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Senate hansard 10 may 2017 vol 26 no 53

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Wednesday, 10th May, 2017

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

PRAYERS

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

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

INVITATION TO A BRIEFING BY ZIPAH

          THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  I have to inform the Senate that the Executive Committee of the Zimbabwe Parliamentarians on HIV and AIDS (ZIPAH) is inviting all its members to a briefing tomorrow the 11th of May, 2017 at 1300 hours in the Government Caucus room.   All members are urged to attend.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF MEDIA, INFORMATION AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MATHUTHU): Madam President, I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 3 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT

          Fourth Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the State of the Nation Address.

          Question again proposed.

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

HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 16th May, 2017

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH:  DEBATE ON ADDRESS

          Fifth Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the Presidential Speech.

          Question again proposed.

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

HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 16th May, 2017

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  May I appeal to Hon. Senators whose motions are still on the Order Paper, except for the first two and those motions which are not Committee reports, to please move that they be wound up.

MOTION

FIRST REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS ON SDGS No. 3

HON. SEN. CHIEF MTSHANE:  I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the First Report of the Thematic Committee on Sustainable Development Goals on SDGs No. 3: “Ensure Healthy Lives and Promote Well-being for all at all ages.

HON. SEN. CHIEF SIANSALI:  I second.

HON. SEN. CHIEF MTSHANE: 

          1.0       INTRODUCTION

1.1    Pursuant to its oversight role over the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Thematic Committee on SDGs enquired into SDG No.3 “Ensure Healthy Lives and Promote Well-Being for All At All Ages”. The Committee was compelled to enquire on SDG No.3 as part of the implementation of the Post 2015 development agenda, that of sustainable development goals and the importance of a healthy nation for the production of the economy.

          2.0  OBJECTIVES

         The objectives of the enquiry were:

2.1   To appreciate the provision of primary health care in Zimbabwe, combating the prevalence of non-communicable and communicable diseases, combating the outbreaks of recurrent diseases, reducing child mortality rates and improving maternal health care and the nutrition policy and nutrition status of children under five years in Zimbabwe; and

2.2    To assess and monitor the implementation of SDG No. 3 in Zimbabwe.                                                                                                                        

3.0    METHODOLOGY

The Committee held oral evidence sessions with the following stakeholders:

·       The Ministry of Health and Child Care represented by the Permanent Secretary Brigadier Gen. Dr. J. Gwinji. Dr Gwinji briefed the Committee on a number of issues which include the provision of primary health care in Zimbabwe, combating the prevalence of non-communicable and communicable diseases, combating the outbreaks of recurrent diseases, reducing child mortality rates and improving maternal health care and the nutrition policy and nutrition status of children under five years in Zimbabwe.

·       The Food and Nutrition Council represented by Mr. G. Kembo who briefed the Committee on the nutrition policy in Zimbabwe.

·       Natpharm represented by Mr. R. Mtombeni, the Procurement Manager on behalf of Mrs. Sifeku Managing Director Natpharm. Mr. Mtombeni briefed the Committee on drugs supply.

·       The Traditional Medical Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe represented by Mr. Ndoro, Director Traditional Medicines in the Ministry of Health and Child Care on the traditional medicines and practitioners.

3.1    The Committee conducted familiarisation visits to Murehwa District Hospital and Marondera Provincial Hospital from the 29th to the 30th of November 2016 respectively. The visits conducted in Murehwa and Marondera aided to an appreciation of the provision of primary health care by district and provincial hospitals in Zimbabwe.

4.0    THE COMMITTEE FINDINGS

4.1    Ministry of Health and Child Care

The Committee was informed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Brig. Gen. Dr. J. Gwinji that primary health care is a strategy to deliver health care services to individuals, families and communities in the country’s pursuit towards meeting SDG He further pointed out to the Committee that maternal, neonatal and child health are the cornerstones of primary health care with the following services being provided; family planning, promotion of good nutrition and breastfeeding, immunisations, provision of adequate, safe water and sanitation. The importance of Village Health Workers (VHW) was also articulated as he informed the Committee that there are at the core of primary health care.

Dr. Gwinji also pointed out that VHW are community based cadres selected by fellow villagers and trained by the Ministry of Health and Child Care to provide health education, to assist in the promotion of healthy life styles and to assist in the prevention of communicable and non-communicable diseases. The Village Health Workers feed into rural health centres or clinics and are captured into the national health information system. He also stressed out the fact that currently there are over 1500 clinics operational with over 1000 planned for in line with ZIM ASSET. Dr. Gwinji reiterated that the Government has noted a series of challenges which include; inadequate funding for construction of new clinics, unavailability of nurses due to lack of funding for additional salaries, 50% shortage of VHW, food insecurity and the high burden of HIV & AIDS, communicable and non-communicable diseases. The Committee also learnt from Dr. Gwinji that the Ministry of Health and Child Care is pleased with the high coverage rates for childhood immunisations, the improvement in the national nutrition status, the establishment of waiting mother’s homes and high medicine availability at rural health centres and clinics.1

4.1.2   Prevalence of communicable and non-communicable diseases

Dr. Gwinji pointed out to the Committee that cancer and diabetes are among the four major non-communicable diseases targeted for action by the global environment. The non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in 2012 accounted for over 17 million deaths, cancers 8.2 million deaths and diabetes 1.5 million deaths. The Committee was also informed of the sad fact that the burden of diabetes continues to increase to the extent that the World Health Day Commemorations focused on diabetes. He also informed the Committee that currently more women are at greater risk of developing diabetes than men. Dr. Gwinji pointed out that cancer has grown to become a public health problem globally. The World Health Organisation earmarked the 4th of February annually to be recognised as the World Cancer Day for the purpose of raising awareness and mobilising support for cancer control. The Committee learnt through Dr. Gwinji’s highlights that there are five most common cancers and these are ranked according to their disease burden. These include cervical cancer, Kaposi sarcoma, breast cancer, prostate cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Dr. Gwinji informed the Committee that current Anti-Retroviral treatment is one pill per day with minimal side effects. ART treatment is $100 per year as Government and $70 per patient per month. The Permanent Secretary proposed that on regional and international, ART treatment needs to go down to less than $70 per month.

4.1.3 Combating outbreaks of recurrent diseases

The Committee also learnt through Dr. Gwinji, that the role of the Ministry of Health and Child Care includes detecting early and responding effectively and timeously to control, stop the spread and prevent the loss of life due to epidemic prone diseases. That the Ministry of Health and Child Care requires human, material resources, information, tools and medical supplies and logistics to react quickly to be aware of diseases outbreak on time. Dr. Gwinji pointed out that there is need to strengthen the national capacity for early warning systems, disaster risk reduction and management of national and potential global health risks in accordance with the SDGs.

He also informed the Committee that there is a rapid disease notification system through which the Ministry publishes a weekly bulletin which reports diseases, conditions and events of public health concern. Included in the bulletin are cholera, common diarrhea, typhoid, maternal deaths, malaria, etc. The Committee was informed that there is need to ensure prompt treatment and identify root cause for future prevention efforts. Therefore, there is need to raise awareness on the importance of safe water, sanitation and hygiene.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care stressed out that it continues to advocate for the provision of adequate, safe water in urban areas, improved sanitation and hygiene as a way of addressing determinants of the diseases and ending ongoing outbreaks of typhoid and common diarrhea. The Committee was informed of the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response, (IDSR) which provides the required guidance in dealing with outbreaks of diseases and conditions of public health significance.

 Dr. Gwinji also pointed out that the country has conducted Ebola surveillance at major ports of entry. In a bid to promote the Implementation of International Health Regulations, IDSR has conducted trainings of rapid response teams in districts, cities and provinces and has provided training of district executives, post basic nurse training schools, and the uniformed forces. The Ministry of Health and Child Care stressed that it is awaiting adequate resources to train all health facility staff. That the All Hazard approach and Emergency response framework housed in the epidemiology and disease control directorate, works closely with the Department of Civil Protection and convenes an Inter-agency Coordination Committee on Health for regular updates on outbreaks and response mechanisms.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care reiterated to the Committee the fact that is need for more Government support seeing some Southern African countries are reluctant to collaborate even when an outbreak in their territory threaten the nation. Dr. Gwinji further said that that there has been no breakthrough from traditional medicines as they remain individualistic and secretive. However, a department now exists in the Ministry to bridge the gap and do further research of the medicines.

4.1.4   Reducing child mortality rates and maternal health care

          The Committee learnt from the Ministry of Health that the major causal factors for under five mortality rates include pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, HIV/AIDS, measles, malnutrition, meningitis, tetanus among others and major causes of deaths of new borns include asphyxia, infection and prematurity. Sadly, HIV/AIDs remain the major contributor of childhood morbidity and mortality in Zimbabwe, a fact reiterated by Dr. Gwinji to the Committee.

          The Committee was also informed that scientifically proven child health interventions includes; integrated management of neo-natal and childhood illnesses, immunisation programme, introduction of new vaccines, breastfeeding, growth and monitoring, pediatric HIV intervention strategies, community based management of diarrhea, malaria, pneumonia and malnutrition, etc. The Ministry intervenes through the following; water, sanitation and hygiene interventions, breastfeeding, oral rehydration solution, prioritising community case management. The major challenges in the Ministry of Health include; high turnover of skilled manpower; low staff morale, inadequate drugs and supplies, user fees, inadequate nurses trained in pediatrics, etc. Dr. Gwinji said that there is need for more training in mid-wifery.

          The Ministry of Health pointed out that surveys show improvement of skilled attendance at birth and institutional deliveries arose to 80%, ante-natal care coverage rose to 94% and neonatal mortality rate dropped down to 29/1000 live births in 2014. A commendable achievement of the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare include the decline in maternal mortality rates by 50% from 1 068 deaths per 100 000 live births in 2002 to 525 deaths per 100 000 live births in 2012.  That the survey of 2014, show improvement in contraceptive prevalence rate, skilled birth attendance and post-natal care. The interventions made to improve maternal health care in 2015 include 480 service providers (doctors, midwives, nurses), training of jadelle insertion, clinical mentorship of doctors and nurses in different areas (Caesarea section, sonography, theatre techniques, etc.), repairing obstetrics fistula, cervical cancer screening and the establishment of 32 VIAC sites.

 4.1.5   Nutrition

          Brig. Gen Dr. Gwinji informed the Committee that a comprehensive policy exists which still has to be endorsed by the Ministry. That the policy covers essential nutrition status and child survival. The policy covers the following interventions; early initiation of breast feeding, complimentary feeding, growth monitoring, management of acute nutrition, infant and young child feeding counselling, protection of breast feeding and maternity protection. He also pointed out that there is a possibility of the misuse of breast milk substitutes as some mothers end up concentrating on formula feeding. The policy has also put into consideration breastfeeding hours and care centre close to the work place. That there is need for a multi-sectoral approach to curb malnutrition, for example the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Services and Ministry of Agriculture surveys show that half a million people need food assistance, 400 000 children under five, 7 000 children, 37 000 pregnant women may suffer malnutrition. Other sectors include the Food and Nutrition Council and the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee which provide the scope for sharing information on nutrition in Zimbabwe. That stunting growth is now at 27% and wasting remains at 3%, therefore nutritionists are looking at ways to reduce it.

          4.2   Food and Nutrition Council

          Mr. Kembo, Director of the Food and Nutrition Council pointed out that the council is an agency mandated for the coordination, analysis and promotion of a multi-sectoral response to food and   nutrition insecurity in Zimbabwe. 

            He pointed out that the council is guided by the SDG 2 which aims to achieve:

·       Food security and improved nutrition;

·       Promoting sustainable agriculture;

·     End hunger and ensure access by all people to safe nutritious food all year round and to end all forms of malnutrition including achieving by  2025, 40% the internationally agreed  targets on stunting and wasting on children under five years of age and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons by 2030; and

·     Charting a practical way forward in terms of fulfilling legal and existing commitments under the ZIM ASSET cluster, advising Government on a strategic policy direction for food and nutrition security, promoting multi sectoral and innovative approaches for addressing food and nutrition security in line with ZIM ASSET and providing backstopping to the Working Party for Food and Nutrition Security.

4.2.2   The Committee learnt that the Food and Nutrition Council is a council involved in engagements with multiple ministries and other stakeholders and aims to strengthen its multi stakeholder fora which include the United Nations, Government and Non-Government actors as well as through decentralised structures which include Food and Nutrition and Security Committees at national, provincial, district and sub-district levels. Senior Government officials are recognised in the formation of committees which are committed to the successful launch of the Food and Nutrition Security Policy to ensure high level attention on food and nutrition security issues. That there is the Cabinet Committee on Food and Nutrition Security chaired by the Vice President with participation from 17 ministries, Working Party for Permanent Secretaries Chaired by the Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet with the participation from 20 Permanent Secretaries, National Food and Nutrition Security Committee Chaired by the Permanent Secretary under the Vice President’s Office, the Director of the council being the co- chair and the Provincial , District and Ward Food and Nutrition Security Committee chaired by the Ministry of Agriculture and co-chaired by the Ministry of Labour and Social Services.

          4.2.3    Mr. Kembo reiterated to the Committee the fact that malnutrition and food insecurity are the biggest risk factors the country is facing as it affects close to 30% of Zimbabwean children under five, a situation that is compounded by the high prevalence of food insecurity which stands at 42% in rural areas. For children under five, 1 in every 3 is malnourished. He informed the Committee that the main causal factors for malnutrition in Zimbabwe include high levels of poverty, low and erratic economic growth, high levels of inequality and poor implementation of well-meaning and soundly designed policies and strategies. The council noted the following to the Committee as leading causal factors in the high prevalence of malnutrition:

·       Inadequate knowledge and practices regarding appropriate healthy diets for children, adults, mothers and caregivers of the children in the first 1000 days of their life;

·       Weak capacity systems for delivering community based nutrition services;

·             Inadequate information guiding the design of relevant nutrition interventions, inadequate knowledge with regards to practices in relation to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH);

·       Weak coordination and resource mobilisation which militates against the successful service coverage for high impact interventions.2

          4.2.4   The Committee learnt that the Food and Nutrition Council is committed to Scaling Up of Nutrition Movement (SUN) whose main focus include improving nutrition during the first critical days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’ second birthday. The SUN Movement aims to understand the following:

·       how diverse groups share information on various platforms therefore encourages multi sector participation;

·       the programmes implemented such as the common results framework for national   nutrition plan;

·       How much money is spent through mobilising and tracking resources with an impact on nutrition and the laws passed.

          4.2.5 FNC questioned the rationale behind raising Value Added Tax for dietary foods such as meat, and proposed that VAT should be raised on sugary, salty foods and alcohol and reduce VAT on meat products and informed the Committee that communities in Zimbabwe should be urged to prioritise the importance of nutritional gardens. FNC pointed out that it is responsible for co-ordinating and leading the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC), a leading Government consortium of UN agencies, NGOs and other international organisations established in 2002 as part of SADC’s Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis System (VAA). The Committee learnt of the importance of ZIMVAC which include contributing towards updating the government and its development partners on the food and nutrition security situation through baseline surveys, assessments, monitoring, and complementing exercises and other organisations such as ZIMSTAT. Since its inception ZIMVAC has undertaken 15 rural livelihoods Assessments (RLAs) and five Urban Livelihoods Assessments conducted in 2003, 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2016 and observed that early warning systems, diets and copying strategies are poor. The assessments were guided by ZIM ASSET of 2013 food and nutrition cluster as well as the Food and Nutrition Security Policy.

             4.3 National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe (Natpharm)

             4.3.1  Mr. Mtombeni pointed out that Natpharm was a Government stores department which was   commercialised in 2001 and is run by a Board of Directors. It is involved in the procurement of medicine and medicine supplies, distribution and warehousing of drugs and equipment. Natpharm has over the years been receiving partner support in the procurement and in the delivery of medicines. It works with a formal tender system target medicines that are in the current register of the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe. Natpharm pointed out to the Committee that all medicines that come into the country are registered through MCAZ. Natpharm has a Strategic Business Unit within its organisation whose main role include procuring medicine supplies for both the public and the private sector.

             4.3.2   The Committee was informed that Natpharm has storage facilities and warehouses for storage of drugs. It has five cold rooms, four of them in Harare, one in Bulawayo and six warehouses in the country,  that is Harare, Mutare, Gweru, Masvingo, Bulawayo and Chinhoyi.

             4.3.3  Natpharm has a fleet of vehicles comprising of 23 delivery trucks with 95% delivery coverage in the country. The poor state of most of the roads in Zimbabwe militates against 100% coverage of Natpharm’s distribution of medicine supplies, hence the organisation is at most of the times obliged to leave medicine supplies for inaccessible areas at some district hospitals.

             4.3.4   Natpharm shared with the Committee its aspiration to come up with Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and joint ventures with more development partners noting the resource constraints the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development faces in funding the institution. Natpharm aspires to monopolise the procurement of all medicines and eliminate competition from other organisations.

          4.3.5   The prevailing situation in the health sector was reiterated to the Committee that most provincial and central hospitals find themselves in a worse situation because of shortage of resources and drugs rather than the rural health centres. Mr. Mtombeni laments due to the fact that donations are not sufficient and target mostly the peripherals but stressed the fact that Natpharm has favourable competitive advantage over other organisations involved in the procurement of drugs due to the fact that it is the largest procurer and wholesaler of drugs in the country to the Committee.

          4.3.6  Mr. Mtombeni informed the Committee that the National Aids Council has been playing a pivotal role in assisting Natpharm in the procurement of ART drugs and anti-cancer drugs where Natpharm identifies the drugs that are in short supply in the market and NAC identifies and procures the drugs from the supplier. Profits are shared between Natpharm and NAC. The Committee was also informed of a Steering Committee on ICT in the Ministry of Health which works with public institutions which helps in identifying drugs in short supply.

4.3.7  The Committee learnt of Natpharm partners which include; The Global Fund, UNDP, UNICEF, USAID, CHEMONICS, JSI which are implementing partners for USAID, WHO and National AIDS Council.

             4.3.8    In terms of Vital, Essential and Necessary (VEN) classification; vital medicines are around 36 % and essentials are around 24 % and Necessary 40% as at 14 February 2017. Vital medicines are life medicines which hospitals cannot do without and whose shortage leads to deaths. Essential medicines are essential. Their unavailability can cause great discomfort but patients will not die. Necessary drugs cause discomfort when they are not available but their unavailability or shortage do not lead to deaths.

             4.3.9   Like all the other health institutions in the country, Natpharm pointed out to the Committee that it is affected by liquidity challenges, thus it has been calling for assistance in recapitalisation for it to run its operations. It is owed US$27 million by the government and has not been receiving any funding from the fiscus. This has caused heavy reliance on donor support for essential drugs, warehousing, procurement and distribution.

             4.3.10  The Committee was informed by Natpharm that Malaysia specializes in the production of latex, therefore Natpharm procures latex products from Malaysia because it has vast rubber resources produced at a much cheaper price.

             4.4      Traditional Medical Practitioners

             4.4.1   The Committee learnt through Mr. Ndoro that the Department of Traditional Medicines (TM) and Traditional Medical Practitioners Council (TMPC) is a department under the Ministry of Health and Child Care which was formed in line with the Alma Ata Declaration made by the World Health Organisation. He also pointed out the fact that traditional medicine is a key pillar of the health care delivery system. The Ministry of Health and Child Care has a Directorate responsible for;

·       Policy formulation such as practice of traditional medicine;

·     Providing regulatory legislation, registration of traditional medicine;

·     Conservation of traditional medicine and commercialisation of evidence based medicine.

          The directorate collaborates with other Government departments. The Traditional Medical Practitioners Council;

·       regulates the practice of traditional medicine;

·       licences traditional medicines and traditional medical practitioners; and

·       standardises the traditional medicines and practitioners.

          4.4.2  The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) is mandated to regulate medicines including traditional medicines in the country. The Medical Research Council of Zimbabwe provides oversight in terms of research and coordinates research in terms of traditional medicines. The council has a Committee on traditional and contemporary medicines which coordinates research in the medicine types. The Committee was informed of policy gaps which exist such that there has been resistance by certain religious and cultural groups on the uptake of some traditional medicines and the Ministry of Health is working towards addressing these issues.

          4.4.3  The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare pointed out that through the TMPC, it ensures that it has 100 % institutional deliveries so as to reduce maternal and neo natal deaths through improvement of global health and increased involvement of Traditional Birth Attendants. In the event of complications during child birth such as uterus rupture, birth fistula among others, the TMPC encourages referrals to conventional clinics and clinicians and specialist doctors due to the fact that Traditional Birth Attendants do not have the capacity to attend to such complications. The Traditional Medicines programmes aim at capacitating Traditional Birth Attendants so as to enable them to recognise danger signs during pregnancy and labour and to prioritise referrals to conventional clinicians should complications arise. Mr. Ndoro informed the Committee that in Chipinge district, most mothers use traditional medicines to prepare for child birth. Therefore, the TMPC has put in place various interventions which include promoting the role of the Traditional Birth Attendants and Village Health Workers. It was identified that there are no clear incentives for Community Health Workers. The council emphasised to the Committee that it has encouraged dialogue through the engagement of Traditional Medical Practitioners and users of the traditional medicines.

          4.4.4  The Traditional Medical Practitioners Council informed members of the Committee that it educates mothers about exclusive breast-feeding so as to curb the rate of infant mortality and also encourages mothers on the need to breastfeed babies up to six months before the introduction of solid foods as some cultural practices allow the introduction of solids before the recommended time. Some religious beliefs such as the apostolic sect discourage the use of modern medicine such that they prohibit the immunisation of their children.

          4.4.5  The Committee noted that global trends have shown that non-communicable diseases are on the rise. The council, therefore focuses on identification, early detection, treatment, support and follow up of clients and monitoring of treatment compliance. The council has various working groups under the National AIDS Council (NAC) that deal with non-communicable diseases.

          4.4.6  Traditional medical practitioners’ pivotal role in treating and managing mentally challenged people was also articulated and ensure their conditions do not become worse through review of treatment needs.

          4.4.7  The School of Pharmacy at the University of Zimbabwe and Harare Institute of Technology work with the council in investigating claims on traditional medicines from the council through research. The Traditional Medical Practitioners Council has been lobbying for the inclusion of traditional medicines into the curricular of tertiary institutions. The Ministry of Health, through Mr. Ndoro, pointed to the Committee that it is resource constrained, therefore, very few resources go towards the development of skills and research of traditional medicines. The Word Health Organisation (WHO) and the African Union have developed research guidelines on traditional medicines which the council has been using. There is need to come up with a framework which Traditional Medical Practitioners are comfortable to adopt and use.

          4.7.8 The council informed the Committee that it has been difficult to stop the smuggling of indigenous trees and traditional medicines into and out of hospitals and out of the country.4

          4.5   Visit to Murehwa District Hospital

4.5.1    Provision of primary health care services

Dr. Kahoba highlighted to the Committee that Murehwa District Hospital covers 6 000 sq. kilometres, 30 administrative wards, 26 health facilities with a population of 210 000 where 31 000 are between 0-4 years and 51 000 are 5-14 and the rest above 15yrs. He also said that the hospital has an expectation of 3 500 pregnancies per annum. The district has one government hospital and two mission hospitals, seven government clinics, 17 rural council clinics, one mission clinic and one private clinic. The Committee learnt of statistics of morbidity due to various ailments which include pneumonia, bacterial, TB, meningitis and cardio vascular diseases are as follows; 2013 – 9 477, 2014 – 16 176, 2015 – 11 169 and 2016 – 6 242 patients. Maternal total live births 2013 – 2 103, 2014 – 1 245, 2015 – 1 213 and 2016 – 1 321. Still births decreased due to the increase in trained midwives where Musami Hospital has 15, Nhowe Mission Hospital 9 and Murehwa Hospital 19. Caesareans are currently at 12.9%.

4.5.2    Prevalence and impact of non-communicable and communicable diseases

Dr. Kahoba alluded to the fact that diabetes and BP are on the increase due to poor diets. Cancer is also on the increase but the hospital is able to do screening with the assistance of three nurses and one trained doctor. Patients are then referred to Parirenyatwa Hospital. The prevailing and sad scenario was also confirmed to the Committee that HIV/AIDS and STIs infections are on the increase in the district but patients are benefitting from ART therapy as well as initiation. Biopsies for cancer screening are underway and as such, three patients were examined on breast cancer and referred to Parirenyatwa for further treatment.

4.5.3   Combating outbreaks of recurrent diseases

He also said that the district last had a cholera outbreak five years ago. The index case was in Harare and its treatment is through an isolation ward. The Committee was informed that the communities in the district have been sensitised to be on the look-out for outbreaks of recurrent diseases.

4.5.4    Reducing mortality rates and improving maternal health care

Dr. Kahoba also informed the Committee that midwives have been decentralised nationally and this has seen their presence in frontline clinics. That in cases of maternal emergencies at rural health centres, an ambulance is available for transfer to highway centres. In areas where there is no midwife, there is a trained nurse. Follow up programmes are now in existence for under-fives. The Committee further learnt of the Health Development Fund Programme which has seen the refurbishment of maternal clinics and which seeks to identify gaps in service delivery pertaining to maternal health. The fact that most neo-natal deaths are due to pre-term underweight babies was reiterated.

          4.6  Visit to Marondera Provincial Hospital

     4. 6. 1 Provision of primary health care services

The presence of trained rural health workers has assisted the province in terms of primary health care services and rural health centres are near the communities. The province has been involved in pre-malaria testing, distribution of mosquito nets, immunisations and outreach facilities, malnutrition follow ups, growth monitoring by village health workers, testing of the quality of water and provision of blair toilets.   

4.6.2   Prevalence and impact of non-communicable and communicable diseases

Diabetic patients are receiving glucometers for individual testing. The hospital has a demonstration nutrition garden for diabetics and also imparting that education to the communities.

4.6.3   Reducing mortality rates and improving maternal health care

The hospital carries out maternal audits. There is a limited number of anesthetists and the training is limited at national level. The hospital has an obstetrician and gynecologist to assist in maternity ward and equip skills to the nurses and this has led to a decrease in maternal deaths.

4.6.4   Nutrition

The general focus has mainly been on wasting rather stunting, thus more work needs to be done in that area. The under-fives and pregnant mothers do not pay because the hospital has a subsidy payment towards that area. The hospital does not have a nutritionist but a Food Services Supervisor who is equal to a dietitian.6

          5.0     COMMITTEE OBSERVATIONS

5.1    During the fact finding visit to Murehwa hospital, through Dr. Kahoba, the Committee observed that Village Health Workers (VHW) play a pivotal role in primary health care service provision.

5.2    The Committee observed that diabetes cases are constantly on the rise as alluded to by Dr. Kahoba during the Committee’s fact-finding visit to Murehwa hospital.

5.3    The Committee observed that although Murehwa District Hospital received a donation of an x- ray machine from the Chinese, it has not been installed for functionality.

          5.4   During Murehwa hospital tour, the Committee observed through Dr. Kahoba, that information on rape victims especially the under-age is not accessible although rape kits, a doctor and focal persons manning the department are in existence.

          5.5    During the Committee’s tour of Murehwa and Marondera hospital, the Committee observed that heavy donor dependence was positively affecting health institutions but negatively affecting the government’s future plans of funding health institutions.

5.6    The Committee noted that the procurement of equipment in the health sector is at national level and the Global Fund and has led to purchase of inappropriate equipment in the district   and provincial hospitals, a fact reiterated by both doctors of Murehwa and Marondera hospital. This indicates that there is no consultation between the hospitals, the Ministry of Health and the development partners in terms of procuring equipment.

5.7  During the oral evidence session with Natpharm, the Committee observed Natpharm’s aspiration to monopolise the procurement of all medicines and eliminating competition from other organisations.

5.8    From the Committee’s enquiry with Natpharm, the Committee noted that most donors target resources and drugs to the peripherals.

5.9    Through Mr. Mtombeni, the Committee noted that Natpharm is owed US$27 million by the Government and is, therefore, heavily relying on donors.

6        RECOMMENDATIONS       

 

 

Resolution

Action

Timeline

6.1

Village Health Workers should be sufficiently remunerated.

 

There is a need for the Government of Zimbabwe to compliment the work being done by VHW through topping up their allowances in terms of budgetary allocation.

By July 2017

 

 

 

 

 

6.2

The Government should continue sensitization of the public about diabetes.

 

The Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Health and Child Care should engage in sensitisation programmes to the public about diabetes.

By August 2017

6.3

The Ministry of Health and Child Care should ensure the installation of the x- ray machines in district and provincial hospitals.

The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health should release funds for the installation of x ray machines in provincial and district hospitals to avoid referrals and congestion to and in areas as further as Harare. The Ministry of Health should also engage domestic development partners to assist in funding.

By July 2017

6.4

The police and the hospitals should work together to curb the escalation of rape cases through sharing of information.

There is need for the police and the hospital to complement each other in terms of access to information about rape and rape kits.

By June 2017

6.5

The need for the Government of Zimbabwe to prioritize funding for the health sector.

There is need for the Ministry of Health to actively lobby for lump sums in terms of budgetary allocation and the Ministry of Health should also shift focus and engage domestic development partners who fund the health sector and desist from heavy reliance on foreign donors. Further, new proposed taxes such as taxing of airtime should be channelled towards revamping the health sector.

By July 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.6

There is need for the Ministry of Health and Child Care to consult provincial and district hospitals when procuring equipment through the tender system.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care at national level should consult the users of equipment (local clinics and hospitals) to suit their needs. The hospitals and clinics should state their own prescriptive with use of tenders, guidance and authorisation from the Head Office.

Continously when there is need for procurement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.7

The Government should prioritize the efficient and timeously procurement of drugs.

 

The Committee recommends Government to supply the central and provincial hospitals with drugs. The Committee further notes that the Ministry of Health and Child Care should deploy qualified personnel to ensure disbursement of drugs to avoid expiry.

With immediate effect

6.8

The Government should recapitalize health institutions in dire need of capital and facilitate Public Private Partnerships.

Government should reimburse Natpharm its money to allow it to recapitalise its operations which are currently supported 85% by donor and 15% from the Strategic Business Unit. The Committee further notes that heavy donor dependence is an unhealthy situation for, should the donors withdraw, the company risks collapsing.

 

 

 

By August 2017

 

I thank you.

         

HON. SEN. CHIEF SIANSALI: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to second the motion tabled by my Chairperson from the Committee on the Sustainable Development Goals.   Madam President, I will not attempt to regurgitate what my Chairperson shared with the House.  Moreso, as he said, Members will have the privilege to get the copies of the report. 

However, Madam President, we came to learn that a lot of non communicable diseases are now on the rise and are taking more people more than the well known HIV and AIDS.  It has been observed that Government should attempt to put efforts and measures to make awareness campaigns in the community so that people may know these diseases before they take life.

Diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, to name a few, are taking people day in day out in the rural set ups. Personally, I have come to witness that people do not know the symptoms of high blood pressure if it is attacking someone hence they hypothetically conclude to say that it is witchcraft.  In most cases, people who die of high blood pressure do not show many signs besides just failing to breathe and releasing a lot of mucus and saliva.  Vanhu vanobva vati arohwa nezvishiri.

People are dying every day and many people prescribed lines of tablets to take, they stop along the way.  Mostly, those that are given two lines prefer to take one line and ignore the other; hence the attack at any time.  The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health shared that Government should embark on putting early warning systems on such diseases.  He also highlighted that Government is flying a journal which I think is only centered in towns because journals can only be accessed by people in towns and those that are on electronic media.  We need to find other measures that we can put in place to make sure that the rural folk will also access this information and be aware of these diseases.

On nutrition, I have come to realise why my fellow Senator is very passionate on nutrition and she got herself a very good nickname.  As we were given the information on nutrition, I was so shocked to learn that the effects of poor diet and nutrition in the first 1000 days are irreversible, hence there is high need Madam President, for families and households to know the best diet for a child in the first 1000 days.  We have witnessed Madam President, a lot of stunted children, however, I am not an example of such, I am just short because of the genealogy of my family.  We have witnessed a lot of stunted growth, a lot of stunting in children, a lot of wasting, consequentially leading to loss of life.  The effects of non-good diet on children has got very detrimental effects. 

Most effects that we call dull conclusively in schools might not be actually dull but they became dull because of failing to get good diet during the first one thousand days.  There is high need to educate both men and women, not only pregnant women, to know the best diet a child should be given in the first one thousand days.  People think children that develop kwashiorkor and other diseases are products of poor families that do not have food, I beg to differ Madam President.  It is an issue of not knowing when to eat what.  Some families in the rural set up have got all what is required to feed their children, but the fact that they do not know when to give their child what results in them feeding them with the same line of food, hence the children develop kwashiorkor and a lot of other diseases caused by lack of nutritional diet. 

Madam President, some children that fail to get the proper diet at child age develop a lot of dullness in participation.  They develop a lot of dullness in associating with others.  Once they develop such, that means that family is perpetuated in poverty because consequently, they will not get good employment and they will remain poor.  If they remain poor, they will bear and perpetuate a lineage of poor people, hence the high need to listen to Hon. Sen. Khumalo when she sings about nutrition. 

Madam President, I would like to acknowledge Government for accepting and giving a directorship to a department of traditional medicines.  It has been an issue that was lagging behind in our country, whereby we failed to recognise what we grew up using.  Now that the directorship is there and we have people that mann the department, Mr. President, I would like to encourage the department to tirelessly put stringent measures to make sure that they control their department because within that department is where we find a lot of fake certificates on traditional healers, a lot of tsikamutandas that have got fake certificates from the same departments.

Mr. President, I would like to encourage the Ministry to make sure that the directorate of that department puts security measures so that it is not infested by non-deserving healers who are unscrupulously cheating and stealing from the communities.  It is unfortunate, as traditional leaders, we have been blamed for associating with those people, but those people have got certificates from the same Government departments with all features that are deemed to be authentic.  It is not a blame on the traditional leaders but on the authorities, that they should make sure that they give only the deserving and not to anyone.  Mr. President, I had the privilege to be part of the group that went to Marondera and Murehwa Hospitals and I will not touch a lot on what I saw there, except for one or two that touched me most.

Mr. President, the centralised procurement system of Government is somehow working on the negative to the hospitals.  I say so because we realised on our tours that it is either the central purchasing department will buy a wrong machine or equipment altogether or if it buys something, it buys either a very sophisticated machine which has got no one to install or it buys a machine which has got no one to operate in the country.  On our visits, we realised that there was an X-ray machine which was lying idle for more than ten years, accumulating dust in a hospital.  Patients are being turned away when we have got a very highly sophisticated machine which is not being used, just for non-failure to get someone to install it.  I wonder what cost more, to buy it or to install it. 

Mr. President, we also realised that in Murehwa, the hospital had stopped giving out linen to patients because they do not have a washing machine.  The hospital is now hiring out people to do its laundry and that obviously comes at a fee.  Within the same institution, there was a washing machine that was there also accumulating dust because Government is only failing to install the same machine.  The reasons that were given were that no one is able to install it.  Those are the reasons that we got as damning as they are. Mr. President, I would urge Government to make sure that, as much as we centralise the procurement system, we can, at least abide by the priorities of the concerned hospitals.  It would be better because you will be buying things that they want and that are of priority to them than to buy, receive and send out before acknowledging first what is on their priority list. 

Mr. President, I noted that within hospitals, there is an issue of laxity whereby there is no interactive action.  No interactive communication in the sense that when you got to the nurse, some drugs were said to be out of stock but when you go to the pharmacies, they had those tablets in stock.  So, such a disparity shows that there is no communication in the same house. I would urge the Government to make sure that they come up with a template way of communicating on such issues because patients were being turned away and we do not know how many died after that – when the drug was there expiring in the pharmacy.

          Another issue that I noted Mr. President, is that hospitals are working understaffed.  As understaffed as they are, they have opted to make sure that they pull and develop a system that they call locum.  That locum system is whereby nurses are allowed to go for overtime.  Instead of going on leave, they apply to go and work and they get paid. But, I would fail to make an economic sense in this because we have a lot of nurses who were trained but are failing to get into the system.  The issue of money here is being ruled out because these same nurses that are within the system are already going on overtime and getting paid.  In most cases, at the end of every month, the overtime locum pay is more than their monthly salary.  So, I fail to make an economic sense out of that.  Why do we not employ nurses that are outside there so that they can also get employment, feed their children and other beneficiaries – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.]-

          Moreso Mr. President, if we employ new staff, because money is already there, we are assured of getting the best quality service from those people.  It is common knowledge that if one has pulled for a long time, he will not give the best of his ability.  These people are not there to work because they want, but they are there because they have seen it as a money-making gimmick.  So, they are on duty but very tired and as such, they will not give the best of their expertise.  Government should consider making sure that they abide by the working days of the nurses and employ more staff to make sure that they fill the gap – equivalent to the money that they are giving to the nurses that are doing locum.  Mr. President, I think that I have tried to make an attempt to shorten the gaps and fill up on what my Chairperson had presented.  So, let me leave some for other Members of the Committee.  I thank you.

          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: Thursday, 11th May, 2017.

MOTION

ADOPTION OF A DRAFT PROTOCOL ON THE AFRICAN CHARTER ON HUMAN AND PEOPLE’S RIGHTS ON THE RIGHT TO NATIONALITY AND THE ERADICATION OF STATELESSNESS IN AFRICA

          HON. SEN. TIMVEOS:  I move the motion standing in my name:

          That this House;

RECALLING ongoing efforts of the African Union to move towards the adoption of a Draft “Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Right to Nationality and the Eradication of Stateless in Africa;

TAKING NOTE of the conclusions and Recommendations on statelessness adopted by the SADC “Technical Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa Addressing Mixed Migration in Southern Africa: Linking Protection, Immigration, Border Management and Labour Migration, Gaborone, Botswana from 16-18 August 2016”;

ACKNOWLEDGING the Conclusions of the “Conference on Ensuring Everyone’s Right to Nationality: The Role of Parliaments in Preventing and Ending Statelessness, co-organised by the Parliament of South Africa, the inter Parliamentary Union and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, from 26 to 27 November 2015”;

RECOGNISING the requirement by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) endorsed by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015, in particular SDG target 16,9 to provide by 2030 legal identity for all, including birth registration;

FURTHER RECOGNISING the numerous formal pledges of SADC Member States to accede to the 1954 UN Convection relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the Recommendations from the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review to the same effect;

COGNISANT that the Zimbabwe National Constitution provides for Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms incorporating the right of children to a name and provision of identity documents;

NOW THEREFORE calls upon the Government to:

i)                  resolve any existing situations of statelessness within our own country;

ii)               review the legislative frameworks and administrative practices in nationality matters with a view to ensure their consistency with the Zimbabwe Constitution and International standards on the prevention and resolution of statelessness, as well as on protection of stateless persons;

iii)            initiate legislative reforms which address any identified gaps or challenges, including any discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion or gender, thereby helping to prevent statelessness;

iv)            ensure gender equality as regards the equal right of men and women to pass on their nationality to their children and spouses and to change or retain their nationality.

v)               expedite the implementation of Article 6(4) of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, thereby preventing childhood statelessness;

vi)            establish and maintain comprehensive birth registration and civil registration systems within Zimbabwe with a view to prevent statelessness;

vii)         accede to the 1954 UN Convention relating to the status of Stateless Persons, the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction

of Statelessness and the 1990 UN Convention on the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families.

(vii)  support the drafting, adoption and ratification of a Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Right to Nationality and the Eradication of Statelessness in Africa.

          HON. SEN. CHIMHINI:  I second.

          HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: Thank you Mr. President for affording me an opportunity to speak on this motion.  What is statelessness?  A stateless person is someone who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law.  A person becomes stateless, for example if they lose citizenship of one country without having acquired any alternative citizenship.  Such a person Mr. President, will not have any nationality under the laws of any State.

          Here, nationality refers to the legal bond between a person and a State.  This legal bond in the Constitution of Zimbabwe is established under Section 35.1 of the Constitution which stipulates citizenship by birth, descent or registration.  Mr. President, Sections 36 and 45 of the Zimbabwe Constitution say, it is of essence that the State fulfills its constitutional mandate through elaborating national laws in compliance with constitutional provisions that provide for the establishment of statehood and guarantee of nationality through laws that promote ready access to national registration and documentation.

          Mr. President, the 1961 Convention is the leading international instrument that sets rules for conferral and non-withdrawal of citizenship to prevent cases of statelessness from arising.  By setting out rules to limit the occurrence of statelessness, the Convention gives effect to Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which recognises that everyone has the right to a nationality.  Why is it that Zimbabwe should ratify the 1961 Convention on the reduction of statelessness?  The adoption of the 1961 Convention on the reduction of statelessness will contribute to the balancing of the rights of individuals with the interests of States by setting out general rules for the prevention of statelessness and simultaneously allowing some exceptions to those rules.  By adopting the 1961 Convention that prevents statelessness, States contribute to the reduction of statelessness over time.  This means that Zimbabwe can foster the progressive realisation of registration of all persons within the country avoiding statelessness.

          Mr. President, Zimbabwe is a State party to the 1954 Convention relating to the status of stateless persons and the 1961 Convention complements this Convention.  The 1961 Convention guides States with rules for the conferring, granting and non-withdrawal of citizenship to prevent the occurrence of statelessness.  It sets out rules to limit the occurrence of statelessness and gives effect to Article 15 of the Universal Declaration.

          Failure to ratify Mr. President, the 1961 Convention to the reduction of statelessness reflects negatively on the Government of Zimbabwe’s failure to fulfill its citizens’ social, economic, civil and political rights.  The failure by the Government of Zimbabwe to fulfill the basic right of granting statehood to its people is of paramount importance towards wholesome development.  Mr. President, in my research on this motion that I moved, I was shocked during my research to find out that we have over 10 500 refugees who are at Tongogara Camp east of Harare.  These are from DRC mostly and DRC has 8 100, Burundi has over 700, Rwanda has 700 and Mozambique over 700 as well.  So, there is a school at this camp as well but mostly now, it is crowded and some are actually having to learn from underneath trees.  There is a lot Mr. President, such as malnutrition and believe me, there are so many children at this camp. The issue of birth certificates and identification cards is really an issue.

          The Citizenship Act should also be aligned to the Constitution. The Constitution is very clear that if you are born in Zimbabwe you are now a Zimbabwean. So, the issue of registration should not be an issue but we have also in Zimbabwe a lot of aliens. I remember the Government introduced an issue to say that aliens should renounce their citizenship but because it is done in Harare I have, especially in Zvishavane, been approached by a number of people who say they do not have money to come to Harare and they do not have Identification certificates. Some of these people who are called aliens have passports but when they went to try and renew their passports, they were told no, you are not Zimbabwean which had actually caused a lot of problems to many people. I think the Registrar General’s Office should look at this problem and possibly try to make sure that all districts deal with these issues of identification certificates so that everyone can get one.

          Mr. President, it is paramount to note that various rights are infringed when pertinent issues such as birth registration are not addressed. These include issues such as the right to an identity. Stateless people are not able to get relevant documents such as identification certificates like I said. Children are not able to obtain birth certificates and according to the Constitution, this should be easy like I previously said.  In addition Mr. President, the right to vote and to be voted into office, under Zimbabwean law, Section 67 of the Constitution, only citizens can stand for election and be voted into office by other citizens.

Right to access to information held by the State; the Constitution provides that citizens or permanent residents can access information held by the State; social and economic rights enjoyed by citizens in Zimbabwe; the right to basic State funded education and the right to access basic health care services. I can go on and on, on this issue of statelessness but surely it really needs to be addressed because we really have – when I was researching on this motion, at Tongogara they are actually suspecting that this year the number of refugees might go up to at least 15 000. You can imagine they have children and mostly when these refugees come to Zimbabwe, they have many children who do not have identification. So, these are issues that we should look at and the Registrar General’s Office should look at it closely and take the issue of statelessness very seriously. I thank you Mr. President.

HON. SEN. CHIMHINI: Thank you Mr. President. I rise to second the motion moved by Hon. Sen. Timveos. Statelessness is widely seen to have a devastating human impact. It undermines a person’s dignity and often deprives him or her of economic, social, cultural, civil and political human rights. Access to education, health care and the labour market may be denied. The resulting marginalisation may even adversely affect social and economic development of the society as a whole. The deprivation therefore becomes a violation of basic human rights.

Mr. President, up to date, statelessness has not yet received the attention it deserves. Estimates indicate that throughout the world, there are about 10 million stateless people. Individuals, women and children are particularly exposed to the risks of statelessness. This is why the Gukurahundi issue has remained emotive and the more we need to be sober in discussing this post independence unfortunate period.

In Southern Africa, individuals who are statelessness or are at risk of statelessness can be found in their countries of origin and in migratory contexts. In the region, various specific causes may lead to statelessness. These include modernisation and transformation processes, understaffed and underfunded public administrations, shortcomings in birth registration and documentation; disintegration of traditional family bonds; discrimination on the basis of gender or other criteria; and last but not least,  the multigenerational movement of migratory workers who have often lost ties to their ancestors’ country of origin.

Mr. President, the SADC Member States have already acceded to various universal and regional human rights instruments that enshrine the individual right to a nationality. Among these instruments is, for instance, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which protects every child’s right to acquire a nationality.

However, law and practice in the SADC Member States are not yet in full compliance with international standards regarding the prevention and reduction of statelessness. Mr. President, in some countries, sexual discrimination in nationality laws denied women the right to pass on their nationality under the same conditions as men. Children of foreign descent, for example children from migrant workers often suffer marginalisation. Birth registration practices are not comprehensive or they discriminate between children born to own nationals and children born to nationals of other SADC Member States. In some areas, members of ethnic minorities remain excluded from nationality.

Mr. President, these gaps in the protection of human beings against the risk of statelessness has recently been addressed in several international frameworks. In 2014, the international community agreed upon a global action plan to end statelessness and called upon the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to implement this plan by 2024. With a view to prevent statelessness, the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015 include the target “to provide legal identity for all including birth registration”. Mr. President, without a birth certificate one cannot claim nationality.

The World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May 2016 confirmed the global commitment of all states to end statelessness. Among parliamentary activities, the most noteworthy has been the ‘ Conference on Ensuring Everyone’s Right to Nationality: The Role of Parliaments in Preventing and Ending Statelessness’ in Cape Town in November, 2015. Members of the National Parliaments of Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe participated in this global conference and called upon regional parliamentary assemblies to contribute to the prevention of statelessness and the better protection of persons at risk of statelessness.

          On the SADC level, statelessness is discussed by the Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa (MIDSA).  At the “MIDSA Technical Workshop on Addressing Mixed Migration in Southern Africa:  Linking Protection, Immigration, Border Management and Labour Migration” held in Gaborone August 2016, SADC Member States concretized their recommendations on the prevention of statelessness in the SADC region.

          Recently, the ECOWAS Member States intensified their efforts to prevent statelessness.  A comparative look at their activities may be informative; with the “Abidjan Declaration on Eradication of Statelessness” of February 2015, the ECOWAS Ministers of Justice and Interior committed to prevent statelessness in migratory contexts, to resolve situations of statelessness in non-migratory contexts, to identify stateless persons, to better protect stateless persons, to create strategies and partnerships and to initiate concrete legislative and administrative reforms to reduce and prevent statelessness.  Within the first year after the adoption of the Abidjan Declaration, 22 000 persons acquired identity documents and or late birth certificates and five countries have either recently acceded to the Statelessness Conventions or are in the process of doing so.  These are progressive steps which Zimbabwe should embrace. 

Mr. President, the Zimbabwean Constitution has a comprehensive Bill of Rights and a specific section (Section 81) to deal with the Rights of Children and in particular every child has a right to be given a name and a family name.  The spectrum of right also covers the provision of a birth certificate to ensure that children born in Zimbabwe are entitled to citizenship.

Section 36, the right to citizenship extends to any child found in Zimbabwe who is or appears to be 15 years of age and whose nationality or parents are not known is presumed to be a Zimbabwean citizen by birth.  This provision is meant to guard against statelessness.

The Zimbabwean Government must be proactive in making sure that all the pieces of domestic legislation are in conformity with the Zimbabwean Constitution as well as the relevant international instruments which must be acceded to.

The office of the Registrar-General must be flexible and make it easy for people to obtain identity documents and remove unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy which makes it difficult to obtain identity documents.

The offices must also be decentralized to make it easy and inexpensive for children to obtain identity documents.

Procedures must be accessible for children born in Zimbabwe or refugees or other displaced persons to acquire relevant documents and prevent them from being rendered stateless.

Parliamentarians, as representatives of the people should urge the Executive to keep track of developments in other regions regarding the eradication of statelessness.

The Issue of Citizenship and Statelessness 

Mr. President, given the above, it goes without saying that the issue of citizenship is a very important matter, regardless of the nationality.  Without the need of exploring jurisprudence, it is essential to note that the holding of national citizenship is a universally guaranteed right.

When one is recognised as a citizen, it provides the individual with various benefits such as the right to register and vote in elections, the rights to unrestricted entry and stay in a country, access to health services and so on.  The aforesaid can be classified as socio-economic human rights.

It is worth noting the positive steps made towards reducing statelessness in Zimbabwe.

Dual Citizenship

The right to dual citizenship is only for citizens by birth thus citizens by registration or descent are precluded by the provisions of Section 42 (e) of the Constitution from dual citizenship.

The Constitutional Court in the case of Mutumwa Dziva Mawere vs.  The Registrar General & 3ORS CCZ 4/15 which brief facts are as follows, the Applicant (Mawere), a Zimbabwean citizen by birth sought a declaratur that, being a citizen by birth, he was entitled to dual citizenship and that the law did not require of him to renounce his foreign citizenship before he could be issued with a Zimbabwean national identity document.  The Registrar General contented that the Applicant could not be issued with a Zimbabwean national identity document without first renouncing his South African citizenship.

The Court in this matter granted the Application thereby confirming the constitutional recognition of dual citizenship under Zimbabwean law.  Thus any person who is a Zimbabwean citizen by birth is entitled to dual citizenship.  The law does not require anyone to first renounce their foreign citizenship before they can exercise their Zimbabwean citizenship.  This is a positive development Mr. President.

The Constitutional Court re-enforced the position stated in the Mawere Case, in the case of Farai Daniel Madzimbamuto vs. The Registrar General & 3 ORS CCZ 114/13 whose brief facts are as follows, the Applicant (Madzimbamuto) was a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth.  One of his parents was Zimbabwean by birth while the other was South African.  He left Zimbabwe for the United Kingdom on a Zimbabwean passport in order to take up employment in that country.  On expiry of his passport, he attempted to get a new one through the Zimbabwean Embassy in London but was referred to Harare because the Embassy no longer had the capacity to issue passports. 

The Applicant returned home briefly but due to the chaotic situation and long queues then prevailing at the passport office, failed to submit an application for a passport.  He returned to the United Kingdom where he was able to obtain a South African passport by virtue of his mother’s birth in South Africa.  When the Applicant returned to Zimbabwe permanently in 2012, he presented his South African passport to Immigration Officials who treated him as an alien because of his South African passport, even though there was evidence that he was a Zimbabwean citizen.  The authorities restricted his stay in Zimbabwe to a specific period.

Mr. President, it is important to note that the Constitutional Court held as follows:

“A Zimbabwean citizen by birth does not lose his or her citizenship on acquiring a foreign citizenship.  He or she is entitled to hold foreign citizenship and a foreign passport.  Indeed, the Constitution has made it clear that Zimbabwe citizenship by birth cannot be lost except if the citizenship was acquired by fraud, false representation or concealment of a material fact by any person”.

Mr. President, the court further stated that:

“A purposive interpretation of this conferred in Section 66 (Freedom of Movement) read into the Applicant’s entitlement to dual citizenship is that the Applicant’s right to enter, remain and leave Zimbabwe cannot be restricted even when he presents or travels again on a foreign passport.”

From the above, it is therefore unlawful for the Immigration Officials to ask Zimbabwean citizens entering the country (including those doing so holding a second passport) how long they intend to stay in Zimbabwe and endorsing a date by which they should leave the country.  It must also be noted that the information which appears on the inside of the cover of the Zimbabwean passport as well as the information on the Registrar-General’s website to the effect that dual citizenship is prohibited is not only misleading but ultra vires the Constitution and same should be disregarded as the matter has been settled by the Constitutional Court.  I hope we will all go and check in our passports as we go home today.

Law Reforms

Mr. President, the need for law reforms cannot be taken lightly.  In line with the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the child, to which all Southern African States are parties, the Zimbabwean Constitution and nationality laws, especially the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act (Chapter 4:01) should provide for an explicit and unqualified right of a nationality from birth for all children born on their territory who would otherwise be stateless.

The law should provide that a young child found in the territory of the State shall, in the absence of proof be considered to have been born within the territory of parents possessing the nationality of Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwean law should facilitate the naturalisation of stateless persons, relaxing the rules applied to them.

Mr. President, the law should protect against arbitrary denial and deprivation of nationality providing for due process protections ,including the rights to seize a court in relation to any administrative decision on nationality, providing limited grounds for loss or deprivation of nationality that protect against statelessness. 

Mr. President, birth registration and identity documentation have already been mentioned by the mover.  Acquisition of birth registration and identity documentation should not be a nightmare in any given country.  States should take all measures to ensure that all children born in the country are registered at birth without discrimination, including those children born in remote areas and in disadvantaged communities as well as those in the country as refugees, stateless persons or migrants, regardless of migratory status; and that children not registered at birth can be registered later during childhood or adulthood.  These measures should include for example the use of mobile birth registration units, registration free of charge and flexible systems of proof where it is not reasonable to meet the standard requirements.

Children whose births have not been registered should be allowed to access basic services such as healthcare and education while waiting to be properly registered. 

In conclusion, Mr. President, States should take measures to strengthen their civil registry systems in general, in particular for the issue of identity cards ensuring that services are accessible across the entire country, staff are trained, discrimination is minimised in administrative decision-making and administrative and judicial review and appeal mechanisms are in place. 

Mr. President, it is my humble submission that there is no reason whatsoever to have a person declared stateless, given the advancement in technology which can easily identify any person residing in Zimbabwe, since the majority of cases, traditional leaders and the police do try to account for any person residing in Zimbabwe.  With these words, I thank you Mr. President.

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

HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Thursday, 11 May, 2017.

MOTION

FIRST REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON HIV AND AIDS ON HIV AND AIDS IN INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING IN ZIMBABWE

Eighth Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the First Report of the Thematic Committee on HIV and AIDS on HIV and AIDs in Institutions of Higher Learning in Zimbabwe.

Question again proposed.

*HON. SEN. MANYERUKE:  Thank you Mr. President.  I want to thank our Chairperson, Hon. Sen. Timveos for the report that she tabled in this House where we went on tours in institutions of higher learning, colleges and universities.  Mr. President, we saw a lot of things that were being talked about in these institutions.  We realised that the girl student coupled by their dressing which exposes their bodies, you tend to question yourself whether they came here to get education or what.  They forget where they come from and the challenges the parents went through in looking for school fees because we heard them explaining on their own, the nature of the families they come from – poor families.  We said to them, your family might be poor but they made sure you came to university.

Mr. President, the girl children have become promiscuous.  They no longer value their bodies or recall what the Bible says that your body is the temple of the Lord.  They are not worried about the diseases.  Mr. President, we went to Mkoba, Lupane, MSU and other institutions, and came across students who said they end up having affairs with the lecturers instead of the lecturers teaching them to finish their courses.  They end up engaging in affairs so that they get better grades for them to pass their degrees.  That is a challenge that needs to be considered by us and the Government because lecturers are taking advantage of the girl child who needs to pass.

Most importantly, it seems the girl child has gone out of their minds.  The men who were there are focussed and are hoping to get better jobs and look after their families.  The girl students do not value themselves and have no focus and  do not care about themselves.  We hope the Almighty will intervene.  I was touched by that issue because I also have girl children.  I have aspirations and hopes that my children go to university but I said to my child, I am busy looking for a place for you to do a teaching degree but it pains me because you are going there to be promiscuous. 

These children are not concerned about the diseases that are there.  All they think of is the money that they will get from the people.  They do not care whether that person is infected or is on ARVs.  They do not care whether they can get access to the ARVs.  Their request was that as MPs, please find us condoms that are of high grade and value because the ones they are using are not of good quality. 

It pained me and I am hoping that the report that was tabled by the Chairperson that was carefully written and is accurate, will enable the Government and us to unite and see how we can raise awareness in our children so that they understand why they go to school.  If they are already infected with HIV and AIDS, they end up passing on the pandemic to those who are learned but, the students that we saw in the institutions seem to be all positive and we hope that God will intervene.  We want to thank the tour that we embarked on.  We went as a Committee and we worked together as a team but the challenge is that our children have become promiscuous in these institutions of higher learning.  Thank you for the opportunity that you have given me.

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

HON. SEN. CHIMHINI: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Thursday, 11th May, 2017.

An Hon. Member having moved for the adjournment of the Senate; the Hon. Vice President and Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs walked into the House.

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE (SEN. TAWENGWA):  I welcome the Vice President.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. E. MNANGAGWA):  Mr. President Sir, I seek leave of the august House to revert back to Order of the Day Number 1, that it be disposed of.

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:  Mr. President, we objecte

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: It is only one objection.

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA: Do you want us to divide the House?

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  We are not going to divide the House because I have asked if there are any objections and it was only yourself – why?

Motion put and agreed to.

SECOND READING

 JUDICIAL LAWS AMENDMENT (EASE OF SETTLING COMMERCIAL AND OTYHER DISPUTES) BILL [H.B. 4A, 2016]

          First Order read: Second Reading: Judicial Laws Amendment (Ease of Settling Commercial and Other Disputes)  Bill [H.B. 4A, 2016]

          THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MNANGAGWA): Mr. President, our Government remains committed to removing the difficulties involved in doing business in Zimbabwe.  The desired growth in the economy and investment would be sustained if we have an enabling environment.  Rigorous business hurdles for setting up and running a business, limited access to credit, limited legal enforcement of business contracts are just but to mention a few challenges we face in Zimbabwe and across Africa.  The ease of doing business project is centred on how as a nation we can improve our commercial laws and regulations as well as their enforcement so that we improve economically in the region.  Its objective is to eliminate the unnecessary cost and other policy inconsistencies affecting business.  Business regulation and enforcement plays a pivotal role in the fulfilling of ZIM ASSET as it contributes towards economic growth.  That is why this Bill seeks to amend the High Court Act, the Magistrates’ Courts Act and the Small Claims Courts Act so that disputes of a commercial nature are dealt with expeditiously in our courts.  It will expedite justice delivery and promote access to justice.

Hon. Members might be aware of our considerable efforts to get rid of stringent business regulations which hinder economic growth, causing unemployment and corruption.  This also leads to delays in export time and reduces exports.  Court regulations that result in delays in dispute resolution weaken the enforceability of contracts, increase corruption and are associated with inconsistency and unfairness of dispute resolution.  Justice delayed is justice denied.  A competent court system capable of enforcing business contracts and ensuring a smooth transfer of titles in the event of sale or purchase of property reduces the cost of doing business. Mr. President, this now brings me to the contents of the Bill before Hon. Members.

Clause 3 and 8 seek to introduce ‘virtual sittings’ in our court system.  This will enable provision to be made by rules of court for ‘virtual sittings” of the Court at which all or any of the parties to a civil suit may (by mutual agreement) participate in sittings of the court by electronic means.  The virtual sitting will enable court proceedings to take place especially in places where parties involved are outside the country, in hospital or have failed to attend court due to other commitments.  Virtual sittings consist of the judges of the High Court or in matters heard at the Magistrates Court, magistrates, sitting in court or in chambers communicating with all parties.  The communication is by the use of any electronic or other means of communication by which all the parties to the proceedings at the sitting can hear and be heard at the same time without being physically present together.  Some business previously confined to the civil courts will qualify to be heard by superior judicial offices via telephone and video conferencing.

Mr. President, the parties involved in the suit must consent to the hearing of the case by means of a virtual sitting.  The Bill states that the High Court rules of court for virtual sittings apply only to civil proceedings and not criminal proceedings.  The Bill does acknowledge the possibility that the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act may under exceptional and specific circumstances, allow the use of virtual sittings in criminal hearings.  In its current form, the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act does not make provision for virtual hearings.  This will assist in speedy resolution of commercial disputes between parties electronically, without them being necessarily present in court.

Mr. President, Clauses 2 and 5 of the Bill provides for the creation of divisions in the High Court for specific purposes.  The judiciary is set for reformation through specialised extensions of the High Court.  This is in line with the Constitution as provided for under Section 171 (3) which stipulates that a law may be made to provide for the High Court to be divided into specialised divisions but every such division must be able to exercise the general jurisdiction of the High Court in any matter that is brought before it.

The High Court will be given some powers to create divisions through a Statutory Instrument where necessary, in this instance the Commercial Division.  From time to time, the High Court may create divisions to speed resolution of disputes.  This is a positive measure as it will go a long way in breaking the perception that commercial litigation in the country is frustratingly slow while the costs are far too burdensome.  The amendment will assist in the fast, efficient and high quality dispute resolution of disputes and claims of a commercial nature.  Cases will be heard by judges with suitable expertise and experience. 

The Chief Justice, after consultation with the Judge President, can now cause the creation of a specialised division of the High Court in accordance with Section 171 (3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe by notice in the Government Gazette.  The Chief Justice shall specify the name of the division of the High Court concerned; and define or give a statement of the scope or nature of the division’s jurisdiction and if necessary or expedient, specify the places and times at which the division shall sit.  Specialised divisions of the High Court may be created to specialise in the adjudication of cases in the field of commercial law, family law, mining law, electoral law, revenue law, the law of the deceased and insolvent estates or any other specialised field of law. 

Other specialised divisions will include the Fiscal Appeal Court and the Intellectual Property Tribunal.  The rules of court applicable to the High Court shall apply to all divisional courts.  The Judge President shall assign at least two judges of the High Court to be judges of a specialised division of the High Court for such period as the Judge President shall specify.  This is the practice in other jurisdictions such as Ireland, Tanzania and Britain just to mention a few.  Cases are determined in a manner which is just expeditious and likely to minimise the costs of those proceedings.

Mr. President, Clauses 4 and 9 introduce an electronic service of litigation in Zimbabwe to enable rules to be made for such matters as the electronic service of process.  These proposed amendments will apply equally to the High court as well as the Magistrates’ Court.  This move will transmute the current paper-based court processes by moving towards computer-based technology.  In a bid to expedite court processes, the Bill seeks to allow for:

-         the service of process, for example summons and court applications by electronic means;

-         the authentication of documents by electronic means, whether executed inside or outside Zimbabwe; and

-         the digitalisation of the records filed or lodged with the Registrar and the conditions of access thereto or for the copying thereof for the purpose of any judicial proceedings.

Mr. President, Clause 5 of the Bill will amend the interpretation section of the Magistrates’ Court Act, Chapter 7:10 by adding definitions of business, commercial court and commercial dispute for the avoidance of doubt and the closure of any loopholes when disputes of a commercial nature arise.  This will also ensure speedy conclusion of disputes as there will be no need to battle on interpretations of what constitutes a commercial dispute.  This has been done for clarity.

Clause 10 of the Bill addresses the decentralisation of the Small Claims Court.  The recent decentralisation of the small claims through Statutory Instrument 34 of 2016 has also played a significant role in making the country conducive for business.  Every Magistrate Court in Zimbabwe can now sit as a Small Claims Court.  This means that Small Claims Courts are now in every province countrywide and in every district where a Magistrate Court can be found.  Instead of forking out fares travelling to and from provincial towns for the small claims, upcoming business people can now walk to their nearest Magistrates’ Court for justice. 

The definition of person has been extended to juristic persons to allow corporate entities to follow up on their debtors.  Formally, they had no locus standi in the small claims court.  Artificial personality, juridical personality or juristic personality is the characteristic of a non-living entity regarded by law to have the status of personhood.  Statutory Instrument 34 of 2016 has also increased the jurisdictions of the Small Claims Courts from $250 to $1000.  This was done in order to decongest the Magistrates’ Courts in order to facilitate speedy resolution of disputes.

Mr. President, Clause 11 of the Bill seeks to afford parties in a dispute the right to legal representation in the Small Claims Court which was previously non-existent in such courts.  Lawyers are now allowed to represent clients in the Small Claims Court in line with the constitutional provision as stipulated under Section 69(1).  However, the tariffs should be governed by the Minister responsible and party to party costs cannot be claimed.  The right to legal representation is generally regarded as a constituent of the right to a fair trial.  Legal representation is an important tool or means of enforcing one’s rights.  As a minimum, the right to a fair trial includes, the right to be heard within a reasonable time, the right to counsel and the right to a public hearing just to mention a few.  This right is also protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 10), International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, ICCPR (Article 14), African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, ACHPR (Articles 3, 7, 26).

          Clause 12 of the Bill seeks to shorten the period within which small claims court proceedings may be initiated for speedy conclusion.  Currently, for one to commence action in the small claims court, the plaintiff must deliver personally or through registered post, a letter of demand to respond within 14 days.  If the defendant fails to respond to the claim within the 14 day period, the plaintiff must request the clerk of the Small Claims Court to issue summons which again must be responded to within the 14 day period.  Hon. Members, the amendment which Clause 11 seeks to introduce has an effect of reducing the 14 day period to seven days for ease of doing business.  This again is a positive move in providing speedy conclusion of disputes of commercial nature by reducing the time period of institution of actions in the Small Claims Court.

          Mr. President, Hon. Members will note that this amendment Bill has addressed quite a number of issues to facilitate ease of doing business in Zimbabwe.  The role of the Judiciary in dealing with insolvency and resolution of other disputes is of considerable importance.  There is a significant relationship between the positive and negative between court efficiency in handling debt contracts and total credit.  There is also a correlation between procedural formalism of the court system and the duration of resolution.  Courts are essential for entrepreneurs because they interpret the rules of the market and protect economic rights.  Efficient and transparent courts of law encourage new business relationships.

          I therefore commend the Judicial Laws Amendment Bill of 2016 to the House and move that the Bill be now read a second time. 

HON. SEN. MUSAKA: I thank you Mr. President and I also thank the Vice President and Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for bring in this Bill.  Indeed, a revolution – take the law to the people.  This is exactly what should be done.  The law is now going to the people and it is going to be less expensive.  If there is a dispute, it is dealt with immediately and then we do business.   I congratulate the Minister for this Bill.  I support it.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. TIMVEOS:  I would like to thank the Hon. Vice President Hon. Mnangagwa for bringing in this Bill.  This is a good Bill.  I do not have a copy but what he has read is very ideal.  It is important for disputes to be settled at courts close to the business communities.  This Bill is important and I want to thank the Vice President for bringing it through.  It is important for us as a nation and it is bringing services to the people.  This is where devolution comes in like I said during my statelessness motion, that if people get services close to them, we find that our systems will work well. So, I would like to thank you Hon. Vice President for the Bill that you have brought.

*THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  Thank you Hon. Timveos.  This Bill is in our pigeon holes and the announcement was made yesterday by Madam President.

*HON. SEN. MANYERUKE:  Thank you Mr. President.  I would like to thank the Vice President for the Bill that he has brought to this august House.  We hope that when you want to amend certain laws, they should be brought to us on time to enable our Government to work well. 

*HON. SEN. MASHAVAKURE:  Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to add my voice on the Bill that has been brought by the Vice President and the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.   I heard him say that the Small Claims court will be operating at the Magistrates Court and will now be able to take claims of up to $1 000.  I think it is important that authority be given to the traditional leaders.  In rural areas, we have businesses that we do there and there is a lot of cattle rustling.  If the matter is taken before the traditional chief, the Chief must be given authority to preside over such cases in line with probably two cows which are in the range of $1000.  In short, it is a good Bill that enables justice to get to the people.  If it is devolved to the traditional leaders, it will assist us so that at least people can access justice close to them.  They do not need to get on a bus to go there.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. MAWIRE:  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to add my voice.  I would also want to thank the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs who is also the Vice President of Zimbabwe.  We want to thank you so much for your humility and for coming to this august House with these Bills and enlightening us on such important matters. 

I am in support of the Bill.  I think it is very pertinent because these are the issues that trouble people because some people were being imprisoned for failure to attend a court session.  It is because they would travel long distances to go to the urban areas far from where they stay.  You have done us proud by taking the offices to where people are.  Even those with disability also face the challenges to go to attend court sessions and sometimes they did not even have money to travel but now, these services have come to the people and it has made business easy.  We thank you for the ease of doing business.  We thank you Mr. President.

+HON. SEN. MASUKU: Thank you Hon. President of the Senate for giving me this opportunity to debate.  I would also like to thank the Vice President and Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

I would like to say that in Zimbabwe today, even those who are abroad, when they find out that they are given a right to go and analyse their own situations – in the past, many people lost a lot quietly because it was too far for them to move to the towns where they could attend to their issues.  This Bill will assist us as Zimbabweans and it will attract investments if we make such laws which are good for all Zimbabweans regardless of their age.

When we speak of making sure that Zimbabwe is conducive enough for people to come and do business which is the ease of doing business with such a law that has been brought by the Vice President, we look forward to an improved economy because many people will be attracted to come and do business in Zimbabwe.  I would like to thank the Hon. Vice President for bringing this Bill to this House today.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF NTABENI:  Thank you Mr. President.  I stood up to thank the Vice President for the Bill that he has brought to this House.  It is a challenge for us who come from rural areas.  I represent the rural constituents who are poor and do not have bus fares to go to the courts.  These days we use swipe machines and the rural folk do not know that and there is a problem.  We thank you Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for the Bill because you have brought the courts to the people.  I come from Midlands and the cases in this province exceed all the other areas.  People are committing murder daily and as traditional leaders, we do not know what to do.  I am sure that this Bill will assist.  Even the ZRP have come to me and requested me to bring the issue before the House that there are no vehicles to take the accused and the police officers to courts. 

Mr. Acting President, you have done something very good and I congratulate you for the Bill, please keep it up.  You are now representing the people and those that have voted us here, I am sure they will be very happy when they hear of such a Bill.  I thank you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MNANGAGWA):  Thank you Mr. President Sir.  May I thank all the Hon. Senators that have made contributions positively supporting the introduction of this Bill which gives power to the Judge President and the Chief Justice to create the Small Claims Court with jurisdiction up to a US$1000 in commercial and civil disputes.  As Hon. Senators have said, this will now entail the possibilities of disputes of that nature being dealt with at local level rather than coming to Harare to the High Court where they were resolved in the past.  Furthermore, as Hon. Sen. Masuku has said, the passing of this Bill will in turn promote the image of Zimbabwe internationally by creating an environment where commercial disputes can be resolved quickly, depending on the size of the disputes.  It has been positively accepted by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and businesses in general that the introduction of this Bill will promote the environment for running businesses and creating businesses in Zimbabwe.

We are very thankful that the august House is supporting the amendment of the Judicial Laws Bill in order to promote the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe.  I thank you.

Motion put and agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Committee Stage:  Thursday, 11th May, 2017.

SECOND READING

DEEDS REGISTRY BILL [H. B. 3A, 2016]

Second Order read:  Second Reading:  Deeds Registry Bill [H. B. 3A, 2016].

THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MNANGAGWA):  Mr. President Sir, the Government of Zimbabwe remains devoted to eliminate the problems involved in doing business in Zimbabwe.  The anticipated advancement in the economy and investments would be sustained if we have a favourable working environment.  There are quite a number of obstacles that are involved when one wants to set up a business in Zimbabwe.  After the realisation of the stagnation of business growth, the ease of doing business project was launched.  As a country, we evaluated ways which we could implore in order to improve on our commercial laws and regulations and their enforcement so that we improve economically in the region. 

In a world that is globalising, many transactions are not being completed electronically, thereby making it relatively unfavourable for business to be conducted only through paper records.  That is why this Bill seeks to amend the Dees Registry Act so that registration of properties can be pursued electronically and an electronic database is created in order to promote economic growth both local and internationally.  The effect of these changes will ensure business is promoted by the expedited registration period, electronic database thereby save both expenses and time.

Mr. President Sir, I am sure that everyone is affected by the aforementioned challenges which significantly contribute to corruption in Zimbabwe.  The unavailability of electronic access to the Deeds Registry’s Offices also contributes to the delays in export time and reduces exports.  The unavailability of access to the Registry Office is of great concern as we are in an era of globalisation and digitalisation.  It is fundamental to ensure that there is a smooth transfer of titles and registration of properties, thereby reducing the cost of doing business.  Mr. President Sir, at this juncture, I would like to highlight the contents of the Bill before Hon. Members.

Clause 2:

This clause seeks to amend Section 78 of the principal Act so as to restrict the execution of powers of attorney only to those witnessed and signed by a legal practitioner, notary public or justice of the peace and the signature of such legal practitioner, notary public or justice of the peace.  Attestations of such powers by “competent witnesses” or commissioners of oaths will no longer be competent for Deeds Registry purposes.  This new mandatory provision of having a legal practitioner, notary public or justice of peace attesting to approve of the power of attorney is due to the high increase of fraudulent transfers of immovable property based on fake powers of attorney.  This new requirement will protect the public from fraudsters who intend to swindle innocent victims.

          Mr. President - Clauses 3 and 4; the amendments sought by these Clauses will permit the digitalisation of the Deeds Registry and the eventual establishment of an electronic Deeds Registry which will supplement the paper based one, thereby greatly expediting and facilitating deeds registry administration.  Access to the electronic registry for the purposes of information gathering and conveyancing work or notarial practice will be subject to certain safeguards against fraud, violations of privacy and other abuses.

          The Clause will not limit the Deeds Registry Office to Harare and Bulawayo only, but will allow for a decentralised electronic database.  The Bill will also allow maintenance of the register to be extended to provide online services which is the new trend in business and allows users not to be physically at the Registrar’s Office, thereby saving time and promoting business in Zimbabwe.  This Bill will also allow the public to inspect registers and records electronically, which are applicable for paper based public inspection.  In the past an individual was required to come to the Registry in Harare or Bulawayo only to inspect records electronically wherever the individual is.

          Hon. Members, will note that this Amendment Bill has addressed the core issues to facilitate ease of doing business in Zimbabwe in terms of the Registrar’s Office.  The role of the registrar in expediting the registration, inspection of property and register is fundamental in promoting business in our country.  It is high time that we move from paper based systems that are long winding, difficult to access and confined to a specific geographic location.  We need to embrace technology and use it as a necessary tool to promote business and attract investors by eliminating obstacles that lengthen the process of registration of a company in our country.

          I therefore commend the Deeds Registry Amendment Bill (H.B. 3A, 2016) to the House and move that the Bill be now read a second time.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA:  Thank you Mr. President.  I seek one or two clarifications.  Before I seek that clarification, I must commend the effort to improve technologically the record system.  Because, it has been a nightmare to go to the registrar in order to get information.  It would take you days if not weeks and you would come back and find that your request has been misplaced.  The net result would be in another week or so.

          What I would want to check with the Vice President is what happens to the old records?  Will we go on a deliberate update of the system or we will continue to run parallel systems?  I thank you Mr. President.

          *HON. SEN. MASHAVAKURE:  Thank you Mr. President.  I thank the Vice President for the Bill that he has brought.  When you talked about the commissioner of oaths; I need clarification that, in all our systems, do we no longer require commissioners of oaths because the legal practitioners are expensive.  Last year we were told that prominent lawyers lost their licences because they had abused trust funds.  It seems like there is no one who can be trusted.  So, will we have solved the problem if we remove commissioners of oath such as the pastors because they all have challenges?  Or, maybe I have not understood that commissioners of oath will still be there but, they will still have matters that are not within their jurisdiction.  Thank you.

          *HON. SEN. MAKORE:  Thank you Mr. President.  Firstly, I would want to thank the Vice President for this Bill.  What we applaud is the ease of doing business.  Also that you have done us proud in that records should be accurate and straightforward because we find that people are lamenting everyday over properties that are fraudulently sold.  Such frauds will now be curbed. 

We want to thank you again that there are papers that used to take time for business to take place but now with what you have brought before us that the electronic system will ease the challenges of doing business, it is good.  I am sure because we have not read a lot in this Bill, but from what you have explained, I think that it is a good Bill.  With these few words I want to thank you.

+HON. SEN. MASUKU:  Hon. President of the Senate, thank you for giving me this opportunity.  I would like to thank the Vice President who is also the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. 

Hon. President of the Senate, Zimbabwe though with so many learned people seemed to be behind in so many things.  So often there were people who dragged our name into mud because they came into the country with briefcases pretending to be coming to do business here because what we refer to as the database was done in a way that it never ensured that it could be around forever.  This Bill which was brought here by the Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary A affairs, who is the Vice President, will therefore make it difficult for those with briefcases who take advantage of people.  Secondly, it will ensure that those who were not paying taxes be found. 

We look forward to that Hon. President of the Senate that we become part of the global village as it is said.  Therefore, this Bill will ensure that Zimbabwe is put on the world map because there will not be such cases as corruption in Zimbabwe since there are people who take advantage of others as they come pretending to be genuine business people.  Mr. President, I do believe that even though we got it in such a short time, there are so many things that are included in this Bill because it states that there will be training that will be done.  I believe that this Bill is technical and it will go a long way to protect those who would want to do business in Zimbabwe and to also avoid corruption.  Hon. President, I would like to thank the Hon. Vice President for bringing this Bill.

HON. SEN. TIMVEOS:  Thank you so much Mr. President.  I was reading the NewsDay and I just want to understand from the Vice President, some journalists say that the Bill criminalises investigative journalism.  They say the Bill talks about arresting people who disclose or publish information – is this true?  I just want clarity.  It is the story that I read about the Bill in the Newsday. Thank you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MNANGAGWA): Mr. President Sir, I thank the Hon. Senators for the positive contributions they have made. It is true that using electronic and online communication is far much faster. Where you may have a process of registering your title deed, which might take 90 days, you might now take three hours or even an hour, instead of three months or several months because of the introduction of electronic processing.

Now, the question of the current Deeds Registry which we have both in Harare and Bulawayo we are already on a programme of digitalisation of the two registries so that they become digitalised and you can now computerise so that they can operate online. Most importantly, we are creating a database where registered practitioners are registered. Notary public practitioners are also registered so that we do away with the current system. This relates to the second question that I was asked where commissioners of oath were given to many people on the basis of their integrity such as being a headmaster or a leader in a community would be granted a certificate as Commissioner of Oath.

Now, it is only going to be given to people who are registered professionals so that these people have ethics and regulations governing their professions, and do away with instances where we have been having problems of fake Commissioners of Oaths who created their own stamps and so on. Once you go to a person who says he is a Commissioner of Oath you go online to check from the database whether it is true or not. So, you can easily at home and on your own phone check whether this person is registered and certified to do what he says he wants to do. This has improved security of transfers. Our people were suffering. You are staying in a home but then discover that the house you are staying in has been transferred to somebody else when you are staying in the house. All those things will now not be possible because we have this system which we are introducing.

This also covers the question of this briefcase business which Hon. Sen. Masuku is talking about. That will be eliminated again. You cannot claim to be what you are not, anymore because there is a profession to which you are registered. Once you get registered, you are put on a database. If you commit any crime, you are removed from the database by the profession which you belong to; either it is a practitioner or notary public.

Hon. Sen. Timveos, I have not seen the newspaper which you are referring to in the first place. Secondly, I am not so sure whatever the paper is saying, we do not have that. We are not criminalising anything in relation to investigative journalism, no. We are addressing business, the ease of doing business is what we are addressing in the Bill. The question of journalists peeping their nose into other people’s affairs is not in this Bill. It is elsewhere. So I am afraid, I do not know precisely what the journalist was addressing but I am not addressing the issues he was addressing. I am addressing the issue I am addressing. I thank you Mr. President.

Motion put and agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Committee Stage: Thursday, 11th May, 2017.

On the motion of THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MNANGAGWA), the House adjourned at Five Minutes past Five o’clock p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

Senate Hansard Senate hansard 10 may 2017 vol 26 no 53