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SENATE HANSARD 15 MARCH 2018 VOL 27 NO 30

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 15th March, 2018

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

PRAYERS

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

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

ERROR ON THE ORDER PAPER

          THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: I would like to draw the attention of the House to a printing error on the Order Paper where Hon. Sen. Chief Mtshane is appearing as the mover of Notice of Motion Number 2, instead of Hon. Sen. Mavhunga.

INVITATION TO A FAMILY LAWS MEETING

          THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: All members of the Women’s Caucus are invited to a meeting on family laws on the 21st of March, 2018 starting at 0830 hours to 1100 hours at the Cresta Oasis Hotel.  We are appealing to you to be punctual.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. SEN TAWENGWA: Madam President, I move that Questions Without Notice and Questions With Notice be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

          HON. SEN MATHUTHU: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF THE ELDERLY

HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA:  Madam President, I move the motion standing in my name that this House;

COGNISANT of the constitutional rights of the elderly as prescribed in Section 82 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe;

AWARE of the provisions of the Older Persons Act [Chapter 17: 1]; and

DETERMINED to see older persons receive and enjoy better care and attention than they are currently getting in all spheres of life;

NOW, THEREFORE, this House calls upon Government to:

a)    review and update legislation relating to the welfare and upkeep of the elderly;

b)   embark on training and re- orientation of society on our traditional and ubuntu values in relation to the rights and privileges of the elderly; and

c)    compensate those elderly who had their retirement annuities and pensions ravaged by rabid inflation.

HON. SEN. SHOKO: I second.

HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA:  I would firstly like to inquire wether my request to read my motion reached your office because I sent it. I want to be able to read.

THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: Hon. Senator, can you please approach the chair.

Hon. Sen. Sibanda approached the Chair.

HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA: I want to remind this House that every society has its young and elders, those generations do exist.  In Zimbabwe, it is estimated that the population of the elderly is around five percent.  This is a significant number of persons which deserve the attention of all stakeholders.  The onus to look after the elderly generally rests on the shoulders of the middle aged, the State and other non-State actors like insurance organisations and pension funds.  However, as African societies develop and disintegrate, that is the way I perceive them – the middle aged generation turns to abandon that role and the burden shifts to the State and other institutional arrangements.  This is a distortion of our traditional values of ubuntu bethu.

In Zimbabwe, for a range of reasons, some elderly persons generally find themselves in invidious position of deprivation and dire-need.  This happens in spite of institutional provisions in the Constitution and other related arrangements.

Can I proceed Madam President and look at the constitutional provisions – Part 3 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe deals with specific rights.  These rights include:-

a)      the rights of women;

b)     the rights of the elderly;

c)      the rights of the children;

d)      the rights of the disabled persons; and

e)      the rights of the veterans of the liberation struggle.

Of the five specific rights I have mentioned, I believe that the elderly are the least talked about in daily life.  Constitutionally, I believe these rights are given the same weight and as a nation, we cannot therefore give greater weight to one or another at the expense of another.

Further, Section 82 of the Constitution entitles the elderly to the following:-

1.    to receive reasonable care and assistance from their families and the State;

2.    to receive health care and assistance from the State; and

3.    to receive financial support by way of social security and welfare.

Madam President, legislation however turns to fetter these rights through the below stated proviso;

“..the State must take reasonable legislative and other measures within the limits of the resources to it to achieve the progressive realisation of this right”. 

          In other words, what legislation does, it says the State should not feel very compelled if they do not have the resources.  I believe that the State cannot exempt itself from its responsibilities.

          There is also the Older Persons Act which deals with the entitlement of the older people and Madam President, I want the House to understand that I do not yet qualify to be one of the older persons and I am being honest.   I am below the age, but I am getting there.  So, there is no enlightened self interest in this presentation.

The Older Persons Act predates the current Constitution  and that makes it an urgent candidate for re-visitation  and realignment because it comes in earlier than the Constitution.  Be that as it may, this piece of legislation specifies the rights of older persons and deals with their care and welfare entitlement.  In short, these provisions are close to those prescribed in the Constitution.  The Act as it stands, complements the Constitutional provisions to some extent.  It is therefore sufficient for the purpose of reasonably addressing some of the needs of the elderly.

Madam President, having presented the legal provisions with the rights of the elderly, I now move and look at what is the way forward for our elderly.  In terms of the Older Persons Act, this group of people covers those who are above the age of 65.  This segment translates to about, as I stated before, 5% of the population.  The Older Persons Act and the psycho orientation of the population of Zimbabwe requires to be refocused and re-orientated when it comes to the care and welfare of the elderly.  The Older Persons Act needs to be urgently relooked at and to incorporate the following:-

·       Provisions that entitle older persons not to queue for services but to receive priority services.  As of now, this is a privilege but not a right for the elderly persons.  I personally strongly believe that our sekurus and so on should not be queuing in any situation.  There should be a reserved facility for old people to get priority services. 

·       I also believe that in public transport, there must be seats reserved for the elders.  Unfortunately, our public transport is in such chaos that however desirable that is, it is not envisageable.

·       Government should be compelled to respect the provisions of the Act without the proviso of having the resources in deserving cases.  Madam President, the elderly must, I repeat, must receive their monthly stipends unless they have other sources of liquid income.

I have seen rural people who have nothing.  Even if they get welfare distributed maize, they cannot take it to the grinding mill.  I think it is a situation that cannot be acceptable in an independent Zimbabwe. 

Government has been to some extent, very responsible in the impoverishment of our elderly.  We allowed inflation to erode whatever people had saved.  We allowed pension funds to be decimated and retirement annuities to be lost.  This is an unforgiveable sin in my opinion.  In other countries, Government would have been held to account, but Zimbabwe is Zimbabwe.  The elite can get away with sin.

However, I am consoled.  In today’s paper in the Herald, I saw statement to the effect that the issue of eroded pensions and privileges relating to annuities have been investigated in terms of the Presidential requirements I think of 2015 and it is stated that they will be compensated, by the insurance houses.  My belief is the burden of loss must be shared between the State and the insurance houses.  I know the insurance houses took us for a ride, but the State created the negative environment.  They cannot excuse themselves.

Madam President, I think there are other considerations we must look at in terms of the rights and privileges of our people.  I have previously raised the issue of food distribution.  By positive or negative coincident, last month when I got home I noticed that six very elderly people in their 90s had not received any social welfare assistance while young people had been allocated maize under the social welfare programme.  My reaction was to take six bags from my stock and give it to them because I could not countenance a situation where someone as old as my father, if he were still alive, has not received Government allocation while the young receive.

The positive result is, it immediately caused the local traditional leadership to get together and I understand they have addressed the situation.  In short, it says that if we all keep our eyes open, we would see the disadvantages suffered by our elder people and those can be rectifiable as per that experience.

Elderly parents should be able to demand and be accorded the requisite care and welfare support as part of our continued preservation of ubuntu.  You will remember that when our age was growing up, everybody who was the age of your father was your father; everyone who was the age of your grandmother was your grandmother.  We would not starve when our neighbour had plenty.  So, that is the ubuntu we want to rediscover. 

Sadly, I think family members must discard this mentality of being so civilised that they forget about where they came from.  They are the sweat of their parents if you hear what I mean and you cannot forget that you are a product of sweat and effort.  Traditional leadership and other non-State actors must champion the cause for the care and welfare of our elderly.  Madam President, some of our elderly persons lead pathetic lives and I do not believe that this country, considering that the elderly total is 5% and of the 5%, some have means to survive by themselves, but those that do not have, do not have.

I remember, I visited a family and I saw the level of destitution in that family comprising of elderly people and I did a trick on one of the children.  I went to him and said, you know, suppose those people die, how are you going to get there with the position we know you hold in town?  Madam President, I will tell you it worked.  Next time I got a call from that gentleman saying, I am there, I am building a hut for them and I have brought them bags of maize.  I think if the leadership at all levels kept open eyes for those we call our elderly, the state of our elderly would not be as desperate as it is. 

In conclusion Madam President, I state and restate, as a self respecting nation, we cannot allow some of our elderly persons to lead the current pitiful lives they currently do.  This House must take the challenge and take the bull by the horn and deal a devastating blow to the existing deficiency that manifests itself in the land.  I insist and I request that let us look after our elders.  It is our responsibility, it is the responsibility of the three or four other actors that I have identified.  Madam President, with those words I thank you.        

          *HON. SEN. SHOKO: Madam President thank you very much for allowing me to speak on this motion that has been introduced by Hon. Sibanda.

          THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: There is no interpretation so we request that we debate in English.

          HON. SEN. SHOKO:  This motion is very important for another segment of our society which is the elderly.  It has been pointed out to say, those people who are called the elderly according to the Act that is presently there and also being covered by the Constitution, are people who are 65 years old.  Certainly, it has also been pointed out to say, there are areas that we must give recognition to the elderly and one of those areas is the privilege when they are being served in the banks or anywhere else where the elderly and the young are being served. 

It has also been pointed out to say, in public transport although presently we have a problem in defining exactly public transport because we have the small kombis and in those kombis, sometimes it is a bit of a war to ride in these kombis.   But, we are looking at institutions like banks and we are also looking at institutions where Government is providing aid or help to the elderly.  It is very important that Government be very much alive to the issue of the elderly.  Government must be very alive to that issue because these people if you look at them, a lot of them are not able to look after themselves.  A lot of them were simple labourers in the work place.  They were farm or domestic workers and they have nothing.  So, the elderly must be looked after by the Government. 

There is a story that I read in the newspapers and also I saw it on the news about the South African Government.  It is very much alive to some of these things and we believe that our Government can still do something about the elderly- dealing with their needs, deal with the issues of medical issues.  For example, an elderly person gets to the hospital when he gets there, there is a long queue and they are seated on the bench.  He will wait there following the queue until sometimes four o’clock and he had come in at 8 o’clock and he has walked a long distance of five or ten kilometers.  When he gets back, he will get back to his place very late. 

So we need to say to Government or ourselves because Government is ourselves – we must say look, we must change the way we look at these things.  Let us give the elderly the respect that they deserve.  Anyway, everything that we are now enjoying was established or founded by the elderly.  They are the people who established everything whether the school that you went to, it was because of the elderly who did that.  So Government must look at that, we must look at that and try to improve on their lives.  We must improve on the activities that they do every day.  It is very important that we look at Madam President.  I thank you. 

HON. SEN. MATHUTHU:   Thank you Madam President.  I want to thank Hon. Sen. Sibanda for raising this motion.  As much as the motion demands that Government should take care of the elderly persons, I believe that families should take care of their elderly because Government is overwhelmed.  There is so much which is required from Government that it may be impossible for it to meet that responsibility.  So Madam President and this hon. House, yes we have to be wary that we want all of us are getting older by the day, so if you did not take care of your elderly relative during your hey days, I can assure you that you will have a problem also when you need assistance.  Government can only do so much. 

Yes, as much as those elderly persons who once had opportunities to work in factories or elsewhere, and contributed to pension funds or social funds as required by the statutes, we do not see Government giving them their dues on time and we urge Government to please ensure that all those who worked receive their pensions in good time so that they are not a burden to society, especially if they spent the better part of their lives serving in Government and also in the communities.

Madam president, once again, I thank Hon. Sibanda for this motion and hope that the relevant Ministry will take serious action to ensure that the persons who deserve their pensions and other services get their dues in good time.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. S. NCUBE:  Madam President, thank you for this time that you have given me but it is really not fair for us because we want to use our mother language so that I can express myself very freely, it is really not fair.  I will just say a few words because I feel good when I am using my mother language.  I think next time the interpreters must be there, I do not know where they are but I think they are within the building.

        THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  Order, order, it is not the interpreters’ fault.  I think I explained on Tuesday that we are having a problem with the translation system.  It is the system and not the officials – the system broke down.  So it is not the officials.

        HON. SEN. NCUBE:  Thank you Madam President.  I would like to thank the mover of the motion Hon. Sen. B. Sibanda and the seconder Hon. Sen. Shoko.  Thank you very much for this motion Hon. Sen. Sibanda.

        I would like to say that I had prepared something of this sort.  I had thought of these elderly persons but it is good because I was not through with the motion.  I will just touch on a few things especially the issue of when somebody grows old.  In this country, when you grow old sometimes it is a sin because most of our elderly persons are suffering.  Most of the things have already been said – [HON. SEN. CHIPANGA: Inaudible interjection.] – May I be protected Madam President; Hon. Sen. Chipanga is mocking me around here. – [Laughter.] -  It is like when you grow old in this country it becomes a sin because most of our elderly persons are suffering.

        You can just talk of the pensions that we are talking about.  Those are the monies that people would have served for some time when they are at work but now it is not easy for someone to access that money from the bank – that is the challenge that we are talking about.  We are not talking about families taking care of their elderly but someone will have something served but it is difficult to access it.  When somebody is old, they do not demand that much because we are not talking about buying properties and clothes but about their upkeep.  Just the up keep of somebody who just wants to live a normal life.

        When you go to hospitals now, the Government says the elderly must not pay.  Everyone who is above 65 years is treated for free – there is nothing for free.  The freeness is just consultation because, for example, when you want to buy antibiotics.  There is nothing in the hospital pharmacies and you go to private pharmacies, the antibiotics cost from $10.00 and above and going for X-rays costs $30.00 and above.  So where is the free treatment of the elderly?  There is nothing for free and people are suffering – those are the things that we are talking about because the Government has to take care of you when you are sick.  Food is not enough and there is nothing but when you become sick is, that when the problem begins.

        There are a lot of diseases now that attack the elderly person.  When you go to a Government hospital and as long as you are not on medical aid, you will suffer.  So I would like to second this motion and say that it came at the right time because we are in a new era as the President has already said.  The Government has to take care of its elderly.  When you grow old a lot of things happen, hence the issue of medication must be addressed.  This is the challenge that we are having because it is not about buying food only, food is wanted yes, but when somebody gets sick that is where the problem is.  The issue of the welfare of our elderly persons must be taken care of.  With these few words, Madam President, I thank you.

        HON. SEN. KHUMALO:  Thank you Madam President for the opportunity, I really have a few words on the issue of the elderly.  It was said that the elderly need care and proper welfare.  Some of the elderly people thought they had prepared for themselves for what to come when they get older.  Some of them sold their houses and invested the money with insurances because they thought going to collect rent was going to be difficult for them in future.  When they moved from the high density to low density areas, they sold those houses and put their money into the banks and insurances.

        During the 2005-2009 inflation period, all the money fizzled away.  They were prepared to get better living conditions but now are worse off..  The other problem that they have now is the children who are looking after them.  Our male children cannot look after us; it is the daughters or the daughters-in-law.  Daughters-in-law are now working, when will they get the time to look after the elderly?  This is why they end up putting the elderly in the old people’s homes because they are not there in the homes.  If you leave them with your husband or brother, who is not able to do that, so those are some of the problems.  If we were earning enough or our husbands are not working and our sons-in-law are not working, so it is our daughters who are working. Women can come up with jingles and whatever and come up with something to do whilst men cannot device anything to do to look after the elderly like their female counterparts.  So they end up working and these men who are left at home cannot look after those elderly people. 

        So therefore, Madam President, the reason of putting the elderly in old people’s homes, we should not blame our daughters-in-law because it is them who are being blamed here since they are the ones who do the care and everything.  Can the Government avail money and work so that their husbands can secure jobs and the wives can they stay at home and look after us the elderly.  This is why we are not being looked after – it is because of Government which is not providing jobs.

        Then some elderly people go to the banks or they are working or they worked.  I will give an example of people who worked in the railways.  The railways stopped functioning before they got the pensions.  Now they are old and need the pensions but they still do not have pensions but they are old.  They are 70 years old but have no pensions because they left the railways when they were young when the railways stopped functioning.  Those people are now at home and without pensions, can Government do something for those people who retired, because the railways was not functioning?  Now that the National Railways of Zimbabwe is functional, can they give them pensions so that they have something to live on?  I am giving a example of the railways people whom I know are not getting pensions.

        Those who are getting the pension, it $60.00 some are getting $60.00 and others are getting $20.00.  They have to pay rent for their houses; they are not living for free.  The city councils are not exempting them from paying rates – they are paying.  From the $60.00, they will deduct money to pay to the city council; they have to buy food and travel in order to access the money. They cannot sleep on the roads; so, that money is used for transport to and from the bank daily and only to be told that there is no money.  They have to keep at least US$10 for transport before they are given their money.  So, can the Government ensure that these elderly people are given a date to get all their money once and not keep on queuing.

          On food, they have it but it is not a complete diet, they need proper diet, balanced diet.  You cannot have itshwala and vegetables only - [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] -  For you to have a good immune system, you need a proper diet.  You cannot have a good immune system when you feed on isitshwala and vegetables daily.  They need good nutrition.  So we must know that the elderly get sick easily because our immune levels go down as we age.  I thank you Madam President.

          HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: Thank you Madam President for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to such a very important motion.  The elderly play a very big role in our society and this is why the Constitution is clear that their welfare is very important.  To add on what other Hon. Senators said, we should look after the elderly.  We must also understand as Hon. Senators that not so many of our people are employed.  People are living in one house, the parents, their children, their daughters-in-law/sons-in-law and grandchildren because of the economic situation; so it is a difficult situation.

          The Constitution stipulates that our elderly must be looked after and they must get Government grants.  I was going through an article in the newspaper about Zororai Old People’s Home.  There is also an Old People’s Home that I visited in Chitungwiza, I was really amazed that African people now take their grandparents to Old People’s Homes.  Hon. Senators, I want you to think about it, these Old People’s Homes are now full and they are having so many challenges.  Zororai Old People’s Home has been receiving US$700 for the past 15 years or so, how then do they survive?  They survive on well wishers.  You must know that because of the economy, well wishers are few, so it means they are surviving from hand to mouth and they are really having difficult times.   The Minister was phoned and told about the difficulties and she said that they actually give grants according to capacity for these elderly.  So, I really want to understand or to ask the Minister how she measures capacity. 

          We are talking about something that is clear in the Constitution that says 70 years and above must be given grants and the State must actually do something. I want to also mention the issue that the elderly are not meant to queue.  When they go to the hospitals, they are not supposed to join queues.  Yes, they go in front, see the doctor but most of the times the doctors are not there and may be they are attended to by nurses.  The hospitals do not have medication.  They give prescriptions and may be it will cost over US$20 to buy the prescribed drugs. 

          The other lady in Zvishavane told me that she visited a hospital, was given a prescription and she went straight home because she did not have money to buy the prescription.  So surely, Government has to look at this.  I can actually look after my granny but there are other things that they need that the State has to provide.  We really have to be truthful with ourselves.  The elderly that are in old people’s homes survive on donations and things like that. 

          We also have to know that these elderly were once like me and all of us here.  Right now we are able to look after ourselves.  Let us put ourselves in their shoes.  I am forty something, in 20 years time, if I live long enough, I will be eighty something.  Who is going to look after me?  Some of these laws must be permanent and you must know that you are going to get to that age as well.  You are playing a big role.  Right now as a I am speaking, you are going all over, listening to people’s problems and helping them, making laws but one day you are also going to be in those old people’s homes.  You will be having nothing or possibly, you will not even be able to buy yourselves even a plate of sadza. So, let us make sure that we make laws that last so that even our grandchildren, when they get to that age, they are taken care of  - [HON. SENATORS: Hear hear.] –

          I am proud that Zimbabwe is a rich county but we need good managers and leaders that have a heart. So, let us have a heart and make sure that we consider our elderly.  Let us not say no, why are their families not looking after them?  You will also have to know that their families also have other problems; they cannot even look after their own children and that is why even our ubuntu right now has been eroded.  Everyone is busy trying to make ends meet. Sometime back, children would visit their aunties during holidays so that they are taught good manners.  Now there is nothing like that.  When they visit the aunty, she is busy trying to make ends meet.  So, there is no one to teach the children and that is why possibly our moral fabric is losing it.  That is why murikunzwa mabhinya, mabhinya, what is going on? 

          Let us be considerate, for us to be leaders.  We were chosen by people and we answer to people.   Let us be thoughtful and make sure that we make good policies and good laws that look after our elderly people.  I thank you Madam President.

          HON. SEN. MASHAVAKURE: Thank you Madam President.  This is a very good and very important motion.  I would like to thank the mover and the seconder of the motion.  One of the problems with Zimbabweans is that we like queues.  Even before the days when we did not have any cash shortages in early 2000 or even in 90s and so forth, there were banks and building societies where you were assured that on whatever day you go, there will be a queue, it is part of our culture.  Even in some Government offices, there are always queues.  People believe that having large crowds of people is a sign that they are working very hard and I think that is a mentality which must be thrown away.  You find that at hospitals, I am surprised that some of these Hon. Senators have been able to find queues at some of the hospitals because as recently as last year and the other two years before, when I went to Parirenyatwa, I did not get the impression that I was in a queue.  It was just a crowd of people and we were being moved left and right and being pushed. There was no queue.  Where are the elderly supposed to be standing then?  I think this culture of lines and queues should be taken away from our lives.  Even here in town, I will not mention the businesses but right now, I can move out of this Chamber and head straight to a place where I will find crowds of people and queues everyday from 0800 hours to 1700 hours in the evening – they are there; mobile operators this and that.  There are always queues.

How can it be that everyday there should be a queue at your business place. There must be something wrong with that kind of operating environment.  It means that somebody is not working or maybe the supervisor is not looking at what the workers are doing.  Like in hospitals, I suppose that the medical superintendents, the matrons and so forth, maybe they are not occasionally walking around to see what is happening at the outpatient department because people are just made to stand there.  In some places, you go there at night at midnight and you have to wait until 0800 hours the next day to get some kind of attention.  That mentality should be eradicated.

At least I was happy one of these days when I went to some supermarkets in the Avenues areas – they have a queue for the elderly and persons with disabilities.  Most of the time when I have been there, that particular till does not have these crowds of people that I am talking about.

The Constitution in any part of the world is supposed to be the supreme law of the land.  But when the supreme law of the land manufactures excuses for service providers to be able to say that I do not have the resources, I begin to have a problem with that kind of supreme law of the land.  It is not one of the supreme laws of the land anymore.  It becomes a supreme curse of the land.  I do not think we need that.  Unfortunately, it is not only the elderly who are covered by the caveats which refer to service providers like the State having to function or to provide service on condition that they have the resources – even the people with disabilities.  Occasionally, you find a section on children with that kind of caveat as well. 

Last year, Government found it fit to amend sections of the Constitution to do with the Chief Justice because they realised that in fact, this Constitution is defective.  I hope they will extend this kind of amendment to cover the areas where the Constitution has been laced with excuses for service providers so that they can do nothing.  It is obvious that if you do not have money, you cannot do anything but is it really necessary to write it in a document or Constitution which is supposed to be the supreme law of the land?  I think somebody got over laced because may be they are thirty one years or something and they think that after all, these elderly people want to be a burden to the fiscus.  I think that is wrong and somewhere down the line, that should be amended.

When we come to our pensions, people who were able to make some contributions to some pension get probably $60 but the people who are managing those pensions are getting probably $10000 or $20 000 per month at NSSA or one of these pension companies.  I think again that that is wrong.  It means that our Government is not performing its supervisory function because they should make sure that people should not disadvantage those people who actually made that company to be able to exist by paying their monies into the company in the hope that one of the days, they will be served with a good pension.  When they become 65 or 70, they are given $60, whilst the managing director and his staff are building terribly expensive houses in all sorts of places and getting these bizarre salaries every month, including may be sending their children to trust schools on the moon and so forth.  I think that is wrong and somebody should start exercising their function as a Government entity to make sure that things like that do not happen. 

For instance, in the late 2000 when we were simply called to be given our money by a pension company telling you that your money had been eroded by inflation and so forth; yet the company itself was not folding hands.  My money was losing value but the company was probably building new premises or buying new cars and doing all sorts of other things.  How did they manage to do that if really the contributors’ money was being eroded by inflation to zero?  It means something is suspicious there and I hope that the investigation that the other speaker talked about really comes up with the correct answers to that because we also know that even with funeral companies, you were supposed to pay for ten years but after the ten years and when the US dollars came, they changed their mind and said no, you just go on paying, we will tell you when to stop.  You will die paying – you may not even be able to benefit because you will not be able to argue with them after death.  They will simply impose whatever service they want to give to the surviving people.

On the issue to do with impoverishment of the elderly – I think the problem with Zimbabweans is that we are not really serious.  About two or three years ago, there was quite some bit of noise about a national medical insurance system but somehow, it just died a natural death. It is things like these that should be put in place so that when we get to 65 or 70, we are able to benefit so that those who are not working are also able to benefit.  In fact, there should be a social security system, apart from the national medical insurance which insures that everybody gets a certain amount of money per month which they can spend in our shops and boasts about consumption of locally produced items.  That will also spur our manufacturing industries to greater heights because they will be able to get more money from local consumers.  I think that is what they are doing in South Africa.  I suppose that it is a good thing and we should consider all this.

The problem with us is that most of the time, some people will say that South Africa is more developed than us and so everything good is for developed countries; the developing countries should never target good services that are offered in other places – the so called countries like Sweden or Britain where there are welfare programmes like the unemployed and all other people.  I think it is high time that we try and use our resources to look after ourselves.  A lot of these people are able to externalise money – they take hundreds of millions out of the country because Government is not willing to use that to service the interest of its people.  If they were, all that money would not have been taken out. It would have been put to good use.

About two years ago, I met the South African Deputy Minister of Social Development at the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.  She was telling us as a group that in South Africa, they make sure that all companies pay at least one percent of their net profits to some kind of welfare fund which Government can then use to do other things like for instance in the case of the disabled; may be inclusive education in crèches and so forth. 

I think we should also start considering some of those things because I know that when I was at school, Musume, Waddilove and so forth, we had sponsors.  My sponsor was called Mrs. I.J. Baker.  I do not even know who I.J. Baker was.  Later on, I suspected that I.J. Baker was the Secretary for African education at that time.  She was paying my fees when I was at primary.  I think there were many others.  I understand that in those days, when you sponsored somebody or when you made a contribution to a charity like Jairos Jiri, you also got something in return in the form of a tax rebate or something like that, but that seems to have now stopped and I do not know why. When we go around, for instance yesterday we were at Jairos Jiri School in Southerton and they told us that the last time they got per capita grants and administration grants from Government was in 2014. 

Why not revise this system where if somebody decides to donate, they also get something in return, maybe in the form of some kind of tax rebate.   I think that is good to encourage people to nurture or to adopt this spirit of being able to give to others so that our old people’s homes will not be short of resources to use for the benefit of their inmates. 

As for whether or not families should look after our elderly, I think they can and they should I think most of them are doing so, but the State should not offload the entire burden to the families because that is why they are the State.  The State has to take responsibility for its senior citizens whether they are in the care of their relatives or not.  If you give that particular senior citizen maybe $20 or $50 a month while they are in the care of their relatives, it adds something to their welfare.  I think the State should do something and they should not just leave that to welfare organisations on the pretext that the State is overwhelmed.  They should be overwhelmed by their people and they should just give them some of these services which they really need and make sure that things are okay.  Thank you Madam President.

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  Order, now we do have three Ministers in the House.  We have Hon. Mavima, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education; we have Dr. J. M. Gumbo, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development and last but not least; we have Hon. P. Kagonye, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare.  So I think we should go back to all those Orders we stood over.

HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA:  Madam President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. MASHAVAKURE:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Tuesday, 19th March, 2018.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA:  My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education.  Minister, I would like to know from you whether teachers are now coping with the new curriculum as there was some outcry when it was introduced.  Thank you.

THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVIMA):  Thank you Madam President and let me thank the Hon. Senator for the question.  There were a number of issues that the education fraternity complained about with regard to the new curriculum.  One of the issues was continuous assessment which would relate specifically to the question.  They complained mainly about the issue of tasks which they said were too much and I am happy to say that we have scrapped tasks.

The official communication is following after a paper that talks about the entire continuous assessment.  There are a few other things that we are doing in order to make the new curriculum more palatable.  Madam President, we have managed to acquire teaching and learning materials worth $9 million.  The distribution started about a week ago with a launch that we did in Seke District, but all the materials for that first phase have now been printed and trucks are rolling out to the 3 000 schools that we have targeted.

We have targeted deliberately the less advantaged schools in our communities because we know that there are other schools that are able to provide their own teaching and learning materials and a lot of them have already done that.  We are going to move to a second phase for the provision of teaching and learning materials under the new curriculum which is going to then allow us to impact on 6 000 schools. At that particular point in time, Madam President, we hope to have really satisfied the need for teaching and learning materials.  We continue to train our teachers because this new curriculum demands a new mode of delivery of lessons and we are doing the capacitation of our teachers.

Let me take this opportunity, Madam President, to say in its overall form, the new curriculum is very good.  It will be the foundation for training of a human capital that can lead this country to industrialisation or re-industrialisation.  It will move us from being in the 19th century to being in the 21st century.  It is emphasising subjects like science technology, engineering, mathematics.  It is also emphasising things like entrepreneurship, financial literacy and technological skills.  So, in its overall form, it is good but there are issues that we have to address in order to make its implementation more efficient and effective and these are the things we are trying to address.  Thank you Madam President.

HON. SEN. CHIMHINI:  Thank you Madam President.  You will forgive me if the question was asked before.  My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. Notwithstanding the court ruling on the examinations leak and the penalty that was given to those who run ZIMSEC, what is the major cause that we end up with examination leaks every year?  For example, this year it was going to affect almost 250 000 students. What measures have you now put in place that we do not have a recurrence?  Thank you Madam President.

          THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): Thank you Madam President.  The situation at ZIMSEC had become a major area of concern for the entire country.  I would characterise it as having come to a point of system failure.  Part of it really is the level of conscientiousness of those who were running the system.  You could even say sleeping on the job.

As far as causes are concerned, I think some of them are good causes and others are bad causes.  The good cause really is that our system of education is a highly competitive system. The desire to do well in this system propels learners to do anything in order to get ahead.  One of my colleagues in Government said to me, what happens in Zimbabwe as far as the desire to know the questions in advance is similar to what happens in other competitive countries like China and South Korea.  In the case of China, he was actually saying that the parents are the ones who are on the forefront looking for ways in which they can just know what this exam is going to be like so that they can help their learners. 

This takes place mainly at the level of transition from secondary school to university and the competition to get into the best universities is what drives that.  So, that could be one of the good explanations that in actual fact, we have a very competitive system and people are seeking to be ahead of everyone else.

We have learners who are now showcasing their prowess by taking 18 ‘O’ level subjects and we have had learners who have come up with 18 As.  So, the competition really in our schools is something else but there are bad causes. These can be summarised as corruption and I think the economic situation also contributes.  It is almost like when the paper becomes a valuable item in the hands of the corrupt, they know that I could actually sell to as many people as possible because they are looking for this paper.  So, there have been leakages related to where we used to print, we caught the culprits and they were prosecuted and given jail terms.  There have been leakages at the level of when we distribute and some of our heads and teachers have been responsible for that. They are culprits that have been identified.  There are leakages which we have not been able to really trace where they are coming from and these are leakages that have been distributed through social media. 

So, the economic situation, the moral fabric, I could hazard that we could use that as an explanation that for some reason we seem to have lost it.  If a headmaster or a teacher is engaging in this, it means that they have thrown out their professional ethics and standards and we really need to work on that.  I hope that as the economy improves, we are going to get less and less of the motivation to find anything that you can sell including the selling of the credibility of exams system as a country.

What are we doing?  There is something that has appeared in the papers.  We shook the management at ZIMSEC.  We have sent the Executive Director on leave pending retirement.  The Deputy Director also is on leave pending retirement; the senior managers have been sent on leave pending the investigation that we are undertaking.  We are looking at the entire value chain to see where we can plug these leakages. 

The setting of the exams itself, we have to come up with a security system around it.  The printing, we have now built a printing press for ZIMSEC at Norton and we are awaiting the delivery of the printing press itself and we are hoping that because we used to outsource the printing, now we are going to do it internally.  We are looking at also how we distribute and we are going to experiment with e-locking of the papers so that once they leave the facility and they are on the way to the schools, if anyone tempers with the package prior to the time when it is supposed to be opened, then it can report back to Head Office to say that it has been tempered with. 

There are some who have also suggested that there is a colour coding that can happen on the packages.  You can arrange that if it is tempered with, then the colour of the package will change.  So, we are looking at all that. We are going to get technical assistance from other examination centres and we are engaging security consultants of high calibre.  I do not know if it is going to be full proof but we have said we want a comprehensive approach to looking at this whole system.

The board is meeting tomorrow with recommendations from the sub-committee that has been looking at these issues and I should receive their recommendations by Monday or Tuesday, then we take this issue further to make sure that we have comprehensively looked at the entire value chain of ZIMSEC security.  Thank you Madam President.

HON. SEN. KHUMALO:  Thank you Madam President.  My question goes to the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare.  What policy is the Ministry planning to put in place for Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of NSSA, particularly the CEO who is getting $18 000 and the assistant getting $16 000 while the contributors who are their employers are only getting $60.  What policies are you putting in place so that you uplift the employers who are getting $60?

THE MINISTER OF LABOUR ND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. KAGONYE):  Thank you Madam President and thank you Hon. Senator for the question. NSSA is a parastatal and I think the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development through the Office of the President and Cabinet through SERA are responsible for the management and governance of all parastatal packages and something is being done.  I think within the next three weeks, it should be published in terms of management and regulating their salaries and the packages of management.

In terms of the amount of pensions payable to pensioners, there is an exercise that is done through actuarials.  They undertake a programme whereby they calculate what NSSA is able to pay at that particular moment in time.  The exercise was carried out last year and that was when NSSA was advised that in order for them to be sustainable, they can only pay pensions at the minimum of $80.00 per person.  We will see, depending with the profits that NSSA will be making in terms of its investments so that when the actuarials are done this year, they will determine the amount of money or increase for pensioners to have their pension payments improved.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. MUMVURI:  My question is directed to the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare.  What measures is the Government taking to ensure that pensioners get their hard earned money while they are still alive, especially in the local authorities such as Bulawayo and Harare?  Who are the major culprits of not paying pensions on time?

THE MINISTER OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. KAGONYE):  Thank you Madam President and thank you Hon. Senator for the question but as Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, we are only fully responsible for the payment of NSSA pensions.  All other pensions are regulated by IPAC, an institution that is under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.  We are equally concerned about their levels of default from other pension companies and are trying our level best as a Ministry to ensure that we assist the pensioners in getting their funds.  Otherwise, what we are fully responsible for are the pensions from NSSA and as NSSA, we have been paying pensioners their dues every month.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. SHOKO:  My question is directed to the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare.  In 2009, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) sent a commission of enquiry that recommended that we must harmonise all the labour laws with ILO standards, especially the ones that we had assented to which concerned employees conditions of service and work.  When is the Bill on harmonisation and alignment to the Constitution going to be brought to Parliament?

The second question is, the TNF agreed in 2008/09, sometime ago that there is going to be a productivity centre but to date, nothing has happened on that front.  We are still waiting and I remember the Minister of Finance and Economic Development being asked about that productivity centre and he said he would have referred the question to the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare  had she been present.  So, Hon. Minister, I am now asking you that question to say, when we are going to have the productivity centre because that productivity centre is very important for the production that we can get in this country.  All the issues that we need, standards can be set by that productivity centre – those are the two questions that I have for the Hon. Minister of Labour and Social Welfare.  I thank you.

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  May I appeal to Hon. Senators not to turn your questions into lectures.  One, you are wasting time so we will have a very short time for the ministers to attend to all the questions.  I have a long list here, please may I appeal to Senators - I think I put this request last week, to make our preambles to questions as short as possible so that we all benefit, that all of us who have questions will have the time to pose our questions, I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. KAGONYE):  Thank you Madam President and thank you Hon. Senator for your two questions.  I would summerarily answer as follows, we all appreciate I hope, the processes that we take for us to come up with legislation.

The productivity centre is still work in progress but for it to materialize, we need to finalise on the TNF Bill.  The TNF Bill has since passed Cabinet Committee on Legislation and we await its presentation in Cabinet.  For the Labour Act, we are working on it.  We had submitted it to the Attorney-General for their final input – there were some amendments that needed to be done.  Right now, we have resubmitted it to the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.  We expect that once it is done, we can then bring it to Parliament.  Otherwise as a Ministry, we are working very hard to ensure that those two pieces of legislation are finalised into Acts.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. MARAVA:  My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. Hon. Minister, of late teacher graduates from our universities and teacher training colleges are now too many and roaming the streets...

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  Order, order, preamble!

HON. SEN. MARAVA:  I am running away from the preamble, what is your policy on employment of graduate teachers now from universities and teachers training colleges?

THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): Thank you Madam President, we employ or rather we are supposed to employ teachers as per need in our schools.  We do not employ because they are there.

The need in our schools right now is mainly for Early Child Development (ECD) teachers.  I think, the Ministry has indicated that we need about 15 000 ECD teachers to operate optimally.  We need a few in the junior level which is Grades 3 to 7, there we are almost appropriately staffed.  In secondary schools we need mainly in critical areas of Science, Physics, Mathematics, Biology is a little bit okay and chemistry is okay but for the ECD, you know that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development during his budget presentation indicated that Government does not have money at the moment and therefore, we cannot recruit.  There is also a general freeze on recruitment of all civil servants but it also affects our expansion in the junior and secondary levels.

Where we are able to recruit, currently, is where we are replacing those teachers who have retired or who have died.  So, only in situations where there has been a body removed from the system is where we can bring in new teachers; this is a very slow process. We are also able to recruit on critical areas, especially for Mathematics, Physics and any of the Science subjects; there we are able to do.  Otherwise, we have a vacancy rate, especially in ECD which we cannot fill and if we were able to fill those vacancies, we would absorb a lot of the teachers that have been trained, unfortunately the fiscal situation is what is stopping from doing that recruitment. Having said that, I also want this august Senate to know that in actual fact, we only state the numbers that we need; the actual approval comes from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the actual employment is done by the Public Service Commission. I thank you.  

          HON. SEN. MARAVA: Thank you very much Minister for the answer.  What is your word to those other graduates who are not falling in the blessed bracket like English graduates et cetera?

          HON. PROF. MAVIMA: Thank you Hon. President, I think we have a collective responsibility as a nation.  The situation that exists for the graduate teachers also exists for a number of other graduates who are unable to find employment.  Basically, as a nation, we really have to support the current efforts of His Excellency the President to revive this economy so that for us in the social services, once the economy is revived and the fiscal base improves, then we can fill the positions.  The situation also affects nurses, especially in health and education which are really the priority social services. 

          The other way to look at this is there are other countries internationally that have had excess human resources because of very successful training programmes; cases like Cuba come to mind.  What these countries have done is to engage in international negotiations where they can export excess professionals.  We have benefited as a country from the Cuban doctors, if you remember but Cuba has send doctors all over the world.  There is a possibility, if we negotiate international treaties, we could be sending some of our excess human resources overseas as a stopgap measure.  We have realised that even those who go out, when the opportune moment comes and they can be absorbed into the system, they come back and we have seen quite a number of our people who have migrated on their own accord to South Africa and other countries - coming back when they realise that there is opportunity.

          In actual fact, the period 2009 to 2014/15 saw a lot of reverse migration back into Zimbabwe of teachers and other professionals.  We managed to absorb up to a point, remember we used to have contract teachers, temporary teachers; we were even taking for ‘O’ levels up to as late as 2015.   We have however had a successful programme, so now we have a lot of teachers whom we cannot absorb as a result of the fiscal situation.  Even if the fiscal situation was okay, we would still have excess teachers because we have had a very successful training programme. 

          I think it is not really advice to the graduates but it is us as Government coming up with solutions to absorb our children or to arrange for them to pursue their professional carriers in other countries.  I thank you.

          THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT (HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA): This week there was a meeting in South Africa between our Ministry of Education, teachers and South Africans.  In that meeting a criticism was made of some headmaster in South Africa that his school was not producing good results.  That headmaster defended himself and said all these other schools in South Africa that are producing good results are lucky because they have teachers from Zimbabwe.  I am the only school that has nobody from Zimbabwe that is teaching on my school that is why I have poor results – [Laughter.] -          

          HON. SEN. MUGABE: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. Minister, what measures have you put in place to ensure that the mushrooming private schools are registered and comply with the Ministry’s policies?

          THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): Thank you Hon. President.  The issue of mushrooming schools is really a symptom of the fact that we do not have sufficient schools. My Ministry did mapping of the school requirements in the country in 2013 and we came up with a deficit of 2056 schools that are needed to meet demand at that point in time.  So, as a country we need to develop these 2056 schools.  What therefore, is happening is there is a market for education, those who are business savvy see the demand, as a result some of them are converting their houses into schools?

          The problem with that really is once that happens and you do not know about it as a Ministry, you now do not know the quality of the teacher who is teaching those learners.  You also do not know that other things are happening there in terms of whether the learners are not being abused and other things like that. We do not really deny anyone who wants to have a school to have a school.  What we require is that they first of all meet the requirements set out in local authorities.

In terms of space, there should be sufficient space.  It also has to meet basic requirements as far as health and sanitation is concerned.  Then there is our level at the Ministry where we will continuously engage to make sure that they have appropriate teachers, they are following the syllabus as outlined by the Permanent Secretary and making sure that there is quality education that is being given there.

We have our hierarchy and the district level has now been re-enforced with inspectors that are supposed to check on the schools that are registered but also check on the schools that are not registered. We try to help some of them to try and register if they meet the minimum requirement.  There is a registration fee that they pay as independent colleges. 

Enforcement may be problematic due to resources because now these schools are too many and we have also seen that sometimes when we have exam paper leakages, they are coming from some of the independent colleges.  We have a system to supervise and also to make sure that those that are registered and do not meet the requirement, we close them.  If they meet the minimum requirement, we help them to be registered so that they can contribute more effectively to the reduction in the deficit in the number of schools in the country.   That is what we are doing now but the situation needs that as Government, we should move to providing the 2056 schools that we are short of, then we can reduce this problem.  We are approaching this from a joint venture partnership approach where we say, let us form joint ventures; we get investors, they give us money, we build and then we operate most of the schools ourselves because we have better quality education if we are operating as Government than if we are leaving it to anyone to operate a school.

HON. SEN. NCUBE: Thank you Mr. President of Senate.  My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education.  Considering that results were not released on time, when is the closing date for the June examinations?

THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVIMA):  If I am not mistaken, the date was extended to compensate for the lateness in the release of results.  I will hazard that I think that 23 April is the closing date.  It was supposed to be 23 March but it has been extended by a month or so.  I am sure that that has been taken care of in an administrative way.  I might have missed the actual date but I know that there has been an extension to compensate for lost time.  Registration for November will continue up to May/June.

HON. SEN. MANYERUKE:  My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education.  Minister, are you aware of the shortage of teachers in the rural areas, especially in my Constituency?  What are you doing as a Ministry about this issue?

THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVIMA):  To some extent, that question has been answered by the question that related to the recruitment of teachers where I indicated that there was a general freeze.  We have made representations to Finance to give special dispensation.  In fact, this was discussed in the Cabinet meeting this week to give special dispensation to some of our districts. 

Districts like Binga, Gokwe, Kariba, Hwange and to some extend Nkayi suffer problems from the fact that when a teacher is deployed there, they serve may be one or two years and seek transfer to other places they consider as better places for them to go and serve.  The problem we are having now is that if a teacher transfers from Gokwe to come to Harare and they are coming into a position that has been created because a school has expanded and there was nobody there previously; what happens is that because there is a freeze, the number of teachers cannot be increased without the consent of Treasury.

When that teacher leaves Gokwe to come to Harare, the position that they have left in Gokwe cannot be filled.  We end up with schools operating with sometimes less than half of the number of teachers they need.  We have applied for a special dispensation to say in those districts that are not favourable for teachers to go to, why do we not have a moratorium where we can recruit new teachers to go there so that we can at least serve the community and the learners there.

The Minister of Finance has said that we should engage in additional discourse about that.  We are very much aware of this problem especially in the districts that I highlighted.  I know that there could be other districts that have not really come on the radar.  That is the way we are trying to resolve this but the main issue is the general issue for the recruitment of civil servants including teachers and this is what is causing this problem.

HON. SEN. CHIEF SIANSALI: Having that in mind, why is the Ministry then approving the transfers of teachers from such districts because those districts have become an entrance but at the expense of the learners.  As we speak, some are having teachers below 50% and no replacements are going there.

HON. PROF. MAVIMA: I actually became aware of this issue when two schools from my own Constituency made presentations to me and therefore, I have asked the Permanent Secretary to put a moratorium, in fact it was already there, but what our officials are saying is that what tends to happen is that influential people come to them with their relatives who are teachers and they say this one has to be transferred.

So, that is one of the problems that we are facing, but I have reinforced to the Permanent Secretary that we need to put a complete moratorium on transfers, especially from those districts.

THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  Coincidentally, the Hon. Senator is from Binga.

HON. SEN. KHUMALO:  My supplementary is on the movement of some teachers.  Is it not the conditions of services?  The homes, the buildings, their accommodation is very poor and so forth.  That is why they do not want to stay in those places because I once worked as a rural district trainer and I found they have no beds and they had thatched houses and so forth.  How are they supposed to live under such conditions?

HON. PROF. MAVIMA:  Yes, Hon. President.  That is very true.  It is basically the living conditions that drive people from certain areas to other areas.  It is the fact that maybe the roads are not good and apparently the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development is here.  It is also a fact that maybe, health institutions are not what they are expecting.  It is a number of things, but from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education’s perspective, this is why I am saying that we have a deficit of about 2000 schools.  It includes some of these satellite schools where there is virtually no infrastructure there.  This is why we are pushing for joint venture partnerships.

We had a programme, for example, where we are building 17 schools across the country and these schools that we are building, they are going to come complete with all the infrastructure that is needed – water reticulation, electricity, if we do not have grid we will do, solar, housing for teachers.  We are not going to build a school especially with Government funds where there are not going to be housing for teachers. So, on the 17, we just launched in Bulilima and our teams are already on sight, I would encourage Hon. Members in whose constituencies we are building these schools to go and monitor and see the kind of schools that we are now pushing for.

Once our model for joint venture partnerships proves to be viable, we then go out and roll out to do the 2 000 schools and these will be comprehensive so that a teacher who is posted to Binga will not complain about the living conditions.  They may complain about being away from their families, which is a different matter all together, but the living conditions at the school have to be decent enough to match the decency that the profession of teaching requires.  Thank you.

HON. SEN. MACHINGAIFA:  Thank you Mr. President.  My question goes to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development.  Minister, what is the policy or law of our country on road construction?  You see at the moment, rain is pouring and graders are there grading the road where the rain takes away the gravel, especially on gravel roads in the rural areas.  What is the law of the country?  I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. GUMBO):  Thank you Mr. President and thank you Hon. Sen. Machingaifa for that question.  It is a very difficult question to answer.  I wanted to be very brief, but I do not know how I am going to rumble to make it clearer because it is not very clear to me. 

Anyway briefly, Government or Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development policy regarding roads is  that we must provide roads through four road authorities in the country to make our roads trafficable and connect our people so that those who are plying the roads on social, business or commercial purposes can move or drive without problems along those roads.  Those four road authorities are the Rural District Council in our rural areas and DDF, again in our rural areas and then Urban Councils in the urban areas and the Department of Roads in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development.

Regarding the issue and the condition of the roads, I agree that most of our roads, I have stated on several occasions, are really in a very bad state.  The tarred ones are very much deplorable.  They are very old.  They have outlived their span of life.  Generally, 20 to 25 years is the life of a tarred road, but because of our situation, our roads have outlived that lifespan.  So, whenever it rains, the soils underneath the tar just give in and then we have potholes.

Then regarding our gravel roads, again,  because of our lack of resources, we have continued to gravel and gravel actually creating rivers and streams on our roads instead of rebuilding the roads because that is what we should be doing to make that road appear new again or to give it a new life. So, it is because of these reasons, Hon. Senator, that some of our roads really whenever it rains, they are a cause of concern and I agree with that.  We are trying as much as we are able to. 

Through you Mr. President, what I can do for Hon. Members is I will provide, through the secretariat, I think a list of all the roads throughout the country which we are going to be attending to.  Because of the new political dispensation, we are having many people approaching us who want to assist us in redoing some of our roads on what we call a BOT or PPP whereby we are not going to be providing funds, but they will come and do the road.  After doing the road, then we pay them from the finances of the tollgates which we can put on the roads.  So, I will provide that piece of information so that it can be put in the Hansard so that all members of Senate, when you go to your places you can now have something to talk about regarding roads in your particular areas because I cover all the districts and all the provinces squarely.  Thank you.   

          HON. SEN CHIEF MUSARURWA:  Thank you Mr. President. I want to know from the Minister, how far you have gone now with the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Road?

          THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. GUMBO):  It is a very good supplementary Mr. President.  I thought that it was a different question but still, I would respond to the question.

          Mr. President Sir, those who might have been lucky and I am sure that the Hon. Senator comes from Chivhu and I think he is really aware that last week or so, there were people at Chivhu Town who came to have discussions with the Rural or Urban Council for a place to put up a site camp for the restart of the construction of the road.  They proceeded to Masvingo where again they engaged Masvingo Urban Council for the main campsite in Masvingo and they proceeded to Chivi for another campsite.  So, the construction of the road between Harare and Beitbridge to Chirundu has gathered momentum and we hope that according to what the constructing company is telling us, they will be starting on the road very soon.

It is actually a very important project for everyone in Zimbabwe and also for the region because it is the north-south corridor through which the movement of goods up after Zimbabwe and within Zimbabwe are carried.  So, we are aware of the urgency.  Cabinet debated on this issue on Tuesday and they gave an ultimatum to the company that was awarded the tender that if they do not move as fast as Government wants, then their contract can be terminated and we can look for somebody else who can do the work as soon as possible.  But, I must also add that the company is already on the road and are already doing what we call surveying and designing of the road.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN. KOMICHI:  Thank you Mr. President.  My question has been asked by Chief Musarurwa.  It is the question that I wanted to ask but just to add on that question again, how much will that road cost?

          HON. DR. GUMBO:  Mr. President, the section between Beitbridge and Harare which gets to Mbudzi where some work has to be done as soon as possible to decongest the traffic is $984 million; and the section that surrounds Harare is $368 million; and the section from Harare to Chirundu is $686 million.

          THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE (HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA): Minister, Hon. Sen. Marava is very impressed that you actually know all those figures.  That is what we now expect from the Ministers and not those who would say I will go back to the office to ask for the figures.  So that is good work Hon. Minister.

          I want to thank the three Ministers for enduring the Question Time.  Senators take note that you are friends of the Senate and next time you bring your business, you remind us that I am your friend; please my Bill should pass through, then we will also consider it favourably.  Thank you very much Ministers.

          Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE in terms of Standing Order Number 62. 

          On the motion of THE MINISTER OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. KAGONYE), the Senate adjourned at Twenty-Five Minutes to Five o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 20th March, 2018.

Senate Hansard SENATE HANSARD 15 MARCH 2018 VOL 27 NO 30