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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD - 4 MARCH 2009 VOL. 35 NO. 20

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Wednesday, 4th March 2009

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

PRAYERS

(MR. SPEAKER in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY MR SPEAKER

2009 CALENDARS

MR. SPEAKER : I would like to inform the House that hon. members should collect their 2009 calendars for their Parliamentary Constituency Information Centers from the Public Relations Department at Pax House in third floor South Wing Office Number 4.

QUESTION TIME

MR. SPEAKER: I would like also to inform hon. members that on Wednesdays at the commencement of business there are Questions Without Notice from 1415hrs to 1515hrs and Questions With Notice from 1515hrs to 1615hrs. Question Time will commence on Wednesday next week as ministers have just been appointed. Members wishing to have questions with notice should submit their draft questions to the Papers Office, Room number 101 by one o'clock p.m. for inclusion in the Order Paper and forwarding them to the relevant ministers. Only questions submitted by Thursday, the deadline, will be responded to the following Wednesday.

THE PRIME MINISTER'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS

MR. SPEAKER : I recognize the Prime Minister as per written notification to make a statement - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear]-

THE PRIME MINISTER: Mr. Speaker Sir, Vice Presidents, Deputy Prime Ministers, Honourable 
Members; 

Thank you for this opportunity to address this, the Seventh Parliament of 
Zimbabwe, which I trust will be amongst the most cooperative, bold and 
decisive in our country's history. 

This address to Parliament will outline the legislative vision as embodied 
in the Global Political Agreement and will later be following its 
presentation to, and approval by, Cabinet and the Council of Ministers. 

In the short life of our new Transitional Inclusive Government, I have been 
encouraged by the enormous support and cooperation I have received and 
witnessed at the parliamentary, ministerial, executive and civil service 
levels. If this spirit of teamwork continues, and I have no reason to doubt 
that it will not, then together we can rebuild our nation and restore 
Zimbabwe to its proud place in the family of nations. 

The signing of the Global Political Agreement on 15 September 2008, 
signified the soft landing of the Zimbabwe crisis and the commencement of a 
process that is irreversible and will lead to a new constitution and free 
and fair elections. It signified the acceptance of the reality that violence 
has no part to play in our political culture and it signified that the voice 
of the people can not be silenced indefinitely. 

In this new Transitional Inclusive Government executive authority rests with 
the President, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. As Prime Minister, I am 
responsible for overseeing the formulation of government policies and to 
ensure that the policies so formulated are implemented by the entirety of 
government. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, each one of us here today can be justly proud that we have 
been chosen by our respective communities in our great country, to represent 
their interests and to translate their hopes and dreams into policy that 
will make a positive, tangible and sustainable difference to the lives of 
those whose trust we have won. 

This is not a responsibility to be taken lightly and I know that you will 
commit yourselves to ensuring that you are conversant with the duties that 
you swore to uphold when you took your seat in this Parliament. 

I know that in this House, there are many interests represented, many views 
held and many political opinions expressed as to the best way forward for 
our nation. 

While I welcome this diversity and the robust debate that results from it, 
we must always remember that we are united by the principles contained 
within the GPA, which has now been given legal form through Constitutional 
Amendment No. 19. This Agreement provides a solid and irrefutable framework 
for the task that we have to do in the legislature and the leadership role 
we have chosen to accept for our people. 

The leaders of the three parties represented here, have committed themselves 
and their members to adhere to the letter and spirit of the GPA and on this 
there can be no difference, dissent or debate. 

Parliament has been committed to implementing the clauses of the GPA and 
abiding by the Constitution of Zimbabwe. There is no room in this House, in 
this Government or in this country, for any individuals or groups that wish 
to prevent progress and keep us mired in the poverty and misery that have 
come to represent life in Zimbabwe. 

Such is the scale of the task ahead, such is the work that we have to do, 
such is the support that we shall require from the people, that on this we 
must be united, we must work together and we must put the interests of our 
nation and our people above all party political considerations. 

This is what the GPA asks of each one of us - this is what we, as your 
leadership, have agreed to - and this is what shall be done. 

__________________ 

Mr. Speaker Sir, there can be no viable, permanent or sustainable solution 
to the problems facing Zimbabwe without the promotion of the people's 
freedoms. These freedoms form the bedrock of any democracy and the 
foundation upon which all development builds. This is recognized within the 
GPA both via the diversity of freedoms it incorporates and the emphasis it 
places upon them. 

Therefore, during the course of this Parliament a new Constitution will be 
written. While Parliament will initiate this process, it must be driven by 
all stakeholders and owned by the people of Zimbabwe. The people will have 
the final say on its validity, both in terms of process and content, in a 
referendum that will be held upon its completion. 

This new Constitution will be a truly Zimbabwean product, reflecting our 
history, our diverse cultures our respect for one another and our desire to 
live free from persecution or fear. 

However, there is much work for us to do in promoting freedoms while this 
Constitutional process is underway. 

Firstly, we must lead by example and the GPA commits all political parties 
to respect and uphold the Constitution and other laws of the land and to the 
principles of the Rule of Law. In doing this, we must bring to an end the 
culture of entitlement and impunity that has blighted our country's recent 
history. As leaders we will abide by the rule of law and submit ourselves to 
the people for free, fair and transparent election at regular intervals. If 
we break the law or lose the support of the people then we do not deserve to 
represent them and cannot be members of this House. 

With the formation of this Transitional Inclusive Government, all 
Zimbabweans are now able to propagate their political views and canvass for 
support, free of harassment and intimidation. 

The right to freedom of association and assembly are enshrined in the GPA. 
It commits the police and other law enforcement agencies to conduct 
themselves in accordance with the law and to observe and uphold the rule of 
law. The government will therefore undertake training programmes aimed at 
empowering these arms of government in the understanding and application of 
human rights and the rule of law, particularly as it relates to freedoms of 
association and assembly. 

Our citizens have the right to express their views to us their leadership. 
Therefore, the days of the police wantonly and violently breaking up 
peaceful demonstrations and gatherings and needlessly imprisoning innocent 
Zimbabweans must now come to an end. In future such activities could bring 
the threat of prosecution not only on those arresting or interfering with 
such activities but also on those that ordered such interference and 
arrests. Command responsibility is a concept we must address and embrace. 

No society can be free, or hope to prosper, without freedom of expression 
and communication. This too is recognised within the GPA by ensuring that 
the government immediately processes all applications for re-registration 
and registration of media houses in terms of both the Broadcasting Services 
Act as well as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. 
Those wishing to practise journalism must be able to do so without being 
prohibited by unnecessary restrictions or exorbitant fees. 

In addition, steps will be taken to ensure that the public media provides 
balanced and fair coverage to all political parties for their legitimate 
political activities. 

All public and private media must refrain from using abusive language that 
may incite hostility, political intolerance and ethnic hatred or that 
unfairly undermines political parties and other organisations. 

Once an open and free media environment has been achieved, there will be no 
need for Zimbabwean radio stations to be based abroad and I would encourage 
those running and working for such stations to return home and help us build 
a truly free and open communication network in Zimbabwe. 

Such concepts of freedom are not foreign to our culture or our continent, 
nor are they imposed upon us by outsiders. Evidence of this is clear to see 
in our neighbouring countries where the rights of the people are defended 
vigorously, where political parties are free to campaign and where there is 
a healthy choice of radio and television stations and newspapers to choose 
from. 

Therefore, the GPA only encourages us to strive and implement the attributes 
that exist in our regional African societies. 

Naturally, I could not talk about freedoms without referring to those 
individuals who continue to languish in prison on seriously contested 
allegations. Their guilt or innocence is not for us to decide but it is a 
hallowed principle of our law that one is innocent until proven guilty. 
These detainees are being punished before they have been convicted. If 
indeed there is sufficient evidence supporting the allegations against them 
their respective trials must be given precedence in the national interest. 
Let a court decide their fate. 

The fact that some of these individuals have been incarcerated for months 
without trial smacks of political persecution. This will not be tolerated 
under our new Government. Justice must be done and must be seen to be done 
now. 

This issue of justice is not just related to people's freedoms alone but 
goes to the very root of the economic recovery programme that this 
government intends to implement. As proud as we are as nation, the fact of 
the matter is that we need regional and international financial aid to pull 
our country back from the economic abyss on which we are poised. 

No donor country or institution is going to offer any meaningful assistance 
unless our new government projects a positive new image. Brutal suppression, 
wanton arrests and political persecution impede our ability to rebuild our 
economy, to generate wealth for all, to rebuild our hospitals and schools 
and to put a currency of value into our savings accounts. 

Thus, those who continue to perpetuate the culture of impunity are 
sabotaging the chances of all Zimbabweans to move towards prosperity and 
freedom from hunger and poverty. 

Not only are they sabotaging these prospects, but they are also going 
against the letter and the spirit of the GPA. President Mugabe, Deputy Prime 
Minister Mutambara and I, have pledged to work together to implement a full 
and comprehensive economic programme to resuscitate Zimbabwe's economy by 
addressing urgently the issues of production, food security, poverty and 
unemployment and the challenges of high inflation, interest rates and the 
exchange rate. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, our economic recovery is also dependent on attracting back 
to Zimbabwe the millions of our talented and skilled brothers and sisters 
who fled the turmoil to seek sanctuary and better economic prospects abroad. 
In getting them to return and join us in rebuilding our nation, adherence to 
the rule of law and the implementation of sound economic policies are 
essential. 

As part of this process, the Government will establish a National Economic 
Council comprising representatives of all economic sectors and civic society 
in Zimbabwe. With the economy, like the other sectors covered by the GPA, no 
top-down directives can help solve our problems. Only through engaging with 
all stakeholders, by taking advice, learning about the issues and 
understanding the complexities of the challenges we face can we hope to 
formulate policies that will truly address our economic woes. 

In this we have already made a positive start. The open use of multiple 
currencies has removed a major distortion from our economy and allowed the 
market to dictate a more realistic price for goods and services. In 
addition, the achievement by the Ministry of Finance to pay a first round of 
allowances to the civil service has eased the harsh conditions under which 
these vital employees were living and simultaneously provided a much need 
stimulus to our economy. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, a government that cares about business has no business 
being in business. Rather, its role is to ensure that an enabling 
environment exists, albeit regulated, that allows the market to dictate 
prices for all goods and services without underplaying the developmental 
role of the state. In turn, business must acknowledge its own 
responsibilities to pay taxes, provide acceptable employment conditions and 
to invest in the growth of our nation. 

For our nation to grow, we must ensure that we utilise its natural resources 
as sustainably and productively as possible. 

Today, our mines are operating at a fraction of their potential, employing a 
fraction of the workforce they should and producing a fraction of the 
revenue they could. During the life of this parliament, we will put in place 
firm policy directions to revitalise our mining sector so that it can 
contribute to our economic growth and social recovery. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, in the life of this parliament we can make a significant, 
positive impact on people's lives if we stay true to the principles to which 
we have committed ourselves because our people are hard working and educated 
and our country is well endowed with minerals and fertile soils. 

However, the economy of Zimbabwe cannot grow and flourish if we are unable 
to provide basic services to our citizens. A productive nation is a healthy 
nation and this government will, as a priority, ensure that our health 
system receives the resources it needs in order to provide the level of 
preventative and curative care that all Zimbabweans deserve. 

I fear that all of us here today, have lost friends and relatives needlessly 
due to the appalling standards to which our health system has been allowed 
to decline. I was shocked by my visit to Harare Central Hospital last week 
and the conditions that prevail there and throughout the country. 

I was embarrassed by the fact that as a nation we could let such 
institutions decline while spending large amounts of money on non-productive 
incentives for less valuable sectors of the economy. At the same time, I was 
enormously proud of the spirit, resilience and dedication of the health 
staff that have struggled to provide the best care possible despite the 
absence of equipment, medicines, even light bulbs and functioning ablutions. 

Our children have been similarly neglected in that we have scared away our 
teachers through persecution and wages that fell far below the poverty datum 
line, while simultaneously neglecting to maintain our educational 
facilities, provide text books or even mark the exams of those children 
still able to go to school. 

Education is a priority of this government and I commend the work already 
undertaken by the relevant ministries in these sectors to get an 
understanding of what is required and set about finding resources and 
implementing policies that are both practical and viable. 

Indeed, like our economic recovery programmes, we cannot hope to restore 
basic services without working hand in hand with consumer groups, resident's 
associations and civil society as a whole. Forming strong partnerships with 
these key stakeholders is essential if we are to rebuild our nation through 
the development of sustainable policies for implementation. 

I also welcome the moves by those ministries involved in overseeing the 
operations of our utility companies to rationalise pricing structures and 
implement a short-term moratorium on disconnections to protect the consumer 
while realistic pricing structures, in line with regional norms, are 
established and implemented. I believe that Zimbabweans will accept these 
new rates if they are accompanied by an improvement in the quality and 
reliability of the services for which they pay. This government will strive 
to find a balance between affordability and viability. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, in the same way that this government intends to restore 
basic services, so we shall restore our country's ability to meet our basic 
food requirements. Like the mining sector, our agriculture sector has been 
the victim of negative policy interventions and distortion. 

In addition, the collapse of our agricultural production is clear evidence 
of what can happen to a vital sector of our economy when the rule of law is 
substituted for the rule of lawlessness. 

A viable land acquisition and distribution process is essential to redress 
the racist land ownership patterns established during the colonial era. 

As flawed as the recent process of land redistribution has been, this 
government does not intend to reverse it, but rather to institute measures 
that will once again see our agricultural sector becoming the jewel of 
Southern Africa. To achieve this we need to address the issue of land 
utilisation above all else. 

We must halt the wanton disruptions of productive farming activities that 
are continuing as I speak. Already our food production for the coming season 
is going to be less than that of last year's abysmal season. Those that 
believe that they can move onto a viable farm and steal the crops that are 
about to be harvested are wrong. In our culture, as in our law, you cannot 
reap what you have not sown. In addition, those that are undertaking these 
activities are threatening seasonal crop production to the value of over 
US$150 million - money that our economy desperately needs. 

In the GPA we have committed ourselves and our parties to recognising that 
all land is used productively in the interests of all the people of 
Zimbabwe. A farm is a business that should provide food for our nation, 
revenue to our economy and employment for our people. 

In line with this, your new Government has committed to, amongst other 
things: 

a.. conduct a comprehensive, transparent and non-partisan land audit, 
during the tenure of this Seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe, for the purpose of 
establishing accountability and eliminating multiple farm ownerships. 
b.. ensure that all Zimbabweans who are eligible to be allocated land and 
who apply for it shall be considered for allocation of land irrespective of 
race, gender, religion, ethnicity or political affiliation; 
c.. ensure security of tenure to all land holders. 
d.. work together to secure international support and finance for the land 
reform programme in terms of compensation for the former land owners and 
support for new farmers. 
This process will go a long way to healing our agricultural sector which in 
turn will be restored to its vital role in the economy and future of our 
great nation. 

However, we cannot hope to progress without looking at healing our nation as 
whole. For too long, Zimbabwe has been infected by the diseases of mindless 
political violence, intolerance and persecution. Millions of Zimbabweans in 
every community have been affected, which is a fact that is once again 
recognised and addressed by the GPA. 

We all have a role to play in healing our nation. However, we cannot hope to 
undertake such a vital task if we do not first acknowledge the causes and 
impacts of this disease in an open, honest and transparent manner. 

National healing is not an event, it is a process that must be supported by 
all Zimbabweans and every community represented in our nation. The treatment 
that has been prescribed by the GPA rests on the foundations of equality, 
regional growth and development and an environment of tolerance and respect 
among Zimbabweans such that all citizens are treated with dignity and 
decency irrespective of age, gender, race, ethnicity, place of origin or 
political affiliation. 

Due to the importance of this process and to ensure that it is encouraged 
and supported, the three main political parties in Zimbabwe have each 
appointed a Minister of State whose sole responsibility is to oversee the 
mechanisms and procedures through which we can begin to heal our ravaged 
nation. 

This process is not about retribution, instead it is about regeneration, 
restoration and rehabilitation and it must have both the grassroots and 
leadership buy-in and support. 

Only through beginning the process of healing our nation can we move towards 
regaining our rightful place in the family of nations. 

While in recent years, it is a fact that the relationship between Zimbabwe 
and the international donor community has deteriorated, it must also be 
recognised that this community has not abandoned the population of Zimbabwe, 
remaining significantly involved in responding to the ongoing humanitarian 
crisis. 

We also have to recognise that Trade relations, particularly with the EU 
have not been the subject of any restriction. We have signed an interim 
Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU at the end of 2007, and we are 
party to the ongoing negotiations leading towards a full Trade Agreement. 

What we need is to fully re-establish relationships with the international 
donor community, which will be respectful of our sovereignty, not a 
relationship essentially based on humanitarian assistance. 

We are grateful for the support that this new government has received 
already from the international community but we recognize that the onus is 
upon us, as citizens of this nation, to lay the foundation for greater 
international support, cooperation and integration. 

By working together to promote freedoms at home and ensuring that we abide 
by the international treaties and conventions that we have ratified as a 
country, this would lead to our acceptance by the international community as 
a country and as individuals in the family of nations. 

I therefore urge the international community to recognize our efforts, and 
to note the progress that we make in this regard, and to match our progress 
by moving towards the removal of restrictive measures. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, addressing the humanitarian crisis remains a focus of this 
government. I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Deputy Prime 
Minister Khupe as the Humanitarian Coordinator in the Prime Minister's 
office. She will liaise with all stake holders in order to compliment the 
ongoing coordination efforts and ensure greater efficiency and effectiveness 
of our humanitarian response. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, we have much work to do but I know that we are up to the 
challenge of honouring the letter and spirit of the GPA and ensuring that we 
as individuals and as a Government abide by the rule of law and the 
Constitution of Zimbabwe. 

In this we also have a duty to ensure that all State institutions discharge 
their duties impartially, that laws and regulations governing state organs 
and institutions are strictly adhered to and those violating them be 
penalised without fear or favour and that recruitment policies and practices 
be conducted in a manner that ensures that no political or other form of 
favouritism is practised. 

In this, and in ensuring that all persons are adequately protected within 
the laws of the country, we have an opportunity to implement Security Reform 
Legislation to enshrine our police as protectors of the rights of the people 
and our armed forces as the protectors of our nation. 

The first step of this process has already been taken with the passing of 
the National Security Council Bill which is now law. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, we also have an opportunity to distinguish ourselves as 
leaders, not just through the policies we develop and legislation we pass, 
but also through the ways in which we conduct ourselves as the elected 
representatives of the people. 

As a start, I request Mr. Speaker Sir, that you ensure that the mechanism 
for the declaration of assets by Honourable Members is enforced. 

Going forward, we need to buttress this by additional measures at executive 
level to strengthen the fight against corruption through increased 
accountability and transparency by all members of our Government. 

In addition to requiring Members to declare their income, liabilities and 
assets and it would serve as a valuable framework to guide us in the 
execution of our duties. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, our new government will be open and transparent. We must 
ensure that there is clear distinction between the role of the various 
political parties and the role of the government. Similarly, we must 
acknowledge and enforce the defined separation of powers between this 
Parliament and the Executive. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, our government cannot fulfill its mandate without respect 
and a spirit of cooperation between Ministers and Parliament, both of which 
must work together to ensure the needs of the people are addressed. 
Therefore I urge all Ministers, in the spirit of openness and transparency, 
to actively participate in Parliamentary Question Time and to work with the 
Parliamentary Portfolio Committees once they have been constituted. 

Also, in this spirit of openness, today we are launching the Prime Minister's 
website that will not only serve to keep the people informed about the 
activities of our government, but will also provide an interactive forum for 
the people to participate and contribute to the affairs of government. The 
address of this website is 
www.zimbabweprimeminister.org . 

Mr. Speaker Sir, we must now work together to formulate our legislative 
agenda. Those ministries which govern legislation that may be affected by 
the GPA and Constitutional Amendment No. 19 should work on reviewing these 
laws for presentation to cabinet. The first step in this process will be the 
ministerial retreat to be held next week where such reviews can be discussed 
in a spirit of cooperation and inclusiveness. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, our nation and our peoples have paid the price for the 
political differences that have divided us for too long. Now that we have 
formed this Transitional Inclusive Government, we all have the opportunity 
to put the needs of the people above our own, to put the development of our 
nation above party differences and to look the future rather than live in 
the past. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, Honourable Members, together we can work for the betterment 
of Zimbabwe, the growth of our nation and the honour of our people. 

God Bless our beloved Zimbabwe and its people. God bless Africa. 

I thank you.

 

 

 

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE: I move that Order of the Day, No. 1 be stood over. We are working on certain amendments that we are to bring to Cabinet first before we can debate.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

ADJOURNMENT OF THE HOUSE

THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE: After the maiden speech by the Hon. Prime Minister, it is prudent and proper that hon. members should take time to ruminate over the speech. I believe that the statement was very comprehensive and for that reason, I think I carry the views of hon. members to move that the House do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

The House adjourned at Nine Minutes to Three o'clock p.m. until Tuesday, 10th March, 2009.

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National Assembly Hansard Vol. 35 NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD - 4 MARCH 2009 VOL. 35 NO. 20