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SENATE HANSARD 03 FEBRUARY 2016 VOL 25 NO 31

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 3rd March, 2016

The Senate met at Half-past Two o’ clock p.m.

PRAYERS

THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

VACANCY IN THE SENATE

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE (HON. SEN. TAWENGWA: I wish to inform the Senate that on 3rd March 2016, I was notified by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) party, that Mr. Matson Hlalo has ceased to be a member of the MDC-T Party.

          Accordingly, Section 129 (9) (k) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe applies. It provides that a seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the member has ceased to belong to the political party of which he/she was a member when elected to Parliament and the political party concerned, by written notice to the Speaker or the President of the Senate as the case may be has declared that the member has ceased to belong to it. The necessary administrative measures would be taken to inform His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of the existence of the vacancy in line with Section 39 (1) of the Electoral Act, Chapter 213 as amended.

SPORT COMPETITIONS FOR PARLIAMENT

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE PRESIDENT: I also wish to inform the Senate that the Parliament Warriors Sport Club is organising sport competitions between Members of Parliament and Parliament members of staff to be held on Friday 11th March, 2016 from 1300 to 1700 hours. The competitions will include among others, football, netball, tennis and tug of war.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

          HON. SENATOR CHIMHINI: Thank you Mr. President. With your indulgence Mr. President, I wanted to direct my question to the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development (Hon. Made) but in his absence, I will direct it to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture Hon. Zhanda. Minister, we appreciate the announcement that 50kg maize bag would now be sold at US$15.00. What measures do you have in place to guard against people who would buy and hoard for resale? Secondly what measures have you put in place to ensure that everybody who needs that maize would access it at the reduced price? Thank you.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, (LIVESTOCK) (HON. ZHANDA): Thank you Mr. President. I would like to thank Senator Chimhini for the question. It is true that the Government saw it fit to reduce the selling price of maize at Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depots. What Government has done is that, it has put restrictions on quantities. It is not going to be sold for commercial purposes or somebody who wants to meal it for sale. It is only restricted to individuals to buy a minimum number of bags.

          With due respect Mr. President, I am not sure of the specific number of bags. But surely coming to that conclusion, Government took into consideration that it could be an avenue of abuse and as a result a restriction has been put as to how many bags a family can buy. I thank you.

          *HON. SENATOR MUMVURI: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce. Minister, in my Constituency there is a challenge. There was just one industry that used to produce vim, jik and toothpaste, known as GNW. It has folded up in Rushinga, so there is no more industry. What is your comment as a Ministry because we want to improve on the lives of the people? Thank you.

          *THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE (HON. MABUWA): Thank you Mr. President. I would like to thank the Senator for that question. My request is that he puts it in writing since it is addressing just one company. The issues of production of vim and jik, we are hoping to have more companies that produce these products. So, I need more details so as to go and investigate what caused the folding up of this company. Thank you.

          +HON. SENATOR KHUMALO: Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity to ask my question. My question is directed to the Minister of Agriculture. We have heard that maize is being sold at a reduced price, but people need relish for them to have sadza. What are people going to use as relish because some organisations, when they assist, would give us maize and beans. So, we are asking for the Government to provide us with relish.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE (LIVESTOCK) (HON. ZHANDA): Thank you Mr. President. I would like to thank the Senator for that question. When she stood up, I knew the question was going to be directed to me. There is always a saying in our culture that if you give somebody bread and if that person visits your home and finds you having eggs, that person would feel that he should have been given eggs as well. It is a culture of wanting to cultivate in our people the dependence syndrome, where even those who can afford will still want to be fed by Government, irrespective that they can afford to feed themselves because they consider it to be free from Government. I think the duty does not rest with Government alone; it rests with all of us particularly us legislators. If we cultivate that kind of thing within our people, it will not rest with the Government. It will also come to you to say whenever you are going to be elected, they would want you to give them something.

          As Government, particularly my interest is in Matabeleland, I was almost resident there. When I go and meet the people there and they say we are hungry and our livestock is dying. I randomly try to pick some people within the crowd and say how many cattle do you have? He has got 30 or 40, surely does that person qualify to be a vulnerable; does that person qualify to be fed by Government? Then I will say, why can you not just sell five out of the 20 and one of it you will buy 20 bags of maize for your family. The four you buy feed, in order for the 15 to survive.

          I would like to appeal through you Mr. President that Senators in here, that is the message we should carry to our own people and Senators, one would have appreciated that the predicament that the country faces, especially the issue of liquidity, the economic situation, Government is quite strained in terms of its ability to provide everything that a person requires. Therefore, Government has, with the limited resources that it has, made sure that it imported enough maize so that people eat sadza with other relish available including goats, amachimbi and mombes there in that area or even eat porridge as long as people can survive. That is the basic food required by people especially when you are faced with a drought.

I would want to appeal to you Senator, also together with us, to tell our people, before Government can look after them to also try to look after themselves. I thank you.

+HON. SENATOR KHUMALO: I am not talking about people. I am talking about food that is to be distributed to people in the country, whether they are in Mashonaland or Matabeleland, that everyone should be given balanced food. This is a new idea that people are just being given maize only. This is a new idea because I have worked for the Government before, people were being given maize, beans and oil. I am not talking about Matebeleland only but Zimbabwe as a whole.

HON. ZHANDA: I gave an example of Matebeleland because that is the most drought hit part of this country. In other parts like Mashonaland except part of Midlands, Masvingo and Manicaland, at least there has been a reasonable amount of rainfall. There is a bit of vegetables and other residues. The dam and water levels in water reservoirs still good. That is why I gave an example of Matebeleland, that is where there is a big need for both water and food. I did not particularly say Matebeleland as saying people there are exceptional. It was simply because of that reason, that I gave as an example. I thank you.

+HON. SENATOR MACHINGAIFA: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Public Service Labour and Social Services, Hon. Matangaidze. Minister, we want to thank you for all the systems that you have rendered to various areas. My question is, when you give rice and maize to MPs in constituencies, does your Ministry do a follow up to ensure that this food is distributed or being hoarded by the GMB or the one in charge gives at his/her own will? I thank you.

     THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE LABOUR AND SOCIAL SERVICES (HON. ENG. MATANGAIDZE): Thank you Mr. President. I want to thank the Senator for such a pertinent question. Yes, I can assure you that our Ministry does follow ups. The social welfare officers should move together with the Members of Parliament because when we give the Members of Parliament, we do not give them as their own food, but we have used them as persons who would lead in the distribution. The Committees that we set up, drought relief committees, will work together with the Members of Parliament to ensure that the community gets the grain that they should get.

          HON. SENATOR MOHADI: Thank you Mr. President. My question goes to the Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce. Minister, can you clarify what ‘CBCA’ mean. We are receiving a lot of questions from the constituencies, some of us who come from the borders asking us to assist them but we do not know how best we can do it. Thank you.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE (HON. MABUWA): Thank you Mr. President Sir. I do not know what happened; as I was standing up, the CBCA’s full name escaped. It will come to my mind but let me explain what it is. It is a consignment based assessment of every consignment which will be coming into the country. What we have done is, as the august House will appreciate, when the 8th Parliament was opened, two of its Bills that were tabled by His Excellency fall under the domain of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. One is to do with standards. That Bill is already coming into Parliament for discussion after we have come out with the draft. To that effect, what we have temporarily done is to engage a French based company Bureau Veritas to conduct pre-inspections to the consignments that are destined to come into Zimbabwe here for the consumption of the Zimbabwean market. Mainly, as we know that it is only raw materials that are coming in; we want to make sure that we do not become a dumping ground of goods that are unsuitable or do not meet with international standards. We have put in place this consignment based assessment; it is the other C that has, for conformity that had skipped. The CBCA was supposed to come into effect last year but as we were going around consulting with stakeholders including business people, the private sector mainly because they are the ones who are importing raw materials, we realised that there were issues that needed to be taken into account before we roll out the programme. The programme has come into effect with effect from the 1st March. It also needed us to train ZIMRA officials who are going to be authenticating the certificates that would have been issued by the countries of origin of the consignments. About 400 ZIMRA officials have now been trained and they are dotted around our entry points mainly in Beitbridge, to make sure that there is conformity of this consignment based assessment.

Let me take this opportunity to inform the Senators who are; according to what Senator Mohadi who has just stated, that they become the port of first call to explain. There is also need to explain to the people who would want to import consignments into Zimbabwe that it is now obligatory, we issued a Statutory Instrument SI 132 of 2015 dated 18 December, 2015. I will make sure that the Statutory Instrument is copied and circulated to all Members of Parliament in both Houses.    

The Statutory Instrument we issued in January this year to say it is now law for every consignment that will be coming into Zimbabwe industries for consumption by the Zimbabwean population to be inspected with effect from 1st March, 2016.

We have to observe that it is the expense of the both the consignee and consigner to transport the consignment, that will not have qualified to be destined for Zimbabwe, back to the country of origin at their own cost. We will make sure that they return that because this is in order to avoid the occurrences of cheap goods landing in Zimbabwe for Zimbabwean consumption. I thank you.

HON. SEN MOHADI: My supplementary question is, are there specific goods that are entitled to be assessed or it is everything that comes into the country?

HON. MABUWA: Yes, there are specified products. There is a list of the specified products on the gazetted Statutory Instrument. I am afraid, I seem not to have that with me here but we can make copies available to all the Members of Parliament in both Houses so that they are aware. I promise that we are going to distribute this Statutory Instrument.

*HON. SEN. CHIPANGA: My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. In the past few days there was an issue of trying to identify ghost workers within the civil service especially on the payroll. We were also made to understand that teachers were denied their annual leave this year.

May you inform the Senate as to whether or not you managed to identify any ghost workers?

*THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. ENG.MATANGAIDZE): Thank you Mr. President, I thank Hon. Sen. Chipanga for that important question. As I previously mentioned, in this august Senate when I gave figures of the outcome of the report, the names of the civil servants were over 167 000. Of that figure, we realised that when we did a headcount of those at work in order to establish ghost employees, we discovered that only 3 000 were not at work but and that most of them were from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

When we said we would not give salaries to the 3 000, others came up and gave explanations of their absence. When we realised that there was some truth to it, they were re-instated but where there was no clear evidence, they were not. Those whom we term, ‘ghost workers’ were below 3000 compared to the number of positions within the civil service although we have 160 000, the vacancies were 188 000. We cannot say a big challenge was found on the issue of ghost workers.

Then on the issue that you mentioned of teachers who were recalled from annual leave, we realised that there were too many temporary teachers in the system. What caused this great number of temporary teachers was because teachers get at least three months annual leave. This is so because each holiday in April, August and December they are on leave.

Every seven years a teacher is awarded three months that is a full term of annual leave. If you look at the history of how it began, it first began with the expatriate teachers who were coming from Britain and Europe who were given an opportunity to visit their families. We realised that the teachers get more days when we compare with other civil servants who only get a month per year.

Now if a teacher gets three months per year and they go on leave, in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare there is no replacement but you need a replacement within the education sector. So, that does not give us the staff compliment for the Government. We then decided that all teachers on annual leave should be recalled to see if there are any vacancies and address them.

Yes, there are Conditions of Service for teachers and we also want to interrogate how justifiable and quantifiable the issue of going on leave after seven years is. I thank you.

HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA: Could the Deputy Minister be kind enough to clarify the situation that is currently affecting returning teachers who are mainly coming from South Africa and are on continued leave or whose contracts have not been renewed from the beginning of the year?

HON. ENG.MATANGAIDZE: It is part of the exercise that I spoke about earlier on where we said it is important for us to ascertain where the gaps are within the teaching fraternity.

Right now, we need to ascertain whether every teaching post is filled. We appreciate the fact that there are qualified teachers out there who have not been placed and do not have job opportunities at the moment, as well as we have temporary teachers. I am happy to say by end of this term, we will have established those gaps and if there is need to employ trained teachers to fill those positions, we will be doing that.

I can tell you that as policy, we are trying to move away from the employment of temporary/unqualified teachers. So, as and when vacancies arise, we will be looking at the qualified teachers who are currently out of employment. I thank you.

HON. SEN. CHIMHINI: My supplementary question is on the communication between the Ministry and the teachers. Teachers were recalled, no explanation was given and even as you presented here it is not even clear whether or not these teachers will go back on annual leave in terms of clear communication. How do you implement the policy without communicating with those affected by either the policy or regulations that you are putting in place?

HON. ENG.MATANGAIDZE: Thank you for the supplementary question, the communication was made through the Apex Council which is the negotiating body for civil servants. Yes, I take your point that that was not disseminated as quickly as it should have been in January but we take note of that.

*HON. SEN. MAWIRE: Thank you Mr. President, my question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. We know that as Government, we are experiencing financial constraints but we are witnessing that more people are employed in various provinces. There is another branch of Government known as inspectors yet in Government departments we have Heads of Departments, is this not duplication of duties?

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. ENG.MATANGAIDZE): I want to thank the Hon. Senator for the question but this question is looking at the organisational structure of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. It is the one that has the structures and the duties of the various heads. If they are employing, it means that it was accepted by the Public Service Commission that there are vacancies. We are not employing people where there are no vacancies on the approved structures. I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. MAWIRE: I agree with what you have said but there are offices at provincial level that are employing new heads of department known as inspectors who are also lashing with the other heads of department who are already there. There seems to be conflict.

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: Hon. Senator, I think the Minister has highlighted that this is not within his jurisdiction but falls under another Minister. The Hon. Member is referring to Public Service inspectors and yet we have heads of Ministries that are there in provinces. Minister have you clarified?

          *ENG. MATANGAIDZE: Thank you Mr. President. It has now been clarified. These are approved positions that have always been there so there is no additional employment. If there is a concern that the duties are overlapping it is an important point that we can take and look at together with Public Service and advise them that the Senate seems to have identified a challenge between the duties of the inspector and the head. So we will look into it if there is duplication we will address that. I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA: Thank you for accepting that point.

          *HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: Thank you very much Mr. President. My question is going to the Hon. Minister for Welfare for War Veterans. I would like to know the policies you have introduced so far that help our War Veterans. Our War Veterans are complaining that their children are not going to school. As the liberators of the country, I was happy to see you here and I would want to understand what you done in order to improve the lives of the War Veterans? I thank you.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF WELFARE SERVICES FOR WAR VETERANS, WAR COLLLABORATORS, FORMER POLITICAL PRISONERS, DETAINEES AND RESTRICTEES (HON. J. DUBE): Mr. President, thank you for the question by the Hon. Member. We have been going through a very difficult time with the finances. We have not yet received any allocation from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. Yesterday, the Hon. Minister of Welfare for the War Veterans met His Excellency and they discussed this in depth. We have been promised that next week His Excellency will meet the War Veterans and explain all the problems that we have and how they will be solved. I thank you.

          HON. SEN. CHIEF NTABENI: Thank you Mr. President for allowing me to ask my question which is directed to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture Hon. Zhanda. Thank you for cutting the price of maize. Thank you for bringing maize to the districts …

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: What is your question?

HON. SEN. CHIEF NTABENI: I am coming to the question. –[Laughter]- we really appreciate what you have done. A friend in need is a friend indeed. I am saying allow the Chiefs to buy more than ten bags because chiefs have got widows, the elderly and things like that. Thank you.

THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: That is a plea from the Chiefs you want to consider that? –[Laughter]-

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE LIVESTOCK (HON. ZHANDA): Thank you Mr. President. The question from the Chief who happens to be my friend indeed and once you are a friend to the chief you might also be a chief next time –[Laughter]- I do not think there could be a problem really. I think it is a question of procedure. What came to my mind is as chiefs you can have IDs of the elderly and vulnerable people. I am sure I think ten bags is not a big amount that the General Manager or the Manager at that depot cannot exercise his authority. If there is a problem chief as you have already indicated in this House, you can phone me and we can deal with the situation. I thank you.

HON. SEN. MUMVURI: I am making a follow up on the issue of reducing the price of maize. Minister, can you assure us that the cost of maize will not cost more than producing it here? If we are to consider from here and transporting it to Rushinga will not exceed the cost of producing it from here. I thank you.

HON. ZHANDA: Thank you. That will give me an opportunity to explain the pricing formula of maize Worldwide. I think Zimbabwe price of U$390.00 is the most expensive. I think I once indicated that and that is the best price a farmer can get all over the world. I am surprised why farmers in Zimbabwe, cannot produce maize because if you cannot make money out of U$390 a tonne of maize then you will never make money again. However, the particular maize that you are talking about is the maize that we currently hold here which was produced by Zimbabwean farmers of slightly more than 100 thousand tones that we have. That is where the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Services is getting that maize from. The one that is being imported is being imported in warehouses and in different places. However, because of the prices which are lower elsewhere you might be even surprised that the price that we are getting the maize from those counties will be cheaper than that we pay our farmers. Again, I can assure you that the price will not be more than that we pay our farmers. I thank you.

          HON. CHIPANGA: Thank you Mr. President. Hon. Minister the rainy season has come. Can you assure me that if I engage in farming you have the money to pay for my produce at the GMB? I think that is where the issue is. It is not an issue of farming but the problem is that you do not pay. Do you have the money? I thank you.

          HON. ZHANDA: Thank you for the question. What I can assure Sen. Chipanga is that I cannot assure him to go and plant now because you cannot reap anything. –[Laughter]- I once explained that maize is no longer a controlled commodity. It is one of those commodities which were de-controlled and any farmer can sell to anybody and other people can also buy maize legally. The option of a farmer selling the maize to GMB is really at his discretion because elsewhere, they could have been attracted by a price which is better than other buyers. Obviously, there might be a delay here and there but at the end of the day, they will be paid. I can assure the House that every farmer who delivered maize to GMB has fully been paid, even those who delivered wheat. There might be a slight delay but at the end of the day, the farmers will be paid.

I want to emphasize that farmers opt to deliver their produce to GMB because of the attraction of the price. Hence, if you are in the queue because the price is good, we can give you an allowance to wait in the queue. Otherwise, maize can be sold to anybody who wants to buy maize. I thank you.

SEN. CHIEF SIANSALI: My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture. I wanted to get your comment Hon. Minister on the actions of ZINWA, whereby it is going around the country disconnecting water to irrigation schemes that still have little water in their dams. This is causing crops to wilt and the farmers are now waiting for free handouts from Government.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE (LIVESTOCK) (HON. ZHANDA): Let me thank the Hon. Senator for the question. However, I am not in a position to answer on behalf of ZINWA since it falls under a different Ministry. As Government policy, under the Drought Mitigation Scheme, the Government is looking at settling those debts in order to make sure that all the water bodies which have water are utilised for the benefit of food production for the country. I thank you.

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement. At district level, who is supposed to sit in the Land Committee? Also, what is the priority for giving farms to the people of Zimbabwe? Some of us have applied and you find that people who are junior to us in Parliament have got farms because they are from a different political party.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LANDS AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. CHIKWAMA): Thank you Hon. Mlotshwa for a very important question. At district level, the District Development Committee allocates land to the people of that district. At provincial level, the Provincial Lands Committee processes issues from various districts and send them to the head office. Therefore, the District Lands Committee allocates land and selects the people according to their criteria. After people submit applications, the list is there for the people who should be given land. I thank you.

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA: Who sits in the District Lands Committee?

HON. CHIKWAMA: The District Lands Committee is comprised of the following people: The District Administrator is the Chairperson, JOC and all Heads of Departments within that district.

+HON. SEN. MASUKU: Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity. My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture. Minister, thank you for reducing the price of maize. The maize is being taken to districts and there are people who live very far from the district. You are familiar with Matabeleland. If maize is taken to Beitbridge and people who require the maize are in Chikwalakwala, are you going to re-open the selling points that used to be there sometime back so that maize can be delivered nearer to where the people are.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE (LIVESTOCK) (HON. ZHANDA): I am familiar with districts in Matabeleland and the chiefs there promised me so many wives and I am yet to collect them. This would help me speak Ndebele; I can hear when somebody is speaking but I will soon catch up. GMB has since started opening new selling points. Obviously, the selling points will be restricted taking into consideration costs associated with those selling points. The Government desires to make it less problematic for those who want to access the maize as much as possible, taking into consideration the cost of maintaining the selling points. If the cost is not monitored, it might lead to an increase in the selling price of maize.

You are aware that the price of maize is $390 plus a markup, which is about $440. This is about $22 a bag. The reduction of the price to $15 means it is a subsidy. When we talk about a subsidy, Government has to find money somewhere to fill that gap. There is nothing that is going to be free. Therefore, this exercise of watching the costs associated with that exercise is critically important. I am happy to say that has been taken into consideration. GMB has opened many other selling points so that maize can be near the people as much as possible.

Also, there is nothing that comes cheap. These positions we hold, entrusted by the people who vote for us have got a cost to it. One would also think that as Hon. Members, surely we should also chip in to assist the Government in making sure that the maize as nearer to the people as possible. I thank you.

HON. SEN. MAKWARIMBA: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Services. We are aware of the normal allocations of grain to all the provinces but I would like to find out if we have any mechanisms to mitigate emergency cases like what is happening in Zimuto, Masvingo where people are actually getting sadza from the secondary school. Do you have any mitigatory plans to make those people survive?

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL SERVICES (HON. ENG. MATANGAIDZE): Thank you Mr. President, I want to thank Hon. Sen. Makwarimba for that important question. Yes, we have a new plan of reaching out to the distressed calls that we are receiving. Let me probably start by saying that our initial plan to assist the vulnerable was based on results we got from the ZIMVAC from last year where we identified 287 000 households that were in need of food aid.

          Mr. President what we did beginning of this year, in January and two weeks into February was to carry out a rapid assessment of the extent of the food and security situation in the country. From those results, it came out that the numbers had since doubled. We are now looking at about 600 000 households translating into a figure of about three million people who are in need of food aid. You will now find that from last year, when the programme started in October, we issued out 6 000 tonnes of grain per each of the eight rural provinces in the country. We have since increased now to three tonnes per months to each of those rural provinces. So, the additional vulnerable families have been identified and the Ministry has already put in place mechanisms to address that.

          HON. SEN. MAKORE: That you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture (Livestock). I just want to find out perhaps under this current drought situation; you emphasise that you need genetically modified organism (GMO) free maize to come in this country. My question is to find out the dangers we get from GMOs, are those in other countries consumable or are they meant for animals?

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE (LIVESTOCK) (HON. ZHANDA): Thank you Mr. President. I want to thank Senator Makore for the question because it gives the opportunity to clarify the issue of GMO which is a very contentious issue. The Government is allowing GMO to come into the country under certain conditions. The concern of the Government is not about the consumption of GMO based maize, that is why Government does allow; particularly in areas bordering South Africa or Botswana - that individuals can import mealie meal, not maize because it is not concerned about the consumption of the mealie meal. Government is concerned about the effect of the maize if it does get to the maize and they want to plant that maize. Therefore, in allowing the maize to come in, it will come under escort and it must go direct for milling, not for storage purposes. That is the concern and that is the true position.

          *HON. SEN. MALULEKE: My question is directed to the Deputy Minister, Hon. Zhanda. We got the seed that you sent us. Our request is that in the low veld can you send us seed that is conducive for that environment.  

         *THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE (LIVESTOCK) (HON. ZHANDA): I want to thank the Senator for the request. There is not much that I can say but that I have heard her concern; probably some of that information has not yet been received in our department that deals with that. Mr. President, in this country there is no area without birds. What might differ is the quantity of the birds in the area but I think your request may be that the seed that you got did not give you the required yield but what normally causes birds to consume the produce is because there is no food and most people have not engaged in farming. I am sure that this issue can be addressed. For those ploughing wheat, they also face the problem of a fleet of birds. There are certain types of birds that want certain crops, if you go to National Parks they normally trace to see where they sleep and they spray to ensure that they do away with those birds in order that they may not cause harm.

          *HON. SEN. MALULEKE: Thank you Mr. President there is a type of grain that is not consumed by the birds and it is red in colour. We do have sorghum seed that is not consumed by birds and now we were given sweet sorghum seed that actually attracts birds, so, my request is that you advise that department. I thank you.

          *THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Sen. you can converse with the Hon. Minister at the end of the sitting session.

          HON. SEN. MUSAKA: My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture. Is it prudent to base Zimbabwe’s food security on market forces? The idea of accepting maize you can import GMO in this country because it is cheaper, market forces again, therefore the local farmer will not grow anything. Why can you not look at this issue in the broader sense in terms of food security? Thank you.

          DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE (LIVESTOCK) (HON. ZHANDA): Thank you Mr. President and I want to thank the Senator for the question. Government is concerned about food security. As you are aware even from our economic blueprint the ZIM ASSET, number one cluster in that is the issue of food and nutrition including food security and even the issue of subsidies. The Presidential Input Scheme is meant precisely to encourage farmers to produce as much as they can. Even the price as I mention, the price of 390 per tonne, with all due respect is a subsidy meant again to encourage farmers again to produce as much as they can. That price does not prevail in Zambia, I think Malawi as well. Zambia’s price of maize is far much lower than US$390, whilst even the fertilizer in Zambia is more expensive than the fertilizer in Zimbabwe. The only thing there is the subsidised fertilizer and the mechanism of doing that.

          The Government is not importing GMO maize because it is cheaper, no. The Government is importing GMO maize, particularly this year because the region is short of maize. The region is where non GMO is grown. I might as well say that the Government is also looking at yellow maize, non GMO yellow maize from Ukraine. So, everything is being taken into consideration about that. Also I want to dispel the notion that probably there is a thinking that GMO seed produces more yield than the conventional seed, no, it is not like that. There are some conventional seeds in this country, farmers who are producing who are producing 12 to 15 tonnes. I think the problem is we need to go back and start training our farmers on how to produce more, anything that you do in farming, whether you are producing eggs , you have got 100

layers, you need to make sure that ninety of them lay eggs every day. If you are going to produce your mombes, you must make sure that, that mombe, after slaughter can weigh 200 kgs cdm and if you are producing maize, the same. If you are producing maize and you are producing three to five tonnes, you are not going to be viable when others are producing twelve tonnes or fifteen. Also, even if you have got irrigation, it does not guarantee you that you are going to produce the right yields. There are other technical issues which include soil fertility testing, type of seed, the amount of fertilizer and the type of fertilizer, the application, the timing – unonzi mwaka uye – all these go into the issue of productivity.

          So, again the issue of productivity is central to food security in this country. If we do not deal with that, we will still have a problem of addressing the issue of food security. So, I think I have answered the question that we are not importing GMO maize because it is cheaper, we are importing it because that is what is readily available in other areas and Government is also looking at non-GMO maize from places like Ukraine and so forth. I do not know what else Government can do. For instance there are various schemes that Government has put in place like the issue of the Brazilian irrigation facility equipment to give our farmers equipment to make sure that they are producing enough, including irrigation scheme to be utilised and fertilizers. I think it is the commitment on us as farmers, the knowledge that we need to acquire to make sure that we produce as much as we can.

          I once gave statistics of the maize production trend even before the land reform. In 1995/96, Zimbabwe was the highest and it produced 2.6 million tonnes of maize; 1.6 million tonnes came from communal farmers. At an average of nearly 1.9 tonnes per hectare when there was only one extension officer at every ward, now we have got more extension officers at every ward, the yield has come down even national to .085 tonnes a hectare. So, we need to revisit the template to say what was it that caused people to produce and my conviction Senator is that I think we are underestimating the role that AgriBank or AFC at the point and time used to play in availing fertilizers in advance to our farmers. They might have defaulted but the country had enough maize so, those are some of the policy measures that we must continue to review and revisit the make sure that all farmers including communal farmers are back into maize producing.

          Also the issue of guaranteed access to markets, that is very important, I can emphasise. When people used to produce maize, they had no problem in selling their maize even if it was controlled but they would be paid as quickly as possible. So we also need to look at that whether the issue of decontrolling did pay the dividends or somehow, we must look at the mechanism of making sure that when farmers are encouraged to grow they must also be paid as promptly as possible including the GMB and all around the country.

          *HON. SENATOR MASHAVAKURE: Thank you Mr. President of the Senate, my question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Services on the issue of teachers and leave. In this august Senate we seem to be concerned about this issue but I was thinking that in other countries and states, there are measures that are put in place when a teacher goes on leave. Have you ever gone to understudy and adopt best practices as to what can be done when teachers go on leave? I thank you.

          *THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL SERVICES (HON. MATANGAIDZE): Thank you Mr. President of the Senate. I want to thank the Senator for the question. Yes, we have looked at international best practice and we realised that the situation in Zimbabwe is unique because we had a period whereby we used to take expatriate teachers. That is when this system came into place that after seven years, they are given a whole term as leave. The challenge now is that if one was employed with certain conditions of service to change, this has implications. We now want to look at the implications and the way forward but I think you will agree with me that the leave days that are being enjoyed by the teaching fraternity are too many compared to other civil servants in the country. So, there is a challenge and I am sure we all agree that it needs to be addressed. I thank you.

          Questions Without Notice were interrupted by the ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE in terms of Standing Order No 62.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE

LAND RENTALS AND TAXATION

  1. HON. SENATOR MOHADI asked the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement to explain how:
  2. a) the land rentals and taxation work in A1, A2 and A3 tier farm functions;
  3. b) Farmers with title deeds pay their rentals and taxes.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LANDS AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. CHIKWAMA): May I start by thanking Hon. Senator Mohadi for asking this question.

  1. The land rentals are payable in terms of the Finance Act. A1

farmers pay a flat fee of US$15 per annum which includes US$10 land rental and US$5 development levy. A2 farmers pay US$5 per hectare which includes US$3 land rental and US$2 development levy.

3 tier farms are administered as A1 farms and the rentals above apply accordingly.

  1. Farmers with title deeds only pay development levy to their

local district council or what we call local authorities since the farms are privately owned. I thank you.

HON. SENATOR MOHADI: My supplementary Mr. President is on the three tier system. The three tier system does not belong to one person. That is a system whereby it is only used during the drought season whereby many farmers take their animals for grazing. Who is supposed to pay the levies or the tax for that piece of land?

HON. CHIKWAMA: Thank you Mr. President. I think it needs a sort of research because when we say three tiers, it is all those farms which were given before the fast track. This is where I picked up these issues. I think it needs a further research so that I will come and answer it.

SELLING OF FARMS BY FARMERS WITH TITLE DEEDS

13 HON. SEN. MOHADI asked the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement to explain whether farmers who have title deeds can sell their farms as they wish.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LANDS AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (HON. CHIKWAMA): May I start by thanking Hon. Senator Mohadi for asking this question. Farmers with title deeds can sell their farms as they wish but in terms of Section 47 of the Land Acquisition Act, they have to first obtain a Certificate of ‘No Present Interest’ from the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement before they can sell their farms. I thank you.

MEASURES TO MITIGATE FOOD SHORTAGES

18 HON. SEN. TIMVEOS asked the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to:

  1. Outline measures the Ministry has taken to provide food relief to the nation after His Excellency the President of the Zimbabwe had declared the current drought a state of emergency; and
  2. State the agencies responsible for the distribution of food and also clarify the role of the Zimbabwe Republic Police if any.

 

.        

         THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL SERVICES (HON. ENG. MATANGAIDZE): On part a) of the question we respond as follows; let me first start by highlighting that the declaration of a state of disaster by His Excellency the President follows a rapid assessment of the food insecurity situation currently obtaining, which indicated that about 30% of rural households are in need of emergency food assistance. This translates to approximately 3 million people that are in need of food.

           It is important to point out that, since October last year, my Ministry has been assisting 287 000 households with food assistance. In essence, we are now expanding the programmes that have been running. To date we have distributed 52 000 metric tonnes of grain.

           In line with the declaration of a state of disaster and subsequent launch of an appeal for humanitarian assistance, a National Taskforce coordinating grain distribution has been set up. This is a multi-stakeholder committee that was mandated to make sure that logistics are put in place to ensure timely delivery of grain to vulnerable people.

           As it stands, my Ministry is in the process of registering additional beneficiaries with support from Provincial and District Drought Relief Committees and local governance structures. My Ministry is also coordinating with other humanitarian agencies that are supporting food insecure households so that the assistance is properly targeted.

Hon. Senator Timveos’ second question was for us to state the agencies responsible for the distribution of food and also clarify the role of the Zimbabwe Republic Police. We respond as follows; the Committee that is responsible for the internal distribution of grain comprises of the following agencies:

  • Ministry of Rural Development, Preservation and Promotion of Culture and Heritage.
  • Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing
  • Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Services
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development
  • Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development
  • Grain Marketing Board
  • Zimbabwe Republic Police

The Zimbabwe Republic Police is mandated to provide security during transportation of grain from one depot to the other as well as during transportation to ward distribution points. This is in an effort to mitigate against associated risks, including possible cases of theft. I thank you.

RADIO AND TELEVISION SIGNAL IN RURAL AREAS

19 HON. SENATOR MOHADI asked the Minister of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services to explain the measures taken by the Ministry to improve radio and television signal in rural areas.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE (HON. MABUWA) on behalf of THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, MEDIA AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. MANDIWANZIRA): Thank you Mr. President Sir. I have the honor to represent the Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services in responding to the question from Hon. Senator Mohadi who is seeking the Minister to explain to the House the measures taken by the Ministry to improve radio and television signal in rural areas.

          Mr. President Sir, Zimbabwe currently has some areas that are experiencing poor or no reception of broadcasting services due to underpowered and aged transmission equipment, most of which was installed as far back as 1972. The issue of radio and television inadequate coverage is however being addressed in the context of the Zimbabwe Digital Broadcasting Migration Project (ZDBMP) which is currently being implemented by the Ministry and is now slightly over 30% complete. I am sure the august House is aware that the whole world, under guidance of the international Communications Union (ITU) is migrating from analogue to digital broadcasting platforms and June, 2015 was the deadline.

          Zimbabwe developed its own plan for migration which the Ministry is implementing. The plan includes expanding the 24 television transmission sites to 48 throughout the country and replacing the old radio transmission equipment in the existing 24 sites so as to restore and improve national coverage.

          When installation is completed, the new transmission infrastructure will change the television signal from analogue to digital ensuring availability of the television signal almost everywhere in the country as well as improving radio reach to over 90% of national coverage. Any further coverage gaps beyond the completion of the digitalisation project will be addressed through the use of gap fillers to ensure a universal access to broadcasting services throughout the country.

          Mr. President, the ZDBMP (Digitalisation Project) which I said is now slightly over 30% complete was scheduled to be completed this year but will not be completed because of resource constraints. There are other competing national priorities which have seen the amount of money being made available by Treasury to the project as per the original budget being drastically reduced. Consequently, the project is stalling, at times almost stopping, though the Ministry is pressing on. If the country is to realise the full benefits that come with the project, we should, as a nation, strive to finish the project in a reasonable time frame.

          Mr. President, may I take this opportunity to explain to the Hon. Senators that as part of the Digitalisation Project, we carried out inspections of existing broadcasting infrastructure throughout the country and the Beitbridge Tower was one of a number that were condemned for failing to meet acceptable engineering standards. As such, the Ministry under the Digitalisation Project will erect a new tower at Beitbridge to replace the old one. We will however, do it in a way that ensures minimal disruption of existing radio and television services by building the new tower whilst the old one is still in use. I thank you.

MEASURES TO MITIGATE FOOD SHORTAGES

  1. Hon. Sen. Timveos asked the Minister of Agriculture,

Mechanisation and Irrigation Development to explain the measures Government is taking to mitigate the food shortages in the country

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE,

MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. ZHANDA): Thank you Mr. President, I would like to thank the Hon. Senator for the question. Through various task forces, the Government has availed US$ 200 million to import maize and allowed private traders to import food maize to mitigate the food shortages in the country. I thank you.

SURFACING OF BINDURA-MATEPATEPA ROAD

  1. Hon. Sen. Mavhunga asked the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development to state when the Bindura – Matepatepa road in Mashonaland Central Province which is used mostly by farmers to transport their farm produce would be surfaced.

                THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND

INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. MADANHA): Thank you Mr. President, I want to start by thanking Hon. Senator Mavhunga for asking such an important question. I was very quiet yes, and I think in this august Senate, Senators are very happy with the condition of our roads in their respective areas.

          My Ministry is aware of the importance of the Bindura-Matepatepa Road and requested funding from Treasury to construct the road. Fortunately, Treasury allocated US$1.8million for the road in the 2016 budget and work will commence as soon as the funds are released by Treasury.

          In the meantime, my Department of Roads are preparing to commence survey and material investigation to be ready for construction so this road is practically funded and work will start as soon as possible. I thank you.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE 133RD ASSEMBLY OF THE INTERPARLIAMENTARY UNION (IPU)

        HON. SEN. CHIEF SIANSALI: Mr. President, I move the

motion standing in my name That this House Takes note of the Zimbabwe Delegation Report to the 133rd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) held in Geneva, Switzerland, 17 to 23 October, 2015.

HON. SEN. CHIEF CHISUNGA: I second.

HON. SEN. CHIEF SIANSALI:

1.0    Introduction

As part of broader Parliamentary diplomacy and in line with Strategic Goal 3 of the Institutional Strategic Plan, that is, “increasing the visibility of Parliament,” the President of the Senate, Hon. E. G. Madzongwe, led a truncated delegation to the 133rd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The conference was held at the IPU Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland from 17- 23 October 2015. The delegation comprised the following:

Hon. Chief S. Siansali Interim Member of the Standing Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade;

Hon. M. Dziva             Member of the Executive Committee of the Forum of Young Parliamentarians of the IPU;

Hon. A. Chibaya          Member of the Standing Committee on UN Affairs;

Mr K. M. Chokuda      Clerk of Parliament & Member of the Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments (ASGP);

Ms. D. Makoni             Director in the President of the Senate’s Office;

Mr. N. Marimo             Director in the Clerk’s Office; and,

Mr P. Mavhura            Security Aide to the President of the Senate

 

Owing to the prevailing budgetary constraints, the institution was unable to send the full delegation. This crippled the delegation’s ability to attend all meetings particularly those which were held simultaneously and in different locations. That notwithstanding, the available Members proactively took up the challenge and allocated themselves two Committees each in order to make up for the paucity in numbers.

 

  • Brief Overview of the IPU

The Inter Parliamentary Union, established in 1889, is an international organization of Parliaments made up of 167 National Parliaments including Zimbabwe. The Union is the focal point for world-wide parliamentary dialogue and works for peace and co-operation among peoples and for the firm establishment of representative democracy.

The IPU supports the efforts of and works in close co-operation with the United Nations, whose objectives it shares. The Union also co-operates with regional inter-parliamentary organizations, as well as with international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations which are motivated by the same ideals. The IPU is financed primarily by its members out of public funds (www.ipu.org).

Zimbabwe has been an integral member of the IPU since 1981 and has maintained a consistent and active presence at IPU Assemblies.

2.0    Official Opening of the 133rd IPU Assembly

The 133rd Assembly of the IPU commenced on Sunday, 18 October 2015, at the Centre international de Conférences de Genève (CICG). Hon. S. Chowdhury, the President of the IPU, chaired the official opening proceedings.

 

2.1    Opening Remarks by the President of the IPU: Hon. S. Chowdhury

In his welcome remarks, Hon. S. Chowdhury chronicled the achievements of the past year since his election as IPU President. He noted that the 132nd Assembly held in Hanoi, Vietnam had concluded with the Hanoi Declaration on the theme “The SDGs: Turning words into reality” whose key outcomes had informed the very successful Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament, held at UN Headquarters in New York in September. The deliberations by the political heads of Parliaments had been reflected in the outcome of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit held later in September wherein the Heads of State and Government had explicitly acknowledged the essential role of Parliaments in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Hon. Chowdhury pointed out that it was imperative for the three major international processes concluded in 2015, which fell under the post-2015 development agenda to form a coherent package as the basis for parliamentary work in the coming years. He asserted that the time had come for Parliaments to take resolute and definitive action in the implementation of the new commitments. It thus behoves Parliaments to ensure that they are fit for purpose. Hon. Chowdhury assured member Parliaments that the IPU was ready to help define the main components of parliamentary action and provide relevant assistance.

 

3.0    Debates and decisions of the Assembly and its Standing Committees

3.1    General Debate: “The imperative for fairer, smarter and more humane

Migration”

The IPU President introduced the theme of the General Debate and acknowledged that when the theme had been chosen several months earlier, the IPU had no idea that the subject of migration would have become topical, nor that it would have become a challenge of such proportions by the time of the 133rd Assembly. Accordingly, it was fitting and timely for the IPU to pronounce itself on the issue as migration was a very real human tragedy that affected – directly or indirectly – the majority of countries.

Hon. Chowdhury reminded the meeting that as the world organization of Parliaments, the IPU had an inescapable responsibility to draw the attention of the global Parliamentary community to the issue of migration and to press for prompt and concerted action. Despite the complex nature of migration and various concerns at the national and local levels, it was important for Parliamentary debates to focus on facts, solutions, and most importantly, on what Parliaments and Parliamentarians could do both individually and collectively to address the issue.

Hon. Chowdhury affirmed that Parliamentarians had the power to set the tone of debates and could play a significant role in making the current public discourse on migration more balanced and evidence-based. He noted with concern that growing anti-migrant sentiment, especially in Europe, was unnecessarily endangering the lives of migrants and ignoring the overwhelmingly positive contribution that migrants continued to make.

Parliamentarians also had the financial power to approve and allocate resources that could affect migration policy and migrants themselves. Migration policy needed to include a number of elements relating to integration, return to migrants' countries of origin and access to public services, all of which required adequate funding. He concluded by emphasizing that migration was not a problem to be solved, but rather a human phenomenon that needed to be managed in a fairer, smarter and more humane manner.

The President of the Senate and leader of the delegation, Hon. E. G. Madzongwe contributed to the general debate on behalf of Zimbabwe.

 

3.1.1. Contribution by the President of the Senate, Hon. E. G. Madzongwe to the General Debate

In her contribution to the general debate, Hon. E. G. Madzongwe decried the proliferation of wars, political persecution and economic instability which had resulted in an unprecedented migrant crisis. As a result, migrants were dying in large numbers in the Mediterranean Sea while some were trapped in transit camps under inhuman conditions. She averred that this grim and tragic scenario required a concerted regional and international response with the objective of creating a global framework which clearly outlines the responsibilities of every player in a way which does not burden any particular country or group of countries.

Hon. Madzongwe stated that a win-win strategy should be premised on countries of origin, transit countries and host countries sharing the responsibility of managing refugee flows and creating a safer and more humane environment for migrant movements. She noted that in Africa, the migrant crisis was particularly urgent along the Libyan coast. Consequently, she exhorted the African Union to take the initiative in securing the coast against smugglers by mounting search and rescue operations and de-escalating the conflict in the region to ensure that the lives of migrants in transit are not endangered.

The President of the Senate noted with concern that the global terrorist recruitment drive, the rise in terrorist threats and attacks all have compounded to foster an anti-migrant fervour, leading to xenophobic attacks on migrants, which had become common even in the SADC region. Accordingly, stereotypes had been proliferated in this maze of negative perceptions about migrants, and national sentiments had been conscripted against peaceful coexistence and social integration of migrants.

Hon. Madzongwe called on the media to play an active role in deconstructing some of these myths and stereotypes and encouraging social acceptance of migrants. She urged the migrants, in turn, to respect the laws of their host countries.

She concluded her contribution by asserting that a smarter and more humane migration would only be possible if everyone in the international community plays their part and shares the responsibility equally, instead of being spectators in the face of such a huge crisis.

 

3.1.2 Remarks by Hon. K. Kyenge, Member of the European Parliament and Vice-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly

Hon. Kyenge was invited to share her personal experience and perspectives on migration. Born and raised in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Hon. Kyenge went to Italy initially to study medicine. Since then, she had experienced multiple challenges until she had finally been accepted as a valuable citizen of her country of adoption. She had been at the forefront of efforts to promote mutual awareness, integration and cooperation between Europe and Africa, while also working hard to protect the rights of migrants in Italy.

Hon. Kyenge stated that migration was a global phenomenon that could not be dealt with by States alone. She opined that any approach to migration needed to be centred on human rights and fundamental freedoms and entail political dialogue and cooperation with countries of origin. Hon. Kyenge reiterated that it was the responsibility of Parliaments and Parliamentary assemblies to ensure that fundamental democratic principles were observed and that international commitments were met so as to ensure a better future for all citizens.

In the deliberations which lasted over three days, the Members concurred that in order to effectively manage migration, countries needed to adopt well-managed migration policies that enabled migrants to fully develop their potential to contribute to human and economic development.

Members recognized and acknowledged that Parliamentarians had a particular responsibility regarding migration. They had to demonstrate political leadership, listen to and voice the concerns of their constituents, raise awareness, oversee government action and support it by adequately resourcing the responsible bodies.

4.0    Meeting and Coordinating Committee of Women Parliamentarians

The twenty-second Meeting of Women Parliamentarians took place on 17 and 20 October 2015. It brought together 127 delegates from 75 countries, together with representatives from various international organizations. As a contribution to the Assembly, participants considered, from a gender perspective, the draft resolution on the agenda of the Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights, Democracy in the digital era and the threat to privacy and individual freedoms.

Participants highlighted that democracy in the digital era should be synonymous with the Internet empowering women, being safe for women and accessible to women. The discussions resulted in proposed amendments to the draft resolution of the Standing Committee. All the proposed amendments were included in the draft resolution.

4.1    Women and migration

In order to contribute to the General Debate of the 133rd Assembly, women parliamentarians discussed, again from a gender perspective, the theme of the Assembly's General Debate, The imperative for fairer, smarter and more humane migration. Hon. Dziva represented Zimbabwe at the meeting.

The discussion focused on the factors that led women to migrate, as well as on the challenges and opportunities that migration presented for women. In her contribution, Hon. Dziva indicated that women were forced to migrate because of war, conflict or violence that they had experienced in their countries of origin, or for economic reasons. She stressed the important role played by migrant women in the social and economic development of their countries of origin and destination.

Participants further noted that during conflict and as they fled, women also faced other specific threats such as human trafficking, sexual violence and forced or early marriage. Participants shared experiences and measures taken to protect the human rights of women migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees. They stressed the importance of ratifying international conventions to protect the rights of women and migrants, but above all of ensuring that those conventions were implemented.

The participants further discussed specific initiatives for action around the campaign I am an MP; My power for women’s power. Several delegates spoke of activities and measures taken at the national and regional levels to respond in concrete terms to the call for action on gender equality. To this end, Hon. Dziva informed the meeting that the new Zimbabwean Constitution provided for a quota system for women Parliamentarians in Zimbabwe up to 2023 which had seen as increase in female Parliamentarians from 18% to 35%. Accordingly, Zimbabwe had made commendable strides in enhancing women’s power.

The delegates commended Zimbabwe for adopting legislative measures to empower women as this ensured that the country would not pay lip service to the gender agenda.

4.2    CEDAW and UN Security Council resolution 1325: Gender equality as a prerequisite of sustainable peace and security

Last year the United Nations commemorated the 15th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. In a panel discussion, the participants examined the implementation of that resolution, which called for the participation of women in peace processes, their protection from violence and the promotion of gender equality as an integral part of State-building and a means of preventing new conflicts and crises.

5.0    Forum of Young Parliamentarians of the IPU

The Forum met on Sunday, 18 October 2015. Close to 60 participants attended, of whom 25 per cent were women. Hon. Dziva represented Zimbabwe at the Forum. The deliberations focused on the Forum’s contribution to the work of the 133rd Assembly, in particular, the General Debate on migration and the resolution prepared by the Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights.

On migration, the participants underscored the specific needs of young migrants and noted that it was the inescapable duty of all States to address the root causes of youth migration. In her contribution, Hon. Dziva noted with concern that young people were leaving their countries of origin because of war, conflict, persecution, violence, and insecurity and also because they lacked access to education, employment, healthcare and welfare. It was acknowledged that if these root causes were not addressed, the solutions to migration would be akin to taking an aspirin to cure a chronic illness, and the challenge of migration of young people would not end. She further noted that young women were being forced to migrate by a frustrating lack of equal opportunities in some countries, which was a cause for concern.

The meeting acknowledged that young women migrants, in particular, were at risk of trafficking, violence, rape, forced marriage, exploitation and abuse while young migrants were generally at risk of being stereotyped and falling victim to xenophobia and exploitation.

 

6.0    Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights

The Committee held sittings on 18, 19 and 20 October. The draft resolution on Democracy in the digital era and the threat to privacy and individual freedoms was presented to the Committee. In the ensuing debate, 31 speakers, including Hon. A. Chibaya, took the floor.

In the ensuing discussions, Hon. Chibaya reminded the meeting that the individual freedoms which had been expanded by the digital era, though necessary, were by no means absolute. He made reference to the words of the American Jurist, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. who aptly stated that “Your right to swing your fist ends where the other person’s nose begins.” He noted with concern that rapid technological advances, including the internet and social media, had seemingly blurred the divide between the right to information and the right to individual privacy. In a bid to resolve this dichotomy, Zimbabwe had legislated for the protection of both freedom of expression and the right to privacy in its new Constitution adopted in May 2013. Hon. Chibaya’s contribution received unanimous support from other delegates and was duly noted in crafting the final resolution.

 

7.0    Standing Committee on United Nations Affairs

The Standing Committee met on 20 October. The first session reviewed the work of the UN Peace-building Commission on the occasion of its 10th anniversary. The second session focused on the role of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the resolution of international disputes.

Hon. Chibaya contributed to the debate on the role of the International Court of Justice. He pointed out that though the ICJ had registered noteworthy achievements since its inception, it was hamstrung by the fact that it does not enjoy a full separation of powers. He noted that firstly, parties refer cases to the Court on the basis of consent. Consequently, the Court can only consider cases premised on explicit consent rather than true compulsory jurisdiction. Secondly, the permanent members of the UN Security Council were able to veto enforcement of cases, even those to which they consented to be bound. Thus the judgements of the ICJ were severely weakened by this structural misnomer.

 

8.0    Standing Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade

The Standing Committee held its sitting on 19 October. Zimbabwe was ably represented at the meeting by myself (Hon. Senator Chief Siansali). The Committee discussed a draft outcome document of the Parliamentary Meeting due to be held in conjunction with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December.

In my contribution, I noted with concern the adverse effects of climate change on the African continent in general and Zimbabwe in particular. I referred to changes in weather patterns which were negatively impacting on agricultural productivity and, consequently, the food security situation in our country. Accordingly, I called on Parliamentarians, especially African Parliamentarians, to speak with one voice at the COP 21 Conference scheduled for Paris, France in December. I also stressed the need for African governments and Parliamentarians to raise awareness on climate change issues among the rural subsistence farmers who were the worst affected in Africa.

 

9.0    Debate and adoption of the emergency item

The debate on the emergency item was held in the morning of Monday 19 October, with Hon. M.R. Rabbani (Pakistan) in the chair. The emergency item jointly proposed by Sudan and the United Arab Emirates was as follows:

The role of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, parliaments, parliamentarians, and international and regional organizations in providing necessary protection and urgent support to those who have become refugees through war, internal conflict and socio-economic situations, according to the principles of international humanitarian law and international conventions.

Several speakers highlighted the need to provide host countries with more resources, as the intake of refugees carried heavy economic costs. It was further asserted that there should be no discrimination against refugees on the basis of their country of origin as was the case in some EU countries, which criminalized certain refugees. The participants also agreed to the inclusion of a paragraph in the resolution to address the specific needs of children, women, and young people, who were particularly vulnerable to exploitation and sexual violence.

 

10.0 Panel discussion jointly organized by the IPU and the ASGP on “Powerful parliaments: Building capacity for effective parliamentary oversight”

The panel discussion, jointly organized by the IPU and the Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments (ASGP), was held on Wednesday 21 October 2015. The session focused primarily on the institutional capacity of Parliament to oversee government. The session was intended to contribute to the preparation of the second Global Parliamentary Report on Parliament’s power to hold government to account: Realities and perspectives on oversight. The Clerk of Parliament, Mr K. M. Chokuda, attended the meeting.

In opening the discussion, Hon. Pkosing Losiaku of Kenya asserted that the presence of tools of democracy and oversight in any one country is no guarantee of democracy or effective oversight. He averred that without a free press, an independent judiciary, an independent prosecution service and a strong opposition oversight will be meaningless and ineffective. He added that Parliamentary oversight provided an essential check-and-balance system on the executive. However, the effectiveness of parliamentary oversight depended largely on the ability and capacity of Parliamentarians themselves to exercise it. Accordingly, it was critical, rather, imperative, for Members of Parliament individually and collectively to be equipped with sufficient knowledge to exercise effective oversight on the Executive.

Participants generally agreed that Oversight was always exercised on behalf of the electorate. Accordingly, the oversight mandate would be enhanced by a clear separation of power between the Executive and Parliament, which reported to the people.

The meeting further agreed that requests for information by Parliament had to be respected and honoured by the Executive for oversight to achieve the desired results. Live broadcasting of parliamentary procedures as well as public exposure of negative results of public accounts, were also identified as effective means of exercising oversight on government action.

In his contribution, the Clerk of Parliament, Mr Chokuda, reminded the meeting that while capacity building of Members of Parliament was an imperative, it was equally important to capacitate support staff who embody the institutional memory. To that end, any training programme intended to enhance the capacity of Members of Parliament must, of necessity, include the staff who serve them. He added that owing to the differing professional and academic backgrounds of MPs, it was also important to ensure that training programmes are simplified so that all Members comprehend them. He made reference to a toolkit which had been developed in Zimbabwe to assist the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to analyse reports by the Auditor General as a means of simplifying and strengthening the oversight function. As a result, the PAC had made commendable progress in the analysis of the said reports and cleared a backlog going as far back as 2012.

 

11.0  Concluding Sitting

At the last sitting in the afternoon of 21 October, the Assembly had before it the outcome document of the General Debate, as well as the reports of the Standing Committees.

The resolution presented by the Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights, on Democracy in the digital era and the threat to privacy and individual freedoms, was adopted unanimously. The Assembly also took note of the reports from the other three Standing Committees. It endorsed the subject item for the new resolution to be adopted at the 135th IPU Assembly in October 2016: The freedom of women to participate in political processes fully, safely and without interference: Building partnerships between men and women to achieve this objective.

The IPU President introduced the outcome of the General Debate, the Declaration on The imperative for fairer, smarter and more humane migration, which was endorsed unanimously. The President underscored the critical importance of migration and called on all Parliaments to take urgent action to address the matter responsibly and effectively. The outcome had identified an inventory of good practices and avenues for parliamentary action that could serve people, societies and the international community well.

The IPU President also emphasised the need to support young Parliamentarians in their programmes and called on Member countries to include young people in decision making positions and allow them to play an active role in economic development. To demonstrate its commitment to the youth and developing young leaders, young MPs were invited to the Conference for Young Parliamentarians to be held in Lusaka, Zambia on 16 and 17 March 2016 as a precursor to the 134th IPU Assembly.

Accordingly, Hon. Chowdhury invited the Speaker of the National Assembly of Zambia, Hon. Justice Dr. P. Matibini, to deliver remarks in his capacity as host of the forthcoming 134th IPU Assembly, which would be taking place in Lusaka from 19 to 23 March 2016. Hon. Matibini detailed the preparations already under way for the next Assembly with a view to ensuring that the best possible conditions were provided. A brief video was screened, which showcased the rich cultural and natural heritage that Zambia had to offer.

 

13.0 Recommendations

  1. Members of Parliament must take the lead in raising awareness on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as in holding the Executive to account for the implementation of the SDGs through their oversight Committees. In fact, in the Senate, the Thematic Committee on SDGs must proactively spearhead public education and oversight on the implementation of the SDGs.
  2. Members of Parliament must initiate evidence-based debate on climate change focusing on facts, solutions, and most importantly, on what Parliaments and Parliamentarians can do both individually and collectively to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on food security.
  3. In debating the national budget, Parliamentarians must ensure that adequate resources are allocated towards climate change issues.
  4. Parliament must push the Executive, through the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, to ratify and domesticate international conventions to protect the rights of women migrants, and, more importantly, to ensure that these conventions are implemented
  5. Continuous capacity building of Members of Parliament is an imperative if they are to effectively exercise their oversight function.
  6. Any targeted training for Members of Parliament in sector specific areas must also include support staff who are the repository of the institutional memory.

The delegation to the 133rd Assembly of the IPU wishes to express its gratitude for the opportunity to represent the institution at the meeting.

          HON. SEN. CHIEF CHISUNGA: Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity to make a follow up speech on the presentation by Hon. Chief Siansali on the 133rd Inter-Parliamentary Union Report, which was held in Geneva. Mr. President, there were issues raised in the opening remarks by the President of the IPU, which I think are of great importance to us as the Parliament of Zimbabwe today.

          On issues of turning words into reality, there have been several occasions like the previous sessions which we have just been having whereby we have been making questions and answers. I continue to wonder whether what we ask or the responses we are given, or even the debates we make in Parliament are real issues that can be turned into reality. I think it is an issue of great importance that as Parliament, we should be leading by example through the implementation of policies which promote the welfare of our population.

          At the beginning of this millennium, there were some Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which I believe have not been fully achieved. At this review meeting, there was an agreement that these MDGs be turned and christened Sustainable Development Goals. I think the intention is to uplift the standard of our people. For instance, there was an issue which was raised by Hon. Sen. Madzongwe in her presentation; the issue of migrants. There is need for society to integrate migrants. Due to some factors which cause their migration, nobody really wants to spend life in a foreign country. Every citizen would want to enjoy the citizenship benefits of his or her country but due to some prevailing environment such as wars, disagreements politically, which at the end of the day culminate in the migration of people from one state to another. She gave an example of people who are migrating from Libya through the Mediterranean Sea. A number of them perish on the way. If you go to Sudan and Egypt, some people get beheaded and their body parts are taken overseas for resale. All these things take place due to prevailing conditions in several countries. It is incumbent upon Governments to take measures Mr. President to prevent the migration of people into other states. I will give an example; I made a trip to South Africa around end of the year 2015, I arrived at Beitbridge Border at around 2100 hours. It took us the whole night to be cleared in order to cross to the South African border. There were more than 15 buses full of Zimbabweans crossing into South Africa.

If you go into South Africa in Johannesburg, specifically Soweto, the plight of Zimbabweans is regrettable Mr. President. So, the issue of migrants is not only an issue to do with people from Syria, Iraq and other Northern African countries. It also affects our country as Zimbabwe. So, I encourage the Government to take measures to make sure that our people are resident in our country, our people enjoy the benefits of being Zimbabweans – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear].

          Also, the issue of terrorism was noted by Madam Madzongwe in her speech, that terrorism itself is something which is not acceptable in societies. People live in fear, even development cannot take place because there is always terror everywhere. People are afraid of being bombed, killed so I think this was a wake-up call for us to make sure that we avoid political misunderstandings which end up causing instability in countries like Zimbabwe.

          Mr. President, this phenomenon is not only common to Zimbabwe but there are a number of Governments in our region and sub regions as well as the world at large.   I think we should be taking measures to make sure that these issues are avoided. Also, there was a call-to a larger extent for women participation in several spheres of life in different areas. For instance, upliftment of women, I think for Zimbabwe we have achieved quite a lot as you can see that this august House is led by a woman President which is a plus for Zimbabwe – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear] – I think we should continue to promote that spirit, guided by policies which promote peace.

The issue which was also raised was of the youth. In several countries, we have seen child soldiers, children have been abused.   Children have been recruited to go into war, which is uncalled for. When such things happen, human rights of these children are being taken away because they have rights to education, self determination and so forth but because of uncalled for environments in several countries, the youth end up getting abused. They are encouraged to make some uprisings against governments. At the end of the day, our youth end up being killed or being involved in unbecoming behaviour. There are examples of Somalia, Rwanda and DRC. Day in and day out, we witness these people travelling along Mozambican border through Nyamapanda into Zimbabwe then into South Africa looking for employment.

          I think our Government needs to do a lot in trying to promote the welfare of our youth so that they are not involved in issues of using or abusing drugs and so forth. There is also the issue which was mentioned by colleague about food security issues; climate change. As long as we ignore the role played by our traditional leaders in combating the deterioration of our environment, at the end of the day, the issue of food security will continue to haunt our nation. So, there is need to assist all agencies who deal with conservation of our environment, protection of our environment so that the nation benefits.

          Mr. President, in conclusion, I want to urge our Government to take a cue from the IPU on the issue of oversight of Parliament. There is need for the Government to continue capacitating Hon. Members so that they are able to execute their oversight duties. It is very important that as legislators we are capacitated in a way that we will be able to account the Executive. It is not the Executive which must hold the legislators to account but the legislators must hold the Executive to account.

I think there is need for Government to continue supporting, strengthening Parliament institution, for example the issue of the welfare of Parliamentarians – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear] – each time MPs come to Parliament without satisfaction, demoralised, their effectiveness is bound to fall. So, there is need that Government recognises the existence of the third pillar of Government for the effective governance of our nation. With these few words Mr. President, I thank you [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear].

          HON. SEN. CHIEF SIANSALI: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. SEN. MOHADI: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume; Tuesday, 8th March, 2016.

          On the motion of HON. SEN. MASUKU, seconded by HON. SEN. MOHADI, the Senate adjourned at half past Four o’clock pm. until Tuesday, 8th March, 2016.         

         

 

Senate Hansard SENATE HANSARD 03 FEBRUARY 2016 VOL 25 NO 31