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SENATE HANSARD 13 FEBRUARY 2018 VOL 27 NO 22

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 13th February, 2018

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

PRAYERS

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

Hon. Senators having been greeting each other.

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: Order, I am sure we have had enough time to greet each other, so we can start business of the House – [Laughter.] – May I join in greeting everyone, I welcome you back and I hope you had happy holidays.

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

BILLS RECEIVED FROM THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: I have to inform the Senate that I have received the following Bills from the National Assembly;

Finance Bill [H. B. 1B, 2018.];

Appropriation 2018 Bill [H. B. 8, 2017.]; and

Estates Administrators Amendment Bill [H. B. 8A, 2016.]

INVITATION TO A ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVICE

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: I also wish to inform the Senate that there will be a Roman Catholic Service tomorrow, Wednesday, 14th February, 2018, at 1200 hours, in the Senate Chamber. All Catholics and non-Catholics are invited.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR MANICALAND PROVINCE (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA): Madam President, I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 4 be stood over until Order of the Day, Number 5 has been disposed of.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA: Madam President, I move that Order of the Day, Number 5 be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

PROTECTION OF CONSUMERS FROM UNSCRUPULOUS BUSINESS PEOPLE

HON. SEN. MAWIRE: I move the motion standing in my name that;

MINDFUL of the need to protect consumers from unscrupulous business people bent on maximizing profits at the expense of the majority of the people;

DESIROUS to have consumers that fully appreciate the role of the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, the law enforcement agency and other agencies of the State that protect them from exploitation of their hard earned cash;

CONCERNED at the ineptitude and flippant attitude by banking institutions who cover up for their inefficiencies under the guise of network system that are always alleged to be down;

DISTURBED by unwarranted price hikes for goods on hire purchase that have seen consumers falling victim to malpractices by individuals who have even gone to the extent of siphoning some civil servants salaries without their knowledge through the Salary Service Bureau.

NOW, THEREFORE, calls for concerted efforts by the State to stamp out such corrupt practices by formulating effective consumer friendly laws to protect Zimbabwean citizens and thereby instill a sense of confidence in the economy among our people.

HON. SEN. MOHADI: I second.

HON. SEN. MAWIRE: Thank you Madam President. The motion is on protection of consumers on all the institutions that offer goods and services in our country. The motion is on the protection of citizens as consumers to goods and services provided by business sectors. Our people have face ill-treatment from some rude elements within our business community with most of these people who commit these crimes. They are now making it a habit for nothing is done to them for their actions. Many times, our citizens and tourists are subjected to poor services and ill-treatment to which the existing regulations appear to be weak. Today, I have stood up to be the voice that will appeal to all those responsible to take the necessary measures that will make our consumers of the different goods and services provided to feel free and have all the freedom they need when engaging in any business. We want them to feel that we have a Consumer Council of Zimbabwe that is there to speak, fight for them and a Zimbabwe Republic Police that protects them when these rogue elements think of mistreating them - heads of councils, parastatals and heads of ministries and permanent secretaries that formulate policies to protect them and mostly all of us the people who were elected to also speak for them and make laws and policies that protect them.

Madam President, below are some of the things that our people want to be addressed so that hard earned money and time is not put to waste over things that are made only to benefit the greedy and to frustrate the people:

a) That our businesses and banks invest in ICT infrastructure that is comfortable to use and convenient. Doing some transactions has become a fearsome thing for one is afraid of the results which may be negative or positive. We are sick and tired of making trips to banking halls and accounts departments of different institutions like ZESA, councils, banks to mention just a few to query on transactions that will have been done but not up to date by what they always call the system, “kana system uyu ari munhu basa ngaripereka”. In the banks, people fail to be served because the network is down and sometimes they spend time being served because system “uya ari kunonoka”. Please, make them upgrade their systems and make them modern.

b) The most recent one is the issue of price hikes. How can we allow such things as sudden twist of things from normalcy to happen just by the click of a button? We should not allow people who can easily twist things to their advantage, worse still have the law or system that can easily be danced around with. These things are always coming as lessons but we do not learn from them. It is not new, we should not fall victim to this, please.

c) We have had people who have easily taken money from our hard working civil servants through the SSB without the knowledge of the individuals. How can this happen? Our civil servants will only realise that when they get their pay slips and only to lose more money when moving around to stop the nuisance. Hon. Members, this is something that cannot be tolerated. This way of being corrupt is way too much. We need to have systems that are strong and that gives confidence to the people.

With this Hon. Members, I call for a coordinated approach from all responsible Government institutions, the private sector and the nation at large to formulate effective consumer protection laws. We want the people of our great nation to have confidence in their systems. This will then help in attracting the very important foreigners who visit and want to invest in our country. I thank you.

HON. SEN. MAKORE: Thank you Madam President. I stand to second this motion – a very important motion raised by Sen. Mawire. This motion is very direct in the sense that it looks at a consumer, he/she who sometimes suffers the increases of prices. Sometimes, a consumer does not have the direct right and does not understand the right to say no to certain other things in terms of the price rises.

This motion, though there are laws by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, in other words, there has been a lot of corruption that has been witnessed in various institutions. Corruption is in the sense that the prices have gone up and even doubled if not trebled – prices of basic commodities, which makes people’s lives very difficult. Hon. Sen. Mawire, this is one of the best motions so far in the sense that it directly addresses issues that are really practical on the ground. Madam President, the country in terms of the life currently experienced by the people, is very difficult in the sense that we have maximum profiteers than those who would want to make average business which attracts reasonable profits. Whatever comes or goes befalls on the consumer. So, the economy is heavy on the consumer in terms of milking the little that the consumer has for the benefit of those who have to the disadvantage of those who do not have.

Hon. Sen. Mawire, I want to respect you so much particularly on pointing the flip-flopping attitude that we have witnessed in terms of even banking institutions. There is no benefit now from there by putting your money into the bank because the little that you have is also milked by the bank itself. We do not realise the ordinary profits which we used to enjoy at our youthful ages when we were still young and I want to tell you that we used to enjoy because those who were banking used to earn the interest within their banks, which is not the case momentarily. Hon. Sen. Mawire, your motion is so much important.

I am seconding this motion with extreme gladness because it addresses issues that are really practical. I would say really in general, we are calling Madam President, for business people to be realistic and also calling for the Consumer Council itself to start doing the exact business as is required. We do not want just to make people cry all the time because these exhorbitant charges. I want to thank you very much Hon. Sen. Mawire. I am seconding your motion with a very open heart.

HON. SEN. MUMVURI: Thank you Madam President. I also rise to support the motion which was introduced by Hon. Sen. Mawire, seconded by Hon. Sen. Makore. It is a very pertinent motion and I want to dwell on the prices which are unnecessarily being charged, especially in the rural areas because there is no alternative. The multiple pricing system should stop, as I said especially in the rural areas.

The items in the shops are marked in US$ and consumers demand to pay accordingly in US$ as marked - whichever way they should use; either by swipe, transfer or cash. If you get there they have three different prices for each mode of payment; swiping has its own price, ecocash its own and if you are using the bond notes the price is different from that of the US$ proper. Where do you expect us to get the US$? We do not have them at the moment but the shops are demanding that. That should stop.

The private shops that exist in the rural areas are really culprits on this practice. This is where I commend the existence of the big supermarkets like T.M and O.K because they do not change their prices. If we could encourage the big shops to go out there and establish supermarkets it would be better. These small shops would realise that they cannot fleece people of their money. It is daylight robbery actually which we are trying to prevent.

The problem is also fueled here in Harare by unscrupulous, if I may mention the Asian business people who also demand cash in the ways I have mentioned above for their wholesale goods, the likes like Bhadella if I can mention one. They want cash. This is not proper and I am urging the relevant Ministry within the next 100 days set by the President to correct this pricing system which is not doing any good to the consumers. I want to commend the people who introduced this motion that we support your efforts and urge the Government to step in and curb this kind of corruption. Thank you.

HON. SEN. MASHAVAKURE: I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Mawire for this good motion which has very pertinent issues covered. My contribution is that I think our problems actually stem from the fact that those who are in authority do not want to exercise their authority to make sure that things are in order in this country. Of course, those who are in authority are us as Government. I think it is the responsibility of Government to make sure that normal pricing systems and other service provision facilities are as they would like them to be, not that anybody and every businessman, vendor or even Hon. Sen. Mashavakure can do whatever they want with impunity. That is the culture which must be stopped.

For instance, when we talk about the parallel market system where people are selling money. I move around town with my aide and assistant and I get to this place where people get their passports, and people are there selling US$, Rands and bond notes. I am told that is a new thing. In fact, one of them actually approached me and said, if you want your bond notes and you have US$100, we can give you $110 but if you are selling, this and that. That is a Government place under the Ministry of Home Affairs issuing passports and people are selling money there without being arrested, and yet a few metres down the line cars are being clamped and so forth.

I think it does not make a lot of sense. We need order in this country and the respective authority must start taking it upon themselves to put order in our land. For instance, they should be able to know how these people get their money – the Rands, bond notes and US$ because when we go to the banks there is no money there but these guys in the streets have the money. How did they get that? Treasury, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and other people high up there should be able to trace the sources where these people get the money and put an end to that practice. Somehow, this has now been going on since the introduction of the bond note which is almost two years ago and nothing seems to be happening and the guys continue to prosper while we continue to cry that we cannot get money from the banks.

Again on the case of price hikes or high prices in this country, I think we also need some kind of authoritative intervention from a higher level because the other time we asked a question in here in the Senate. I also read some similar questions which were raised in the National Assembly in the Hansard where people were asking why fuel – diesel and petrol are cheaper in Zambia than they are here by about 40/50c. The response was that because in Zimbabwe we have a number of taxes. Why not do away with those taxes so that the prices of other things can also respond to the downward trend or decrease of the price of fuel. Why should Zimbabwe be the most expensive place in the region in terms of fuel prices? What is the advantage?

Again, we go to the authorities and ask if they are really making sure that every businessman or person is banking their money with our financial institutions. I also understand that now banks can refuse to open an account for you even if you wanted one. That should not be optional, because the purpose of a bank is to enable Government to help citizens to bank their money. How can a bank refuse me to open an account when in fact that is the reason why they opened that particular bank in the first place. Why should they refuse? What is going on? Somebody should stamp their authority and make sure that there is normalcy in our system.

The same go for a lot of other things we can talk about, for instance service provision in our local authorities. Now, when I move around on foot on some of these roads where I stay. The city council people are busy cutting grass with mowers or clearing blockages from the drainage systems. Why was that not done between June and October when there was no rain? Something is wrong with our system. I think we need to normalize ourselves and somebody high up there, including Parliament I suppose, should take it upon themselves that order be restored to this country.

It is unfortunate that the 100 Day Programme that has been implemented in other Government departments did not apply to Parliament, maybe except for the National Assembly which has been sitting since January. It does not look like there is any urgency to do anything in Parliament. I heard Hon. Madam President saying we have received some Bills from the National Assembly, I think for the first time since July or June last year. That is dangerous. Thank you Madam President.

HON. SEN. MOHADI: I just want to add my voice on this motion which was moved by Hon. Sen. Mawire and seconded by Hon. Sen. Makore. Madam President, we have a very big problem when we come to consumer prices. These prices are just increased willy-nilly without even taking into consideration anything. Madam President, my first problem is with US$ versus the bond note. In Zimbabwe we are told that the US$ and the bond note are at par, but when we go to shops we find that these notes are not of the same value. Some of us who live at border towns whereby we also use the South African Rand, you find that when changing bond notes to rands, sometimes the value will be at par, whereas the US$ has got a different value altogether.

I think it is high time this should be looked into that there is something fishy that is taking place in our local illegal market. I will just give an example on what transpired one of the days when I sent someone to certain hardware. I wanted the person to go and look for a quotation for concrete mesh wire in the morning. I was given the price of US$70 per roll. In the afternoon when I went to buy that mesh wire, I was told that the price had just risen, it was US$90. When I further requested to find out the justification of the increase and the differences that had happened between morning and afternoon, it was not even clear because they could not justify. When I enquired about the mesh wire that was in stock in the supermarket, I was told that it was bought in July last year. I asked them what had transpired in between because they did not order in morning or whether they had received a new consignment in the morning; there was no justification at all why the mesh wire had increased by US$20 from US$70 to US$90 within the same day.

After questioning them, they had to reduce the price and put it back to where it was. So, I just thought to myself that if at all I had just sent the young boy whom I had send in the morning or if at all I had not noticed the changes in prices or if it was just someone from the communal area who is not well versed about the prices, that person would have been cheated just because there is no justification of changing prices. Prices are just increased willy-nilly when people just think they need to change prices. I think there should be a law which can be put into force that if ever prices are increased there should be a justification for that. Prices cannot just be increased for no apparent reason. With these few words Mr. President, I thank you.

*HON. SEN. CHIMHINI: Thank you Mr. President, I want to support the motion that was brought into this Senate. Firstly, we need to educate our people on consumer rights; this branch of the Government is not adequately financed for it to perform its duties. So the request is that funds be allocated to this department so that they raise awareness throughout the nation on consumer protection and rights. This will enable them to know when they are being shortchanged and will know which steps to take such as reporting to the police or engaging in consumer boycotts. Mostly, when things become expensive, people do not unite to boycott buying those goods. So, what it then means is that we need to raise awareness to our people that they should not buy expensive goods.

Mr. President, when it was mentioned that Vice President, the Hon. Rtd Gen. Chiwenga was appointed by the President to see to the issue of pricing, we were all excited. A month has gone by and we have not seen any results. I expected the Government to act and that by now we should be having results, but now it has turned out to be a talk show and less work. So, we should ensure that the Vice President who was appointed to deal with the issue should perform his duties. If he performs his duties, we know that the prices will go down. What I also see is that on the motion there is the issue of money deducted from SSB for civil servants who would have borrowed from different sources.

I know long back you were not allowed to have a loan that exceeds 25% of your salary. Nowadays people have accounts everywhere, Edgars, Topics and others - which means that no one is checking whether the loan is beyond 25%. What a person will do is that they will borrow elsewhere in order to be able to pay what they have borrowed. People will end up having their goods attached because of failure to pay debts.

Mr. President, if you go down town, they do not accept plastic money, they want cash. My question is that do we not have police or law enforcement agencies to ensure that that does not persist. We have come into this august Senate to talk about this, we will talk about this the whole week but no one is going down on the ground to bring law and order in ensuring that those who are refusing plastic money are brought to book. I know others mentioned that we now have three prices. Does it mean that the Government has failed to ensure that there is no 3 tier pricing system? Econet advises people that if you are charged an extra cent for getting cash you should report but nothing is happening. So, people are being shortchanged because the Government is not doing anything.

Again Mr. President, what makes prices skyrocket is because the shop owners are buying foreign currency from the black market, so they want to justify the high price hikes because they will have gotten the foreign currency at a high rate. These people are found along Fourth Street. Are the law enforcement agencies failing to go to Fourth Street to arrest them? These money changers will be seated in car waving bunches of money. How many policemen do we have in Harare? Is it that we cannot dispatch 3 to 4 policemen to go and bring law and order? Is it that the money changers are being supported by people who are within Government? If that is not the case this should have been brought to a stop long back. We brought in Statutory Instrument 64. How can we talk about buying goods manufactured in Zimbabwe and yet the products that we produce are very expensive. So, let us allow people to go and buy from outside until we rectify that mistake. Mr. President this requires us to unite and work together and the Government should know that people are suffering.

Mr. President, if we are to debate this motion, when it gets to a stage of being wound up and adopted, we want to see practical action. I want to reiterate that the Vice President who was appointed and given the mandate to ensure that he deals with price hikes and prices are reduced should perform his duties because talking and lamenting issues here does not help anything. I want to thank you Mr. President.

*HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to add my voice on the challenges that consumers are facing as a result of laws that have been set in the country not being followed. Before I proceed, I want to thank the Government under the new dispensation because effort was made to bring together all business people, to engage them and find out why prices have sky rocketed. We want to thank the Government for that initiative. We also want to urge all those business people that since they were engaged by the Government, they should also address the issues and ensure that people are not burdened.

Again, Mr. President, on pricing that is being mentioned here, the three tier system, whether you are buying using bond notes, eco cash, Unites States dollars or RTGs, life is becoming difficult for the ordinary person because the prices have gone up. The prices that you can buy using US$10 will now be $50 if you are to use plastic money.

Furthermore, the systems that were mentioned are not working. If you look at the issue of Econet, I went to Choppies and I bought using eco cash and was told that the receipt was not available. I was told to go and look for a statement from the Ecocash Shop. That was a challenge because I did not get my goods. Some people end up losing their money because they cannot be going up and down to reverse the transaction. At one time, I went to Crocco Motors to get my car fixed. I paid US$350 and was told that it did not go through and I spent two months following up on that money to be reimbursed. So, the system needs to be addressed to ensure that consumers are protected.

I also want to talk about the deductions that were mentioned that are made from employees salaries. Most workers are losing their monies because of these deductions. For a person to start following up on $7 that has been withheld by SSB is a challenge. So, in the end they do not even follow up. So all this affects the consumer. I want to give another example. If you look at the local authorities, they make people pay for fire fighting. If a house catches fire and the fire brigade comes, half the time they do not even have the water. This is what people are experiencing. They are having to pay for services that they are not accessing. For that reason, we urge the Government that the local authority’s regulations and laws be there to serve the ordinary person on the street and ensure that life is bearable.

I want to thank the Hon. Member for this motion. It affects us today because this is what we are experiencing in our day to day lives. I want to thank you.

HON. SEN. TAWENGWA: Thank you Mr. President. Most of the issues I wanted to say have been covered but let me just thank the mover, Hon. Mawire and the seconder Hon. Makore, for this very topical motion which really affects most of the Zimbabweans in this country.

This actually started happening five months ago when people were preparing for the festive season which was thereafter dampened by the sudden and rapid price increases in the prices of basic commodities like mealie meal, cooking oil and meat which went up from about $3 to $14 a kilogramme. Some of the prices were above 100%. So, it really affected people.

Many examples have been given here and generally, the outcry was deafening, but the main issue is the issue of the Consumer Council which to some of us is really non-existent. It is not there. It is not visible really. Whether it is by choice or lack of funds as Hon. Chimhini says, but it is nowhere. We would term it a toothless bulldog of the nation. If they could capacitate that council, maybe it would work but seriously, not even to raise an issue of the contaminated water which people are drinking here in Harare ending up with typhoid, whether it is in Chegutu or wherever. Does that need funding? I do not believe that needs funding. It is just common sense that something is very wrong in terms of service delivery generally across most local authorities. Even the purified water which we drink or which is sold on the market is sometimes contaminated. There are no people to comment on that unless if the Ministry of Health and Child Care comes in. The main role of the Consumer Council is of course to protect the consumers in this country, which is not happening.

On the issue of the price increases, there are so many factors which come into play. It is a chain of events Mr. President, and of course especially when there are cartels. When cartels are formed, their main target is profiteering to the maximum and once there is that niche, they will not hesitate to do so. When you create that, especially now when there is no foreign currency and you have to go begging for foreign currency in order to import, whether you are manufacturing or you are a retailer, it means you are then forced to buy on the black market which then creates the parallel market. That currency is not acceptable if you are importing or if you are buying cash. So, there is a three tier system generally on the market.

We all know that there are now what they call ‘misika yemari’ whereby there are banks out there. Whether I go to Highfields, Machipisa, there are people lined up along streets waving bond notes – you have the bond there, you have the rand there, whatever you want is there and yet we have the police station just across the road in Machipisa. It is something that is now illegal but legalised. So we are wondering what is really happening, Mr. President.

Then the question comes, is it then necessary to crackdown on the retailers? We do not know why they are hiking these prices. Is it only profiteering or it is because of how they got their goods? There are the big wholesalers versus the small wholesalers. One purchaseS at 50% discount, another one at 10% discount and another at 0% discount. So, there are so many variances in the whole system.

But we also say at times price control is a necessary evil in order to protect the consumer because when profiteering becomes excessive and as I said, it is because of cartels, then should we just leave the consumer takamunanika kuti adyiwe nemagora - no, we cannot do that. As you are aware, when you see a vulture petched up there in a tree, it is just waiting for you to die or that animal to die; it says die so that I can eat. This is the same with these cartels, create that environment and they will profiteer. That is why they are in business for.

There was reference to the creation of a committee which is being chaired by the Vice President, Hon. Rtd General Dr. Chiwengwa, I am not aware whether it is now at Government level or it is still at the party level because my understanding was that it was then at the party level So, it has not been brought to Government yet, because those investigations are still underway and I believe a report will then come as and when that is ready.

On the issue of school fees Mr. President, there are students who are oversees and payments have to be done in foreign currency. Where do you get the money from? Banks are not allowing that, so it means you have to pay the premium for you to be able to pay for those students. So, that market is created and you have to pay through your nose.

On SI 64 versus Buy Zimbabwe Campaign, I totally agree with the mover, but it is because of the cheaper imports which we are actually used to in this country. So, no matter how we may try to protect the Buy Zimbabwe Campaign, but because of these cheaper imports whether they last three or four months, people prefer to buy that in the interim.

There was also a reference to banks. Last week, I was reading a report whereby it was stated that most banks were making huge profits because of what we pay and yet we do not get that service which we so deserve and require.

Mr. President, I do not want to repeat what has been said by others but generally, that is my observation. I will actually call upon our Government to come up with a stronger Consumer Council which is pro- people in terms of cushioning the consumers so that the issue of price controls is put to rest once and for all. I thank you Mr. President – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] -

+HON. SEN. NCUBE: Thank you Mr. President. Most of the things have been said. However, I will just add my voice because I have been nominated to speak to this motion. I have a different view on the matter that was brought by Hon. Sen. Mawire. Mr. President, may I please be protected, Hon. Sen. Chipanga is trying to mock me here.

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE (SEN.CHIEF CHARUMBIRA): I can assure you Hon. Senator Ncube, you are protected.

+HON. SEN. NCUBE: Thank you. I want to thank Hon. Sen. Mawire for the motion she brought into this House on the issue of buying and selling, money changers and also the banks. Looking specifically into the difficulties that people are facing, my view is that Governor Mangudya is supposed to give an address on the state of the nation so that he can inform the public on what is transpiring for what he has said is not what is happening on the ground. He should do so in order to bring those issues to public knowledge. He did not tell the nation the truth and this is the simple way I can put it. What he has said is not what is happening on the ground. Again, what he said is something that is not possible. Dr. Mangudya is supposed to come back to Parliament and give the state of the nation address about the rate of the bond note and the dollar.

I support this motion but the truth is, in this world that we are living in, people are surviving through buying and selling. If you are in a business set up, for you to get profit, and when you are selling goods and services you realise that people are facing challenges when they do this.

Hon. Senators who have spoken before me have indicated that I can also print any amount especially if the bond note is at par with the US dollar. Dr. Mangudya is supposed to come back and tell the nation on how to use the bond note and US dollar. This is a very difficult situation which we are living in; it is very difficult for a country to survive in situation where prices are different. I will give an example of a bathroom boutique in Bulawayo. They have different prices, they accept US dollar, bond note but the prices are completely different. POS machine has a different price of bond note compared to US dollar; they do not accept eco-cash. In other areas, they do not even accept any other form of payment except cash.

I have been to Fence Africa in Bulawayo; I wanted to buy roofing materials. I failed to buy roofing materials because it was very expensive. You are told that for a certain type of roofing material, you have to buy it using cash, where do we get cash? There is a time when the Government announced that during pay days, civil servants will be given US$300 cash. I then ask myself whether Ministers are getting better treatment and they are given cash compared to us Members of Parliament. It is bad to use your position as a Member of Parliament, for example if you go wherever, you have to first state that you are a Member of Parliament, you see people queuing in banks just for US$50 dollars and still they do not get it.

People go right round supermarkets trying to check whether someone is buying using cash so that they can swipe for you. Mr. President, I had an argument at a certain place where someone wanted to buy using swipe and I had cash. I asked one of the staff members in that shop and he objected that we do that. I told them that the money was mine; I was buying using my own cash, so if we were in agreement with the person, there is no way you could object to that as a staff member in that shop. If you go to the Gulf Complex, there is a swipe machine and you buy using the point of sale machine (POS). The person will take you to a certain place where you will swipe. If you are buying something for $50, you will be told to pay $52. We had an argument over that and I questioned everyone who was buying using the POS machine was swiping at a different place that is not at the shop. I do not know how they do their transactions but, the challenge that I see is that when you are using a swipe machine, you are charged a higher fee. What I questioned to the person who was serving me is to say, how are you giving it back to the person whom you are supposed to give the money?

For example, there are some who are buying outside the country and they do not use a bond note. The person came out in open to say that the machine is not his. The money is delivered on Fridays and I just swipe for them as an employee for that company. We want to come in the open and say that things are not being done properly whilst we have the policemen and Ministers yet people are facing such challenges. We cannot swipe for everything. For example, if you want to buy bread, airtime or tomatoes, there is no way that you can be swiping for all these things. Are we saying that everyone has an account at the bank? We should treat our citizens properly.

This motion came in time although it delayed a bit. People are facing so many challenges out there. In urban areas, it is far much better but people who stay in rural areas, you will realise that they will come all the way from their rural areas; especially to the post office. One thing that I can say is that they should just close that bank because they are not operating properly. People are facing so many challenges. There is no money in post offices.

I am asking myself that when the Government is saying people have accounts in post offices, what exactly is it that they are saying? There are people that I know who have accounts in post offices who have failed to access their monies. For five months, someone has failed to get their money from the bank whilst we say that it is a bank with money. I will give another example of CABS. You will realise that they would want you to make a transfer outside the country. CABS Building Society does not allow transfers of money to children outside the country. People opened accounts way back and you try to open another bank account, you are not allowed.

How are we then representing people when they are facing such challenges? When someone comes to you as a Member of Parliament to ask for some cash and they actually show you that they have the money in the bank account but they are failing to access it, you try to help. I want to urge the Ministers and the police to do their work. It has been said that the Vice President was tasked to look at the price controls but there is nothing that he has done.

I want to pose another question that - where are the money changers getting the cash from when it is said that there is no cash in the banks? I have compared the prices between Zimbabwe and Botswana and you will realise that the price difference is very wide. The Statutory Instrument 64 has been mentioned. Last time I tried to cross the border with a tylon and I was told that you cannot cross the border carrying a tylon. I told them that it is not something that I know and they should not refuse me to cross the border with it. The cost of a tylon for a 10 kg bag is $10 in Zimbabwe and in Botswana you will buy it for 20 Pula. So, how do we expect people to buy when our prices are so high? Therefore, there are some people who have the money, who get it using other means whilst other people are suffering to get even $5.

On price hikes – we want to urge the Ministers to come and address this. I have highlighted that the Governor has to come and address this House or the nation on the rate between the US dollar and the bond note. I want to support this motion and say that it is a motion that came at the right time although it delayed a bit. Can the Ministers come and give a response to what we have said. With these few words, I thank you.

*HON. SEN. CHIFAMBA: Thank you very much Mr. President Sir. I would like to thank the mover of the motion Hon. Sen. Mawire seconded by Hon. Sen. Makore. I do not want to say much because a lot has already been said but for what it is worth, I would want the Ministers that deal with this, like the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to find out if they also visit the same shops that we the ordinary Members of Parliament patronize. Why do they not observe that there are price hikes? If they were using the same shops as us, they could have witnessed these price hikes. Maybe it is easier that their trucks travel from South Africa, pass through the border without anything being said because they belong to the Ministers and they get their things. We would want them to wear the same shoes as ourselves and also feel the pinch.

On the money that we receive, bank charges are there, eco-cash charges are there and also the swipe; there are also bank charges. Everything is being deducted from you. How are you expected to live on the meager salaries that we get? We are virtually left with nothing. We urge those powers that be, either the leaders of the Government to also visit the shops so that we can share the same experience. A lot has been said about this issue and nothing has been done to redress the anomaly. Prices are being hiked willy-nilly and the Government leaders are burying their heads in the sand. We want you to also visit these shops and also come to this august House and talk from experience.

A lot of people have now over flooded the bus termini at the Road Port and people are exchanging brand new hundred dollar notes. People have Rands and all sorts of currencies that are brand new. Where are they getting these notes from? There are some people who have access to those currencies who are giving them to these people on the streets. It is not all of us who are suffering because some people are paying their children’s fees in US dollars yet we the ordinary people are suffering because we are having to change the bond notes into the Rand and the Pula so that our children can go to school.

I urge the leaders of Government to come before Parliament to make a report. You do not come because all is well for you. It is he who wears the shoe who feels the pinch. We urge you to come and address us because we are feeling the pinch of the shoe. I thank you.

HON. SEN. KHUMALO: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to add my voice. I decided to contribute today for I am not sure of what will happen tomorrow. Anyway, for everyone’s sake, because I am very much interested in the subject; Hon. Sen. Mawire, thank you very much for the motion. On my side, this motion is really painful because the Government itself chooses where to use bonds and where not to. The Government itself inside here chooses when to use bonds and when to use dollars. We thought it said bonds are equal to the US$ but in some areas, it says no bonds here and they are aware that you cannot get the US$. Maybe some of you are not aware. Go to the immigration offices and at the borders, Government does not want bonds but wants you to swipe.

There are some people who have no money to swipe. Why should the borders of the Government immigration want dollars when they know they produced themselves the bond note? It is not somebody from outside but the Government itself which produced the bond note but they say they want US$ and if you do not have, they say it is better to swipe. Unfortunately, my niece was going out and I had given them the CABS card and they said no CABS card; this happened when they were already at the border. No CABS card and no bond notes. This is the Government which produced the bond notes, what are they expecting people to do? Can we honestly look into this issue? CABS is partly Government and partly Old Mutual. If the Government does not want CABS, can CABS be closed because we trust and say we have a card which we can swipe internally. Can the Government take its own bond and not prefer other people’s money than its own money which it printed.

There are some communities which are allowed. That means there has been agreement between them and the Government that they should only take cash which can also be bond cash. Why should it be cash for them when we are told everybody should use plastic money? Why are these ones allowed to use non-plastic? Somebody can say why are you buying from them? No, the item they are selling is in my country and I want it. They can move out because I belong to Zimbabwe and I should use my currency which I have been told I can use. Now, no hand handling, swipe. I hope you remember when I was talking to the Minister of Finance here. I asked if he really thought swiping in the rural areas would work and he answered to say do not be old fashioned, you know things move with time. That is what the Minister said. We are not going back there to 2008. We are back in 2008.

The issue of swiping, if you cannot read sometimes you are disadvantaged. I went to buy a car battery and I swiped the first time and I was told it did not work. I swiped for the second time and was told there was no money. I knew I had $25 in there but now I am told there is no money. I said my friend there was money in there and he said there was no money. If I had not really looked at my balance, I would have lost out. What do you think of the old people from the rural areas who have been disadvantaged – since everyone was encouraged to use plastic money and my child gives me that plastic money like what I did for my niece who went to the border. I had to think quickly how to give them money to pay at the border. What if I had not, that would have been a problem.

What I am trying to say is that these people are also cheating us, those who cannot read. I had to quickly go to the bank because it was not closed and said I told you money has been taken from my account. He said gogo, sorry because they look at me and think that I cannot read and understand. So, they are cheating many gogos like me. They had to honestly apologise. Can we look into all these things which are a problem for us?

The banks now say you can open another account so that in that account you make deposits in US$ but already, I have this account which is supposed to be in US$. Now, I have to open another one in US$. That special one when I go there wanting my dollars, they tell me they do not have any. Are you aware that we have a problem as consumers, especially those who are struggling and do not know what to do. The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe should look into this issue and help us. We are in trouble just the same as whoever.

We have to pay school fees for our children and have to use our bond notes but we cannot. You have to make a special application to get that. For the time being, some are failing to access that money. I know there maybe some who are lucky who are doing that and I have not paid fees using the system but I have a friend who tried to get money to pay school fees. She said, but they told us the bond note and US$ are the same; they are not. This person is not asking for a lot of money. She is just asking for US$1 500.00. The policy says you can take out more than $10 000.00 but she is just asking for $1 500.00 but you cannot get that to pay fees for your children who are outside. Where is the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe? Wherever it is, we need help.

On the issue of the food, the Consumer Council and us here as parliamentarians, it says good food is the small grain. Small grain is best for your health but the small grain is not available, not because it is not there but because it is expensive. What is our Consumer Council or the Vice President doing about that? Is our health not that important? He has to look at our health as well. Small grains must also be acceptable and not be expensive.

Finally, we are talking about goods and services. When I come here and I talk to people at the shops, they talk to me in Shona and it is their right to talk to me in Shona because I am in Mashonaland. For the police in Bulawayo, when I am asking for something they say if you do not understand you can go away – in Bulawayo..

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE (HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA): Order.

HON. SEN. KHUMALO: That concerns consumers and that is about pricing...

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: Order Hon. Senator, you are ruled out of order. I will not allow you to continue because you are abusing that chance. If I say order you sit down, that is the rule. You are trying to compete with the Chair. I am saying order and you are adding more sentences so, that is not parliamentary behaviour so you end here. You are not acting in a parliamentary manner.

My contention is this motion is on prices, why do not you move a motion on behaviour and language of police across provinces. You can come up with a separate motion but you seem to be mixing by bringing in different issues. As the Chair I have a responsibility on issues that have to do with tribalism, there are naturally very sensitive and have to be brought through the front door so that people can debate openly. When you sneak it like this, we do not want to develop a country of conflict and of hate. This issue of Shona in Matebeleland and Ndebele in Mutare, I think as leaders let us be very careful about that language, especially when you are speaking to the nation in Hansard, it is a very delicate issue. Let us have better strategies of addressing that.

I know of Ndebeles who are very senior in this town of Harare, who are occupying senior positions in private, public, Government as Ministers in Harare, they are Ndebele.

HON. SEN. KHUMALO: They speak Shona.

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: No, no. some do not. I know a few who do not speak Shona but it is not their fault.

*HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: Thank you Mr. President, I want to thank Hon. Sen. Mawire whose motion was seconded by Hon. Sen. Makore for this pertinent motion that touches on the lives of the ordinary people. I do not have much to say but that the importance of this motion - I think that we should be having some television broadcasting because what we are talking about – the challenges people are facing in terms of the high prices is very important and people should know what we are saying. It helps us a lot and it also addresses the performance of the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe because once they hear us debating on this issue in this august Senate, they will be forced to up their game.

If you go to rural areas or remote areas such as Mukumbura and other areas they do not know that there is a Consumer Council of Zimbabwe. Let me say that as an august Senate it is important that we should be aware of the laws that guide the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe. We need to know the law in terms of where the police come in, in terms of pricing. As Parliamentarians, we also need to know where we come in and it affects us as parliamentarians and we realise that it is not a good practice. What I urge this Senate is that the laws or regulations being used by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, police or law controlling prices should be known to us. As a Senate we do not know those laws. My request is that in future - because of the importance of the motion, it is important that a workshop be organized so that we can be educated together with the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe as well as the law enforcement agency so that in the end we know which mandate each group is supposed to have in the pricing system.

In my constituency, there are four Chinese shops, and all these shops there is not even one shop that uses plastic money, they all want cash. These are foreigners who came to Zimbabwe, they do not have swipe machines and all they want is cash payments. So, those are issues that we need to address as a nation. All of us need to have that vision. On traveling, in this country – have you noticed that during festive seasons or holidays, the public transport owners increase their fares, after the Christmas holidays or festive holidays, they revert back to the original fares. So, as Senate, we need to address that because we have a role to play in these issues. We need to be empowered to know the laws I talked about. When we interact with other countries, we should also find out how they are dealing with their Consumer Councils. I heard that the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe is weak but it is important that the Committee – I do not know whether it is a Thematic Committee or Portfolio Committee, it is important that they summon the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe and interrogate them on what is taking place so that we can find out the challenges they are facing in executing their mandate. We need to work together because as it is, we are actually rearing this unbecoming behaviour. So, I suggest that we invite the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe to appear before parliamentary Committees.

We have never seen them as Members of Parliament. We have never even seen any documents from the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe or know who is on board. When we say Government we mean everyone in the nation. We need to protect our people, we are the nation, and the nation is the people. If there is need to amend legislation, we need to do that because that may lead to corruption and we will end up talking about anti-corruption. As Members of Parliament, we need to do our job but we also need to know whether there is relevant legislation or laws that can be used by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe and the police as well. I want to thank you Mr. President Sir.

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

HON. SEN. MAKORE: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 14th February, 2018.

MOTION

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

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

Question again proposed.

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

HON. SEN MARAVA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 14th February, 2018.

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND POWER DEVELOPMENT (HON. S. K. MOYO), the Senate adjourned at One Minute past Four o’clock p.m.

Last modified on Tuesday, 13 February 2018 19:21
Senate Hansard SENATE HANSARD 13 FEBRUARY 2018 VOL 27 NO 22