any other houses or properties as per our criteria.

In both cases, proof of existence of adequate financial resources was required for one to be shortlisted, not withstanding the attendant conditions. Those shortlisted were given an offer form to complete and then referred to IDBZ for affordability assessment, although some approached the IDBZ before the Ministry. All this was done to assess the suitability of the candidate to sustain the repayment.

4.0. Mr. Speaker Sir, let me give due attention to the Committee's observations:

Observation 5.1.1. (Criteria): In my view, I am convinced that my Ministry followed the criteria given above in allocating the flats.

Observation 5.1.2 (Multiple Ownership and minors): Mr Speaker Sir, the vetting of candidates is an on going process and not an event considering that we need to approach the respective local authority and the Deeds office. In the event that we subsequently discover that some beneficiaries did not meet the requirements, we can still deal with them as per clause 14.1. in the Sale Agreement which states that, " This property is sold to persons who do not own any other property. False declaration to the effect that one does now own any other property when in fact they do, will result in the cancellation of this agreement".

In the case of Stephen Zengeya, and Jane Gwiza because their sale agreements were cancelled. Robert T Masukusa's offer letter was rejected. As for Karen N. Masukusa and Tapiwa Simbarashe Zengeya their offers were rejected because they are minors and these did not sign sale agreements.

Observation 5.1.3: Mr. Speaker Sir, in as far as the following are concerned:

· Joylyn Magobeya, I. D. Number 44-036172D44 and the date of birth 16 November 1964.

· Anesu Cheryl Ndoro, I. D. Number 63-2295161Y43 and date of birth 28 February 1989;

· Shingisai Ndoro, I. D. Number 63-2294872J44 and date of birth 08 September 1989 only Shingisai Ndoro signed an agreement of sale and the other two had their offers rejected.

Observation 5.1.4 (Requirements): Mr. Speaker Sir, the Ministry

flighted a press statement containing the relevant and requisite information pertaining the disposal of the flats. In as far as targeting the poor and the vulnerable, I refer you to the objectives of the fund.

Observation 5.1.5.: Allocation was determined by the date of payment of the full deposit.

Observation 5.1.6. (Civil servants deposit - $3 600 and $10 000): Mr Speaker Sir, I refer to Section 3.2. above.

Observation 5.1.7 (waiting list): Mr. Speaker Sir, all civil servants were drawn from the ministries' waiting lists.

Observation 5.1.8 (Occupation and renting out): The Ministry is not aware of any beneficiary who is subletting. However, there is no obligation on the Ministry to monitor outright purchases as opposed to cases where there is a lease with an option to purchase.

Observation 5.1.9 (Clarification of roles, IDBZ/Ministry): Mr Speaker Sir, this is a new facility whose modus operandi we are continually refining and improving but we have since resorted to the Terms of References in the Agreement of Sale, herewith attached.

Observation 5.1.10 (Transparency): Mr. Speaker Sir, Susan Muzite is a member of the Zimbabwe Ex Prisoners, Restrictees and Detainees Association (ZEPDRA). She misinformed the Committee because her name was forwarded to the Ministry by ZEPDRA, after the organization had formally approached the Ministry.

Observation 5.1.11 (Access to information) Mr. Speaker Sir, the staff form the Ministry and IDBZ are better informed because they are the ones administering the projects.

Recommendations 6.0: Mr. Speaker Sir, whilst I note the Committee's recommendations, I however have reservations in accepting some of the resolutions because they are premised on inaccurate information.

Recommendations 6.5: The Ministry is satisfied with the criteria used in allocating the flats and there is no reason to revisit the process.

Conclusion: Mr. Speaker Sir, the Committee should continue to play its oversight role by visiting other projects being undertaken by the Ministry. However, I would urge the Committee to clearly understand the nature of the projects we are undertaking and my Ministry is at their disposal to explain to them.

4.1. Responses to individual Honorable members' contributions 4.1.1 Mr. Speaker Sir, allow me to respond to the debate by individual honourable members. For Hon. Mhashu, I thought he was the ambassador of the facility to the Portfolio Committee since during his tenure, he is the one who appended his signature for the project to kick start. It is against this background that I find it odd that the honourable member of that Committee was unable to advise the Committee on the nature of the project.

4.1.2 For Hon. Shirichena, much has been covered in my report earlier. The role of the IDBZ and the ministry is also clarified. In as far as access to the keys is concerned, the flat units are complete, but the civil works are not yet complete due to inclement weather. I find the dramatic antics by Hon. Shirichena strange to the extent of alleging that my ministry is corrupt. I challenge the honourable member to prove the corrupt activities in the ministry. I further challenge the honourable member to prove by end of June this year the assertion that those who paid their money did not get their flats. This honourable member must bring to the attention of this Committee that the flats were sold to the rich.

4.1.3 Hon. Chimhini, as a matter of policy, civil servants were allocated their 20% and were also given first preference on the other remaining 80%. For your own information Mr. Speaker Sir, the Directors are also civil servants and they meet the required conditions. Further to sentiments expressed by Hon. Chimhini on the attendance of interviewees, the Committee gave us a sample of 45 beneficiaries and these were called and they confirmed their availability, but on the date of the interviewees only 24 attended at the first meeting. It is within the mandate of this Committee to subpoena those who did not attend.

I have already explained the issue of civil servants deposits (US$3 600) and US$10 000). With respect to Hon. Chimhini, I personally take umbrage in his inordinate fixation with the notion of non existent corruption which he levelled against my ministry and I challenge the honourable member to prove the allegations. I would like to quote liberally from the unflattering comments from the honourable member. "The whole ministry is not clear with what it is supposed to do about the allocation of houses it built using funds from government"

Mr. Speaker Sir, it would appear the member has an axe to grind with my ministry or me as the minister notwithstanding his adeptness of applying double standards, he is very economic with the truth. I want to demonstrate that we agreed at a meeting with the Committee that there shall be only two people, the Minister and the Chairperson of the Committee to comment on the issue, but I am surprised he became the first person to talk to the press. What I wish to say to the honourable member is that let us not abuse the platform of the Committee to settle non parliamentary business.

4.1.4 Mr. Speaker Sir, for Hon. Mukanduri, the guidelines are highlighted in the allocation criteria in the main report. Honourable members are also eligible if they meet the criteria and if they approach the ministry.

4.1.5 As for Hon. Mudzuri, I again refer to the Agreement signed between the ministry and the IDBZ and the attendant conditions. As I alluded to earlier in my report, the intention is to grow the Fund to cater for the low income in the long term.

4.1.6 Mr. Speaker Sir, may I make it known to Hon. Ndlovu that the National Housing Policy is currently being amended to cater for the socially disadvantaged groups.

4.1.7 For Hon. Dzirutwe, I refer to the objectives of the Facility as a revolving fund.

4.1.8 As for Hon. Mudarikwa, his misdirected outburst is uncalled for and not consistent. We have no problem with the Anti Corruption Commission to come and investigate the issue.

4.1.9 In response to Hon. Matimba, I urge the Committee to engage my ministry for more information. It is not the responsibility of the ministry to invite the beneficiaries. Parliament has powers to subpoena those who did not attend.

4.1.10 Mr. Speaker Sir, in responding to Hon. Ndava, the ministry wants to recover the sunk costs plus margin and making the Fund revolve. The fact that we have two deposit regimes for civil servants (US$3 600 and US$10 000) means that we were trying to take care of the civil servants.

4.1.11 For Hon Hove, I refer you to the main report that I have just submitted.

5.0 Conclusion

It is my considered submission, that the Committee should continue with its oversight role and the ministry is at its disposal to furnish it with more information pertaining to the project. It is also my submission that the ministry will continue to make an effort in alleviating housing shortages. I urge the Committee to clear the facts before telling the nation half truths. I work with dedicated young people who have a future in the ministry and

these false allegations will certainly damage their careers.

THE MINISTER OF NATIONAL HOUSING AND SOCIAL AMENITIES: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 15th May, 2012.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE MINISTER OF NATIONAL HOUSING AND SOCIAL AMENITIES: I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 2 to 9 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 10 has been disposed of.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION, ARTS AND CULTURE ON PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS: EDUCATION TRANSITION FUND

Tenth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Education, Arts and Culture on Primary and Secondary schools textbooks tendering and distribution process under the Education Transition Fund (S. C. 6, 2012).

Question again proposed.

THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION, ARTS AND CULTURE (SENATOR COLTART): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I am very grateful for this opportunity to respond to this Committee report. Let me state at the outset Mr. Speaker Sir, that having been a member of this Parliament for almost 12 years, I believe strongly in the importance of Parliamentary Committees. They play a critical role in democracy, in holding the executive to account, in exposing corruption and generally bringing transparency to Government operations, I need to stress that. However, I am deeply concerned by the report tabled by the Portfolio Committee. I think it goes without saying that all Committees should conduct the affairs in an objective manner, in a transparent manner and fundamentally, they need to be truthful with this Hon. House. If they tell falsehood before this House, and if they mislead the House, the act is tantamount to a contempt of Parliament and should be viewed in that light.

In responding to this report, Mr. Speaker Sir, I will show that there are more serious matters that have been raised in this report. In fact more serious matters were raised in the subsequent debate by some honourable members. They have misled, they have brought half truth to this House. Given the fact that this does not only deal with Zimbabwean children, which is probably the most dear thing; but also concerned are the United Nations and UNICEF. The report tabled has caused enormous potential embarrassment to UNICEF and to our Government. So the ramifications of this are exceptionally serious. That is why today I have asked for the opportunity to respond because it is very important that as Government we respond to this report as quick as possible. I have to lay out the fact of the matter, not half truth and some matters that are deliberately mis-leading.

Mr. Speaker Sir, allow me to go through the history of the textbook issue in Zimbabwe. As you are aware, the Inclusive Government was established in February 2009, and I took office at that time. When I took office Mr. Speaker Sir, the education sector was in a very grave crisis. Schools were closed, teachers were on strike and when it comes to textbooks, the ratio was 10 pupils as to 1 textbook. In many schools and especially in rural schools, there were no textbooks at all. In some schools, the only textbook that was in the classroom was the one that the teacher himself or herself had.

Mr. Speaker Sir, you will appreciate that no matter how good one's education sector is, no matter how good your curricular are, without textbooks it is difficult even for the best teacher to educate children properly. This was the particular emergency that I faced as the Minister. We did a survey in the first two months of the Government and we got this appalling result from the surveys which were conducted. To compound the problem as you will recall, Government had only just changed from Zimbabwean dollars to US dollars. All of us were only paid US$100 when we started per month. There was hardly any money in the system. There certainly was insufficient money to purchase textbooks by Government itself. As a result I approached the international community to tackle this problem and they responded very favourably.

In September 2009, Mr. Speaker Sir, I launched the Education Transition Fund (ETF). In my speech at the launch that was conducted at Mutasa Primary School in Highfield, I said that the immediate objectives of the ETF were primarily to provide textbooks for children. A secondary objective subordinate to the first was to try to spend as much of this donor money with Zimbabwean publishers and Zimbabwean printing houses. The overriding objective was to put textbooks in the hands of the children.

Once we had secured the money, we set up a technical team within the ministry headed by one of our senior educationist, Mr. Boora who is a principal director. His job was to liaise with publishing houses and printing houses for the ministry to understand the needs of the ministry and to negotiate with publishers and printing houses. I then addressed two meetings which were called by the technical Committee with the publishing houses and printing houses. The first meeting was held at the Quality Hotel and the next meeting was held at the Curriculum Development Unit in Mount Pleasant. The purpose of me attending those meetings, Mr. Speaker Sir, was to plead with publishing houses and printing houses to cut the profit margins to the band. I explained the great crisis that we face in education. The crisis was in essence that if we do not deal with the matter with urgency, children will not have textbooks, pass rates will decline and we could have very disappointing results and Zimbabwe could be suffering from a loss generation. A generation of children who had very poor literacy and numerous scales because of a lack of textbooks.

I made that very clear and I thought that I had an understanding from publishing houses. Regrettably, Mr. Speaker Sir, the publishing houses did not respond favourably. They were three publishing houses, the Longmans, the College Press and the Zimbabwe Printing Holdings ZPH. After I had made this appeal, these three main publishers came back and said that they will charge US$10 million in royalties for the books plus the cost of printing bringing the total price to approximately $20 million for 6,5 million textbooks.

To explain the situation we have 5,5 thousand primary schools, and well over 2 million children attend primary school. You will see that following the intial response from the publishing houses the cost of the textbooks were going to come out at a vast price. We thought to negotiate with the publishing houses, but it was very clear that much as we would have wanted to have entered into contracts with them this curtail which is the only way that one can describe it was going to persist.

Let me mention one other point, in the report at paragraph 4.3.2 of the report at page 9, there is an assumption that the Ministry carried out a survey to establish the actual titles of textbooks that each primary school was using. Indeed, in the formal report which was tabled before the committee by members of my staff there is the following statement at paragraph 3.1. It reads that 'initially ministry carried out a survey to establish the actual titles of textbooks that each primary school was using'. That statement is in fact factually incorrect and I pointed this out to the committee when I appeared before them.

The only survey that was conducted at that juncture was a broad market survey to establish what broad percentage each of the publishing houses enjoyed. For example Longmans had something like 60% market share with College and the other two and ZPH having a lesser share. The point that I am simply trying to make is that at the end of 2009, we did not have sufficient time to do a comprehensive survey such as the one we did for the secondary school textbook programme.

Let me digress and say, in the secondary school programme, we contracted a consultancy company which went to every single school countrywide and asked each school precisely what their requirements were. Of course schools vary in what they want. They might want such and such a book from Longman or College. That survey was never done and it is simply misleading for anyone to suggest that a comprehensive exercise was done at that juncture. The point is that at the time of negotiation with the publishing houses we did not have other than a broad market survey any accurate data regarding the precise needs of each school.

When we established that we were not going to be able to negotiate a reasonable price with publishing houses, I then took the decision to allow UNICEF to take over the process. It was agreed that UNICEF would take the process to a commercial tender process. From that moment on and this is another area the Committee does not make clear at all. The Ministry set back from the process and was not involved from that moment on in any manner regarding the tender process. That simply does not come through clearly in this report. The impression is that somehow it was Government money and that it was not foreign donor money and that Government tender process should be followed. That was not the case. This was all donor money, not a cent was Zimbabwe Government money.

From December 2009, UNICEF took over the entire process. A pre-bid meeting was held on the 1st of January 2010 with 42 representatives from printing and publishing houses with the presence of 3 senior level Ministry of Education staff not including myself and that meeting was chaired by UNICEF. At this meeting the specifications of the bid requirements were shared. At this meeting it was also discussed that 20% of the printing will be done within Zimbabwe. It was revealed in this meeting that local printers had the capacity only to print some 500 - 600 thousand books. ......

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Minister, subject to the provision of paragraph 2 of Standing Order Number 33, the time for the Private Members' Bill has expired. Effectively what it means is that whilst all what you have said has been captured the debate is now deffered and you will have another opportunity to come and conclude it.

THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION, SPORT, ARTS AND CULTURE (SENATOR COLTART): I should just mention that this will only take place in May when I will be away. This matter is of critical importance to the Government but if that is your ruling I have to abide by it. I understand this is now Government business from 5 o'clock onwards.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Honourable Minister, now that we do not have any other Government business for us to deal with you can continue.

SENATOR COLTART: I am grateful. If I could take the chronological account of the process. At the beginning of 2010, UNICEF continued with their own tender process. Let me stress that in both the report and submissions by individual members of the Committee there is the allegations that aspects of Zimbabwean law were not complied with. For example, paragraph 4.1.9 regarding final tender results at page 8, it says tender adjudication results were not released as to what we would expect in accordance with Statutory Instrument Number 1.7.1 of 2002 part 4 Section 22(3). That section of the Committee is totally misleading as that applies to Government tender, to Zimbabwe Government awards and adjudications. This did not apply because this was foreign money donated to the Education Transition Fund managed by UNICEF. Prior to the award of the tender, a Contracts Review Committee under the auspices of UNICEF was convened. It is designed to approve all procurement processes.

This Committee is comprised only of United Nations senior staff. This Committee did not include any government Minister or indeed any other government official and it is subjected to the strictest transparency, confidentiality and audit requirements of the United Nations. So, any suggestion that I and anyone else had any role to play in the award of the tender is simply misleading and in deed false and highly vexatious. I believe it is in contempt of this House.

Let me stress that Education Transition Funds are fully managed by UNICEF and all these procurement procedures were conducted according to UN rules and regulations rather than government Tender Procedures. When UNICEF and the United Nations had been through that process, and the final award was not even decided upon in Harare, it was decided upon in Copenhagen. UNICEF advised us of what they intended to do.

Let me stress to you the thinking process of UNICEF. The price analysis provided by the Committee does not look at the whole picture. UNICEF was interested in getting the best possible price for the highest possible quality. This is in line with the United Nations procurement requirements of value for money. The analysis of this Committee does not take into considerations the quality of the binding of textbooks, the total number of pages, the quality of the colours, and the number of the colours. In the end UNICEF decided to award the contract to Longmans on the basis that they had provided the lowest possible price for the highest quality.

In doing so Mr. Speaker, not only did they get a good deal in terms of the numbers of books, but they saved a vast amount of money. When we started our process in 2009, our hope was that we would get textbook pupil ratio down to two is to one. What in fact happened is that we got at primary school, textbook pupil ratio down to one is to one and because of the saving of well over US$10 million, we were then able to go on to the secondary school project. What is not reported in this Committee Report is that when we started out this process, we had no certainty that we would be able to go on to secondary school. But, because of those savings, we have now managed not only to deal with primary school, but also to get textbook pupil ratio down to one to one at secondary school level in six core subject areas.

Let me stress another misleading statement; much was made about the fact that I was the one meant to announce the bid. It was in fact UNICEF that was responsible for announcing the winning bid. Not the Ministry of Education and not me as this was a UNICEF procurement process, not a government procurement process. UNICEF informed me as Minister and the Ministry and let me stress Mr. Speaker that when we were informed, both I and my Permanent Secretary were concerned about the award of a tender to one publishing house and we raised those concerns.

The one aspect of the report that is correct is that we shared the Committee's concern about the possibility of the creation of a monopoly by handing a tender to one publishing house. We were aware of the educational concerns as well of giving Longmans Textbooks to children and teachers who were perhaps used to textbooks produced by other publishing houses. But, you will understand the dilemma that we face. We had this crisis in the Ministry. We had tried to negotiate with publishing houses to get a fair deal and to get all those different publishing houses to participate in this process but that did not work and we were faced with the stark reality that there were no textbooks or going along with the United Nations and UNICEF process.

On that basis we accepted the recommendation made by UNICEF and authorised them to go ahead with these contracts. Let me address one other falsehood contained particularly in one of the Committee Members' remarks before this Hon. House. One of the Committee Members used the language of 'disaster' and spoke about "conditioning and indoctrination'. Indoctrination kills creative thinking and creativity, innovation and retards intellectual maturation. With respect Mr. Speaker, that completely ignores the fact that Longmans, prior to this whole process, enjoyed well over 60% market share.

Every single one of these books has been used in our education system for two decades. Every single one of these books has been approved by the Curriculum Development Unit and indeed because of the market share, that longmans enjoyed, clearly, most of our teachers and headmasters recognised that these are good textbooks. Otherwise, they would never have used them. I put this to the Committee when they said that is a goal to disaster, I say to them what is the goal to disaster - children with no textbooks or children with textbooks from one publishing house? Clearly, the farmer is far worse a disaster than the latter.

Let me stress one other thing Mr. Speaker. Very serious allegations have been directed against me. Two hon. members in this House have accused me of being involved in corruption. There are statements for example, that the Minister was involved in this process. It flies in the face of the facts. UN procurement process are subject to international internal and external audit requirements. The outcomes of these audits are available publicly through the UNICEF Board of Directors in New York and Zimbabwe, and any Parliamentarian has access to UNICEF via our diplomatic mission in New York.

Let me make this point as well that all of this money came from taxpayers in countries throughout the world. All these countries and organisations have embassies in this nation. All of them are responsible to their own Parliaments, to their own taxpayers to ensure that there is no corruption to ensure that there is transparency in this process. Hon. members who make this allegation need to ask themselves the question, why is it that non of these governments, non of these international organisations, why is it that the United Nations and UNICEF itself are totally satisfied with this process as evidenced by the statement made in response to these very serious allegations last week. One would think Mr. Speaker that if I had been or any other Ministry official had been involved in subverting this process, they would be the first ones to complain. They would be the first ones to subvert us to vigorous audit and examination and yet they have said that as far as they are concerned, the process complied with UN regulations, transparency and indeed with the good use of their money.

Mr. Speaker Sir, honourable members before they make such serious allegations need to consider carefully the contempt of these statements and the impact that those statements have on our government, on our reputation and indeed on the reputation of individual members of Cabinet. Mr. Speaker, it seems to me as well that this appears to be motivated by some who perhaps lost out - one publishing house was awarded a contract by UNICEF, others missed out. One wonders whether that is a good base upon which to make these serious allegations. Surely, honourable members should consider whether some of those making these allegations are not embittered because they did not make the profits that they expected to make. Because, clearly, have we gone along with what they wanted in 2009, they can demonstrate that they would have received at least an additional US$10 million, but instead of those publishing houses getting that US$10 million, that US$10 million was saved and put into further textbooks for the benefit of Zimbabwean children.

Mr. Speaker, if you will allow me, I just briefly now want to go through particular issues raised by the Committee. This will not take too long. In paragraph 4 (1.3), the Committee says publishers were asked to submit joint prices and UNICEF was to supply Publishers with additional information, which UNICEF had used elsewhere internationally. A meeting to finalise these issues was to be convened, but it never took place. That is wrong Mr. Speaker, that is ailing statement. When I appeared before the Committee I told them about the curtail, nowhere in this report did I mention about that. There is nowhere in this report about the US$10 million saving. The Committee simply chooses to ignore that statement. It is wrong to say that a meeting never took place. Several meetings took place in which we pleaded with the publishing houses in the interests of the children to bring their prices down. When it was clear that they were not going to do that, I asked UNICEF to takeover the process completely and to subject it to an international commercial tender in terms of UNICEF not an attempt to contract all the publishing houses, but that is not mentioned anywhere in this report.

Paragraph 4(1.4) is also misleading. It says in December 2009, the Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture announced that the tender for printing textbooks was to be done. That is totally false. It was UNICEF that initiated that process. It was UNICEF that started off the tender process.

On page 7 of the report Mr. Speaker, the Committee puts in a variety of pricing. Even on this statement, that was misleading because the Committee did not touch on the aspect of quality of these textbooks. In paragraph 4(1.9), the Committee refers to Statutory Instrument No. 171. It is once again misleading, it implies that this is Zimbabwe government money which it was not. It implies that it is subject to Zimbabwe government tenders, which was never the case.

In paragraph 4(1.10), it says the Minister has accepted an agreement from the three publishers on how publishers would share each subject equally as specifically requested by the Minister and UNICEF. Once again Mr. Speaker, that is misleading. That refers to the meetings held on quality and the curriculum development unit. When I pleaded with publishing houses to cut their prices so that we recognise the existing market shares, but at no time did I enter into any agreement with publishing houses that we would will-nilly without condition share each subject. It was made very clear to publishing houses that because a curtail has been established - because we could not get the prices down to reasonable amount that we had no choice, but to go to a United Nations Administered Commercial International Tender. Mr. Speaker, that is not stated by the Committee.

In paragraph 4(3.2) states that the Committee was also informed that it was then decided that phase two of the Education Transition Fund was to be able to be used to procure and distribute textbooks to all secondary schools. That is correct but it does not tell the full story. It does not explain to this august House that the only reason we had sufficient money to go on to the secondary school textbook progamme was because of the savings that we made at the primary school textbooks had we gone along with the initial proposals by the publishing houses, it would have cost US$10 million more and it would have been insufficient money to go on to the secondary school programme.

In paragraph 4 (3.2)1, it says the Ministry of Education carries out a survey to establish the actual titles of textbooks that each primary school is using. That is totally misleading. The only survey that was done as I said, was a rough market survey to understand what Longman and others had overall. We never had time to go to every single single to understand with precision what each school needed for each subject.

In paragraph 4(4.3), the report made remarkable statements that the Minister confessed that there were no surveys carried out to identify the specific needs of children in primary schools. That is once again completely misleading regarding the evidence before this Committee. I did not confess anything but I expressed before the Committee my concern that at an earlier hearing a statement had been made regarding a survey having been conducted which was not correct. So there was no confession, but a statement of concern. Perhaps the Committee itself had been misled in some manner.

In Paragraph 5.1, Mr. Speaker, the committee noted that the lack of information resulted in the distribution of wrong textbooks in many districts. That once again is misleading, in some schools, textbooks were wrongly distributed but by every objective criteria this programme has been an overwhelming success. We have managed to get not only the textbook to pupil ratio but we have got the correct textbooks to all schools countrywide which in itself was a remarkable achievement.

In Paragraph 5.2, it states that the Committee also noted that the US$1 million additional fund from the Government was not well explained by the Minister, as to whether the Ministry followed the UNICEF tender procedures instead of Zimbabwean laws. I am astonished by that statement because it was made very clear that the US$1 million that the Government of Zimbabwe applied to the secondary school programme had been approved by the State Procurement Board, in a letter dated 12 July 2011 addressed to the Secretary of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, Dr. Mahere. The Acting Principal Officer of the State Procurement Board states inter-alia " the State Procurement Board has through PBR0964 of July, 7th, 2011 resolved that the accounting officer's request for participation under the UNICEF procurement arrangement for the printing of history textbooks at a total cost of $1 million be and is hereby granted."

I table that letter for the House to consider. I am not sure what cannot be understood by that. In other words, it is quite clear that regarding the US$1 million, the only Government money that has been applied to both primary and secondary schools, like I said that money was fully spent in full compliance with Zimbabwean law. A waiver was obtained from the State Procurement Board to allow us to participate in UNICEF tender procedures.

In Paragraph 5.3, it says the Committee noted that the shift from tender to contracts in the second phase was not well explained by the Minister. I am surprised by that statement Mr. Speaker, because I went into this at length and I explained that when it came to the secondary school courses we had achieved a number of things. The most important achievement through the primary school courses was to establish real costs of printing textbooks.

Let me revert back briefly, Mr. Speaker. Prior to the award of the contract to Longmans, Primary School textbooks were being sold for an average cost of US$5 per textbook. When a contract was finally awarded to Longmans by UNICEF, the average price of those primary school textbooks was brought down to US$0,70 cents. This was a saving per textbook of US$4,30. So, when we came to the secondary school courses and our negotiations with the publishing houses, we were able to refer very clearly to the actual cost of textbooks as shown in the primary school exercise.

The publishing houses were not able to argue in any way that they could justify a price of US$5 or US$7 per textbook. The second issue regarding the secondary textbook process was that we had more time to deal with that project. As I explained earlier on, we had to do a comprehensive survey, a commercial company was contracted by UNICEF and every single one of the other 2000 secondary schools was visited by that commercial company. A very detailed survey was done resulting in us knowing exactly what the requirement of each individual school was for the six secondary schools that were chosen. A fundamental difference to the primary school exercise and it was that combination of knowledge regarding the actual cost of publishing textbooks combined with the actual knowledge of what each school wanted that enabled us to enter into a contractual arrangement in the secondary school process and to contract very accurately with each publishing house in the secondary exercise, which resulted in the successful culmination of that aspect. Mr. Speaker, turning to the Committee's recommendations regarding recommendation 6.1 "..the need for the Ministry of Eduction to put in place a data base capturing mechanisms," we could not agree more whole heartedly with that recommendation. I am pleased to advise the Hon. House that we are in the process of setting up a new computerised education information management which will enable us to get that data.

Regarding recommendation 6.2 on the need for transparency in the tendering process, we totally agree with that but the point we would want to make is that there was total transparency in the process. It is simply misleading that there was lack of transparency.

On recommendation 6.3 on the need to promote local industry in tenders of this nature, absolutely and when I launched the education transition fund in September 2009, I said that was a very clear secondary objective. We however cannot promote local industry at the expense of children. We cannot allow local industry to make windfall profits which in turn result in less textbooks being produced and children's education being prejudiced. That is not a choice we are prepared to make.

Paragraphs 6.4 to 6.6, we agree in broad terms with the recommendations made. I am nearly at the end but I do need to touch on certain comments made by particular members of this Hon. House. Turning to the comments made by Hon. Mhashu, in his remarks he makes the allegations that there has been outright corruption in the transaction. He goes on to say that he is concerned because he did not want to be associated with corruption. He says that there was a flouting of tender procedures. Indeed further on he says and I quote, 'Also avoiding monopoly given to one set of a company, but no, the Minister refused despite that a suggestion was given by UNICEF itself'. And he goes on to say, 'I am referring to it here as corruption'. Then he goes further to say, ' There was somethings that enticed people to award a contract to international companies'. He further goes on to say, 'The Minister blatantly violated Statutory Instrument 171', which once again perpertuates this myth that this was Zimbabwe government's money.

These are very serious allegations, Mr. Speaker, levelled against a government Minister. They fly in the face of the facts - I am very sorry that Hon. Mhashu is not in this Hon. House today. I hope that he will make an apology because firstly, Mr. Speaker, he has misled this hon. House which amounts to a contempt of this House. To knowingly mislead this House regarding facts which were before him and within his knowledge is a very serious act from any parliamentarian.

Mr. Speaker, when he speaks as well as an educationist - he makes some very serious allegtions. He says that, 'local industry was killed by promoting and supporting monopoly. He says, the local industry is dead - dead like a dodo'. Once again Mr. Speaker, that again is a falsehood - there is no other way to describe that. In fact, this entire process has saved the publishing and the printing industries in Zimbabwe because at my insistance, I insisted that 20% of the printing be done by Zimbabwean printing houses.

As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, in the secondary school process all publishing houses received contracts and have been paid by UNICEF and indeed even in the primary school process companies other than Longmans got contracts. For example, as you are aware, we went to the extent for the first time of publishing marginalised indigenous languages such as Tonga, Kalanga and Nambya and those contracts were awarded to other publishing houses other than Longmans and in that way, they received some of the proceeds of this entire exercise.

Mr. Speaker, there were some outrageous statements made by other Members. A statement, what is worrying for UNICEF to collaborate with the Minister to destroy the education of Zimbabwe. I challenge every single member in this Hon. House to go to their constituencies to speak to the Headmasters and teachers in their constituencies to find out what was more of a disaster - having no textbooks or the textbooks that they have received? It is born out by our objective factors that we have started to see a leveling out of examination results of Grade 7 and 'O' and 'A' levels. And if you speak to Educationists, they will tell you that a huge factor in that stabilisation of the education sector is because we have delivered textbooks to schools. So, far from destroying the education of Zimbabwe - this has actually saved the education sector in Zimbabwe.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, let me go back to the origional objectives of the Education Transition Fund (ETF) and also make some comments regarding the stated objectives of this enquiry. The origional target of the Education Transition Fund Phase 2 was to improve the ratio of of pupils to textbooks in primary schools from 10:1 around 2:1. Due to the economies of scale, due to the successful procurement exercises using established UN procedures, as well as the willingness of Zimbabwean publishing houses to act in the best interests of the children eventually, the ETF programme was able to purchase textbooks at less than $1USD per book. These savings not only allowed a 1:1 ratio of primary school textbooks to be achieved, but also enabled the programme to be extended to secondary schools within the same budget envelope. Let me stress that - we did not secure extra funding, it was done within the same budget envelope. In total, 16.5 million more textbooks were procured benefitting 2 million more children - Zimbabwean children. These savings also meant that books could be bought for minority children - for blind and deaf children, something the Committee did not even talk about. The total estimated combined savings to international donors and ultimately to Zimbabwean children has been more than 50 million USD across both the primary and secondary school procurement process.

All children in Zimbabwe now have a full set of text books - that is the best ratio in the whole of Africa. Let me turn to the stated objectives of this inquiry. The important objectives in the inquiry appear to have come second to an investigation of the tendering process of the ETF. The Committee indicated that their original objectives were to find out the expectation and I quote, 'of stakeholders', but let us remember who the stakeholders are in the context of the Education Transition Fund. The stakeholders are not publishing houses, not printing houses - the stakeholders are the children of Zimbabwe and yet there is no mention in this investigation of the stakeholders being children.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, this report may have been well intentioned at the beginning. Sadly, it does not do justice to this hon. House, it does not do justice to our Inclusive Government and it does not do justice to our relationship with the United Nations and UNICEF. We need to all consider, we need to all have a time for serious introspection - especially those hon. members who have made these outrageous allegations - unsubstatiated, outrageous allegations. The introspection is this, Mr. Speaker, this money was money donated by our friends in the international community, managed by UNICEF an organisation which is respected throughout the world for what it does to promote the rights of children. The statements made in this Hon. House are a slap in the face of our friends and I believe that if hon. members making those allegations have any genuine respect for our relationships with international organisations, have any genuine love for the children of Zimbabwe - they will apologise to this Hon. House, apologise to my Ministry and will apologise to UNICEF and the United Nations. I thank you.

I now move that the debate be now adjourned.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 15th May, 2012.

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION, SPORT, ARTS AND CULTURE, the House adjourned at Fourteen Minutes to Seven o'clock until Tuesday, 15th May, 2012.

 

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National Assembly Hansard Vol. 38 NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD - 28 MARCH 2012 VOL. 38 NO. 32