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SENATE HANSARD 13 JULY 2017 VOL 26 NO 68

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 13th July, 2017

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

PRAYERS

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

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

          *HON. SEN. CHABUKA:  Thank you Madam President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development. What steps are you taking to redress corruption surrounding the delivery of maize? Farmers are being told that their maize has not reached 12.5% moisture level and 30 minutes later, they go and sell the maize to conmen who in turn resale the same maize to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).  What measures have you taken to address the situation?

          *THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE):  Madam President, I want to thank the Hon. Senator for the question.  Firstly, each farmer who delivers maize to the GMB has the maize tested to assess its moisture content.  The moisture content of 12.5% is acceptable.  We are aware as she has mentioned that there are certain depots where our workers examine the maize and tell the farmer that the maize has not reached the required 12.5% moisture content.  If the farmer is not satisfied, we have areas where police officers who are in uniform can be consulted, other farmers can go to our Ministry offices which are not situated at the Grain Marketing Board.  I want to assure this august House that where we have found such scenarios, we have taken corrective measures. 

          I am aware that in Mashonaland West, some GMB workers have been dismissed because of such misdemeanor.  When I realised that this was now rife, I gave a directive as the responsible Minister that we now want the agriculture extension officers to go to the fields and give the general information to farmers in terms of the maize moisture content.  There may be a few isolated cases now, but it is not all the GMB depots that have issues of corruption.  We are dealing with these problems once they have been reported. 

          Madam President, my advice is that we have a long season variety; most of the maize have not reached the required moisture content because of the heavy rainfall.  If we harvest the maize, put it in our silos, the maize will continue to breathe and by so doing, it releases moisture which may cause our maize to rot in those silos.  It is an issue that we are attending to and hopeful that in the next season, the dryers will be there to assist in ensuring that the maize that is delivered has the correct moisture content.  Thank you Madam President.

          HON. SEN. MUGABE:  Thank you Madam President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development.  We realise that tobacco is one of the crops that earn the much needed foreign currency.  What measure is Government taking in order for farmers to be able to harness renewable sources of energy that are not harmful to the environment?  Thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE):  Madam President, I want to thank the Hon. Senator for raising the question.  Firstly, let me also buttress the point that indeed tobacco is an important crop in terms of foreign currency earning and I assume that the environment question she is raising is that either the crop itself is harmful or that we cut trees in order to cure the crop.  Of course, we must admit that tobacco is the biggest culprit, “kunaka kwayo ndiko kuipa kwayo.  It is a crop that we have to look at different methods.

The Tobacco Research Board has been experimenting with the famous rocket, what we call rocket ban curing.  It uses less energy or wood particularly for the smallholder farmers.  However, the cost of putting that infrastructure is what we must support the farmers with at the end of the day. There are also other trials that we have been doing with power paraffin powered curing systems from China.  That is also another way.  Otherwise for us, the best for now would be to have coal but as we all know, to transport coal from Hwange to the major tobacco producing areas of our country requires that we work on the railways.  Of course, road transport is feasible but very costly both in terms of damaging the roads and so on.  I am aware collectively as Cabinet that proposals are there by the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development for us to revamp the National Railways. 

For now, we have to include planting forestry.  We are working together with the Minister of Environment, Water and Climate and the Forestry Commission to increase the plantations of gum trees.  So, those are some of the measures that we are taking but it is admitted that indeed tobacco is having a major impact on the environment.  It is also causing siltation.  When we cut down trees, we are contributing to siltation.  Yesterday, we were talking of irrigation schemes that we must protect in terms of the environment.  Sometimes we are also destroying indigenous trees that are very important to our environment.  Thank you Madam President.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF MUSARURWA:  Thank you Madam President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development.  We would want you to enlighten us on what measures you have put in place as Government because you have supported Command Agriculture programme and there is a lot of maize on the farms and rural areas.  What measures have you put in place to ensure that there is money?  How long will it take for a farmer to get their money after delivering their maize?  I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE):  Thank you Madam President.  Thank you Hon. Sen. Chief Musarurwa.  The question that he raised is pertinent and it gives us an opportunity to explain.  We know that most farmers have very good produce and it is not only maize.  We said GMB should buy all grains, what we call cereals and pulses such as beans, round nuts, ground nuts, et cetera.  We want the GMB to buy them, including soya beans.  Those who were buying soya beans were telling farmers that they have cheaper soya beans from outside the country but we gave an instruction that GMB needs to buy all the produce. 

We are adequately prepared and we are working together as directed by Cabinet that we need to pay the farmers upon delivering their produce promptly.  What we urge is that every farmer must have a bank account to ensure that his money is deposited in his bank account.  That will simplify the process for us.  Secondly, the payment takes a week to two weeks upon which the money should be reflecting in the bank.  This is also because we will be working together with the millers.  Before, the millers used to access grain from the farmers but this season we agreed and it was not by coercion, in case others think we coerced them.  It was realised that it is easier for millers to get the grain from GMB than to source the maize on their own. 

We also made sure that it enables ease of doing business in that the millers do not pay GMB but they pay to the Treasury.  GMB is only a custodian of the national strategic grain reserve that is monitored by the President.  So the maize in the reserve, that which we keep when there is drought is what we are talking about.  The millers will go straight to the Treasury and they will pay for their maize.  They will be given a note for them to draw the maize.  We did this to ensure that we monitor the whole system.  We are working with the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. 

Currently, farmers who are delivering their grain can testify that most of them have been paid.  I do not have figures with me right now.  I could have given you but I can also give that information even though it is not policy.  I have answered the policy side and I am willing to provide the figures to the Senate to show that we have paid farmers.  So far, we have paid a lot of farmers.  Madam President, I also want to say that this morning I talked to ZBC advising them that there is a lot of grain coming in.  We now have 300 000 in the national strategic reserve.  So far, the maize that has come through is about 290 000 and this maize is mainly from Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central.  We will now be getting into a higher harvesting in small scale farming areas, communal areas, A1 and A2 areas.  So everything is progressing well and we are paying our farmers to ensure that they are able to go back to their farms.  I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA:  Madam President, I want to say that the Minister has made me happy in his reply to the previous question.  However Minister, what can we do to assist you to ensure that the people out there know that GMB is now paying because in other areas they believe that GMB does not pay?  People are going to the rural areas and buying a bucket of maize for $2 which translates to $160 per tonne.  As a result, people in the rural areas are being ripped off.  What can we do to instill confidence in the farmers that there is money at GMB so they do not sell their maize cheaply?  I thank you.

          *THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE): I want to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira for his question. Firstly, I want to explain that even where we put controls with communal farmers, we do not put stringent measures for them when selling amongst themselves.  However, what Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira raised about people going to those areas, ripping off the communal farmers and bringing the grain to GMB thereby benefitting themselves because the maize is being bought at $390 per tone; they are making much more than what the farmer is getting when selling at $160 a tonne.  I think this is an issue where we have to assist each other because our small farmers do not have anything because of the drought.  Now they have had an opportunity to harvest something after getting the Presidential inputs.  We need to assist each other to ensure that we stop these middle men who are ripping off the farmers.  We have the power and authority to say that people who are doing that are criminals because that is a criminal offence and they can be arrested.  So these are just ideas that I am putting across but that will make life difficult for some of us. 

          Secondly, we need to go out on awareness campaigns to advise them not to sell their maize.  But, we know it is a challenge because the parents will also want cash. So, we can also assist each other and utilize the media. 

As we get the first maize produce that was grown, the large scale and commercial farmers are coming in and so, we need to raise awareness that GMB is paying for maize delivered.  We are in discussions with the Minister of Finance and the Reserve Bank.  For the small scale farmers, we need to find cash because they being small scale means that they may also need cash for their day to day running.  So, from what is being discussed here, I will see how we can continue the deliberations with the Minister to ensure that we get cash. 

It is true that confidence has to be instilled in our people that maize will be paid for but the small scale farmers have not yet brought their produce.  The test of the pudding is in the eating. As we move towards buying grain from the small scale farmers, I will take note and ensure that we pay.  We requested the RBZ to come up with a policy to ensure that the opening of accounts is not a cumbersome process especially for the small scale farmers because they do not have accounts.  I know that RBZ and the Ministry of Finance are working flat out.  Even the swipe – we might request that we engage the same procedure that we are using with cotton and tobacco to ensure that there is some cash and also ease of opening bank accounts.  However, we look forward to seeing the enhancement of ease of doing business but the truth is GMB is paying.

*HON. SEN. TAWENGWA:  My supplementary question is where the Minister said the millers are paying and they are buying directly from GMB. At what prices are they buying the maize?

HON. DR. MADE:  Thank you but that is a question that I cannot respond to currently.  However, we have plans to deliberate on the pricing.  What I want this House to know is that the price that we buy with from the farmer is to enable the farmer to go back to the farm.  There are people who are talking of those prices and are saying the Government prices are low.  We are not going to move from $390 because we need to empower the farmer.  Our farmer is farming under very difficult conditions.  The position of Cabinet is that there was a drought and when we started the land reform, the farmers were accessing loans or credit facilities at very high rates.  The cost of production is not equivalent to the cost of production across the world.  So, we need to look at the cost of production for the farmer.  Our priority is to ensure that the farmer is secure but the consumer also has to survive and cannot sustain the $390 per metric tonne.  We are still deliberating on the matter but I want to assure the farmers that they will continue to get $390 per tonne.  That also applies to wheat. We will continue to pay the farmer that top price. What I want us to know is that the price of maize remains at $390.  The bare minimum for wheat will be at the bare minimum it was in the last season.

HON. SEN. MUMVURI:  My question is directed to the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development.  Your Ministry is doing a good job in encouraging women empowerment.  One of the empowerment programmes is that of the women’s bank.  Can you enlighten us if the women’s bank has been implemented and is operational in provinces and also, if men are eligible to get funds from the women’s bank. 

*THE MINISTER OF WOMEN’S AFFAIRS, GENDER AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIKWINYA): Thank you Madam President.  I thank the Hon. Senator for the question.  Our bank is progressing well, but for us to start operations at the bank is not easy because there are a lot of things that need to be done before it can start operating.  What we need now is ICT, that is where the challenge is.  Our bank’s headquarters is housed at Trust Towers along Samora Machel Avenue.  We are renovating to ensure that we begin working.  We now have a Chief Executive Officer who is already working.  The finance person was recruited and is already working.  Recruitment is done by the board, which is their work. 

You asked what will happen in the rural areas. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development is in partnership with POSB.  POSB is one bank I know which has branches all over the country.  Whilst they have closed some of their branches due to lack of business, we requested them to allow us to use them all and we want to work with them.  Like I said in the Lower House, they will ensure that some of the workers who were with POSB will be reinstated, that is what we have proposed to the board so that instead of just taking over their infrastructure, they can also be employed. 

I want to believe that we will not surpass the month of September before we open up our bank.  However, it is said that for the ICT programme to be set up properly so that we are all networked from say Harare to Masvingo, it takes a period of 90 days and now we are almost midway which means that we are almost finished.

You asked the criterion used to obtain a loan.  Men are not allowed to take a loan; we do not have money to give you.  You should visit every other bank for loans but with this one you cannot.  Let us use this one to help women who have been disadvantaged all along.  This one is a positive discrimination and we are not ashamed of it.

We have the issue of financial inclusion, a programme where we find ways and means of injecting money into our bank so that it becomes financially stable.  We trust that women will also be depositing their money in there and obtain it from there.  I am sure that we now have a lot of orders particularly on agricultural projects.  Our Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development is aware of that.  I think we have 70% of poultry farmers in this country who are women.  So, women will do a lot of poultry and they will be distributed to markets without taking long to sell; we already have a ready market.  We received an order worth millions of dollars from Namibia recently, which was approved by Cabinet.

Our Minister also knows that we have tractors for women, 100 000 just for women so that we do farming.  So, we are trying by all means to establish our bank.  Anyone who wants to own a tractor from that programme should be trained first for a fee of US$65 and then we give you an offer on the type of crops that you will plant and the market for the final products.  This is done so that women will be able to repay the loan which they will have taken.  So, we are still making plans and putting things together for our bank to operate well.  If you know Pick N Pay, they also gave us a contract for farm produce; they will no longer be buying from outside but from women.  Others are saying we should do what is called internal mobilisation funding and that is where we are.  However, if anyone in here has a lot of money, can you give us so that we inject into our bank so that it kick starts.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. TAWENGWA: Hon. Minister, are you saying that as a man, if I reside in Checheche and have a business, will you allow me to deposit my money in your bank but will not be able to access the loan.

*HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Madam President.  That is what I said, that when it comes to banking money, we can work together but in terms of accessing the loans, we cannot accept men.  I wish you could just understand that and give us a break for a short period.  We are saying the 52% of women in Zimbabwe need to have that opportunity to access loans.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. CHIEF MUSARURWA: Thank you Madam President.  I want to find out the criterion used on the recruitment of staff.  Are you only going to focus on women or you will also be recruiting men?

HON. CHIKWINYA: On that issue, we are quite flexible because we have males who are doing the general work such as cleaning – [HON. SENATORS: Inaudible interjections.] – protect me Madam President.  The issue of employment is where we use equal opportunity of 50:50 but we want it to come in as a statute.  Once the 50:50 rule becomes statute, it will no longer be for women only. Section 17 provides for gender balance.  We are going to take it to the National Assembly and bring it here and once it is passed, you can get the menial jobs because for high posts, I think women will be heading.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. MASUKU: Thank you Madam President.  I would like to thank you Hon. Minister for your very elaborate response to questions.  My question is; you mentioned that your Ministry is working with Post Offices in rural areas where there were village banks established by the same Ministry.  Are you going to resuscitate those village banks so that it becomes easy where infrastructure is already in place?

HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you Madam President.  The village banks will continue to operate separately because this banking institution is different from a village bank.  The regulations and how it operates, the modus operandi is very different.  Therefore, we will leave the village banks to operate separately while we grow the women’s bank separately.  However, we may have a situation where we may want to lend money to the village banks so that they operate as village banks from the parent women’s bank.  They can borrow money so that we resuscitate them because we know that they were doing a great job for women at community level.

HON. SEN. CHIMHINI: Thank you Madam President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development.  Hon. Minister, what measures is Government taking for timeous provision, adequate and affordable fertilizers for 2017/2018 given that in the past year, fertilizers were in short supply. Thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE): I want to thank Hon. Sen. Chimhini. The issue of inputs is related to the availability of foreign currency. Right now, our objective is that we are trying to save money by substituting production in order to reduce imports. It is almost an egg and chicken situation. It is also related to foreign currency allocation. Agriculture is a generator of foreign currency, i.e. tobacco, cotton, even meat exports where we export.

          However, foreign currency has to be allocated to other vital sectors. For example, yesterday there was talk of the health sector and the stock of the fuel sector. They need foreign currency for imported materials. So, we have to share that cake. So far in the coming seasons, we are grateful that we have already started moving the Presidential Inputs Scheme. If you go to various depots across the country, we are already moving fertilizer. We have been moving fertilizer in the past two months and I want the Senate to know that.

          On our manufacturing, we are grateful to NSSA which has also been assisting the fertilizer industry from the last season in terms of some amount. So, the carry-over stocks will go into the season. The fertilizer companies require mainly the trace elements that go into the manufacturing of fertilizer. The phosphate or dombo redu tinaro from Dorowa, but we give them foreign currency from machinery and equipment. So far, Treasury together with the Reserve Bank have provided some resources. We are already moving the inputs for the cotton. On the Presidential Cotton Input Scheme, we have some carry-over stocks.

          So, I can say barring heavy rains; the preparations have already started but as you know, our season is dependent on the rains. If we have more rain, it means our biggest struggle is on top dressing fertilizers. I think that is where the biggest challenge is. We are advising the farmers to put lime so that we correct the soil ph. Our soil has got some residual fertilizer but it becomes available to the plant if we correct the soil ph. There are several technical measures that we are also undertaking but we are better prepared this season than the previous season. This is because of foreign currency allocation. We are going to stop in some areas as was suggested yesterday about importation of certain commodities that we can produce so that we enhance production.

          I have just come from Europe and everybody knows that organic material and certain pulses that help in nitrogen fixing. We are talking of organic farming as only in the gardens. In Europe, to correct the soil which is pulverized by inorganic fertilizers, we have to correct the soil. They are now using organic material on a commercial scale. It corrects the soil ph and it improves on the yields. These are some of the measures that we are going to introduce in our agriculture as well, to commercial so that we must do and we are discussing it with other countries. Most of these countries like China, Europe, and Russia and so on; they are calling for organically produced material, not only as a feud, but in terms of commercial proportions.  Those are some of the things that we are following. Thank you Madam President.

          HON. SEN. CHIMHINI: The aspect of pricing Hon. Minister, you did not touch on that one. I talked about affordability.

          HON. DR. MADE: My apologies Madam President. It is an appropriate component that I had left. The issue of pricing is very important. That is why we have the Cabinet Committee in the President’s Office that looks at ease of doing business so that we look at water and electricity. I have already alluded to transport that as long as we are transporting mainly the bulk input raw material to agriculture by road, the cost continues to be up.

          HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Minister, I am excited about the potential of organic going commercial in Europe. I thought we should better place ourselves. Why can we not move faster than Europe in the organic area which is more effective and less costly? Thank you.

          HON. DR. MADE: Madam President, I do not want to be too technical and argumentative but all I can do is to say to Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira, that in Europe when we talk of animals, virtually all animals are housed 360 days a year, be it dairy, beef, poultry and piggery. We must remember that. So technically, I think for us to be able to be mechanised to apply the organic material and I am now talking of even tankers that travel 200 km to deliver organic material on different farms, we must start in my view, but this is a technical matter. We must start and that is why organic material item has been included under the livestock. We have not announced yet but it is going to come under the livestock special programme that we will be announcing soon. In Europe, it starts with bio-energy where every dairy farm or beef farm are generating power first.

From the digesters, you now take that material and you apply it in the field. So we must also invest in that as you know well as an environmentalist yourself. I think we should start at least in those areas in the dairy sector, cattle fattening areas and in the poultry area, it is very easy for us to do. So, it is an idea that we support but we should look at those niche areas that we should start with. At least I am very happy to say to the Senate that it has been directed by Cabinet that the livestock sector must include this organic subject. Thank you.

          *HON. SEN. MASHAVAKURE: Thank you Madam President. My question goes to the Minister of Women’s Affairs. We always hear that there is the financial inclusion facility that has been brought by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. How can women access such a facility? Do they have to come through your Ministry? How must they go about it?

          *THE MINISTER OF WOMEN’S AFFAIRS, GENDER AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHIKWINYA): We have come up with a policy that each bank in this country should have a window where women can access money under financial inclusion. It is now a must that each bank should advance loans to women. Secondly, on how they should become aware about this money, we are coming up with media that is favourable to women and deals with gender issues. We are asking the media for a channel that specifically deals with women issues on television or radio where you can either listen and view issues pertaining to women only. We now have focal persons in each Ministry from our own. We are requesting that where line ministries have communal based workers such as agricultural extension workers, we give them information pertaining to women’s issues so that as they do their main line of work they also deal with women issues. This will enable issues that are beneficial to women to be registered at communal level. The media would be the best way to go around it. It appears the Minister understands in that regard. Econet and NetOne are very cheap. We intend to send out bulk messages through them so that women can access information on what we are doing. I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. MAKONE: My question is directed to the Minister of Agriculture. When we went round the GMB depots with the Peace and Security Thematic Committee, we learnt that farmers were being paid $390 per tonne but they will be selling that for $220 per tonne. This means that Government will be giving a subsidy of $170 per tonne. If GMB were to collect 200 million tonnes out of the success of the command agriculture initiative, there will be a subsidy of $340 million. What stops me as a miller from buying 10 tonnes at $220 and my young brother will bring the same 10 tonnes, resell it for $390 and continue doing the same thing? You will be thinking that you have bought 220 tonnes but it is only 50 tonnes that is being circulated. You have no way of stopping that. Why do you not subsidise the inputs, pay the farmer $170 and the miller buys at $220 so that the miller cannot come back and gain a profit of $170 per tone? The net effect is that the seed becomes cheaper to the farmer. I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE): I want to thank the Hon. Senator. First of all, the $220 as stated to the Committee, I need to look at that but I take note of what the Hon. Senator has said. I want to comment on the principle of subsidising the inputs. That is fundamental and universal because as you saw when I presented that we are paying the farmer $390 per tonne to keep them in the field and I made reference to the fact that our pricing structure for all commodities, the ease of doing business needs to be looked at. This is a matter we are looking at in greater detail but the comments that have been made by the Senator are relevant but I cannot answer to say yes, we will do this and that, no. We have to work on it because it is a combination of the Ministry of Finance, Industry and so on but the final price of $220, no I have only heard it here and I will find out. Thank you.

          *HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: My question is directed to the Minister of Agriculture. What measures have you put in place to empower your mechanisation department so that farming implements and equipment are readily repaired because of the problems that they are facing.

          * THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE): First and foremost, I would want to thank Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi for her question. We have already announced that there will be a parastatal called the National Mechanisation Authority of Zimbabwe, which means that the issue of mechanisation and irrigation will now be given more depth at practical level and not at policy level.

          Secondly, it is up to the farmer to see that his or her implements are in tip-top condition. We do not want to give people the idea that the Government will always be there to service the farmers’ tractors. If a bolt is broken, it is not the duty of the Government to go and replace it.  We are turning down loans that are above certain rates because we want to empower the farmer.  We would also want to bear in mind what Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira has said, that we would want to have ways in which farmers are not conned by conmen in terms of their produce.  We want farmers to develop and become bigger. 

So, I want to stress the point that this is what we have in mind that we are no longer giving tractors for free, no.  Even as we speak with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Affairs regarding their bank, we are working hand in glove to ensure that the farmer is empowered, so that the farmer can raise some deposit to buy the nuts and bolts for the tractor or for his/her implements and become self reliant and self sustaining.  At the moment, we do have tractors and as you are aware, they come from different programmes such as the Brazilian project and others came from Government under the RBZ.   Under the command agriculture, we want to know what needs to be done because at this time we are busy repairing combine harvesters, there is no foreign currency allocation and farmers have challenges in that regard.  But, we will assist the farmers by giving them a loan at low interest rate.

          Certain farmers are saying that they are having problems with their engines and we will assist them in that regard but we will tell the farmer that once we have done the repairs, we have empowered the farmer to plough and he/she should send the money.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA: I move that Questions without Notice be extended by 15 minutes.

HON. SEN. MARAVA:  I second.

+HON. SEN.  KHUMALO: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to ask my question.  My question is directed to the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, regarding command agriculture on animal husbandry.  We were told that we were supposed to register yet when we go to Rural District Councils on the animal husbandry command agriculture, they profess ignorance.  So, what do you suggest that we do because we need to have the command agriculture extended to animal husbandry?  I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE):  I would like to thank the Hon. Member for asking the question on command livestock.  I want to appeal and say that we are going to make an announcement and please, do not go and start on it before we make the announcements.  Please, I want to plead and I appreciate the question.  It is a very good question and I want to make it clear because we are elaborating just like we did on the cropping side.  We do not want farmers to be misled to go up and down because it costs money.  It will be quite an extensive and deep programme of livestock and I do not want to speculate on it because we are busy on the paperwork.  It will have legal elements and we will make the appropriate announcements starting with the food security and nutrition Chair, who is the Hon. Vice President, then we will cascade down. 

There will be legal papers that have to be approved by Cabinet and we do not want any misinformation and misdirection of the farmers.  So, I want to thank you and we do not want to say which institution.  We will announce which institution will be involved. Any other programme for now, it is not command livestock.  So, command livestock – we will announce it properly.  Thank you.

+HON. SEN. A. SIBANDA:  Thank you Madam President.  We have noticed in the media that there is $300 million which has been put aside.  So, I am pleading with the Minister that he gives an announcement that is going to talk about command on livestock or animal husbandry because the media has talked about animal husbandry and people are now looking forward to getting assistance in this line.

HON. DR. MADE:  Madam President, there is no problem with the patapata.   It is okay but like I have said now, the procedures and everything and I understand why, it is because this programme has been long awaited and everybody wants to be involved.  So, it is okay and people must know that the programme is coming.  The media is correct in announcing the initial amount but it will also depend on those that will be interested in financing the programme.  It will be Government as well as the private sector, but it was important that we indicate the initial amount that we are going to start with.  I still want to maintain the position on the appropriate announcements on how the farmers,  how the groups and how institutions will apply - that we will make at the appropriate time.  I thank you.

+HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA:  Thank you Madam President.  What is involved in command agriculture – does it have any time limit so that we know that in crops it is so many years or in livestock there are so many years of its implementation.

HON. DR. MADE:  We are going to have timeframes but I want to just make reference to the fact that command agriculture and special programmes - remember we started with the special maize production for import substitution and now we are going to have soya bean.  We are going to have fisheries and even wildlife farming as well.  We are also going to have fruit trees as well.  We are going to have different components of the agricultural sector. 

There is the irrigation component that we are talking about but on cattle, I would like to talk about livestock in general.  Initially, the programme will be three to five years because as you know, livestock has a longer gestation period.  There will be things that will be done by Government, for example the foot and mouth fencing.  We do not expect the farmers to do that for us to control foot and mouth.  That is a long-term project.  Even the farmer, when you are breeding, the dairy sector is long term and the beef sector is long-term.  Depending with on the enterprise of the livestock, it will have a longer gestation period.  It might also include improved pastures, for example, for you to recoup that back will take longer.  It will be there with us for a little while.

HON. SEN. MARAVA:  Thank you Madam President.  My question is to do with the rural folk.  In the past, the GMB used to have semi-depots whereby the rural farmers would deliver their produce on scotch carts.  Those semi-depots used to assist a lot but they are no longer operational and the distances that have to be travelled by the rural folk are hundreds of kilometres in some cases.  The rural farmer will definitely lose and he will not break even.  What plans do you have to assist the rural farmer because definitely, as you know, they form the greater chunk of this country?

THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE):  I want to thank Hon. Senator and indicate that the GMB has been directed to open all the satellite depots plus the new ones.  It has been made very clear that farmers, both in terms of cotton areas and grain areas should not be travelling more than five kilometres even less.  I have said the GMB has been directed to purchase pulses, that is sugar beans, cowpeas, all grain and cereal material including soya bean.  At least I am happy to say that is what we have directed.  I thank you.

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

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE

CHALLENGES POSED BY LACK OF POINT OF SALE FISCAL MACHINES

1.  HON. SEN. TIMVEOS asked the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to inform the House what plans are in place to alleviate challenges posed by lack of point of sale fiscal machines in view of the fact that such machines are not readily available in the country, a situation that has affected business.

THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE) on behalf of THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA):  Mr. President, I want to indicate that I am standing in for the Minister of Finance and I will respond to questions 1, 6, 8, 9 and 10 on his behalf.  

Mr. President, the observation by the Hon. Member is appreciated and suffice to say that the Government through the Reserve Bank continues to support efforts aimed at promoting electronic payment transactions in the economy.  These efforts have culminated in increases in Point of Sale (POS) machines from 16 000 in January 2016 to currently 40 600.  This has resulted in an impressive increase of electronic and plastic money transactions from around 40% in 2016 to the current average of 80% in the formal market.

Efforts are underway to intensify the use of electronics and plastic money in the informal sector which is currently predominantly cash based.  In addition to POS machines, the Reserve Bank is also promoting the use of other electronic means of payment available to the transacting public for use in the economy such as real gross settlement (RTGS), electronic funds transfer (EFT), mobile financial services, Near field Communication (NFC) and quick response (QR) code. 

Furthermore, the Government has also, through the 2017 National Budget, scrapped import duty for POS devices and we are proceeding to remove the 5% tax per transaction on POS and electronic payments. It is our considered view that this initiative will further bring the requisite financial resources and capacity for institutions to import more POS machines.

MEASURES TO CURB CORRUPTION

8. HON. SEN. TIMVEOS asked the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to explain to the House the measures taken by the Ministry to curb corruption as the economy recovers.

          THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE) on behalf of THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA): Mr. President, Hon. Members will recall that in my 2016 Mid Year Fiscal Policy Review Statement and in my 2017 National Budget Speech that I presented on 8th December, 2016, I emphasised on the need to tackle all forms of corruption.  Also, one of the critical success factors that would ensure the successful implementation of the 2017 Budget was that of confidence building underpinned by policy consistency.

          This critical success factor underpins the need to improve the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe by improving and aligning pieces of legislation that impinge on business.  I believe that as we improve the ease of doing business by amongst others, setting up appropriate information technology platforms, aligning legislation and regulation and other institutional elements that curb bureaucracy and inefficiency will curtail corruption.  Members will recall that I specifically stated that budget process and its focus is on the elimination of all forms of corruption. 

In that regard, I indicated that efforts will be made to improve the computerisation of the Public Finance Management System (PFMS).  My Ministry has since started implementing that process and is currently enhancing its capacity to accommodate more transactions by upgrading the servers and their connection to the rest of the PFMS.  Improvements in the PFMS capacity is expected to build an effective and efficient budgeting and financial transactions system and ultimately curb corruption along the value chain. 

In addition, Members will recall that I informed the House that I will be instituting measures to strengthen the Public Finance Management System by enhancing capacity of the Accountant General’s Office to follow up on queries raised by the Audit Office.  I am pleased to inform the House that the Public Service Commission has since approved the setting up of the Performance Management Units.  These units will be responsible for the evaluation of performance of State enterprises and follow up on queries raised by the Audit Office respectively.

The Accountant General’s Office has since recruited the necessary personnel to conduct the required follow-ups and performance analysis.  These Performance Management Units will also advise Ministries and State enterprises on ways to improve performance and effectiveness in response to the Audit Office queries.

 Mr. President, in addition Members will be aware that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission has the constitutional mandate to identify, investigate and effectively deal with all forms of corruption in society.  My Ministry is always ready to work closely with ZACC for the later to fulfill its constitutional mandate and Treasury is currently providing the necessary support to ensure that ZACC performs all its functions. 

CHALLENGES MILITATING NEGOTIATIONS WITH SOUTH AFRICA ON ADOPTION OF THE RAND

          10.  HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA asked the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to inform the House what the perceived challenges or problems are that militate against Zimbabwe negotiating with the South African based monetary union so as to allow the country to adopt the rand as the official currency while continuing to solve the economic dilemma.

          THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE) on behalf of THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA):  Mr. President, I want to thank the Hon. Senator.  Hon. Senators will be aware that the Rand is part of the basket of currencies used under the multi-currency system of exchange in Zimbabwe since 2009.

          In this regard, Government is against the usage of the Rand in Zimbabwe alongside other currencies in the basket of nine currencies.  The multi-currency system provides a wide range of choice of currencies to Zimbabweans.

          Government does not believe that Zimbabwe’s challenges are a currency phenomenon but rather a structural challenge.  In any case, the Rand is foreign exchange that needs to be earned.  We do not print it. It can also be externalised.

          Competitiveness is brought by increasing production and productivity in order to reduce the average cost of production through economies of scale.  Usage of the Rand means that Zimbabwe will need to earn and sell US dollars to obtain the Rand from South Africa.  So, it is very clear Mr. President that the Rand will have to function as a multi-currency designated in the same basket; not as an exclusive currency.  On behalf of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, thank you.

          HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA:  On a point of order Mr. President. I would like to register my gross dissatisfaction which I requested the Minister here present to advise the Minister of Finance and Economic Development that my Question Number 11 has been outstanding since October last year.  If the Minister is not prepared to answer the question, he might as well say so and I forget about it.  I have revised it as at end of September to end of March and it still remains unanswered. I am grossly dissatisfied.  Thank you Mr. President. 

STATE OF SILIKWE IRRIGATION PROJECT

          22.  HON. B. SIBANDA asked the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development to explain to the House why the Silikwe Irrigation Project in Matshetshe communal lands in Gwanda still remains in a semi-developed state almost 20 years after the project was initiated. 

          THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE):  Mr. President, certainly on an earlier comment by the Hon. Senator, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development will respond to the question – [HON. B. SIBANDA: A year later?] – Yes, he will respond a year later, yes. 

          Mr. President, I want to thank Hon. Senator Sibanda.  The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has not yet provided enough funds to complete the project, that is the Silikwe Irrigation Project.  However, I am confident that in the resources that are being allocated, the project will be completed.  Thank you.  

WRITTEN SUBMISSIONS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE

WITHDRAWAL OF MONEY FROM BANKS

6.  HON. SEN. NYATHI asked the Minister of Finance and Economic Development: -

(a)             to indicate when the banks would be in a position to allow depositors to withdraw any amount of money from their bank accounts without limits

(b)            to state measures in place to ensure that people do not spend their productive time in long queues just to withdraw money which is as little as US$50.00 per day.

THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE) on behalf of THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA):  Mr. President, the fundamental reason of limiting cash withdrawals is to ensure that the available physical foreign exchange cash is evenly spread to the banking public given the fact that the demand for cash is higher than its supply.  The shortage of cash is not caused by banks or the Reserve Bank.  The shortage of cash is a symptom of a combination of structural challenges besetting the national economy namely fiscal deficit, current account deficit, market discipline and low productivity.

Fiscal deficit reflects that expenditure is larger than revenue.  Excess expenditure over revenue causes cash shortages as it means reliance on overdraft to access the scarce foreign exchange.  This is double tragedy which must be addressed.

This situation is exacerbated by the current account deficit which shows that Zimbabwe is a net importer.  This requires foreign exchange to meet the excess imports over exports.  The foreign currency shortage is further compounded by the glaring market indiscipline.  The practice by some traders, including foreigners operating within the Reserved Sectors of the economy, to operate without banking accounts is unethical business practice that should not be tolerated in this country.  Non-banking of cash by such unscrupulous traders has a haemorrhaging effect on the circulation of money in the economy. 

As I advised this House before, money like blood needs to circulate for any economy to survive and grow.  If money that is in the national economy amounting to around $760 million (11.7% of total deposits), made up of $140 million of bond notes, $23 million bond coins and an estimated $600 million of multiple currencies, was circulating efficiently, there would be no cash shortages in the country – a range of 10 – 15 percent of deposits in an economy is the best practice for cash in circulation in most economies throughout the world including developed countries.

It is the traders and individuals who are operating in the shadow economy that are therefore exacerbating cash shortages whilst at the same time externalising cash and also feeding the parallel markets.  They do not pay taxes as well.  They are abusing the privilege of operating in the Reserved Sectors of the economy.

Once again Hon. Members, let me reiterate that cash challenges can only be addressed when we deal holistically with the challenge of low production and productivity, fiscal deficit, current account deficit and market indiscipline.  The following measures are being undertaken by Government to address the structural rigidities:

1.     Reducing Government expenditure to match with revenue;

2.    Fostering market discipline through the existing legal instruments to minimise capital flight or externalisation and to promote the smooth circulation of money within the national economy;

3.    Addressing low productivity to increase fiscal space, employment and exports through implementing investor friendly measures that include synchronising the indigenisation law to the localisation policy, ease and cost of doing business reforms, State owned enterprises reform and issuance of bankable 99-year leases;

4.    Promoting exports and foreign exchange receipts from the diaspora through the export subsidy scheme being granted by the Reserve Bank; and

5.    Promoting local production through the Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 put in place by Government and the foreign exchange management system by the Reserve Bank.

BANK WITHDRAWAL LIMITS

9.  HON. SEN. CHIEF SIANSALI asked the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to explain why banks are limiting withdrawals to a maximum of $100 per transaction from banks to Ecocash transfers, a situation which results in exorbitant charges to the user, a case in point being Agribank; and consider whether or not it would be prudent to allow withdrawals up to the maximum limit of $5000 per day.

THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE) on behalf of THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA): Bank to wallet transactions are not limited.  However, banked individual customers transact up to $10 000 per month on their wallet with a daily limit of up to $5 000.  Non-banked individual customers can transact up to $3 000 with a daily limit of $1 000.  Merchants, farmers and SMEs can also transact on mobile wallets up to $50 000 per month depending on their category. 

In line with the goal to encourage the use of electronic means of payments, the limits have been broadened to facilitate payments by the transacting public and business whilst taking cognisance of the anti-money laundering requirements which are key in any financial system.  To this end, the transacting public is urged to move away from the culture of over-reliance to various electronic payment modes available in the country.

A cash withdrawal limit of US$5 000 is quite excessive by global standards. 

MOTION

REPORT OF THE 40TH PLENARY SESSION OF THE SADC PARLIAMENTARY FORUM

First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the 40th Plenary Session of the SADC Parliamentary Forum held in Harare, Zimbabwe.

  Question again proposed.

          THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE): I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume:  Tuesday, 18th July, 2017.

MOTION

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

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

          Question again proposed.

THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE): I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume:  Tuesday, 18th July, 2017.

MOTION

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

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

          Question again proposed.

          THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE): I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume:  Tuesday, 18th July, 2017.

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. MADE), the Senate adjourned at Four Minutes past Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 18th July, 2017.

         

 

Senate Hansard SENATE HANSARD 13 JULY 2017 VOL 26 NO 68