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SENATE HANSARD 06 MARCH 2018 VOL 27 NO 25

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 6th March, 2018

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

NON-ADVERSE REPORTS RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE (HON. SEN. TAWENGWA): I have to inform the Senate that I have received Non-Adverse Reports from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on Statutory Instruments and General Notices gazetted during the month of January 2018.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA: Mr. President, I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 6 on the Order Paper be stood over until the rest of the Orders have been disposed of. 

          HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

FIRST REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT ON ACCESS TO SAFE AND CLEAN WATER IN RURAL AREAS.

Seventh Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the First Report of the Thematic Committee on Gender and Development on access to safe and clean water in rural areas.

Question again proposed.

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

HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Wednesday, 7th March, 2017.

MOTION

PROTECTION OF CONSUMERS FROM UNSCRUPULOUS BUSINESS PEOPLE

          Eighth Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the protection of consumers from corruption.

          Question again proposed.

          *HON. SEN. MACHINGAIFA: Thank you Mr. President and how are you.  I rise to add my voice on the motion raised by Hon. Sen. Mawire, seconded by Hon. Sen. Makore. It is a very important motion.  I want to thank them for a job well done.  I want to believe that when members of the public read the contributions on this motion; they enjoy the debates.  May God bless Hon. Senators, the public will be happy to hear that Hon. Senators are sympathising with them on the troubles that they face. 

          Mr. President, Consumer Council is only known here in Harare but it is not known in the rural areas.  What was said in this House is very important.  Some of the things that are still in shops would have been bought way back and people are still buying them even if they have expired.  Consumer Council should do routine inspections in these shops to avoid buying products that have expired. People are buying products that have expired because there is no one who is monitoring that. 

          Mr. President, the issues of price increases is being said in newspapers, radio and party meetings but when you go out, nothing is happening.  It could be that Consumer Council is understaffed.  They may be few and they may be experiencing transport shortage.  We believe that if they hear of what we are talking about, they may increase the salaries of these people so that in every place there is a thorough inspection of what is going on.  We want the protection of the consumers. 

          When we talk of consumers, we are talking of a wide range of people.  I remember the other time when we were discussing about customer care of those people who are in hospital, they are ill and they are paying for the service of the hospital, it is the same like a customer who is purchasing something from a service provider.  It is important that when they pay monies for treatment, they should receive the right treatment.  Are they receiving the best treatment because they have paid for the service and therefore they need such a service? 

          Mr. President, this is a very important motion and my plea to my colleagues is that let us debate on this issue and work on the protection of the consumers.  The prices of goods are increasing but people have not received any increments.  When you look at the increases of these products, goods which were bought some time back using the old prices also have their prices increased and you wonder why. 

          Once again I want to thank Hon. Sen. Makore and Hon. Sen. Mawire for coming up with this motion, may God bless them.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA:  Thank you Mr. President for giving me the opportunity to add my voice to this motion.  First of all let me congratulate those who conceptualised the need for such a motion.  It is important that the Consumer and the average Zimbabwean who constitute about 95% of the population in this country is afforded an opportunity to afford a living through proper pricing of items. However, I think the business community cannot be laden with the entire blame of price increases. The first point I want to make is that Government has a role and the singular role of Government in any environment is to create a facilitative environment. You cannot have competitive prices if the environment is hostile. Only the other week we were talking to the Minister of Finance and agreeing that the one item that lacks in this nation is confidence building.

          So, I urge Government to create an environment that will engender confidence among the population. The second point I want to make is that we have gone to e-business and I have noticed that when we debate economic matters, I tend to see things slightly different from others. E-business requires that Government ensures, through the network systems, that we can do fast business. I have the experience of spending approximately one hour at a toll gate because there is no network and that is reasonably common.

          It is common that you want to transact at a bank and you get a double charge because you have transacted and thought that your transaction has been rejected. You transact again and the second transaction goes through and you walk away thinking that you have paid once. In fact, you will have paid twice. The challenge for us as a nation is that when we decide to go e-business, let us go e-business without apology. Let us go full mupaka and make sure that the country is made compliant to e-business. That way, we can blame the banks and the business community for sabotaging the e-business, but we will have set our house in order.

          The third thing that I want to talk about is our pricing structure. Let us agree and the earlier we agree and accept the economic factors on the ground, the earlier we are going to be able to sort out our problems. I am sure that the average one person of us here deals with three prices in the market, and that is wholly a confidence issue. I repeat, you cannot force the bond note to be equal to the Zimbabwean dollar, not in this economy in this century and not in this world, you cannot. Economic factors place themselves on the market, respond to those economic factors and unless and until we sort out those problems, we will not stabilise our pricing regime.

          Let us use a simple example. You go to Musika and you buy your bucket of maize at $6 per bucket, you grind it for a dollar and it costs you $7, and you sell it for $8. You go back again and you will find that the cost of the bucket of maize is $8 now. You again meal it for a dollar and that gives you $9. You sell it for $10 and you think you have made a profit of a dollar, you have not. This is because in the first instance, you lost a dollar or two on your pricing system. It needs a total rational approach.

          I have the practical business experience that I can tell you. When I was in business, you would order things during the inflation period. By the time you have sold them and you are trying to replenish your stocks, the price has doubled or gone up. So, the problem does not only fall on business, it falls entirely on the environment. There is also a suggestion that we must legislate in order to - let me get this correct, “Calls for concerted efforts by the State to stamp out such corrupt prices by formulating effective consumer friendly loss to protect Zimbabwean citizens”. Do not get me wrong, I would want the Zimbabwean citizen protected and our nationalities to live and eat and thereby instilling a sense of confidence in the economy.

          I can tell you that you can make ten legislative arrangements, you can make twenty or thirty but if the economy is not responsive to the socio-political environment, you are losing it. In short Mr. President, I am suggesting that legislation will not get us out of a pit. What will get us out of the pit is proper economics. I am sure that people know proper economics. They are not complicated.

Simple supply and demand will dictate prices and simple market confidence will stabilise our currency and things like that. Having made that concerted argument, I would like to assure the average Zimbabwean that I am very sympathetic to the price regime that prevails. I am very sympathetic to them with regards to the prices that prevail in this nation. However, it will take a lot of effort, confidence building and dedication to get the economy right and also to get the pricing regime right. Mr. President, with those words, I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. CHIPANGA: Thank you Mr. President. I would like to make my addition, exact to the point. The motion is in regard to the unnecessary increases of prices of goods and services. We have glutton business people who are making people suffer. We have had lots of ideas coming from Hon. Members. Some of the Members are calling for price controls whilst others are saying we should not limit ourselves especially on the economics with regards the supply and demand, which also say if supply equals demand, we will notice that prices will stabilise.

          As far as my economic knowledge is concerned, there is nowhere in the world where there is a situation where these two will meet. If you look at the grass with regard to the business management systems, the people who are responsible for that will make it a point that they will never be a balance because they are aimed at profiteering. When we have more goods, the prices will fall down, but what they will do is that they will always create a situation whereby there is never a balance. I am saying in this august Senate, we want to talk about the finances which we have. We do not have enough money to circulate in the country. At the moment we have people who are exchanging money in the streets.  When we are talking of Harare, if you go along Sam Nujoma or go to Simon Muzenda bus termini, there are a lot of people who are flooding that area carrying out illegal money exchange dealings.  This is a sign of a nation in distress if banking activities are now carried out on the streets.  How do we solve this problem?

          I was in Bulawayo the other day; there is a term which they use; they what have you brought us and in Ndebele it is usiphatheleni, kumbe osiphatheleni.  What we need to do as a nation is to focus our attention and increase the number of Bureau de Changes.  These will drive away the roadside money changers.  When we have established these Bureau de Changes, whoever is seen carrying these illegal money changing activities, there should be a mandatory prison term.  Let us not trivialise this case by making them pay a fine or do community services.  There should be no such thing because what happened in the past was that there were  lenient sentences which were put on this situation because the old regime was protecting these money changers; actually they were even funding them and when they were arrested, they would go to the police stations and release them.

          Now we have a new regime which is talking about transparency.  If you want foreign currency, go to the bank and if we stick to that definitely our economy will stabilise.  At the moment if I receive $1000.00 from my child in the Diaspora, that money is taken to the streets and it means it multiplies and this is carrying out illegal activities.  We noticed that because of this prevailing situation in the country, we now have a three tier system when buying goods.

          I have been to South Avenue, I wanted to buy a battery for my remote control and there were three different prices.  If you want to pay in US dollar, it is $10; if you want to use bond notes, it is $13 and if it is swipe it turns to be $15 but you will be buying the same product.  We also have some unscrupulous business dealers who would tell you that they are not interested in swipe, all they want is cash.  If you insist in paying using electronic means, they will tell you that their machine is out of order or there is no satellite link.  If someone with cash comes if it is bond notes the price is higher than if you have US dollars. I remember somebody asking that if we are not able to access money from the banks where do these streets financial vendors getting their money?

          In conclusion, I feel we are not well prepared to encounter this problem.  We need to enact strict laws whereby we have plain clothes policemen, detectives and CIDs; this should be a crime, to be found in engaging in illegal forex dealings.  Some time back, there was a law which said if somebody was found with foreign currency or dealing in money exchanges without a licence, he would be arrested and incarcerated.  I believe in our statute books, these laws are still prevailing.  We need to take them out of the dust bins and utilise them.

          Mr. President, we need to look for ways of means of making these laws, re-activate them and make them work.  My worry is that prices keep on spiraling sky high.  Others are saying the reason why the prices are going up is because of the shortages.  If that is the case, I think we have come to a time whereby we have to review Statutory Instrument 64.  I know that if you talk about that the Minister responsible will tell you that we did not ban any imported goods, therefore, let us limit the number of goods which can be imported.  These Zimbabwean business people who are making the consumers suffer are the same people who came to Government and said we are suffering and cannot prosper because we have goods which are coming from bordering countries, Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa and Malawi.  They are clogging our market, therefore please shut them out. 

          To my surprise these goods have been shut out in trying to protect our local business people but these business people are turning out to be the predators preying on the innocent customers.  In my own opinion these people are non-patriotic.  They are selfish; they only think about themselves, and do not think about their neighbours.  All they want is to sell for 100% profit.  They do not know that if they protect their neighbours by lowering prices, their neighbours and friends will benefit because they will be able to feed and send their children to school.  They defend themselves saying, ‘if you do not have any means of making money that is not fault; each man for himself and God for us all’.

          Mr. President, let us look at these two ways, one, let us increase the number of Bureaus de Change and these have to bear a standard bank rate.  Secondly, we need to look for ways and means of increasing the goods because we know if we apply the law of supply and demand, the prices will go down because the suppliers will be many.  That is why I have said let us review Statutory Instrument 64.  What is surprising me is that even this simple water which we are now selling was being imported and it was very expensive but if we have our water which come from our hills in Chipinge and Matopos, our prices will be reasonable. 

By so doing people will not go for foreign produced water but local water will be lower.  The cost of water from South Africa is double the price of water from Zimbabwe.  You will realise that water from South Africa will be about $6, so let us make our decision and not look at our economy because our economy is bad and may take some time to recover.  I am calling for quick fixes.  We now have available money and people have been stopped from getting their money changing programmes on the streets.  This will help in curbing all this inflation which we are facing.  Thank you Mr. President.

          *HON. SEN. SHOKO: Thank you Mr. President.  I would like to make my contribution on this motion moved by Hon. Sen. Mawire, seconded by Hon. Sen. Makore. This is a very important and pertinent motion.    I say so because what we are debating in this motion is really what is happening in our country on a daily basis.  Somebody talked about corruption; the man who is being accused of corruption is the businessman who is selling the goods at inflated prices.

  My view is that the reason why we are talking about this corruption is that it is has become so hard to access cash in this country.  We now have a variety of means of exchange; you can purchase goods using bond notes, US dollars, the rand, ecocash and POS machine.  When you have done that, whosoever is going to import goods; when they import those goods they do not use bond notes but the US dollar because the bond note is not accepted in other countries.

          Unfortunately, the businessman cannot access forex from the bank; he has to be on the waiting list for six month. In business when you wait for six months you are bound to go bankrupt.  The people who can afford this money are the same people who are taking this foreign currency from the institutions giving it to the business people.  As a result, when that business person imports his goods he then has to put a mark up because that is business.

          However, there are some business people who are very considerate; they put a reasonable mark up unlike some other unscrupulous people who put inflated prices.  What should determine the prices is the amount that the business person would have bought that money from the money changers.  We could use all means we can to stabilise our economy but as long as the finance in the country is not stabilised, cash shortages still going on, the business people will be forced to go to the street vendors for the exchange.  For instance, if you want US dollars, you have to pay an extra 30%.  So, when the businessman has bought this money at a high rate and imports his goods, definitely the goods will be highly priced because of the way the businessman would have gotten the forex. 

          I am saying this is not because of corruption, no - but we are failing to put systems in place which will enable us to obtain this foreign currency from the banks.  Nobody will inflate prices because they would have gotten the money from the rightful place which is a financial institution or the banks.  This is not something new to us.  We all survived from the period 2009 to 2013 when there was hyper inflation.  However, the situation changed because we were accessing money from the bank.  Right now, we are now living in a very difficult situation because we cannot access money from the banks.  

          So, if we talk of corruption let us look for the culprit responsible for corruption.  I am not talking about the Consumer Council neither am I talking of the business person who is making all these transaction but I am talking to us as the legislators.  We are the Government, the third arm of the State.  We are simply passing the buck and saying, ‘I am alright Jack, it is entirely up to you’ and yet we are responsible for the promulgation of these monitoring instruments so that money can be available in the banks.

          Sometime back, I went to South Africa and I wanted to buy some goods from there.  So, I had to go to the money changers and as a Bulawayo citizen, I went to a place called Trade Gold where these money changers will be lined up.  So, these people know me and they said Hon. Member if you want these US$100 dollars, you have to pay us $130.  So, I had to pay because I really wanted to travel. Had I been a business person, I would have imported those goods and put a very high mark up because I had to get value for money which I used in purchasing those goods.

          I am urging this august House not to dilly dally, not to pass the buck, not to play the blame game but to be responsible.  We are the Legislators; let us create an enabling environment for cash to be available in the banks.  We have people who would be paying school fees for $500, you go to the Standard Charted Bank and they would give them coins worth $20.00 which means you have to go so many times to the bank which will attract a lot of administrative charges.

          We have some business people who are corrupt but some of them are not corrupt, they will simply be following what the environment is dictating.  We may talk about this from Monday to Friday but the situation we will never change unless and until we face the truth.

          +HON. SEN. CHIEF GAMPU: Thank you Mr. President.  I would like to thank the Members who have brought this motion into this House so that we talk about the issues that are affecting our country.  We have the biggest problem which is being caused by the shortage of cash in the banks.  We need to work together so that we can solve this problem, for it is very difficult to get money and you can only get it from the money changers.  Even if you want $20 000, you can get it from those money changers for as long as you notify them of whatever time you want to collect – even if it is $50 000, you can still get it. 

          However, when you go to the bank, when you want to withdraw the money in your account, you cannot get it; they may give you a maximum of $20 to $50 per day.  There are some people who are able to get as much as they want from these banks - we know them, especially the business people who buy their products outside the country.  There are some business people who are failing to get money from the banks and you wonder why is that there are some people who are able to go to the bank and get whatever amount that they want which they will sell to the business people with an interest.  For example, what was being said that US$100, if you want it as a bond note, it is equivalent to $130 bond notes.  This is a reality that is there.  That is why the things that we buy from the shops are so expensive, it is all because the money that they get, they get it at 10% from their accounts.  There are some who withdraw it at 15%, some at 17%.  That is why most of the things we buy from the shops are still expensive even up to now. 

          As long as there are people who are able to get money from the bank and sell that money, they have seen a gap where they can gain and I do not know what ways we can use as a Government to stop this.  There should be a way that restricts anyone from taking money from the bank so that at the end of the day, anyone who wants to get money from her or his account is able to get it in a proper way.  The money will be there in the banks but it is only those who have relations with bankers who are able to access money and any amount that they want.  The Government should therefore come up with means of availing cash in the banks and the only way banks can have cash is through exports by manufacturers in this country and get foreign currency.  That is the only way we can improve, especially for those who are trading locally, they will be able to get cash.  Besides that, there is no way we can get the cash, the only people who remain with cash are the money changers who are dealing illegally. 

When you want to buy foreign currency from these money changers, you are also charged a certain interest.  This is the main problem that is there.  The only thing that needs to be addressed is having access to cash and not have only few people having access to cash from the banks.  This means that those who have access to cash are having it illegally.  They are taking the money that is supposed to work for the nation and withdraw it from the bank.  Therefore, as Members of Parliament, we are supposed to come up with means of monitoring all the bankers.  It is a sign that there is corruption and there are people in the banks who are corrupt and are able to take advantage of the system, take the money and spin it so that they can gain profit out of it.  This is a day-to-day thing that is happening and it is a reality.  I thank you Mr. President.

HON. SEN. MAWIRE: Mr. President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 7th March, 2018.

MOTION

FIRST REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON INDIGENISATION AND EMPOWERMENT ON THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE NON-ESTABLISHMENT OF THE COMMUNITY SHARE OWNERSHIP TRUSTS

Ninth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the First Report of the Thematic Committee on Indigenisation and Empowerment on the Circumstances Surrounding the Non-Establishment of Community Share Ownership Trusts in Mudzi and Mutoko Districts.

Question again proposed.

HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA: Mr. President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 7th March, 2018.

MOTION

FIRST REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS ON SDG NO. 3

Tenth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the First Report of the Thematic Committee on Sustainable Development Goals on SDG No. 3.

Question again proposed.

HON. SEN. CHIEF MTSHANE: Mr. President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 7th March, 2018.

MOTION

FIRST REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON PEACE AND SECURITY ON THE PREPAREDNESS OF THE GRAIN MARKETING BOARD TO HANDLE THE 2016/2017 CROP DELIVERIES AND THE SUCCESS OF THE COMMAND AGRICULTURE PROGRAMME

          Eleventh Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the First Report of the Thematic Committee on Peace and Security on the Preparedness of the Grain Marketing Board to handle the 2016/2017 Crop Deliveries and the Success of the Command Agriculture Programme.

          Question again proposed.

         HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA: Mr. President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. SEN. MKWEBU: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 7th March, 2018.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE ZIMBABWE DELEGATION TO THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON PROMOTING STAKEHOLDER AND PARLIAMENTARY DIALOGUE ON THE ARMS TRADE TREATY (ATT)

       Twelfth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Zimbabwe delegation to the International Conference on Promoting Stakeholder and Parliamentary Dialogue on Arms Trade Treaty.

       Question again proposed.

       HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA: Mr. President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. SEN. MAWIRE: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 7th March, 2018.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE 7TH RETREAT OF THE ASSOCIATION OF SENATES, SHOORA AND EQUIVALENT COUNCILS IN AFRICA AND THE ARAB WORLD (ASSECAA)

Thirteenth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the 7th  Retreat of the Association of Senates, Shoora and equivalent Councils in Africa and the Arab World (ASSECAA).

Question again proposed.

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

HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI:   I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Wednesday, 7th March, 2018.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE DELEGATION TO THE EIGHTH RETREAT OF THE ASSOCIATION OF SENATES, SHOORA AND EQUIVALENT COUNCILS IN AFRICA AND THE ARAB WORLD

Fourteenth Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Parliament of Zimbabwe Delegation to the Eighth Retreat of the Association of Senates, Shoora and Equivalent Councils in Africa and the Arab World (ASSECAA), held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 20th to 21st May, 2017.

Question again proposed.

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

HON. SEN. MARAVA:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Wednesday, 7th March, 2018.

On the motion of HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA, seconded by HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI, the Senate adjourned at Twenty-Three Minutes past Three o’clock p. m.