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SENATE HANSARD - 17 MARCH 2009 VOL. 18 NO. 12

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 17th March 2009

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

 

PRAYERS

( MADAM PRESIDENT in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY MADAM PRESIDENT

MALFUNCTIONING OF BELLS

MADAM PRESIDENT: We have to apologise for the malfunctioning of the bells. Our system is not working; that is why you did not hear any bells today and we apologise for that.

2009 DIARIES

Hon senators are advised to collect their 2009 diaries from the Public Relations Department Office No. 4, 3rd Floor, South Wing, Pax House.

LUNCHEON INVITATION

I also wish to inform hon. senators that they are all invited to a Luncheon tomorrow Wednesday, 18 March 2009 at 1200 hours at the Rainbow Towers to commemorate the International Women's Day. The luncheon is being organized by the Zimbabwean Women Parliamentary Caucus in conjunction with WIPSU. The bus ferrying hon. senators will leave Parliament Building at 1100 hours.

SWITCHING OFF OF CELLPHONES

May I also remind you to please switch off the cellphones.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS

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

Question again proposed.

SENATOR MANDABA: Firstly, I would like to congratulate His Excellency, the President for being elected President in 2009. I would also like to congratulate the President of the Senate, Hon. Edna Madzongwe and Vice-President Hon. Naison Ndlovu for being elected to be Presiding Officers.

I deliver my maiden speech at a time when the country has recorded remarkable progress witnessed by the creation of the inclusive government. We hail the success of the protracted talks, which resulted in the unification of the three political parties. It is our hope that the spirit remains for the progress of our nation.

Madam President, I rise to make my contribution to the motion in response to the speech, which His Excellency was pleased to address at the Opening of Parliament. I would also like to thank the mover of the motion Hon. Sekeramayi and the seconder Hon. Mohadi.

The President addressed quite a number of important issues which we, as legislators need to seriously deliberate on and take corrective action for the benefit of our electorate. I will dwell more on social issues and how they affect every day life.

There has been negative criticism over the state of the economy in Zimbabwe and its impact on development. However, I want us to appreciate that the government has done a lot to improve the livelihoods of Zimbabweans. We need to appreciate how the 28 years of independence have reversed a lot of imbalances. Social services improve greatly during the past 20 years with most indicators being positive. It is sad that these gains have been reversed by the sanctions imposed by the West, particularly the Zimbabwe Democracy Act.

2008 was indeed a very difficult year for Zimbabwe due to the economic and political challenges. Notwithstanding those challenges, the government intervened to avert disasters. The 2007/2008 season was not so good but as a contingency for the future, farmers benefited from the schemes from mainly the RBZ and "Maguta" that provided the equipment and other inputs. Agriculture remains a strong pillar of our economy and whilst I thank the government for the initiatives, I also call for continued support. All levels should be targeted and more beneficiaries listed to boost productivity will guarantee food sovereignty.

Food security could also be boosted by making use of available resources. For instance, in my province, Masvingo - there is a lot of potential for agriculture if the Tokwe - Mkhosi project could be completed. There are even players in the private sector who are willing to assist in funding the project and I am urging the responsible authorities to consider expediting the process. These should be expedited since it is going to be one of the major water sources, larger than Lake Kariba. Let us make use of the private - public mix, because not all resources are going to be financed by government. There are willing citizens and stakeholders and let us welcome their generosity.

Whilst completion of the project is on board, the government should also urgently rehabilitate existing irrigation facilities and dams. This would also boost productivity for both small-scale and commercial farmers and improve on food security.

I am glad to note that land redistribution remains a priority and the efforts should see the process meeting public expectations. It cannot be disputed that despite the hardships the programme has gone well so far, with most A2 farmers recording successes.

Coming from a medical background, Madam President, my heart bleeds when I realise the extent to which the health sector and public services have declined. Most households now live on less than US$1 per day and the life expectancy has dropped to about 36 years from about 55 years in the 1990s. This was worsened by the HIV and AIDS scourge which has placed enormous strain on the health delivery system and personnel.

Whilst we acknowledge various efforts by the government to address HIV, more needs to be done. The National HIV Estimates (Ministry of Health) according to 2007 are disturbing. The estimated adult (aged 15 - 49) HIV prevalence rate is 15.6%. An estimated 1,320,739 adults and children living with HIV and AIDS. An estimated 479,796 adults (aged 15 - 49 years) and 24,194 children (aged 0 - 14 years) are in need of Anti retroviral treatment.

The gaps in the provision of treatment need to be narrowed if we are to achieve the targets spelt in the Millennium Development Goals.

Public Health is key to development and there is need to reduce disease the burden. Disease monitoring and surveillance should be scaled up so that we avert disasters such as the recent cholera outbreak.

The resuscitation of public institutions such as clinics, schools and roads should remain priority number one. This should come as a complete package that also cascades to the civil service. Civil servants need to be catered for so that the sector does not only retain those in service, but should also attract those from the diaspora. The move would also cut on training costs and the country would cease to be training ground for other countries. In the same vein, I would want to thank all workers who have remained loyal and committed to serve their country during trying times.

In order to stimulate the economy, all sectors need support. I note the importance of the informal sector and how it has contributed to national wealth in other countries. The youths and women need special empowerment programmes. We do hope programmes will be put in place in all the provinces.

The economic challenges no doubt have resulted in high unemployment levels. As a result, poverty levels are very high with the average household living on less than US$1 a day. As the new government is in place, it should prioritise reviving and strengthening the already existing social safety nets to cushion the vulnerable. This includes the grants from social welfare, the pensions and the AIDS levy.

The 2009 budget has not yet been passed, and as legislators we are appealing for prioritisation of funding for the social sectors particularly health and social welfare and to ensure the marginalised groups such as orphans, women and the elderly benefit. I thank you all for you attention.

THE GOVERNOR OF MATABELELAND NORTH: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 18th March, 2009

On the motion of THE GOVERNOR OF MATABELELAND NORTH, the Senate adjourned at Fourteen Minutes to Three o'clock p.m.

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Senate Hansard Vol. 18 SENATE HANSARD - 17 MARCH 2009 VOL. 18 NO. 12