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SENATE HANSARD 11 OCTOBER 2016 VOL 26 NO 02

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 11th October, 2016

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

PRAYERS

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

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS

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

          That a respectful address be presented to the President of Zimbabwe as follows –

May it please you, your Excellency the President we, the Members of Parliament of Zimbabwe desire to express our loyalty to Zimbabwe and beg leave to offer our respectful thanks for the speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.

HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA:  I second.

HON. SEN. NYAMBUYA:  Madam President, on the 6th of October, 2016, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Cde. R. G. Mugabe, opened the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe.  In his address, the President laid out the agenda of the Fourth Session.  Allow me Madam President to respectfully congratulate the President on setting forth a comprehensive programme for Parliament and thank him for being frank and candid in his address.  Once again, I congratulate His Excellency on a job well done. 

The President predictably opened his address by touching on the very important and topical issue of realigning our laws to the new Constitution.  This is a very important process which I hope Government will continue to prioritise.  We are looking forward to the many Bills which are going to be brought for realignment.  It is also my hope Madam President that the pace will be faster than before as we are now in the Fourth Session and there is only one session left before the Eighth Parliament ends.  It will be nice if we could finish the realignment process well before the life of this Parliament expires.

I hope amongst other Bills that those Bills that promote the ease of doing business such as the New Companies Act and the Zimbabwe Investment Authority Amendment Bill will be prioritised.  This is because we need to create a conducive environment which encourages foreign investment inflows.  We urgently need fresh injections of foreign capital into our economy if we are to move forward.  The President further stated that our economy faces a number of challenges which include the subdued agricultural aggregate demand, liquidity constraints, high interest rates and subdued foreign direct investment.

 Indeed Madam President, according to the IMF, Zimbabwe will post a negative growth rate of -0.3 in 2016, weighed down mainly by the facts of the elnino induced drought as well as low commodity prices amongst other causes. It is therefore prudent that in the context of the ZIM ASSET, Government is embarking on a number of initiatives to address these economic challenges.  I particularly commend His Excellency for advising us that a number of Bills such as the Small Claims Court, the Commercial Court and the High Court Bills are going to be merged into the Judiciary Laws Amendment (Ease of Settling Commercial and Other Disputes) Bill [2016].

Again, this should and will promote a more positive environment and quickly settle any disputes that might arise with a potential to attract foreign investment.  I also commend Government for going on an offensive to promote the use of plastic money in commerce and in trade.  This has positive effects of giving the country some commercial security and reduce opportunities and avenues of money laundering and terrorism.  But Madam President, there is a disturbing trend which is now emerging whereby if you go into some shops; they will offer you a 10% discount if you pay by cash as opposed to paying by card.  What this means is that that cash is being sold for a premium. I hope the responsible authorities will move to try and remedy this situation so that use of plastic money continues as it is the in trend all over the world. 

          Allow me Madam President, to commend the move to introduce the Movable Property Security Interest Bill.  The majority of Zimbabwe’s population has up to now not been able to access credit due to lack of collateral as well as due to high interest rates.  In particular, we know that most of our people do not have immovable assets which can be used to securitise any borrowings.  This is so, despite the fact that, for example - more than 60% of cattle in this country are owned by the majority of the rural people and rural farmers.  This 60% of cattle in the country is a lot of money.  I therefore welcome this Bill as it will enable people to use some movable assets, amongst them cattle which can be used to securitise any borrowings.  This should obviously create very positive spin offs for our economy and that more people are going to be able to access credit.

          Madam President, it is not a secret that mining is the leading source of export earnings for our country and yet this particular sector is still very much underperforming due to a number of reasons.  One of the major reasons is that this country is underexplored.  We do not have accurate data and information on the mineral resources which we have and therefore we cannot leverage or create more space in the economy.  I therefore welcome the imminent introduction of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill in Parliament as this is going to set our parameters and enabling structures so that substantive exploration of minerals in this country can be carried out.  The current underperformance also in mining of the diamond sector is a cause for concern.  It is depriving this country of the much needed revenue which we should be getting and the liquidity which we require.  It is actually depriving our people of jobs at a time when we are in difficulties.  I therefore hope that the responsible authorities in mining will move swiftly to revive diamond mining on a large scale so that this country benefits from one of its major resource, which is in abundance. 

          In the energy sector, His Excellency noted that Kariba South Extension is now about 60% complete, thereby potentially boosting our generation capacity by 150 megawatts by December, 2017.  This should be good news because generating our own electricity is the only solution.   Importing electricity is a temporary solution which is very costly as in most cases the tariffs which we pay for external electricity are higher than what we are paying locally.  I urge the Ministry responsible to increase the nation’s efforts in expanding small hydro projects.  Small hydro power generated by water is far much better than power which is generated by coal, which is thermal power because hydro is green and renewable.  After setting up our hydro power stations, they are cheaper to run, maintain, are environmentally friendly and sustainable.  We need to be more aggressive and set up more mini hydro power stations, especially in the Eastern Districts of this country where we have got many streams and rivers, which can be harnessed to generate power. 

I also urge the responsible authorities in energy to look at the issue of tariffs which is quite controversial.  We need to strike a balance between ensuring that ZESA has got cost reflective tariffs and tariffs which our economy can achieve.  We should not reach a situation whereby we stifle and literally disable ZESA to operate because we are not allowing them to charge a cost reflective tariff.  Electricity and energy in particular, is actually the artery of the economy.  Therefore, we must carry out policies which enable this particular sector to survive and be able to deliver energy which is required in our economy.

His Excellency noted and discussed the very important issue of transport infrastructure.  We all know that infrastructure is the very basis upon which investment will come into this country and it is the foundation upon which development can occur.  Therefore, the rehabilitation and dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway is indeed a very welcome development.  The fact that we are advised that it is about to start should give hope to all and sundry that our infrastructure is finally being resuscitated.  I hope that those responsible for negotiating the necessary loans and contracts will ensure that Zimbabwe gets a fair and favourable deal in this process.  The country must benefit from the deals and ensure that local industry is sub- contracted in the whole process.  Local companies and entrepreneurs must also benefit.  We should not have a situation whereby the contractors who come in to dualise and build these roads bring in equipment like wheelbarrows, shovels, picks and tools which can be manufactured locally.  We need to ensure that certain products, if not the majority of commodities must be procured locally so that our economy can be stimulated.  At the end of the day, it is Zimbabwe’s resources which are going to be used to pay for the construction of this infrastructure, so the Zimbabwean people must benefit. 

Madam President, in the words of the President, the reform of State Enterprises remains a critical lever in the country’s economic turnaround process.  I therefore welcome the imminent introduction to Parliament of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Bill.  We have had recent cases in many State owned Enterprises and Parastatals like Net One, ZIMRA, ZINARA, NSSA and other organisations which have been involved in issues and deals which are very much corrupt.  Most of our Parastatals lack good corporate governance, transparency and good commercial direction.  I hope the Bill will contain good ingredients which will enable the State owned Enterprises to operate with minimum political interference and realise the potential through good corporate governance.  Finally, I would like to congratulate the President for setting a cracking pace for the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament.  I thank you.

REMINDER BY THE HON PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

          THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: May I remind or just point out to the Senators that, today’s Order Paper contains the President’s Speech.  So, we may want to keep it for use when we are planning our response to the Presidential Speech.

          HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to make my contribution on the speech made by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe on the Official Opening of the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament.  As the President stated, a lot of Bills are to come before this House, which include the Constitutional Court, Rural District Bill, Traditional Leaders Bill, Prisons Bill, the Coroner’s Office Bill and the Marriages Bill.

          Madam President, let me start with the Marriages Bill.  I would like to thank the call made by Government to protect children from child marriages.  I feel the Marriages Act, Chapter 5:11 should be amended because it states that women under 16 years can marry.  The      Customary Marriage Act Chapter 5:07 does not even state the minimum age of marriage.  I therefore urge the Government to immediately amend the Marriages and Customary Acts, so as to affirm the age of 18 years as the right age for marriage, educate our people and traditional leaders in general on the harmful effects of child marriages.

          As you know child marriages cause a lot health problems to the young people, so I would urge the education of our people that no child marriages should entertained.  I also lobby for the implementation of policies and measures that will ensure the prosecution of guardians and parents who marry off their children while they are still young.  It is true that Zimbabwe is facing droughts and the major cause, as His Excellency stated is climate change.  Climate change increases the odds of worsening droughts in many countries the world over, including Zimbabwe.  In recent years, drought has struck several major bread basket countries simultaneously, including Zimbabwe which used to be the bread basket of Southern Africa, adding to food price instability.

          Droughts reduce food security, price hikes, can lead to social unrest, migration and famine.  Several price hikes have occurred over the last two decades or so, often connected to crop failures or poor yields.  Madam President, Government and private sector must identify vulnerabilities that droughts expose and take steps to improve resilience.  Actions like using water more efficiently and developing more drought resistant crop varieties will help prepare us for future droughts and climate change.

          To add on, Government and the private sector should construct more surface reservoirs for water such as dams and boreholes.  Irrigation farming must be taught to communities so that people do not depend only on the normal rainfall seasons.  On the issue of our economy, His Excellency highlighted the challenges our economy is facing today, which include the liquidity crunch.  It is true as it is currently witnessed by almost everyone that banks are facing serious challenges on liquidity.  The move by the Central Bank to introduce bond notes is of paramount importance in reducing the cash crisis that we are currently facing.  However, I strongly feel that for the introduction of the new bond notes to be a success, the Central Bank has to vigorously do awareness campaigns with regards to the introduction of the bond notes.

          On the issue of Direct Foreign Investment, it is critical for the development of a country.  Attracting foreign investment is an important and useful tool for strengthening industries, facilitating knowledge exchange and increase global engagement.  Instead of just offering tax incentives to these foreign companies, the Government also has to focus on upgrading infrastructure.  For example, the move taken by Government to dualise the Beitbridge-Chirundu highway will go a long in attracting DFI since transportation of goods will be easier and the road network will be good.  To add on, the Government of Zimbabwe should try to do the following so as to attract more FDI.

·       Craft a long-term plan for fiscal stability in order to create a stable

 economic and investment environment.

·       Increase public investment in basic research and development.

·       Modernise infrastructure that would help support roads, air freight

as well as energy and telecommunication networks.

·       Flex the Zimbabwe Investment Authority permits and the

 Indigenisation policy to attract FDI.

          On the issue of mining, the President talked about gold but as a country, I strongly feel that the Government is mainly concentrating on precious minerals that include diamonds, gold, platinum and emerald, forgetting other rich minerals that are found in Zimbabwe.  I think this is the right time the Government should also focus on supporting small scale miners for semi-precious minerals.  If miners for semi-precious minerals are fully equipped, they will contribute significantly in revenue received from their exports; thus contribute in overall economy of the country.

          Madam President, on the issue of energy sector, the Government should concentrate more on renewable sources of energy that includes hydro and solar.  In some countries, solar is used as the main source of energy.  As Government, we should put our emphasis on solar, since Zimbabwe is blessed with the sunlight throughout the whole year.  Some countries who have adopted solar as their main source of energy do not have abundant sunlight throughout the year like us.  Hydro is good but not the best, for example, in times of serious droughts where water levels in large dams and lakes drop, that will seriously affect the power generation.  I thank you. 

          *HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: I want to thank you Madam President, for giving an opportunity to make my contribution on the Presidential Speech, which has been moved by the Hon. Retired General Nyambuya and seconded by Hon. Sen. Mavhunga when he opened the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe.

          I will discuss climate change and we should be aware of the fact that the effect of climate change is not negatively affecting Zimbabwe alone, but most countries in this world. It is also disturbing not only the natural resources but also the economies. As a result – Zimbabweans, we need to take steps which will help us alleviate the dangerous effects of the climate change.  If we do not fight it, we are not going to progress and I urge us as Zimbabweans that we should be aware of that. We should look for ways of fighting the negative effects of climate change. We need to be very creative because climate change brings drought and starvation amongst the people, the flora and fauna.

          As Zimbabweans we are people who are very creative and therefore we need to look at ways and means of alleviating this problem, but we are fortunate in that His Excellency Cde. R.G. Mugabe has fore warned us and as they say forewarned is forearmed. As a result, we should look for ways of developing our country. The President also discussed the Bond notes and he encouraged us to understand that the Bond notes are there to alleviate the liquidity crunch which is facing the country. We therefore, expect the economic fundis, including the RBZ to give people education on the role of the Bond notes because if we are not given enough knowledge, enough information we are going to destroy this programme. Therefore, we need to be given information using the media and wherever people are so that we tackle the issue form an educated point of view.

          We have some of us in Zimbabwe who will look down upon any new program and they have a negative attitude towards anything that is coming, but we should congratulate our RBZ for introducing these Bond notes. What is needed is education on the role of these Bond notes, what they mean to us and who should use them and when we should use them. What we need is that when people have been educated they will also spread the positive information on the Bond notes.

          The President also urged Parliament to be creative and craft laws which create peace, order, good governance of Zimbabwe. According to the Constitution of the country and the Bill of Rights and as legislators we should be aware that our country Zimbabwe has a Constitution which we as legislators should uphold. Hence whatever piece of legislation we make should create peace, order, good governance and it should be in accordance with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

          The President gave us guidance as Parliament of Zimbabwe. We have a role of representing our Constituencies and we should discuss laws which are very progressive and developmental. I thank you.

          HON. SEN. MUMVURI: I want to thank you Mr. President. I also rise to support the motion on the Presidential Speech. Let me start by thanking the mover and the seconder Hon. Sen. Nyambuya and Hon. Sen. Mavhunga. This time, the President’s Speech was very short and succinct.  He did not waste a lot of words and it was highly technical as well, but it was pregnant with meaning and information. As it was already expounded by Hon. Sen. Nyambuya and Hon. Sen. Mavhunga.

          I just also want to emphasize on a few points which we think should help us in our dealing with this Speech as Parliament and as a nation. I also had written that the introduction of Bond notes as what Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi has said, it is a welcome idea. However, I think it needs a lot of knowledge before the Bond notes are introduced. It boards very well for our economy to try and ease the liquidity challenges which the country is facing, no doubt about that one because we had already experienced the same with the Bond coins which at the first time they were introduced I was the first to talk in favour of them. They were later embraced and we are getting a lot of change and there are no more sweets being given over the counter. You get your money, cent, 50 cents and so forth. So, in the same vein we are hoping that it will go that way with the Bond Notes.

          The President mentioned that basic research should be a focus and a tool which we must always engage as we go forward to develop our economy into the next century. So we must always focus on research in whatever we are doing in our economy and the Government must spend substantial amount of money on relevant research.  I also want to state on environment and climate change which is now very unpredictable, that we do not know when the rains are going to come and when they are going to stop.   So, this is another dimension which we must embrace wholeheartedly and invest in it. The change in climate has negatively impacted on our agriculture and as we all know, agriculture is the mainstay of the economy.  If agriculture is not moving on well, everything will not move on well.  We are an agricultural based country, therefore, there is need for the rehabilitation of irrigation schemes and that point cannot be over-emphasised.  We have said it over and over again.  The relevant Ministry must move with speed, robust and vigour to see that water is harnessed.   We are not short of water here as long as it rains.  We have enough water to harness and make use of so that we move out of food shortage which Senator Mavhunga has already said we were once the breadbasket. We want to return to that status. 

           I want to commend the Government which has already taken steps by introducing the command agriculture.  Command agriculture as we speak is in motion.  It is now at an advanced stage and relevant systems have been activated whereby farmers are now receiving inputs on time to ensure that this programme succeeds.  However, that is the talk but I want to warn Government that it should proceed with caution.  A project of such magnitude cannot be started at a very large scale.  Let us start it slowly with a few provinces and then move on to the others.  It does not mean that everybody is going to get enough inputs at the same time.  My proposal is that it is not all provinces which embrace command agriculture especially as it focuses on producing food crops.

It is very well known that the Mashonaland provinces are very good at that.  Therefore, why should the Government not start slowly with those people so that they get enough inputs and monitoring?  If they proceed at a large scale and try to satisfy everyone when the resources are not enough, it is bound to fail like the Maguta scheme.  It did not go on very well because it lacked supervision; inputs were just given willy-nilly and no one was making a follow up.  This time they must put their things in order by starting slowly and supervising every asset which they give to the farmer and ensuring that it is put to good use in order to produce what is required. 

As it has been said that they are starting with food crop so that we move out of hunger before we move on to other crops like cattle ranging and cotton, my suggestion is that we must start slowly and then if it succeeds, we then expand and come to full swing where all crops, like maize, wheat, soya beans and sugar beans are produced in large quantities. 

Other development thrusts which were covered by the speech of the President include the much anticipated dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu road.  This is a welcome development to everyone.  We want to see this road being rehabilitated as soon as possible, dualised and becomes functional.  No one can dispute that the completion of this road will bring and enhance revenue collection at Beitbridge and Chirundu which are the two major border posts.  It is a cash cow which brings in a lot of revenue.  This should therefore be coupled immediately by the building of a one-stop border post at Beitbridge border post because at Chirundu, it is already there. 

Lastly, the President mentioned a lot of Bills which are going to be introduced in this Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament.  If you count them, they are about 30 to 36.  I want to say that the speed at which the Bills are going to be introduced and implemented depends largely and very much on the frequency that the Executive brings them to this House of Parliament.  It does not depend on Parliament. Parliament only acts on the Bills which are being introduced by the Executive.  Therefore, the relevant line Ministries should get busy, starting from yesterday bringing Bills here.  We can approve one or two Bills every week if they are brought here.  We do not waste time as Parliament but the Executive are the ones which determine the speed with which we are going to implement those Bills.

 I want to thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to speak on the President’s Speech.  As I said, it was very highly pregnant with meaning; short as it was, but I think it was full of everything which he wanted to say.  Thank you - [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.]

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

HON. SEN. KOMICH: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 12th October, 2016

On the motion of HON. SEN. MUMVURI, seconded by HON. SEN. CHIEF MUSARURWA, the Senate adjourned at Eighteen Minutes past Three o’clock p.m.     

 

Senate Hansard SENATE HANSARD 11 OCTOBER 2016 VOL 26 NO 02