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SENATE HANSARD - 21 JULY 2009 VOL. 18 NO. 22

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 21st July, 2009

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

 

PRAYERS

(MADAM PRESIDENT in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY MADAM PRESIDENT

DEATH OF SENATOR PATRICK KOMBAYI

MADAM PRESIDENT : I have to inform the Senate of the death of Hon Senator Patrick Kombayi who died on Saturday 20th June, 2009. I invite hon. senators to rise and observe a moment of silence in respect of the late hon. senator.

All hon. senators stood in silence.

CONSTITUTIONAL WORKSHOP FOR WOMEN PARLIAMENTARIANS

MADAM PRESIDENT : I also have to inform the Senate that the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Women's Caucus in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Institute will be holding a workshop on the Constitution from 24 - 26 July, 2009 at the Caribbea Bay in Kariba.

SWITCHING OFF OF CELLPHONES

MADAM PRESIDENT : May I lastly remind hon. senators to switch off their cellphones.

MOTION

HIV/AIDS MATERNAL HEALTH PROGRAMMES

First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the plight of women due to HIV and AIDS.

Question again proposed.

SENATOR MANYERUKE : I do second the concerns raised by Hon Mandaba with regard to the HIV/AIDS and maternal health programmes. As a Senator from a rural constituency, I have noted with concern that most of the expecting mothers are finding it so difficult to access proper health care on time due to a number of problems, especially transport to the nearest health centres, sanitary wear and protective clothing.

Most of the rural areas are now difficult to access due to the poor nature of our roads, hence most buses and other commuter transport are shunning rural routes. Those that are still providing a service do so maybe once a day and therefore make it difficult for expecting mothers to get transport when they need it. In addition, the dollarisation of the economy has also added more challenges since the majority of people in rural areas are finding it hard to have the US$ or Rand which is required as payment at most rural health centres. Hence these women resort to traditional midwives for assistance when the pregnancy is due. These midwives are at risk of contracting the HIV virus because of lack of protective clothing such as gloves.

Madam President, we know that the government is overloaded, but this area needs special attention if the issue of HIV and AIDS is to be reduced. The National AIDS Council that the government put in place a few years ago needs to be supported so that District Aids Coordinators are able to visit each and every ward in a district to provide the necessary assistance such as gloves and other home based care kits. A few years back, NAC used to provide this service but of late, nothing is being done. I therefore call upon the government to reconsider supporting NAC so that the plight of expecting mothers can be addressed. This means providing adequate transport and other material resources to the NAC District Aids Coordinators so that each and every village is assisted.

Madam President, the cooperating partners in our communities need to work hand in hand with NAC staff so that their programmes of mitigation, prevention and support are successful and beneficial to our rural communities.

In conclusion, the involvement of men in the prevention of mother to child transmission need to be emphasised as most men in our rural communities are ignorant about this issue. Some are of the idea that this medication which is taken by women before giving birth is a treatment to the HIV/AIDS, hence they end up taking the drug without informing their wives. When the time is due for the mothers to take the drug, they realise that it is not available and it will be too late for them to get another dose and hence the unborn baby is at risk of contracting HIV virus. Therefore we need this education to ensure that our children and grandchildren are protected. I thank you.

THE GOVENOR FOR MATABELELAND NORTH : I move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 22nd July 2009.

MOTION

GOVERNMENT POLICY ON ARTS, SPORTS AND CULTURE

Second order read: Adjourned debate on motion on lack of a strategic policy on Sports, Arts and Culture in Zimbabwe.

Question again proposed.

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

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 22nd July 2009.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS

Third order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the Presidential Speech.

Question again proposed.

SENATOR MUMVURI: Thank you Madam President. I rise to add my contribution to the Presidential Speech. Let me join those who have spoken before me in congratulating you Madam President and your deputy for assuming high offices which you occupy in this Senate. May I also convey congratulations to all senators who are here because of their election and re-election into this august House. I want to thank the mover of the motion namely Senator Sekeramayi and Senator Mohadi, but before I proceed allow me to make these few observations. Can the Chair identify the senators by their names instead of saying senator on my right side or on myleft side.

MADAM PRESIDENT: Order! You are now out of order I may ask you to sit down. You are ruled out of order, you do not give us rules in the House. The way I conduct business in this House is according to the Standing Rules and Orders of Parliament and I am in my jurisdiction when I say member to my right or to my left. So, withdraw your statement.

SENATOR MUMVURI: I withdraw my statement and do apologise Madam President. I thought it was within this House and I am sorry.

Going back to my debate, Madam President allow me please to refer to my notes which I have joined together. I would want to refer to them as I speak. The Presidential Speech touches on a number of issues and I want to debate on a few of these. Let me start with agriculture, on page 5 of the Presidential Speech delivered in August last year the message which we derive from the Presidential Speech is that, effort is being made to empower farmers for greater crop production, and one way of doing so is by introducing appropriate agricultural commodities pricing regime. This in my view is very noble and will yield positive results if it is implemented well.

For the purpose of food security in this country, maize should be the most paying crop for the farmers in order for them to go back and grow some more. So to stimulate production of maize and other food crops such as sorghum and rappoko, this should be priced highly in order for the farmers to want to grow those crops. In my constituency of Rushinga in Mt Darwin, for this current season, farmers planted more food crops than the traditional cotton crop through appeals which were made by local leadership to do so. Mr President the efforts may not be realized at the end due to the serious shortage of seed especially for small grains coupled with erratic rains which fell for a short time and stopped abruptly after two and a half months. So the constituency is faced with more food shortage than last year. In deed this is an appeal for the inclusive government to start putting robust measures to meet these challenges.

At the launch of the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme (STERP) on the 19th of March 2009 in Harare the Minister of Finance Hon. Biti talked about Agriculture as one of the sectors which is vital for economic recovery. He referred to the land audit, security tenure and security of occupation and on some of the issues to be tackled in order to achieve qualitative yields instead of quantitative approach. For maize, the acceptable target could be 8 -10 tonnes per hactare. This is easily achievable provided that resettled farmers get all adequate inputs on time and at cheap prices . Food production can also be greatly enhanced through the rehabilitation of irrigation facilities with the global warming which is making seasons unpredictable. So only irrigation projects will be the answer to sustainable food crops in this country.

Mr President, let me now come to education. My observation is that in the boarding schools, they are making a day light robbery by charging exorbitant fees. School authorities continue to charge fees and levies between US$300 and US$500 and in some instances some groceries are demanded of basic items per term. For example a school with 600 students to collect 180 000 per term for beef and tomatoes only is rather too much. The other items are sugar, rice and mealie-meal. This amount does not cover any capital projects to be done at the school. The major focus at the moment as it would appear is to get back to school so that teaching and learning should commence in all schools.

The same school goes on to demand 40 litres of fuel per child, which amounts to 24 000 litres. Since I started farming on my 100 ha plot three years ago, I have not used that much fuel in a single season. By the way, the first incentives fell off from being financed by the parents since the government started paying staff allowances initially and then later salaries in forex. If anything and because of this development, the paying parents expected the fees to go down drastically, but some schools are talking of top ups as if the forex was amenable to hyperinflation. So, the pegging of school fees should be realistic and commensurate with what the workers are paid.

I now turn to the issue of the inclusive government. In his speech, the President encouraged the nation to embark on mutual engagement as a way of addressing problems and challenges on our own, regardless of political differences. Indeed that wish and vision had come to fruition through the formation of the widely celebrated inclusive government, which the President predicted would come about when he said, "...everyone will sign up to the agreement paving the way for an all-inclusive-government."

Mr. President, my constituency - and I want to join all the peace loving Zimbabweans to give our unqualified support to this all-inclusive-government so that our nation can prosper forever. As we deliberate in this august House, we should be able to listen to each other. Those who have spoken before me by and large have been very passionate to depict their appeal for unity, loyalty and patriotism to this great nation and they mature to portray the dignity which they deserve to be in this august House of Senate.

Let us tell our supporters back home the message of working together and forgetting what happened yesterday. Let us echo those words or messages, which our leaders have said and continue to preach. The right honourable Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Prof. A. Mutambara is widely quoted in the media for the following sayings, "now has come the time for us to put the nation before self. Now the time has come for us to put our differences aside." In all honesty, who are we to go against such powerful messages? As we sit here facing each other, let us ask ourselves how many relatives we have in this House? How many people are related to us directly by blood and they happen to belong to the other parties? Pafungei.

Madam President, I just want to underscore the concept that we are one family and one nation. To put it in the words of the late Vice President of Zimbabwe, Dr. Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo, "We are a people together."

Now, let me turn to the steps which have been taken by the inclusive government - and I want to dwell on the First Stakeholders Conference, which is part of the initiatives of the inclusive government. We are all aware of what happened at the conference. The Select Committee that represents us in parliament and which spearheaded the process - we had a lot of criticism about them. At the All Stakeholders Conference at the HICC last week, one co-chairperson had the audacity to tell the people on national television during the programme "The Legislator" that the accreditation crew was to blame for the fiasco that happened last Monday.

However, the whole exercise was doomed to fail from the start due to lack of adequate preparations. It was just a manifestation of a lot of glaring inadequacies during the build up to the conference. The Select Committee ignored some of the concerns raised by MPs on questions like who was funding the entire exercise and how much was budgeted for that conference? Such questions were not answered and the number of delegates who were to attend that conference was not provided by the MPs as we had demanded during the joint sittings of the caucus. Logistics and accreditation was in shambles, as well as other issues such as transport, food and accommodation.

These were not spelt out in black and white and when we tried to get that information, there was no success. However, in their quest to get the conference done at all costs, they brought us into that embarrassment. A hungry man is an angry man, that saying goes without an explanation. Even high school leadership which invites candidates for form one places, do organize the events much better than what our Select Committee did. Simple logical steps have to be followed e.g. when they invite 1000 candidates, they dispatch forms numbered 1 - 1000. Anyone who comes with a form outside this range, is not their candidate.

So in simple terms, the committee chose to flout the logical steps.

THE GOVERNOR FOR MATABELELAND NORTH: On a point of order, it is unfair for the hon. Senator to blame the Committee with things which he is not sure was the responsibility of the Committee. I would like him to withdraw that.

SENATOR MUMVURI: Which statement does she want me to withdraw Mr. President?

MR. PRESIDENT: You are blaming the Select Committee on the overall. You have to be very careful when you make your contributions not to attack people who may not be able to defend themselves. But I thought that the members of the Select Committee represent all members of Parliament. If you are not satisfied you should find out first. Are you prepared to withdraw or not?

SENATOR MUMVURI: I withdraw.

MR. PRESIDENT: The Committee was appointed by this Parliament and you are not sure of the facts, perhaps you could make it appropriate to raise it at a later date where the Committee can respond. You may continue.

SENATOR MUMVURI: Well, in that quest nothing further to say.

SENATOR MUCHENJE: Mr. President, I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to this motion in reply to the Presidential Speech that is before this House. The President in his Speech highlighted a number of issued that include; health, education, empowerment and mining among other things. However, I would like to concentrate on two issues that are of major concern to me, mainly the plight of the elderly in our communities and the producer price of cereals that is being offered by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

Mr. President, we need to acknowledge that aging is that that natural process of life and as one grows older, they face a number of challenges. The current socio-economic situation in Zimbabwe has made it extremely difficult for the elderly to fend for themselves. It is estimated that 7% of our country's people is above 60 years of age and the majority of them live below the Poverty Datum Line. This group of people has the potential to break the poverty circle if they are given adequate support. It is important that we increase resources towards the social safety nets that have been put in place b y the government to restore the dignity of this vulnerable group in our society. I shall endeavour to propose some of the practical ways in which government, through its relevant ministries can assist the elderly in our society.

EFFECTS OF HIV/AIDS PANDEMIC ON THE ELDERLY

Mr. President, the elderly have not been spared from the ravaging effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. They are being forced to carry multiple burdens at a time when they are ever decreasing resources. In a survey that was carried out by the World Health Organization and Help Age Zimbabwe in 2002, it was discovered that 74% of elderly women in Zimbabwe were taking care of their children who were sick with HIV/AIDS siblings.

In the event of death, the grand parents are left with the responsibility of supporting the orphans. In Zimbabwe, it is estimated that 63% are under the care of the elderly and yet there is not much recognition on support that is given to the elderly who have this responsibility. With a depleted or no income they are required to take care of the family's health and material needs whilst they should be the ones being taken care of. As a result, you will find that we have increased percentage of poor households headed by older persons with many dependents.

Mr. President, the Constituency that I represent, has a number of older persons who have not been spared from the ravaging effects of HIV/AIDS pandemic. I would like to propose that the elderly in Zvimba Constituency be given pieces of land, together with agricultural inputs and farming equipment so that they can engage in subsistence farming. This will improve on the food security at household level and if there is any access, it can be sold to supplement the needs of the family such as uniforms for the orphans, payment of medical treatment and so on.

We need to restore the dignity of the elderly people in my constituency and those living in different parts of the country. Mr. President, I do welcome the introduction of the Older Persons Bill, which the President highlighted in his speech and said will be brought before Parliament. As Senate, I believe we have a responsibility of ensuring that this Bill, when it comes before parliament, it focuses on strengthening the social safety nets that are in existence and also empowering the elderly so that they continue to be self-reliant. We should not allow our elderly people to live as destitutes. They should be part of our communities and we should accord them the respect they deserve, because they will always remain a source of wisdom, cultural values and oral history, qualities which build a nation.

Impact of the Economy on Pensioners

Mr. President, I would now like to highlight the plight of pensioners in our country. This group of people is struggling to make ends meet. The government made an undertaking to increase the pensions of retired civil servants to that of serving members, but nothing has been done about it. As a result you will find that this group of people, which served the government faithfully for a long time is struggling to survive. I would like to propose that NSSA, should refocus and provide comprehensive retirement benefits which are in line with the socio-economic environment prevailing in the country. Such a package should extent to look into health, housing and general welfare of retired civil servants. It is not right for retired workers to live like destitutes or to be placed in old people's homes after retirement.

Producer Price of Cereals

Mr. President, I would like now to turn to a thorny issue prevailing in the agricultural market at the present moment and that has got to do with the producer price of cereals. Most farmers have now harvested their maize and other cereals but they are not happy with the prices that are being offered by the GMB. These prices are too low and farmers are not able to break even or to re-capitalize in preparation for the next summer cropping season. At the moment you will find that GMB is offering US$265 per tonne. Farmers are appealing that it should be increased to US$400.00 per tonne. The major reason why farmers are asking for such figures is that there is no money at the banks hence they can not take out any loans.

When farmers get the right price for their produce, they can also plan for the winter wheat season and other farming seasons. The winter wheat season started some time in April and farmers in Zvimba usually start preparations in April. However, the Minister of Finance has not availed any funding through the banks for farmers to begin farming. This means that the country will experience low wheat harvest and no doubt the winter crop farming season had failed.

Mr. President, I hope that the producer price of the country's cereals would be reviewed upwards and that there would be loans availed to farmers so that they can effectively carryout their farming activities. I need not remind anyone that agriculture is the back bone of this country and high priority should be given to this sector so that the country can improve on its food security and reduce or eliminate any cereal imports.

Lastly, I would like to encourage Parliament to continue to create a forum, where as representatives of the people, we can work together for the betterment of our nation. Our constituencies are looking up to us to offer solutions to some of the challenges facing our country, so we need to work together to ensure that we fulfill the hopes and aspirations of our people.

+SENATOR J. DUBE: Mr. President, I rise to make a contribution on the President's address and also take this opportunity to make my maiden speech. I would like to begin by congratulating you and the President of the Senate on your election to lead this august House. I want also to take this opportunity to thank my constituency Gwanda for electing me as their Senator.

Mr President, as we are all aware, agriculture is the main source of income in our country. I am therefore, appealing to the government to provide farming inputs on time so as to allow farmers to catch up with the farming season. There are some indications that we might get good rains even this year. If such inputs could be availed between August and September, it will motivate farmers to prepare adequately for the farming season.

Mr. President, my district is the main source of beef. I am therefore, appealing to government to monitor banks offering loans to farmers to release them on time so that we boost the economy of the country. Beef provides 6.5% in the main basket of Zimbabwe.

Our road network is in a bad state. I would like to urge the Ministry of Transport to look into the issue of potholes. These have contributed to many accidents on our roads.

Mr. President, I would like to thank the Freedom Fighters for liberating this country. Although I know that they are getting free education for their children, I would want to appeal to government to consider providing them with free medication and also have their allowances increased to meet their basic needs. These allowances should also be paid on time.

Mr. President, I am appealing to government to consider the issue of constructing more dams and greater utilization of the already existing dams. In my constituency, this will boost agriculture through irrigation schemes in Region 5. For example, Tuli-Manyange dam was pegged before independence but up to now, nothing much has been done with regard to actual construction. If constructed, it would be a source of water for the district. There is also a big dam along the Mtshabezi River, Blanket Dam which can be utilized for irrigation purposes.

Mr. President, I would also like to thank the government for the four clinics budgeted for in 2009 in my constituency; namely, Garanyemba, Lushongwe, Mapate and Sitezi. As I speak, Sitezi and Lushongwe clinics are functional but the problem of water has to be looked into. Maybe the responsible authorities could supply engines. There is also need to electrify these clinics.

In my constituency, Gwanda Provincial Hospital has no functioning mortuary. I am, therefore, appealing to the Ministry of Health to seriously look into the issue of repairing the mortuary, as it is a disadvantage to those that can not take their dead relatives to Doves Mortuary.

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

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 22nd July, 2009.

MOTION

HARNESSING OF RESOURCES FROM ZIMBABWEANS IN THE DIASPORA

Fourth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on Zimbabweans living in the diaspora.

Question again proposed.

SENATOR NCUBE: May I also add my voice in support of Hon Gutu's motion calling for the harnessing of resources from Zimbabweans abroad.

The ball is in the Inclusive Government's court to come up with measures that will instill a sense of belonging to those in the diaspora to vote so as for them to also feel responsible for rebuilding their country. If as a government we uphold the rule of law, respect properly rights , enable those in the diaspora to vote surely , we will be able to attract them to participate in the rebuilding of Zimbabwe. The sooner we come up with a government policy the better for Zimbabwe. As a government we are just starting to generate foreign currency. Zimbabwe can be rich if this Inclusive Government assures those wishing to open up businesses that their investment in properties will be respected. A lot of business can start.

Madam President, Zimbabweans living abroad should make effort themselves to contribute resources for the development of their country, we do not have to count on them or their numbers. This country is blessed with diamonds, gold, platinum mines, asbestos, tobacco, coal, cotton, and farming. This US$5 billion we are looking for, we can have it without asking from abroad.

SENATOR CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: On a point of order. There seems to be an issue concerning property rights , may the senator elaborate what property you are talking about. Is it land?

SENATOR NCUBE: In property I mean the assets, anybody who owns property must be sure that his or her property is protected. - [HON SENATORS: Hear, hear]-

SENATOR CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Why are some senators silent? It means something,it is concerning land.

SENATOR NCUBE: Zimbabweans living abroad must contribute something to repair the country. They should contribute to the harnessing of resources for the development of the country. This US$5 we are looking for, we can have it without asking from abroad.

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

Motion put and agregd to .

Debate to resumeȺ Wednesday, 22nd July, 2008.

MOTION

OPERATIONS OF PENSION FU 
DS

Fifth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the opeၲationsȠof Penѳion Funds in`the chothing industry.

Question ag䁡in proposed.

THE GO^ERNOR FOR MÁTABELELAND NORTH: I movd that the debၡte do no䁷 adjѯurn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume WednesdayȢ22nd July 2009.

On the notion of THE GOVERNOR FOR ⁍  TABELELAND NORTH , the Senate `djourned at Tࡷety Eighty Minu4es to Foѵr O'clock p.m.č

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Senate Hansard Vol. 18 SENATE HANSARD - 21 JULY 2009 VOL. 18 NO. 22