You are here:Home>Senate Hansard>SENATE HANSARD 21 DECEMBER 2016 VOL 26 NO 21

SENATE HANSARD 21 DECEMBER 2016 VOL 26 NO 21

Download attachments:

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Wednesday, 21st December, 2016.

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

PRAYERS

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

MOTION

RATIFICATION OF AN AGREEMENT OF THE GLOBAL FUND BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE AND THE GLOBAL FUND RELATING TO PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA): Thank you Madam President.  I move the motion standing in my name:

THAT WHEREAS, Subsection (2) (a) of Section 327 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that an international treaty which has been concluded or executed by the President or under the President’s authority does not bind Zimbabwe until it has been approved by Parliament;

AND WHEREAS, an Agreement of the Global Fund between the Government of Zimbabwe and the Global Fund relating to Privileges and Immunities was concluded on the 30th day of September 2015 in Harare, Zimbabwe and;

NOW THEREFORE, in terms of Section 327 (3) of the Constitution, this House resolves that the aforesaid Agreement be and is hereby approved.

Madam President, it is my singular honour that the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria be ratified by this august House.  Madam President, the Global Fund has been a partner to Zimbabwe since 2002 and has approved grants amounting to approximately US$1,57 billion towards the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Zimbabwe.  As Hon. Senators will be aware and may recall, the Fund was established to mobilise resources to make a sustainable and significant contribution to the reduction of infections, illness and death; thereby mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in affected countries as well as contributing to poverty eradication.  The financing of the Global Fund is mainly from development partners, private sector and foundations.

Madam President, Hon. Members, the Global Fund supports the health sector in Zimbabwe through strengthening of health systems and fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.  The Ministry of Health and Child Care is the executing agent responsible for the implementation of the Fund’s projects.  In light of the above, a Global Fund Grants Unit was established under the Ministry which administers the TB and malaria funds while UNDP manages the HIV/AIDS grant.

Madam President, in terms of Section 7 of this Agreement of the Privileges and Immunities Act Chapter 303, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, approved the conferment of privileges and immunities to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria.  This was done on the 6th of May, 2015 and was published in the Government Gazette on 12th June last year, in a general notice 183 of 2015.

Pursuant to the above, the Government signed the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria on 30th September last year.  Madam President, Article 8 (1) of the Agreement provides that the Agreement shall be open for signature by all States including non-board members of the Global Fund and is also open for ratification, acceptance or approval by all States, including non-board members of the Global Fund.

Furthermore Madam President, the signature qualifies the signatory State to proceed to ratification, acceptance or approval.  It also creates an obligation to refrain in good faith, from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the Treaty.  In this regard Madam President, the granting of privileges and immunities, will help protect the Fund and its resources by:

-         protecting resources which are dedicated to health against taxation, any freeze or seizure;

-         acknowledging the neutrality of the Global Fund as a multi-stakeholder organisation dedicated to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals;

-         enhancing efforts to mobilise more resources to fight the three diseases that I have just mentioned, and;

-         protecting the Global Fund from law suits in our country, which can endanger the resources which are dedicated to health.

Madam President, in conclusion, the support from the Global Fund is complementing Government’s efforts towards financing of the health sector as enshrined in the ZIM ASSET. Furthermore, the support seeks to eradicate poverty, provide basic social services as well as transform the livelihoods of our population.

          Madam President, I therefore commend the agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and malaria for the approval of this august House. I thank you Madam President.

          HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA: Thank you Madam President.  First of all, I would like to thank the Minister for bringing this motion before the House.  Secondly, I would like to state categorically that the Global Fund is one of the most visible organisations, physically and all otherwise.  I am sure that the impact of the Global Fund is very positive on our population.  We all know the threat of AIDS, the resurgence of tuberculosis and malaria in the country.  I think their contribution will go a long way towards negating these threats. 

          Thirdly, an organisation that invests over US$1.5 billion in any other organisation or in a State, I think it is worth acknowledging as a positive contributor to the health sector of this country.  I therefore, feel that the immunities that we are covering the Global Fund with are a necessity. 

The only question I have is, I am not clear about the status of the employees of the Global Fund.  Do they enjoy some immunities like other organisations which would fall under the United Nations (UN)?  I am referring to staff here.  Last but not least Madam President, I am very thankful; when we pray, we pray for the just government of men.  When we see an organisation which is making a positive contribution towards the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe, I think it contributes to our just government of men.  I thank you Madam President.

HON. SEN. CHIMHINI: Thank you very much Madam President.  I also stand to appreciate the Bill that the Minister has brought to this House.  I just want to seek clarification. What are the possible threats that have necessitated the privileges and immunities?  Is it a question that the Government could virement the money?  There must have been a very good reason, if the Minister could explain what necessitated the privileges and immunities.

Secondly, while this is an important move, I know it does not fall under this category but the question of cancer; here we are only talking of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria but nothing as yet in terms of cancer, whether there could be a possibility to also study considering something that could assist in terms of helping people who suffer from cancer.  Thank you Minister.  Thank you Madam President.

*HON. SEN. MUMVURI: Thank you Madam President. Let me add a few words on this motion which was brought by the Minister.  I was one of the persons who was ignorant of the functions of the Global Fund until I was seconded to a board on behalf of this Parliament together with Hon. Dr. Labode, that is when I became aware of the issue of the Global Fund.  It holds its meetings once every three months.

I am grateful for the work that they are doing.  If it was not for the existence of the Global Fund, our health sector could have been in serious problems.  Currently, they are dealing with malaria, HIV/AIDS as well as TB.  They are doing a good job.  I am now in my second term, going to attend the meetings.  There are rumours that the Global Fund may withdraw its services from Zimbabwe.  It is a worldwide organization and the modus operandi is that once they assist you for some time, they would then wean you off.  You need to put systems in place. Currently, they are saying that Zimbabwe has had sufficient operations and now it must put in place measures to take over this initiative, since we had received a lot of assistance from them.  Hence you find us asking what would happen, should Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) withdraw their support.  There is also the UNDP and Ministry of Health and Child Care as principal recipients of this fund and these distribute to other organisations.

As Parliament, we did not have any niche that can receive global funding proceeds.   We only have it specifically for the Portfolio Committee on Health and HIV/AIDS so that we could use it for our Committees to ensure that we conduct our work in eradicating or preventing the three diseases.  I would like to applaud the Minister for bringing this motion and I support him but he should declare a conflict of interest because you cannot receive the funding and then distribute it yourself.  They are at times disturbed as to why the Ministry of Health and Child Care as a principal recipient are responsible for distribution. They would want a board to do that and leave those technicalities to technocrats? 

As has been asked by Hon. Sen. Chimhini, what has arisen to talk about these privileges and immunities?  Are these privileges and immunities going to be for the staff or for the other recipients or any other persons?  With those words, I thank you because I now appreciate that they are doing a good job.  It is visible in every district.  There is no need to delay in approving the Minister’s motion.  I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA):  Thank you very much.  I want to thank the Hon. Senators who have contributed and are in support of the agreement granting the Global Fund the privileges and immunities in terms of our legislation. 

I agree with Hon. Sen. Sibanda.  The Global Fund has contributed immensely to our health.  I agree with him entirely that this fund has contributed immensely to the health delivery system into Zimbabwe, in particular-in respect to the fight against the three diseases which I mentioned: HIV AIDS, TB and Malaria. In fact the goal of the Global Fund is to work towards complete the eradication of Malaria, but that basically is where their assistance is coming into see whether or not we can have a complete eradication of Malaria.

          I also agree that yes, there has been some resurgence of TB and of a different strain, and I believe, which has drugs which are currently in use and sometimes do not work against that resurgent TB virus. So, the researchers are of course very busy working towards finding something that can fight it effectively. You asked a question whether the employees also enjoy immunities. Yes they do, under article 4 of the agreement and these immunities are almost similar to those enjoyed by other international organizations like UN Agencies.

          It reads as follows: ‘Officials of the Global Fund shall (a) be immune from the legal process in respect of words spoken or written and all acts performed by them in their official capacity. (b) be exempt from all forms of taxation in respect of the salaries and emoluments paid to them by the Global Fund’ and it goes on. I just gave you just a snippet of what the privileges for employees provide.

          Hon. Sen. Chimhini, thank you very much for your question seeking clarification. First it only covers three diseases. Cancer is a subject matter for a different initiative and we have been engaging development partners and also internally, we have been trying to see what we can came out to fight this major problem noncommunicable disease which is cancer. I hope that in the next budget we will have something to say on this subject matter because it is affecting even young people. It is something that was unknown many years ago as the disease used to affect people of a certain age and above, but right now it is almost across all age groups. So, we need now to start addressing this issue.

          With respect to what threats are necessitating this, it is a requirement of the Global Fund that we should grant them these immunities which will safeguard their property, their assets from anyone suing them whether it is by employees who may have a quarrel with the employer. Because of this agreement they will not be able to have access to our courts to sue the Global Fund. This is basically to say the Global Fund should spend its time on its core business and its core mandate and not to spend its time in the courts indulging in litigation. So, it is a requirement of the Global Fund, this is why I am here basically to fulfill their requirements so that we can continue to enjoy the support that they give us.

          Hon. Sen. Mumvuri, thank you very much for your information from an insider’s point of view. I was not aware that in fact Parliament is represented on the Board of the Fund but thank you very much for that information. This information was communicated last year and in our engagement we have tried to explain to them that currently, given our situation and the fact that we are under sanctions, it will be very difficult to replace the help that they are giving us. Not immediately, but I am sure in another 5 to 10 years we should be talking a different language. However, as of now we have impressed upon them that we need their support, they should continue their support, I think they seem to understand. I think as you sit on that Board also impress on that same message that we are in a unique situation and we hope that after 5 years or so we should have gotten out of this current situation.

So, Madam President, I also want to say that we have already taken a first step towards trying to find local resources to support our health delivery system. In the 2017 budget and this is going to come to you in January for debate and for your approval. We have created a Health Fund which is levying a levy on air time and this money will be ring fenced to go towards purchase and procurement of drugs and medical equipment. We are going to find out in the New Year, it is going to be effective from the first of January. We are going to find out what resources will come into this fund. It will be dedicated basically towards procurement of drugs and equipment. I must say already and I hope that I was just being accosted in the National Assembly over the management of the fund already before it even comes into being. There are very strong views by stakeholders as to how it should be managed. There are allegations - whether true or not, that similar funds have not used optimally; that they have tended to go towards payment of salaries, allowances, purchases of motor vehicles and not going to the intended purposes.

So, I want to say that we will bear that in mind as we set up this fund. We want to monitor its management to ensure that the funds will reach their inedited purpose. With this response Madam President, I move the motion:

THAT WHEREAS, Subsection (2) (a) of Section 327 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that an international treaty which has been concluded or executed by the President or under the President’s authority does not bind Zimbabwe until it has been approved by Parliament;

AND WHEREAS, an Agreement of the Global Fund between the Government of Zimbabwe and the Global Fund relating to Privileges and Immunities was concluded on the 30th day of September 2015 in Harare, Zimbabwe and;

NOW THEREFORE, in terms of Section 327 (3) of the Constitution, this House resolves that the aforesaid Agreement be and is hereby approved.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT

HON. SEN. CHIPANGA:  I move the motion in my name

          THAT this House conveys its profound gratitude to His Excellency, the President Cde. R. G. Mugabe for addressing a joint sitting of Parliament on the State of the Nation.

          Expresses its commitment to and support for the views

 contained in his address; and that a respectful address be presented to His Excellency the President, informing him of the sentiments of the House.

         HON. SEN. MKHWEBU:  I second.

       *HON. SEN. CHIPANGA:  Madam President, I rise to convey our gratitude for the speech that the President of this country was pleased to give regarding the state of the nation.  There are a few points that I am going to raise.  Firstly, he spoke about the issue of corruption.  He said it was his wish that we should now get to the stage where we should have zero tolerance to corruption.  Corruption is a cancer which is not only found in Zimbabwe.  Be that as it may, it is good that as Zimbabweans, we eradicate corruption.  No country can ever develop where corruption is rife.  Our biggest challenge is how to eradicate corruption.  The problem is that as a country, we now tend to rely too much on human rights.  A section of our Constitution relating to human rights says that everyone should be treated as innocent until proven guilty.  Even if one is incarcerated he/she should be treated as a human being. 

                 When dealing with corruption, handling people with kid gloves in that manner cannot work.  This is because the current laws that we have say that if an accused person is arrested, it is the duty of those that have arrested him to prove that person’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.  We are all aware that corruption, the world over, is topical and it is difficult to prosecute issues of corruption because it takes two to tango.  The beneficiaries of corruption are the people who receive the bribe and those who proffer the bribe.  They are party to an illegal transaction and illegally benefit. 

          The law requires that there should be a complainant who should give evidence and prove beyond reasonable doubt that a prima facie case has been established.  In the end the judges will end up acquitting people because of lack of evidence and we also end up casting aspersions on the judges and the police because it is difficult to have a complainant in a case of corruption.  Our law requires that there should either be a witness or a complainant to prove allegations against the accused person so that they can be found guilty. 

          I am reiterating the issue that for us to deal with corruption, we must come up with special courts which are specifically set up to deal with corruption, where there is no principle that the accused person in those courts will not be treated as innocent until they are proved guilty.  But in these courts we want to shift the burden of duty from the prosecutor to the accused person.  For instance, if one has been found with a lot of money, the prosecutor should be allowed to ask the accused person to account for such riches.  Only in that regard will we be able to nip corruption in be bud.  If we continue treating corruption in the manner in which we are currently doing, we will become the laughing stock because there will be lack of evidence to convict the accused persons.  I believe the time is now, for us to establish special courts which deal with corruption.  It is true that we have the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission but if they will have done their duty, the commission will not try and convict this person. The matter goes to court but when the offences were committed the commissioners were not there, so they may not be useful in nailing the accused person.  The issue of corruption is now rife even in business. 

          I am glad that at the moment Government has come up with a law that deals with ease of doing business.  This has made it easier for people who want to invest in this country to come and do business with us.  That has also taken care of the “bribe me first” or “what is in it for me before I do it for you?”  The employees manning those offices would then forget that it is duty first.  These corrupt tendencies by the staff have led to prospective businessmen shunning our destination because of these bribes that are required upfront.  If they do not give these bribes, they are delayed unnecessarily.   Now, those that come and pay the bribe simply come and they are served ahead of those who do not want to pay bribes.  As a result of that, the prospective investor shuns our destination and goes to our neighbours.  This is all because of corruption.  I recall in the 1990s, I was an employee then and the businessmen that came wanted to construct the Beira – Kinshasa pipeline and come up with a dualised road from Mutare to Plumtree. They had said that they would raise their money through the BOT (Build, Operate and Transfer) arrangement. We were unable to do that but we have now gone that route of having BOTs. We could have benefitted then had it not been for these corrupt individuals who wanted bribes upfront. So, we failed to have such a road because of corruption.

We are also aware that we are having a challenge in obtaining licences in communal lands. The person responsible for issuing liquor licences would be dilly-dallying until you know that before you buy beer for that individual, you will not get anything. I am glad that we are going to have an amendment that forces people that issue out licences to give licences within two working days and to respond as to why they are turning down a licence application.

I am glad that the President brought the issue of command agriculture to this House. The process had been delayed but I believe we have now got to a stage where we believe we have now arrived. It was embarrassing for us to go and import food from Zambia and Malawi. I believe that in light of the system that we have and the hectarage that has been under tillage, at the end of this rain season, God willing and subject to our receiving sufficient rains, we will have a bumper harvest and become self sufficient. I am glad that the majority of our farmers have accepted the command agriculture programme. There has been delay in the disbursements of implements but I am glad that is now underway.

The President also talked about STEM which is the thing of the moment in the education sector. In the past we used to send science pupils to Cuba so that when they came back, they could teach science subjects. This programme which has 5 000 students that registered for science and mathematics subjects, we believe that in the near future, we will have sufficient teachers teaching mathematics and science subjects. Once we reach that stage, we will have a lot of scientists and mathematicians sufficient for this country. I applaud that exercise.

Yes, we are leading in terms of education in Africa. We are educated in the arts subjects such as history, political science, B.A General and agriculture. We were not strong in the science area. We are higher than South Africa in terms of teachers that can teach sciences but we have not reached the optimum level. It is my hope and wish that because of the STEM programme, we will scale it to heights and we will not only teach these subjects but we will have scientists that can take this nation further in science education and mathematics in the entire continent.

Mr. President, we are all aware that when we were given the opportunity to chair the OAU and AU organisations, we were the first to come up with programmes to enhance ourselves, such as Agenda 2003. In that way, Africa should now start beneficiating and value addition so that our continent can develop. I am therefore not surprised that people are already saying we left a permanent mark on the continent as we were chairing the AU. With those words Mr. President, I would like to thank you for having afforded me the opportunity to debate on the President’s State of the Nation Address. I thank you.

+HON. SEN. MKHWEBU: Thank you Mr. President for giving me the opportunity to second the motion on the President’s State of the Nation Address. Firstly, the President thanked the private sector very much and the development partners for coming and working together with the Government, and assisting people with food. That shows that as a nation, we should not just depend on the Government alone but we all should feel that we need to assist the Government since the private sector is also working together with the Government. So, it makes it easy for Government. We should not just depend on the Government on its own but if we come together, it makes the job easier.

The other thing is that the Government gave people agricultural inputs such as seed and fertilizers. Every year the Government tries to assist people because people are starving and we really appreciate what the President is doing.  I would like to congratulate the President of the nation for caring for the whole nation by assisting with whatever they are lacking.  We should not be people who are lacking almost every year and we should not always be begging from neighbouring countries.  Therefore, we need to assist ourselves as a nation.  Since it is raining and with the assistance of Government, we should engage in massive farming.

          Mr. President, the other thing that was highlighted by the President in his speech is the shortage of milk.  He said there was a production forecast of 120 million litres of milk, but as a nation, we managed to produce only 58 million litres, which was not enough for everyone.  The President encouraged dairy farmers to produce a lot of milk to supply the whole nation.  We should not use our resources to buy milk from other countries, thus, the President encouraged dairy farmers to produce a lot of milk.

          The President also spoke about artisanal miners.  He said that in 2016, artisanal miners managed to produce a lot of gold and this assisted the nation.  He encouraged artisanal miners to continue working hard to produce a lot of gold.  Funds from the Government coffers were distributed to assist miners, but it was not enough.  In this regard, artisanal miners did not get the funding as it was only distributed amongst big companies which have a higher level of collateral security than artisanal miners.  We therefore encourage the Government to also take care of artisanal miners who have no implements to use, for example, compressors, drilling machines and other small equipment they need to use in their small mines.

          The President is trying to help here and there, but because of corruption which was cited by the previous speaker, we tend not to make considerable progress because even if the money is there, it is only a few people who benefit and the majority get nothing.  At the moment, I can say mining is being carried out in every province throughout Zimbabwe and since many people are working on their own, this can assist in the development of the country.  With these few words, Mr. President, I thank you.

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

          HON. SEN. MASUKU: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Tuesday, 31st January, 2017.

          On the motion of HON. SEN. TAWENGWA seconded by HON. SEN. MASUKU the Senate adjourned at Twenty Five Minutes past Three o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 31st January, 2017.

 

Senate Hansard SENATE HANSARD 21 DECEMBER 2016 VOL 26 NO 21