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SENATE HANSARD 26 JULY 2016VOL 25 NO 65

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 26th July 2016

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

BILL RECEIVED FROMT THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

THE HON PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  I have to inform the House that the Senate has received the Pan-African Minerals University of Science and Technology Bill (H. B. 10A, 2016.)

INVITATION TO A CATHOLIC CHURCH SERVICE

THE HON PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  I also wish to inform the Senate that there will be a Catholic Church Service tomorrow 27th, July 2016 at 1200 hours in the Senate Chamber.  All Members are invited.  Non-Catholic members are welcome.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH:  DEBATE ON ADDRESS

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

Question again proposed.

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

HON. SEN. MASUKU:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume:  Wednesday, 27th July, 2016.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. SEN. TIMVEOS:  I move that Order of the Day, Number 2 be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

HON. SEN. MARAVA:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

FIRST REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON PEACE AND SECURITY ON THE STATE OF HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN ZIMBABWE

HON. SEN. GEN. NYAMBUYA:  I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the First Report of the Thematic Committee on Peace and Security on the State of Human Rights Situation in Zimbabwe.

HON. SEN. CHIEF SIANSALI:  I second.

HON. SEN. GEN. NYAMBUYA: 

1.0    INTRODUCTION

1.1    As part of its oversight role, the Thematic Committee on Human Rights conducted an inquiry into the state of human rights in Zimbabwe in order to have an in-depth appreciation of the subject matter.

1.2    The Government of Zimbabwe must be commended for having embraced the spirit of the respect, promotion and fulfilment of human rights through the ratification of a number of regional and international instruments.

1.3    Some of the key human rights instruments that come to mind include the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

1.4    The State has also taken legislative, policy and administrative steps, to some extent, to give further legal safeguards to the enjoyment of the rights contained in the various regional and international instruments that the country is party to. A good example is the Constitution of Zimbabwe of 2013 that provides an expansive Bill of Rights that strengthens the various civil and political rights and includes protective provisions of some economic, social and cultural rights that were not previously justifiable.

1.5    However, it is pertinent to note that there have been some violations of social and economic rights as well as civil and political rights due to a number of factors. Key drivers for the violations include the deteriorating economic situation and the El nino induced drought and the ongoing political polarisation.

                2.0    OBJECTIVES

               In its inquiry the Committee was guided by the following objectives:

2.1    To appreciate the state of Human Rights in Zimbabwe;

2.2    To assess the levels of public confidence in the Government’s enforcement mechanism of fundamental human rights and freedoms;

2.4    To appreciate the challenges being faced by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission in the execution of its mandate, if any; and

2.5    To make appropriate recommendations in respect of possible solutions to the          challenges identified.

3.0    METHODOLOGY

3.1    In order to fully appreciate the subject under consideration, the Committee invited the following stakeholders to provide both written and oral submissions:

  • The Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs;
  • The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Services;
  • The Zimbabwe Republic Police;
  • The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services Commission;
  • Law Society of Zimbabwe;
  • Zimbabwe Association of Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation;
  • Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights; and
  • The Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association;

4.0    KEY FINDINGS AND OBSERVATIONS

  • Progress in realising human rights

4.1.1 The ratification and domestication of some of the major regional and international human rights treaties by the Government of Zimbabwe must be commended. Zimbabwe is part to the main human rights instruments as stated above

4.1.2 The domestication of the various international and regional human rights treaties is a positive step by the Government as it gives domestic legal safeguards where human rights are violated or are under threat

4.1.3 A cursory glance at Sections 48 to 84 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe reveals a robust cocktail of substantive rights that everyone in Zimbabwe is entitled to.

4.1.4 The Bill of Rights is much more expansive and comprehensive.  Not only does the New Constitution strengthen the civil and political rights, it makes social and economic rights mandatory. This is progressive and commendable as it is consistent with accepted regional and international standards that Zimbabwe ascribes to.

4.1.5 The Government of Zimbabwe has also actively participated in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Process – a voluntary human rights peer review mechanism coordinated by the United Nations Human Rights Council. After undergoing the Universal Periodic Review by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, the Government set up a mechanism to monitor implementation of the UPR recommendations that it accepted. It is commendable that the Government is preparing for the next review that is scheduled for October 2016.

4.1.6 There have been efforts by the Government to engage strategic stakeholders such as civil society, to further human rights protection of the citizens.

4.1.7 The courts have played a positive role in ensuring that some victims in some cases of human rights violations access remedies. This is particularly true in cases of violations of rights of accused persons by the police. In some of the claims filed against perpetrators that have been finalised, awards have been honoured by the State in some cases. This is critical as it reinforces the principles of rule of law as articulated in the constitution.

4.1.8 A number of key judgments both in the superior courts and the lower level courts have been handed down reflecting the letter and spirit of the rights regime in the new Constitution.

4.2    Violations of human rights

Social and economic rights violations have been observed, with some cases being attended to over the last twelve months. Of concerns are violations of the rights to;

4.2.1 Shelter

This has, by far, been the biggest challenge from the legal and socio-political perspective.

  • Forced evictions – Forced demolitions continue. At the moment, it is taking place in some areas of Harare and Chitungwiza.
  • The case of the Chingwizi villagers is one of tragic proportions as the villagers who are victims of internal displacement continue to suffer further violations of their social and economic rights without a clear solution in sight.
  • Other victims of forced evictions have been cases of some former farm workers who have been displaced. This has been done through the application of the Gazetted Lands (Consequential Provisions) Act, and through the civil courts. The Thematic Committee bemoans the lack of a clear policy to resettle this group of people who clearly constitute an indigenous vulnerable group deserving of some form of constitutional protection.
  • Eviction of informal traders – This is another challenge, with those eking out a living by way of informal employment being at the mercy of authorities. The current economic decline continues to result in growing formal unemployment and increased informal trading, which the Government has attempted to formalise with various challenges, including disrespect for constitutional protections. These populations are at risk of repression and political manipulation. Running battles continue to be experienced between this group and the municipal police and the Committee regrets that at times, the action taken by authorities has been arbitrary leading to loss of wares by the informal traders even when the law is clear on how confiscated goods must be dealt with.

4.2.2 Education

Education -Economic conditions continue to make it difficult for parents to meet their obligations at secondary schools and primary schools remain inaccessible to many. Many children continue to face challenges. Some schools are withholding results from pupils due to non-payment of fees by parents. Schools must take appropriate action to deal with the issue that does not affect the best interest of the child, a principle that is entrenched in our Constitution.

  • Health

Public health – The facilities are failing to cope with demand; patients are being subjected to rights violations through denial of proper treatment, access to medication, and arbitrary detention as a result of inability to pay fees for services.

  • Food

Food and water– There continues to be cases of discrimination in the distribution of food aid, even in instances where it is being distributed by Government departments such as Social Welfare.  Some people have been arrested and charged with violating the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act after insisting on accessing food aid that is being distributed on alleged partisan lines. It is trite that relevant Government departments ensure that vulnerable groups have access to clean water to prevent the outbreak of water borne diseases.

4.2.5 Civil and political rights

Civil and political rights continue to be undermined by the conduct of some state actors. The situation of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) remains particularly dire. In most instances, the arrests are arbitrary and unjustified. In most of these cases, they have been charged with violating provisions of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act – such as trespassing, criminal nuisance etcetra.

4.2.6 Freedom of assembly

Meetings and gatherings -The disruption of peaceful protests that are guaranteed in the Constitution due to application of Section 37 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, and POSA in very few cases – is of concern. It is particularly distressing to note that in some cases the police have misinterpreted the requirements in POSA against non-political gatherings. In any event, POSA has to be repealed as it does not comply with the Constitution. The disruption of such gatherings has been done in a very heavy handed manner in defiance of rights of those affected.

4.2.7 Rights of vulnerable people

Children –While child marriages have been outlawed by the Constitutional Court, in a progressive judgment.  A lot of measures still have to be taken to ensure that this is fully implemented. Also of concern is the increase in exploitation of children. There are a lot of children who are not attending schools but spending the whole day at traffic light intersections begging for money. Other than the fact that these children must be in school as they have a right to education, failure by Social Welfare to act on this exposes the children to abuse and exploitation.

5.0    INSTITUTIONS

5.1    The Courts and the Justice Delivery System

5.1.1 The court system is an important institution in protection of human rights. While some work is being done as part of long-term efforts to reform the justice delivery system, courts should deliver judgements timeously as justice delayed is justice denied.

5.1.2 The exorbitant court fees are also a barrier to access to justice

5.1.3 While there is a multi-stakeholder initiative ACT – Against Corruption Together – that was launched by the Judicial Services Commission, corruption still exist. There is a need for a specific plan on how to combat it. There is need for comprehensive legislation to combat corruption effectively.

5.2    The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services

Conditions in prisons still need to be reformed to comply with decisions of the courts as well as international standards. The Committee notes the need to increase funding on the part of Government to the correctional services so that detention facilities’ infrastructure could be upgraded, provision of adequate nutrition, clothing and other social amenities could be enhanced so as to meet humane standards of treatment for prisoners and detainees.

5.3    The National Prosecuting Authority

The arrest of the Prosecutor General may make it impossible for future exercise of the prosecutorial discretion without fear or favour. This also has a knock-on effect within the judiciary and legal practitioners in private and public sector.

5.4    The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission

The Government must avail adequate resources to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission. This would help to minimise institutional lethargy, motivate employees, and promote greater effectiveness and efficiency.

6.0    COMMITTEE’S RECOMMENDATIONS

6.1    The Executive should urgently harmonise laws that have a bearing on the promotion and protection of human rights

6.2    The Executive speed up the process of harmonising laws with the Constitution and regional and international human rights instruments;

6.3    In aligning laws with the Constitution, Parliament must take note of the decisions of the courts in interpreting whether certain provisions of the law are ultra vires the Constitution. Criminal defamation laws that have been declared unconstitutional must not find their way back into the statute books via Parliament.

6.4    There is need to constitute resources and ensure that Commissions with a mandate of promoting and protecting human rights such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission are fully operational;

6.5    There is need for a multi stakeholder initiative to protect the right to shelter of citizens.

6.6    Government must also formulate clear housing and land policies to deal with shortages of urban land and the continued plight of former farm workers who were not properly resettled.  I would like to thank  you. 

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

VISITORS IN THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE’S GALLERY

          THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  Thank you.  Before we proceed, I would like to acknowledge the presence in the President of the Senate’s Gallery students and teachers from Shingai Primary School from Masvingo Province.  You are most welcome - [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.]-

          HON. SEN. CHIEF SIANSALI: Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity.  Mr. President, allow me to second the Thematic Committee on Human Rights report  as presented by our Chairperson Hon Rt. General Nyambuya.  As alluded to by our Chairperson, the Committee commended Government for quite a number of aspects with regards to human rights in Zimbabwe.  To mention but a few, the ratification and adoption of human rights instruments that have to do with the freedom and several aspects for the citizenry of the country.  However, I will not attempt to make a new reading of the whole report but I will pick one or two.

          It was the Committee’s concern that as much as the Constitution of Zimbabwe has got quite an expansive Bill of Rights, the general citizenry is yet to benefit from such rights because they have not yet been put into law.  Yes, the Constitution might have all those spellings but for as long as Government does not align requisite laws to the dictates of the Constitution, it will be a mere futile endevour or attempt. 

          Forced Evictions

          Mr. President, allow me to say that Government should not wait for people to waste a lot of resources and act thereafter, but we should at least have proper laws that guide communities as to how they should build their houses.  It is painful to find one having spent millions of dollars on a property that will just be demolished to dust and ashes.  If officers are there every day, working and watching – leaving somebody wasting or spending a lot of money just to be destroyed the next day, I put the blame on the relevant authorities that do not act before people spend a lot of money. - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -  Remember that there is no compensation that goes to such people that fall victim to such acts.  Government has employees that are on Government payroll for such activities not to be condoned.  But you will find that Government will be paying such people for letting people do things that are not allowed by the laws.  Then at the end we victimize the people but we do not even caution those that were not playing their part. 

          Also allow me to say yes, as we strongly applaud the Land Reform programme, it is my view that as much as we are resettling people into the farms, we are not taking cognizance of those workers that were previously working for the former farm owner.  It is quite clear that the workers do not have the right to stay on those farms but I think Government should have come up with a deliberate policy that guides on their future.  Some may not like to work for the new farm owner and some new farmers might not like to work with the employees of the former farm owner. So, in such cases Government should have a properly documented legislated way to take care of such people.  They should be equally resettled just as those that are taking over the farms.  It is a fact that those people are equally landless Zimbabweans like other Zimbabweans that are being resettled.  So, turning a blind eye to such people is inhuman and a violation of their fundamental rights as equal citizens, like to everyone else. 

Education

As the Chairperson alluded to, we have quite a number of street kids that are roaming on the streets.  Yes, one might blame those that give them food for keeping them on the streets but we are Africans and as we see those children on the streets, we feel for them as our children. If you have something to share you do so and I do not think that is wrong.  That is what any human being would do but that does not mean that those that give them food are actually promoting their stay on the streets.  I think it is Government’s role to take deliberate measures to make sure that such kids are accommodated.  Giving them food is actually reducing their appetite for crime and criminal activities because the more they become hungry, the more they become violent and engage in mischievous acts. 

Food Distribution

I would like to personally applaud Government for availing food through the Ministry of Labour and Social Services.  However, I feel that the programme should have a properly guiding document that can be used for lack of bias and proper distribution of food to every citizen.       - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -   We have noted as community leaders; I am speaking on behalf of my chiefdom that the systems that are used in the selection of the beneficiaries is not straightforward.  Mostly, the deserving are being left out. - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] - It is by mere word of mouth that chiefs and traditional leaders encompassing villagers and headman are involved in the selection. 

Allow me Mr. President, to tell you that I was not involved in any selection exercise on who was to benefit from the food distribution exercise.  Government should come out with a proper structure that defines the composition of the drought relief programme as unscrupulous officers and NGOs take advantage of such informal directions.  The word of mouth approach in governing the country will not work because the officers take advantage of such statements and they manipulate it to their own advantage. 

Prisons and Correctional Services

I think as we are all seated here in this House, we are all candidates of those institutions.  - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] - No one is immune to such institutions.  Every day we sing and debate about corruption to an extent that some members say it is here in the august House that you find corrupt people.  Corruption is a criminal activity and that literally translates to mean that we have criminals in this House who are automatic candidates to those prisons.  If we do not make any strides or efforts to ensure that those institutions are livable, one day one will find himself/herself in that institution. When you are in, you cannot make any correction but you just have to live with what is there. So it is better that we make all strides and efforts to make sure that the living standards and conditions in those institutions are better or else, we have to accept what we find when we get inside.

Mr. President, it is the hope and wish of the Committee and myself that Government will make efforts to take the recommendations that have been presented by the Committee so that we can at least address a few, if not all for the better enjoyment of the human rights of the populace of the country, as spelt out by the Constitution in the Bill of Rights. With these few words, I thank you.

*HON. SEN. MASHAVAKURE: Thank you Mr. President for giving me the opportunity to add on the First Report on the Human Rights issue. I will start with the international treaties or conventions. There are a lot of these treaties. They were ratified by this Parliament and the President, but this has not been translated into law or domesticated. There is one on those with disabilities which was ratified by this Parliament in May, 2013. In September, the documents were delivered to show that Zimbabwe had ratified. We are now almost in September, 2016 and that convention has not been domesticated.

It will be a good thing if these conventions are domesticated. It shows us that we are behind in terms of domestication of these treaties and conventions. We always cry that we have difficulty in funding, but my suggestion is that we should have at least conventions that are domesticated into this country annually. By so doing, it will be a good practice for us. I urge the Government to put aside a small funding which will go to the issue of shelter which is inclusive of houses in the communal lands and in towns. It is good a thing for the Government to show the people that Government is organised so that people are not going to be cheated or taken advantage of by those that are sly, especially the land barons.

The barons in England were good people with good manners but these ones that we have are local people that allocate land to people, which land does not belong to them. We should have a systematic and properly structured resettlement.  We should make sure that stands are systematically allocated. We should make sure that stands are proper settlements because there is a challenge with stands in urban areas. Three years ago, we heard that homesteads were being torched because residents would have settled in the cattle grazing areas or pastures and the village heads or chiefs would not have agreed to that.

This will cause innocent people to lose their hard earned cash. It will be proper if we put in place a mechanism to ensure that such losses are not encountered. We should also be thinking about the issues of portable water when they allocate people stands. They should also be in a position to look at the sewer reticulation and other attendant issues. Those things should be made right because they are not correct.

The health issue has its own challenges. People are saying medication is expensive. Free health for all would have been ideal but Government has challenges. There are those medical aid societies like the PSMAS. There are institutions that do not accept these medical aid cards whilst others accept. There is no clear cut picture on what is obtaining in as far as PSMAS is concerned. All I do is to urge those medical aid societies to put their houses in order to ensure that the clients benefit.

There has been silence on the National Health Insurance Scheme. This is a good idea and it is my wish that it will be put in place so that everyone is covered and that should they become ill, they will receive treatment. Medical aid societies should also be thinking about giving bonuses to people who do not use their medical aid society facilities for a year.

They should be given a bonus or some part of that contribution should be set aside as a bonus to enable it to be used by the member should the member in future fall ill. This then becomes value for money for the member as they are covered meaningfully. Contributions should not just be made annually without benefitting members. Those that do not use their medical aid facilities for a year, should be able to benefit from none use of their medical fees.

Food is an issue especially in the communal lands. I receive telephone calls from people raising concern over hunger. There are those that are disabled that say that previously, they were entitled to assistance. There are also issues surrounding food for work programmes. How can a disabled person be able to work for this food for work programme when already they are disabled?  No one can be able to work on behalf of another.  I do not foresee a situation where someone who is able-bodied would work for their own part and my own behalf as a disabled person.

          When we ask Government officials, they say this is not the Government thinking and it is not the way that things should be.  However, this is what is emanating from the majority of our people.  Government should seriously supervise such projects in the grassroots because there are others who are out there to swindle others contrary to the letter and spirit of the Government when coming up with such programmes. 

Something should be done about the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) to enable the less privileged so that they can also go to school.  It is almost a year to two years when children that are supposed to be beneficiaries of the BEAM have not benefited anything.  This is due to the fact that the Government is facing challenges in terms of funding.  The right to education is enshrined in our Constitution and it is a paramount right for each and every human being.  I certainly believe that it is good for the Government to relook into the programme so that there be sufficient funding.  There can be a scheme, even if it has a different name to ensure that those in primary and secondary education can go to school without any hindrance.  With those words Mr. President, I thank you.

*HON. SEN. KOMICHI:  Thank you Mr. President.  I would want to take this opportunity to thank Hon. Sen. Nyambuya and the seconder Hon. Sen. Chief Siansali on the report that they have tabled.  I thank you for the meaningful contributions.  Those that need to listen and take action based on those issues should be seriously considered because we have a lot of issues that are a threat to the peace and security of the country if nothing is done to address such issues.  The Ministers of Defence and National Security should take heed of this report so that they align laws to the Constitution of the country.  What is contained in Section 208 is quite clear. 

It should be aligned to the Acts that pertain to the Ministries that I have mentioned and it will help us in dealing with human rights issues.  I urge that this matter be treated with the urgency that it deserves focusing on human rights issues that occur when people abuse these rights.  I am talking specifically about violence.  There are three modes of violence, that is, direct violence which is quite common to us through murder, assaults and burning of houses.  There is the cultural violence such as the violence between women and men.  The women suffer most; they suffer silently through cultural violence.  The third is structural violence, which I am going to debate about today.  This emanates from the policies, regulations and the Acts of the country. 

Violence destroys and kills and this is direct violence or war.  The majority of us know this one.  There are a lot of people who die from structural violence than those who died during the war.  How do people die?  Previous speakers said when the health system is not in place, hospitals do not have medication to control or alleviate HIV / AIDS, cancer treatment, TB, malaria, diabetes and other ailments. This is violence that has emanated from the poor structure of the system.

At the moment, the country is suffering due to drug shortages. Even those that are on medical aid, specifically PSMAS currently is not being accepted by a lot of medical doctors.  They want cash upfront.  What do you claim from the medical aid societies when you do not have funds to pay the doctors?  A lot of people are dying due to lack of medical care.  There are those that do not have medical insurance such as women, the unemployed and the disabled.

*HON. SEN. CHIPANGA:  On a point of order Mr. President. May I seek assistance on the definition of violence and its relationship to human rights and the lack of medical drugs?  Where is the nexus?  I thank you.

HON. SEN. KOMICHI:  Thank you Mr. President.  May I help Hon. Sen. Chipanga.  Chapter Four of the Zimbabwe Constitution has bill of rights.  The bill of rights covers issues such as the right to health, right to life, right to free association, right to food and the human rights issues that we are trying to address – [HON. MEMBERS:  Hear, hear.] -  So, I am directing my debate to the powers that be or those who can make it happen.  The people who are mostly affected are the women, those who live with disability, children and the youths who have just completed their studies.

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE (HON. SEN. TAWENGWA):  Order, order.  What you must also take into account Hon. Senator, is that the issues you are discussing should have been contained in the report because it is the Committee report which we are considering here and whether the seconder also touched on those issues.  It is a specific report which we are debating here; we cannot bring in new issues which are not part of the report.

          *HON. SEN. KOMICHI:  Thank you Mr. President I wrote these issues as he was tabling his report, the Chairperson did speak on health.  I am now putting depth to these issues and what are the causes of not having peace.  People will complain and as a result of their complaints this will be a threat to peace and security.  The availability of food especially during this year of drought in our communal lands, the majority of our farmers did not harvest maize; so Government and Non Governmental Organisations are busy feeding people in the communal lands. 

          The Chief also in seconding the report said people are being given food and they are being asked for their political allegiance.  The infant that will be a week or year old is going to die because the mother has not been given food.  A child shall not go to school because the parents are not of the political party that is being considered.  Eventually the father and the mother will also die due to lack of food.  This is the structural violence which is imbedded in the regulations, which is causing us to lose human life.  So, the Government should look into such issues and ensure that people who act in such manner will have committed a crime against humanity.  Others do it because they will be trying to ensure that they receive votes but by so doing, they will be killing people.  A person who would have murdered people using a knife is incarcerated and send to prison but another person who has caused this structural violence goes scot free.  A rapist, a murderer who has used a knife is equally as bad as a person who used structural violence and causes the loss of a child because of the parents’ political affiliation.

 Government should ensure that clean water reaches people.  If Government is not going to provide water, children will die from typhoid and cholera – [HON. SENATORS:  Hear, hear.] -  A lot of people do succumb from these diseases.  There is a problem of lack of jobs in the country; once children have completed their education, they come back and live with their parents, unemployed, that is a security risk.  The children will either resort to stealing, killing one another and crime becomes the way of life.  Others even commit suicide due to lack of jobs.  All these deaths are caused by structural violence because the system would have put in place policies that ensure that there is employment creation. 

At the moment there is no cash to treat certain ailments. Everyone is facing a cash crisis.  I might be wearing a suit but if  you go through my pockets….

Hon. Sen. Chipanga having stood up.

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT:  Order, Hon. Sen. Komichi that is out of order.  It is not a right for an individual to have cash.

HON. SEN. CHIPANGA: I believe the Hon. Senator is not clear as to whether the debate is on human rights or peace and security.  I think there is confusion here; I think that is where the problem is.  The areas in which he is delving in have to do with peace and security, I agree, whereas the report here is solely on human rights.

  THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT:  Very correct, I agree with you.

*HON. SEN. KOMICHI:  I think the question of clarity on human rights matters would open a new debate but as I said before, would raise the debate to the intellectual levels.   I believe that I am on the right track.  Human rights are those rights that are in the Constitution.   If we do not have cash, we cannot buy food or be able to send our children to school.

 For the time being, allow me to conclude my debate.  The debate has also covered the issue of peaceful demonstrations.  Those are human rights issues.  We see children who were at their houses being assaulted by police in Epworth.  They were severely beaten by police officers.  There is no law that a person who is busy going about his or her daily business can be assaulted for no apparent reason because the police are angry.  At times the elderly and young girls were being assaulted for no apparent reason.

The law says once a person has committed an offence, they are arrested, send to court and arraigned.  During these assaults, some children may die as a result of these assaults.  So the people that are dying from structural violence which is a human rights abuse are too many. 

HON. SEN. MOHADI:  Mr. President, can the Hon. Senator confirm the deaths that were caused during the demonstrations because we are an honourable House, we speak on facts, if there are no facts, I do not think it will be proper to put that on record. 

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT:  Are those factual issues or just allegations?

*HON. SEN. KOMICHI:  When I started my debate, I gave a definition of structural violence, that is deaths after several days.  If you are hungry, you do not die today, it takes a human being 21 days of not having anything for one to die….

HON. SEN. MOHADI:  Order, you mentioned that during the demonstrations, some kids were killed by policemen in houses and I said can you prove that.

HON. SEN. KOMICHI:  May you please be quiet, I am talking about sustaining the injuries today but succumbing to those injuries days after.

*HON. SEN. KOMICHI:  I said such people that would have been assaulted might succumb to death.  Let me conclude Hon. Senator, let me finish.

I was saying that the number of people who are dying as a result of structural violence caused by the powers that are in authority are more than those who perish during the war.  As leaders, I am urging you to understand that you are slowly causing the deaths of the people.  In conclusion, I thank the Committee that came up with such a good report.  I thank you, keep it up.

HON. SEN. MUSAKA:  I thank you Mr. President.  I also wish to thank Hon. Sen. Rtd. Gen. Nyambuya and the seconder Hon. Sen. Chief Siansali for this report.

Mr. President what I find impressive about the report is its evenhandedness.  The attempt to show by governance where work is being done, where every effort to right things is being done and also its critique.  The approach that is given to the critique is truly intellectual to those of us who have gone into these things.  I thank you Hon. Sen. Rtd. Gen. Nyambuya – [HON. SENATORS:  Hear, hear.] – It is a brilliant report and I would recommend this report anywhere. It is in the public domain and it will appear in the Hansard.

We have young children here from Masvingo, this is the kind of stuff that they should take, have a look at and see how governance should be.  I wish also to point out to the young students that whenever we start in this Senate, there is a Prayer, ‘Almighty God, in your infinite wisdom, and providential goodness, has appointed offices of Rulers…’ It is that base, I suppose in Shona you would say, ‘Mwari musikavanhu, ndimi munopa hungwaru kuvatongi …’ So it is those bases at which I have examined this report.  It is brilliant and very nice.  The students from Masvingo should get copies of this and look at it, the critiquing of where things are not being done properly on shelter, health, agriculture and food distribution.  Really it is impressive.

I want to dwell a little bit on all those short-comings.  However, what is important Mr. President is that as the youngsters grow, all of us, a lot of our problem is lack of knowledge and information.  However in law I think they say, ‘Ignorance of the law is no defence.’  I suppose it is our duty, for those in governance to enlighten citizens to know their rights.  Rights are our responsibility Mr. President – [HON. SENATORS:  Hear, hear.] – He who tramples and wants to defend his or her rights should actually be sensitive not to walk on my rights too because you will forfeit your rights once you do that – [HON. SENATORS:  Hear, hear.] – That should be very clear and this is the essence of this report. What has been done?

For example, the issue of people being evicted or their houses being demolished.  Again I go back to governance that given wisdom by God I suppose maybe the rulers or those who actually implement legislation were unaware that something was being done wrong.  Those also who were going to build were unaware that they were actually doing the wrong thing and it came as an afterthought.  When you examine the cases, you will find it is true that they should not have done that.  However, whoever approved it was also wrong so really knowledge is important.  I think in every aspect of governance all citizens should be taught and enlightened to know exactly what is expected of them and what they should not do.

I do not have a lot to say but all I need to say is that look education is important and enlightenment is important too so that people know exactly what they should and should not do.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. MAKORE:  Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity.   I also thank the mover of the Motion Hon. Sen. Rtd. General Nyambuya and the seconder Hon. Sen. Chief Siansali.  This is a good report.

The issues that are under debate involve human rights.  We may fail to understand one another because of different perspectives but this is an issue that qualifies our independence.  We had to fight for our independence because we wanted our rights, development and freedom for everyone.  The issues that are at hand are enshrined in our Constitution.  These issues come to light because the law would have been contravened.  The issue that we want to interrogate here is to ensure that everyone is free,  they are exercising their rights regardless of their political affiliation.

Hon. Sen. Rtd. Gen. Nyambuya mentioned the issue of farming lands and you find someone being chased away from a farm because the one who is occupying the land is a member of the MDC.  That scenario fits in with the utterances of Hon. Sen. Rtd. Gen. Nyambuya and by so doing the people will be straddling upon other people’s rights …

*HON. SEN. BHOBHO:  Mr. President on a point of order, Hon. Senator when we are in this august House we are not being partisan.  Let us leave out the parties as this is a Government house and not a political party.

*THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT: Order, order the Hon. Sen. did not say you are a member of ZANU PF or MDC but that there are others who chase others away from farms alleging that one member belongs to the MDC.  So that statement is quite in order, if there is such an issue then he will point out and if anyone can correct that imbalance then it will be corrected.  If there is such a practice it should be mentioned and we should hear about it.  Hon. Sen. Makore you may proceed.

*HON. SEN. MAKORE:  Thank you our very Hon. President.  The issues that we discuss in this august House require us as elders to ensure that there is depth inquiry to such matters.  When we are here, we are not politicking but nation building when we are in this august Senate.  All of us are here to put our heads together so that we can come up with something meaningful.  Let me state that there are those that are here to be disruptive.  When one is debating, they should be allowed to express their clear thoughts because these pointless points of orders tend to take you off the track.  We have heard of issues that are quite sad.  Unemployment in our country is on the high side.  We now have an informal sector where there has been a growth in that area.  I would want to thank General Nyambuya.  This is an important report that a woman would go about to sell tomatoes to ensure that they sustain their families but the tomatoes are confiscated and their destination is not known.  The woman then goes back home wailing, empty handed.  It is an issue which has to be looked into, considering the challenges that we are facing as a country. 

          I am not going to repeat the majority of the issues that have been mentioned here.  All I am saying is; as the Constitution is the supreme law of the country, we are failing to align our laws so that they do not violate our Constitution.  There should be in place laws that ensure that this type of behavior is put to an end.  We are here to debate issues that are constructive based on facts.  Thank you for the opportunity that you have given me.

*HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: Thank you Mr. President.  I would want to thank Gen. Nyambuya and the Committee for such a well prepared report.  It has covered the essence of a human beings life. 

Once the report is presented to the Executive, I do not foresee the Executive failing to address these pertinent issues.  Thank you for the work well done Gen. Nyambuya.

On bullet 4.2.7; on the issue of child marriages – it is a prevalent problem not only in Harare but also in the communal lands.  Children are getting into early marriages.  This comes about as a result of parents wanting to use their children to shield their family from hunger.  A daughter is urged to go and marry in a certain family so that the family can have two or three bags of maize when the parents of this child are still alive.  Our children are suffering, they are being abused. 

If you come into Harare, you see children begging on the streets.  Their parents will be sitting. These children then surrender whatever they would have collected at the end of the day.  The child is not going to school.  The parents are being looked after by that child.  The roles have been reversed. The child has been deprived of the opportunity to develop themselves into a meaningful citizen of this country. What will become of their tomorrow? They will become abused and would not know their culture.  Such problems should be eradicated.

I am happy with 6.4 which says, ‘There is need to constitute, resource and ensure that Commissions with a mandate of promoting and protecting human rights such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission are fully operational’.   That is the crux of the matter.  It should be the duty of our Government to look into such a report and ensure that the Government gets funding to fund such independent Commissions so that these problems can be alleviated.

If there is no funding and these functions are not functioning properly, they will not discharge their duties properly.  They can only discharge their duties if there is adequate funding.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. CHIMHINI:  Thank you Mr. President.  I stand to applaud the Committee on Human Rights for a very progressive report which they presented in this House.  I will touch on a few issues which they have raised.

One of them is the observance of human rights; where the Committee says it builds confidence and I think this is true. When you have a nation or a Government that respects human rights, you build confidence.  People live in harmony and they trust the Government of the day.  I would want to appeal to the Executive that we do everything possible that we are uphold the provisions on the Bill of Rights in the Constitution so that we build confidence among the people of Zimbabwe.

The second part is that we should also respect the various freedoms that are given in the Constitution.  One of them is the right to demonstrate or to petition.  My appeal to the Executive, if they were here is that when people demonstrate, there is no need to be heavy handed in dealing with the demonstrators because when we end up with having people being beaten on the streets when they are demonstrating, then you are already violating a right that is referred to in the Constitution. 

Let us respect all those rights and freedoms that are given in the Constitution.  We do not need any intimidation or any brutal means when we respond to the demonstrations or petitions that are coming from the citizens of this country.

The report also touched on the commissions.  I would want to appeal that they truly become independent commissions.  I think it is time as Parliament, that we allow the commissions to self fund raise.  We all know that Government does not have sufficient resources.  Why not allow them to fund raise so that they can do their work properly? 

We should also work around subtle violence.  Hon. Komichi tried to make some explanations, in terms of what kind of violence and I think that the report is very clear that what we are trying to have is a country that is peaceful.  We do not want issues of subtle violence that normally comes around election time.  When we go for elections, we all lose our senses and it is very unfortunate for this country.  Let us just respect what came out of that report.  It is trying to build a peaceful Zimbabwe.

Last but not least, I want to say when we give people chances or opportunities to make choices, this is what builds confidence because the moment you start telling people that they cannot vote for this person or the other, then you are violating the right to make a choice.  So, the report on rights should not just be a report that is being read in this august House but we must implement when we go out of this House.  I would have appreciated if the Committee had also looked at disappearances but because some people may be uncomfortable with that, I may call them alleged disappearances.  I am saying that the State has a responsibility once there is an allegation about the disappearance – these should have come in the report because it is an issue that people have talked about and the international Committee is worried about and as Zimbabweans we are worried about it.  We should all start talking very seriously about disappearances in this country.  I thank you Mr. President.

*HON. SEN. MACHINGAIFA:  Thank you Mr. President for affording me this opportunity to add my voice on the report that has been tabled in this House.  I am also a member of the Committee on Human Rights.  I want to thank our Chairperson Hon. Sen. General Nyambuya and the seconder Hon. Sen. Chief Siansali on the situation of the human rights in this country.  I want to thank the leader of our nation President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the Head of the Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces, for giving us an opportunity to have these free Committees.  We are able to investigate and table issues concerning our country.  If he was not democratic, we would not have the freedom to debate such issues but he as an able leader who ensures that there is peace in this country, hence he has afforded us this opportunity to do so.

I have stood up to comment on the issue that has been raised which is our choice or the ball is in our court.  If one were to build their own homestead up until it reaches completion, it is terrible indeed if that house is demolished because it was constructed in an illegal zone – the area is a wetland and once they construct houses, their homes are destroyed.  Once these illegal structures are destroyed by rain, it would then be alleged that Zimbabwe does not care about its people.  We will be fighting against our own rights.

Our biggest challenge in as far as human rights are concerned is the lack of knowledge and understanding.  We need to appreciate and when we go to the issue of education, the Government which is ably led by the President is saying that maize should be delivered to schools so that children will not go hungry.  Parents are refusing to contribute money towards the purchase of sugar and peanut butter so that the children enjoy their porridge.  The parents argue and they will have abused the children’s right by refusing to pay such money.  If porridge is not a solution, then provide them with sadza.  Contribute money for the relish or even being asked to bring firewood, the parents refuse to cooperate.  It is not the government’s fault when such rights are being violated.

Mr. President on the issue of patients, I do not know what I can say but when a hospital is being constructed, there is a mortuary.  I am yet to see a person who dies after completing their drug dosage.  Ordinarily, they die after they have exhausted these drugs.  Since the dead person has left behind medication, yet we critisise the Government accusing it  for having caused the person’s death. 

I am giving an example Mr. President.  In Zimbabwe, I am now an elderly person and I have held several positions.  Our Government is under illegal sanctions – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.]-

*THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT: Order, order.  Allow him to speak.  Let us hear him out.

*HON. SEN. MACHINGAIFA:  We want to find out if it was the sanctions that were causing this person not to eat or if it was the sanctions that did not provide the drugs.  There are no longer any companies because of illegal sanctions.  Let me tell you that God will cause a drought and unemployment but yet we blame the Government.  It is not the Government that has caused hunger but it is God who caused it not to rain.  The dams that we have all over are not useful all the time.  There are times when they are useful and there are times when they are useless – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.]- Mr. President may you protect me.

*THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT: Order, Order.  I do not want to send anyone out.  Let us afford each other a chance to speak.  I will grant you the opportunity to take to the floor and respond.

 *HON. SEN. MACHINGAIFA: Our Government leadership was once asked on the issue of disappearances.  We were all asked to give information on the person that abducted this missing person or the motor vehicle that they used.  This shows that there is rule of law.  If there was no rule of law, they should not have accepted that.  Human rights require that we uphold them.  The Committee on Human Rights is a big Committee.  It touches on a lot of things - the education of a person, the right to information and the right to freedom of speech – which they are abusing through peddling lies, yet they are not being arrested.  It is their right.  So, where does this suppression come from?  I thank you for listening Mr. President.

*HON. SEN. MALULEKE:  Thank you Mr. President.  The report was well expressed by our Chairperson.  There are a lot of rights.  He has touched from Alpha to Omega.  When we started that Committee up until now, they explained that our Committee once went to the prisons and assessed the situation.  We also invited various stakeholders who gave oral evidence and enlightened us in terms of these rights.  He also explained that it is the right of the people that properties should not be destroyed and also spoke on the issue of food and children.  The other right that we, as the local leadership in our positions should be driving towards, is the issue of arranged marriages or the appeasement of an avenging spirit using the girl child.  Recently, I thanked Government for arresting the culprits that had run over a girl.  I was unhappy with the judgment that was made because the family had lost a daughter but the culprit was incarcerated for six to eight months.  He should not have run away if he did not kill her deliberately.  It is a right for people to mourn for their lost loved ones.  When the mother collapsed in court, I was hurt as a woman.  So, we call for stiffer sentences in such circumstances and compensation.  What benefit will a parent derive from such a light sentence? 

We did not get good harvest in our area.  I came late yesterday because I was going around schools to see the food that the schools received.  The response by the parents was overwhelming.  People were having their sadza and vegetables from their gardens that they have as co-operatives.  I thank the Government for that.  The communities now want to add onto the projects that are currently under way so as to ensure that there could be goats for meat at schools.  Others were asking for quail birds – forward with quail birds in schools - I told them not to worry as they would get quail birds in all schools as long as they construct cages.  At that time, they said they had all the orphaned children and those with parents on HIV/AIDS treatment at the school.  I felt very proud when I heard this. 

I also went to another school and saw parents digging a trench.  They have sunk a borehole and they were asking for pipes and means and ways to get a pump.  They wanted to ensure that their children’s rights are developed by ensuring they have piped water.  I am grateful for such thoughts.  It is good for them to come to us as the leaders when they want to get such assistance.  Let us be constructive and use best practices in everything that we do.  Thank you Mr. President.

*HON. SEN MABUGU:  Thank you Mr. President for the opportunity to debate that you have afforded me.  A lot has been mentioned about human rights but I want to talk about women and girls rights.  On the issue of health, when mothers are about to deliver, they are abused for lack of maternity fees.  They are detained in hospital so as to induce payment.  The bill will be increasing and at the same time, she does not have the means to pay this bill.  Women need to be treated with leniency when they fail to pay maternity fees.  They should be discharged from hospital so that they can look for the money.  Giving birth to children is a national duty because that child may end up being a president. 

The girl child is also abused.  She is not looked at as valuable in the family and so she is not sent to school because of the parents’ poverty.  In the meantime, the boy child is enjoying his education.  They say it is irrelevant whether the girl goes to school or not because she will be married, but the young men of today also want to marry educated women. How will she get married then? 

Orphans are the most disadvantaged especially when they are being looked after by foster parents, be they an aunt or uncle.  Though their own children will be going to school, they do not send the orphans to school.  It should not be a crime that the child lost his/her parents.  We should do unto others as we would like them to do unto us.  These children should be sent to school and ensure that they enjoy their rights. If you cannot send them to school, please ensure that these children are looked after by the State rather than you abusing their rights.  We should not have children roaming the streets because they are not being properly looked after.  I urge Government to look more into the rights of the girl child so that they are not abused.

There is also the issue of teenage pregnancies among school children which is rife.  The impregnated teenager drops out of school but the boy responsible for the pregnancy continues with his education.  The girl child has lost and the boy child continues to benefit.  Since becoming sexually active, the girl child’s mindset has changed and she is no longer interested in education as she believes she should enjoy her sexual activity.  The same treatment should be revisited on the boy child who will have impregnated the girl child. 

Even at the workplaces, women are looked down upon and even if they make contributions, they are not treated with the seriousness that they deserve. Is it a crime to be a woman? The man comes onto this earth as a result of being given birth to by a woman. Let us treat our women folk better. I reiterate that the rights of the woman and the girl child be enhanced. With those few words Mr. President, I thank you.

HON. SEN. MOHADI: Thank you Mr. President. I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. SEN. KOMICHI: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 27th July, 2016.

MOTION

SECOND REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT ON EARLY CHILD MARRIAGES

          Fourth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Second Report of the Thematic Committee on Gender and Development on Early Child

 Marriages.

          Question again proposed.

          *HON. SEN. GOTO: Thank you Mr. President for affording me the opportunity to accord my voice. First and foremost, I want to thank our Chairperson of the Committee on Gender that was seconded by Hon. Senator Buka. A lot of things or issues were touched on, but as a member of that Committee, I have one or two things that I would want to mention. I am going to briefly touch on the issue of early child marriages.

          The previous motion was also topical on the issue of early child marriages. Without repeating much, I would want to say it is true that we have problems as families. We are the mothers and especially in the communal lands, the majority of people are ignorant of the law. At 12 years old, people believe that the child is now grown up. Hunger is the causative agent for these early child marriages. In the past, child marriages were issues. It was caused by the father who would go to a rich man and say take my child and give me certain properties. These days, we no longer have this modus operandi but there is another modern day early marriage or arranged marriage that is happening in the church.

          I heard that there is a member of our church who has two wives. They talk of the man being able to look after them when in fact, they are not being looked after. It is a problem. We should go to our people even in the churches and educate them at various fora, informing them that they should desist from early child marriages and that 18 years is the age of marriage. School children are not beneficial to anyone. Everyone tells you these days that if you send your children to school, you have your tallies money.

          The person who is educated will know how to look after their parents. How can both of you be suffering? You suffered to look after your child and the child also struggles to look after you in your old age. Let us send our children to school. Let us teach our children morals. We no longer have the sister in laws. Furthermore, as a community we should go back to our basics and ensure that everyone’s child is my child. We should look after them in a manner in which you should want your own child to be treated.

          In the past, children were told that once they become sexually active at 12 years, it will be taboo. They will have thin hair but I do not know why it is not happening these days. What we are talking about is contained in the human rights report which our Senate believes has supported the issues that we have raised in our Gender and Development Thematic Committee. The issues are cross-cutting. The fault is given to the girl child and never the man.

          There is this misguided belief that the boy child is more important than the girl child. Look after all your children because they are equal. Your boy child can be a thief while your girl child can be able to look after the family. I have my four girls. I tried as much as possible to enlighten them. I told them the skills of life and the various challenges that were there. Children listen to you if you behave well and they take you as their role model. If you are a bad model, the apple will not fall away from the tree. Thank you Mr. President. 

          HON. SEN. MOHADI: Mr. President, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. SEN. CHABUKA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Wednesday, 27th July, 2016

On the motion of HON. SEN. MOHADI, seconded by HON. SEN. MAKORE, the Senate adjourned at Twenty-Nine Minutes past Four O’clock p.m.

 

Senate Hansard SENATE HANSARD 26 JULY 2016VOL 25 NO 65