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SENATE HANSARD - 26 SEPTEMBER 2013 VOL. 23 NO. 05

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 26th September, 2013

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

 

PRAYERS

(THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT

SWITCHING OFF OF CELLPHONES

THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT: May I remind hon. senators to switch off their cellphones before business commences.

INDUCTION SEMINAR

THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT: The induction seminar for all Members of Parliament scheduled for Monday the 30th of September and Tuesday the 1st of October 2013 will be held at Pandhari Hotel. The programme for the days has been circulated to all Members of Parliament through their pigeon holes. The buses leave Parliament Building at 0815 hours.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

SENATOR MARAVA: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Health and Child Care, Hon. Dr. Parirenyatwa. Thank you for availing yourself today. I think a number of people would like to know what the current age of majority for Zimbabwean children is. At what age can our children get married? I ask this because the papers are awash with a lot of information which can only be cleared by you. Thank you.

THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (DR. PARIRENYATWA): Thank you very much Mr. President. Thank you hon. senator for that question. It is quite a difficult one because we have a new Constitution which stipulates that the age of marriage is now 18. However, in the past, the age of marriage was 16 and I think that is where the confusion was. We should use the age that is in our Constitution. Thank you Mr. President.

SENATOR MUMVURI: Thank you Mr. President. My question is also directed to the Minister of Health and Child Care. I would like to find out, in view of your denial that condoms are not going to be given to children under the age of 20 and around the age of 10. What measures is the Government putting in place in order to try and curb pregnancy among these children?

THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (DR. PARIRENYATWA): Thank you Mr. President. I would also like to thank the hon. senator for asking that important question. Indeed, there are a lot of unwanted pregnancies in this country, particularly below the age of 15 and that is a big cause of concern. Concomitant with that is the fact that there are also a lot of unwanted pregnancies and abortions. As I said yesterday, in this country, we have tried as much as we can to fight HIV and AIDS. As we do so, we are also addressing the issue of teenage pregnancies including the issue of child sexual abuse and rape in general.

We are putting up a taskforce to look at the issue around child sexual abuse and rape in general in this country. We hope that those recommendations will be put into this House so that we can all debate on them. More importantly, we have put up what we call Youths Friendly Corners in all our institutions. Some of them are stand-alone Youths Friendly Corners. Youths go there and are educated, sharing information, not only on sexual and reproductive health rights, but also about culture, society and growing up. Those Youths Friendly Corners are increasingly becoming quite useful and we hope that senators and hon. members can promote them in their constituencies.

In addition to that, we have a graduated syllabus in schools where sexual and reproductive health is taught. It is graduated such that, 10-year olds do not get the same sexual health education as 15-year olds. It is all graduated as they grow up. We advise that, let us delay sexual debut in our children. We must delay the first sexual act as far as possible, nearer or if possible at marriage. While we delay the sexual debut, we also advise that if you are in institutions of higher learning like universities and colleges, we give you the full gambit of sexual education, including contraception. We do that kana waenda kumapolytechnic nemauniversities. However, kumaschools we are actually saying very emphatically, we should not give any contraceptive and certainly not to 10-year olds. Yesterday I said that it is against our cultural and social norms and medically, it is quite questionable, although we know that there are a lot of unwanted pregnancies in that age group.

The answer to that is education and it starts with us here, it should be a whole movement. Senators should be able to educate wherever they go. Machurch, mapriest ayaevery week ngavatitiche about all these values for us and our children to imbibe. We are saying it is a whole movement involving the Ministries of Education, Higher Education and of-course, Health and Child Care. However, it is also inter-ministerial in general that we should push. It is a big scourge on us as a nation, that there are all these unwanted pregnancies, sexual abuse, where people are raping children as young as 9 months. We should really say to ourselves, yes, as a country, pasi parohwa nenyundo, ngationei zvekunyatsoita tiripamwechetepo.Thank you very much Mr. President.

SENATOR HOLAND: Thank you Mr. President. My questions are directed to the Minister of State for Liaising on Psychomotor Activities in Education. Could he please enlighten us on this new institution that has been put in place? To the Minister of Education; there is a title for it which I have not quite captured, what is the relationship between the two ministries, the Ministry of Higher Education and the Ministry of Psychomotor Activities in Education? The second part of the question is directed to Minister Muchena. Thank you.

THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR LIAISING ON PSYCHOMOTOR ACTIVITIES IN EDUCATION (SEN. HUNGWE): Thank you Hon. President and I would like to thank Hon. Holand for her question. I think many people are expecting a statement to that effect. Could I plead with you if you could allow me more time to come to this Senate and make a statement to the effect of the new mandate of my Ministry and how it relates to the Ministry of Education. If I could be allowed to make a preference, I would also ask the hon. senator to put it in writing so that we could do the same to other hon. senators who are here, so that we are clear on what this new Ministry is all about. I thank you.

*SENATOR CHIEF MUSARURWA: Thank you Hon. President my question is a follow up question to the Minister of Health and Child Welfare. I understand his responses but my question is, are you also including traditional chiefs in the lessons in terms of upbringing of the child or juveniles because in your response, you talked about churches but you did not talk about the cultural values. Could you please include the chiefs because they are part of the system and the tradition?

*THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (DR. PARIRENYATWA): Thank you hon. chief for the question you asked. We will be very glad for you to be part of this which is going to deal with values of the people in the upbringing of children. My apologies now because I did not mention some people who should be part of the stakeholders in this assignment. I left a lot of people and you are part of them but definitely, I know that you should be included in the group which is responsible for the values.

*SENATOR CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: I have three questions but now that we do not have the Minister of Agriculture but we have a senior minister who works with other ministries, I will direct my questions to him. Hon. Senior Minister Sir, we have noticed that there is food shortages in areas that include Matabeleland and Masvingo, what is the Government doing to alleviate this situation.

My second question is, what is happening to the children who are failing to go further with their education in tertiary institutions such as universities? You find out that a student in the first and second year turns to be a drop out because the parents cannot afford the fees. They have sold all their cattle in educating this child, so how will these children progress with their education? Will they be drop outs at university level?

THE SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE IN THE PRESIDENT'S OFFICE (SENATOR K. MOYO): I want to thank the question posed by the President of the Council of Chiefs, Hon. Senator Chief Charumbira, regarding the food situation particularly in those areas which are drought stricken and hunger is posing a threat to the lives of the people. Let me start by saying Government's position on this matter is very clear and His Excellency the President has repeated quite often that it is Government's responsibility to ensure that no citizen of this country ever dies of hunger.

Only last Wednesday, before the President left for New York to attend the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly, Cabinet debated extensively on this subject. It was quite clear, also, that more information was needed from those affected areas in terms of the number of people who are threatened with hunger. The Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation was tasked to go and prepare a paper to present to Cabinet this coming week, with details of the situation in terms of food requirements in relation to the affected areas. I am quite aware that areas, like part of Manicaland, Matabeleland South, part of Midlands and also some parts of Matabeleland North are really seriously affected. It also becomes incumbent on all of us as leaders to ensure that if there is any affected area which has not been attended to, certainly that certainly, that state of affairs must be brought to our attention. I must as well add that part of the deliberations in Cabinet also were directed to the issue of the grain inputs given the fact that the rains are hovering on us. We do believe that the task given to the minister responsible will also assist us to ensure that inputs are availed to the people as early as possible so that when rains begin, we do not start running in all directions to source the inputs.

Therefore, I want to thank the hon. Senator, Chief Charumbira for his question because it is absolutely pertinent and it is a matter we cannot fail to address if lives are to be saved. I am also aware that tones of maize have started arriving in the country, sourced from Zambia where I believe we are earmarked to receive 150 000 tones of maize. The maize has started arriving in the country and wagons were taken to different directions over the weekend; to Masvingo, Matabeleland South and other affected areas. We hope that this will indeed alleviate the problem by our people in those affected areas. It is a matter where I can assure you hon. senator that our fingers will always be on the paths and I am quite confident that given our capacity and capabilities as Government, we shall not fail our people. Once again, let me say we are prepared to come back to this august Senate after Cabinet next week to give you details of the appropriate action taken regarding this matter. I thank you.

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT

VISITORS IN THE SENATE GALLERY

THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I would like to acknowledge the presence of students from Chipembere Primary School, Harare Province in the public gallery. You are most welcome. Thank you.

SENATOR CHABUKA: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Higher Education, Dr. Muchena. Minister, can you clarify to us on the criteria you use to select those students who go to South Africa for the Presidential Scholarship.

THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (DR. MUCHENA): Thank you Mr. President. Let me start by giving the full name of my ministry. It is Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development and I would appreciate it if members use the full name. Let me say with regard to Senator Chabuka's question, since you asked a specific question referring to a specific programme, I plead the indulgence of the House that I bring a written response when I am fully briefed.

*Mr. President, may I take this opportunity to answer Chief Charumbira's earlier question on university fees. Your question is very important because when we look at the African culture, we put a lot of emphasis on the importance of cattle in our lives. We invest in the cattle but these are now gone.

As a Ministry, we have now decided to look at ways of assisting students who may want assistance in school fees because we know there are a lot of parents who cannot afford these fees. We have also noticed that there is need to work together with other stakeholders such as Ministry of Finance and other stakeholders to look for ways and means of assisting these students in universities. In the past, we used to have grants and loans which were used to assist the students. The state of the economy in a country also determines how these funds can be availed. As a result, my Ministry is looking for ways and means of alleviating this problem. As we speak, we have many children who are not able to get university education because their guardians and parents cannot afford the school fees which are called for by these institutions. I am sure in the immediate future, I will be able to come forward and tell you of the solution which we have adopted in solving these school fees problems in tertiary institutions. I thank you.

THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT: May I remind hon. senators to pose questions one at a time.

SENATOR TAWENGWA : My question is directed to the Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr. Parirenyatwa. The National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe is 100% owned by Government and it is a company which supplies drugs nationally to all health institutions. It also stores and distributes drugs. Since 2009 to date, this company is owed $10.5 million by Government through supplies to the health institutions. The company now relies on donors to the extent that 100% of all the drugs are supplied by donors. The company no longer relies on its core business and it is now mainly on distribution. We thank the donors for their assistance but our concern is what happens if donors pull out when we do not have drugs? When would we expect the Government to pay National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe to enable it to supply health institutions so that people across the nation get cheaper drugs? The company purchases in bulk, hence the drugs are cheaper to our health institutions. They are not asking for recapitalisation but an enabling environment where they are paid or institutions where they supply are well funded so that they are able to purchase drugs.

We are aware hon. Minister that there are budgetary constraints but let us also prioritise people's well being. I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF HEALTH AND CHILD CARE (DR PARIRENYATWA): President of the Senate, I would like to thank Senator Tawengwa for that very pertinent issue. You have articulated it very well; the National Pharmaceutical Company is a company that is indeed 100% owned by Government. It used to be called the Government Medical Stores and then it was privatised but it is owned 100% by Government. It works as a warehouse for all our drugs and equipment in our institutions because it makes them much cheaper as they purchase in bulk.

The problem that is there has been that the National Pharmaceutical Company has supplied drugs to our Government institutions and those institutions have not been able to pay back to the National Pharmaceutical Company so that is why there is this debt of US$10.5m over the years. Every year in each budget we have tried to lobby that the Ministry of Finance puts money for the National Pharmaceutical Company. I noticed in the last budget there was no money at all from the fiscus to National Pharmaceutical Company. We are aware that if our institutions would pay the National Pharmaceutical Company what they owe, then the National Pharmaceutical Company will continue to run under normal circumstances.

The issue here is that Government should provide the money to its health institutions so that they pay back to the National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe. The issue we want and we are asking all Senators here is to be with us in lobbying Finance to give money for the purchase of our drugs. You are all aware that for anything, for our health system to be called a health system, one of the most important things that should be in clinics and hospitals is drugs and medicines. If the drugs are not there, if you give a person a prescription, you are really doing half a job and most of our people cannot afford to go and buy a prescription from the pharmacies.

Senator Tawengwa you have done well that you raised this issue so that we can put our heads together and understand the need to help each other. We will try to see that all the monies owed by the health institutions are all paid up. In the past we used to get 50% from donors and then the other 50% from the Government. Now because of changes we now have 80% from donors and 20% Government. Last year we had 98% from donors and 2% from Government. As I speak, most of the medicines in our National Pharmaceutical Company are funded by donors and we want to alleviate this very big threat; because donors can withdraw anytime and you can imagine the chaos, not only for ARVs but for common diseases. I think that you have done very well Senator to raise this question and I hope that we all understand the severity and gravity to which we should assist the National Pharmaceutical Company. I thank you.

SENATOR MUSAKA: Thank you Mr. President my question is directed to the Minister of Health and Child Care. In the resettlement areas the problem really is that we have ended up with the highest concentration of resettlement. I want to know what exactly is being done about the health delivery services, when you move into those resettlement areas, in terms of health delivery services it is as if they are still owned by whites. There are no clinics no nothing, so I just wanted to know what the Minister is doing about that and equally the same with education as well. When you move in those areas, education is very poor, there are no schools, you find a small building like a chicken run being used as a classroom with very poorly trained teachers and this is depressing. You will again think that it is still the colonial days but again it is a bit of a problem so I just wanted to know from the Ministers of Health and Child Care and Higher and Tertiary Education, what steps they are actually taking about that.

DR. PARIRENYATWA: Thank you very much Mr. President of the Senate, let me thank Senator Musaka for those questions. For the part regarding health I will answer it in two parts. The first part of it would be worthwhile for us if it is put in writing. In terms of the resettlement areas; please be specific so that we can actually focus on them. The second part of the answer is that there is a general policy that we should now move with our Provincial Medical Directors, that the resettlement areas should have clinics identified by the communities. The houses that used to be farm houses should be identified and handed over and made clinics, with the agreement of the community and the health officials.

Where it is not the resettlement areas, the standard is that we should not walk more than 10kms before you bump into the next clinic -that has been the general rule. In this particular case it will be good if we get something in writing and at the same time to know that in general the Provincial Medical Directors, District Medical Directors are supposed to identify together with communities areas where clinics would be most suitably placed in those areas. I thank you.

MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (DR MUCHENA): Thank you Mr. President, schools are not within my mandate, I am the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development but I will draw the attention of Hon Dokora to your concerns, perhaps you should submit your question in writing for him to answer next week. I thank you.

THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT: May I again remind Senators to ask one question at a time and not to be asking two ministers at once.

SENATOR AGNESS SIBANDA: My question is directed to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development. What plans do you have for the entire women of Zimbabwe so that every woman in Zimbabwe can have at least a certain level of education, that they can be included in the decision making programmes of the country?

THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (DR. MUCHENA): Thank you Mr. President, I want to thank the hon. senator for her question and indicate that indeed it is the policy of the Government of Zimbabwe to promote education in general and higher and tertiary education in particular. Since you have addressed that to me, you may be interested to know that there are more and more women going into universities. I was pleasantly surprised when I was being briefed, I noticed that for example, at Africa University in Mutare, the number of female students is double that of male students, in other words there are more than 800 female students compared to 400 male students at Africa University.

I think Zimbabwe has an insatiable hunger for education; they just want to learn and learn, that is why we have so many colleges and so forth. It is incumbent upon us as leaders to encourage them to go to colleges to get additional qualifications and just generally to be people who want to excel.

If the hon. senator wants specifics about education, then she has to split the question because Hon. Dokora has just come in for the schools and for me - Higher and Tertiary, Science and Technology Development. We are encouraging women to do science subjects. Thank you.

SENATOR MAKORE: My question again is directed to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development. Firstly, I would like to welcome you Minister to this department. Because you are a lady or a woman, you are going to be much more sensitive to the areas of education which we really respect as Zimbabweans.

The question that I am putting is very straight forward, it could have been mentioned in part by Senator Chief Charumbira but as an appendage to that question; we have that experience where we see our children who go to outside universities under sponsorship or the Presidential scholarship programme, by and large we have heard that those students who could be in South Africa, Algeria or somewhere in the East, are not well cared for. Of late you have read in the papers that they will make any other activities to make ends meet, it could be inhumane but they will be seeking survival, though in terms of our customs and culture, it damages our beautiful country of Zimbabwe.

However, consistently we keep recruiting when we cannot maintain those who are already there. What plans do we have because at least the sponsorship does not seem to care for those students outside the country? Their monies sometimes are not met as would have been stipulated, for example, we have heard that you are supposed to give them US$3 000.00 annually but it has since gone down to an extent that they can get US$400.00 after so many months. Can the Minister, I know that you have just joined this particular ministry, last year you were the Minister of Gender and Women Development but I believe perhaps you have plans to sort of address this very embarrassing state of affairs. Thank you very much.

THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (DR. MUCHENA): Thank you for that question, but I can say it requires a little bit more detail for me to answer you satisfactorily. You made indirect references or innuendos to students not being well taken care of and getting into situations which are not clear to me.

Mr. President, I think the hon. senator should put it in writing with a each specific question with specific references. You have mentioned Algeria and so forth and if there are any incidences that you might be familiar with; that will help us to prepare the answers for you.

However, this morning, Mr. President, we were going through the structure for the ministry and we have already applied to the Public Service Commission which is now Civil Service Commission according to the new Constitution. We have applied for posts where there are more than 500 students in a country from Zimbabwe; we have applied for the post of a student education attaché at the Embassy so that when students get into problems such as you have referred to, they will have immediate attention. So we await Civil Service Commission's response on that but I would prefer a written question so that we can deal with specific issues.

Questions without notice were interrupted by THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT in terms of Standing Order Number 34.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS

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

Question again proposed.

*SENATOR MUCHENJE: Thank you Mr. President Sir for giving me this opportunity to make my contribution on the Presidential Speech when he opened the First Session of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe. I would like to congratulate Hon. Madzongwe for being re-elected as the President of the Senate for the next 5 years. I would also like to congratulate her Deputy Hon. Chen Chimutengwende. I would also like to congratulate Members of this august Senate for being elected as the people's representatives. I also hope that as mature and wise elders we will diligently carry out our duties to the expectations of the electorate. Let me congratulate the people of Zimbabwe for holding such peaceful elections. The manner in which these elections were held surpasses all the other elections ever held in Africa. The people of Zimbabwe showed that they uphold the principles of peace, order, respect and love of each other during the election period. If you continue leaving in peace and harmony Zimbabwe will develop. I would like to make a small contribution on the Presidential Speech. Some of the issues touched by His Excellency have a bearing on my Constituency.

I was very glad to hear the President talking about agriculture which is the mainstay of my Constituency. The President promised to give full support to the farmers through supplying them with agricultural inputs and accessories. The farmers were very pleased to hear this promise and look forward to its fulfillment.

My Constituency is an agricultural community which is made up of A1, A2 and rural farmers. My Constituency is in a good rainfall region which is good for farming. We have so much rain that in the past when other regions were drought stricken, we had a bumper harvest. In such instances we would supply food to drought stricken neighbours.

The farmers' request is that the promised support should be delivered early to the farmers and if possible, before the month end of October so that the farmers may carry out their activities within the rain period, and farmers will have a bumper harvest and surplus which will be given to drought stricken areas.

Farmers are mainly concerned by the fact that despite the low rainfall in the previous season, my Constituency had a bumper harvest and sold some of their produce to the Grain Marketing Board. Unfortunately, to date, these farmers have not been paid. I plead with the Ministry concerned to avail funds in their budget to the Grain Marketing Board so that the farmers may benefit from their hard work.

Most farmers in my Constituency are now aware of the fact that farming is a business and as a result they do not rely on the sponsorship and finances of the banks and donations. They rely instead, on the sale of their farming produce. As a result when these farmers sell their produce to various institutions, they look forward to receiving payment so that they may develop their families and Constituencies. The proceeds acquired enable the farmer to buy farming implements, inputs and take their children to school.

The saddest thing that has happened to farmers in the last 5 years is that, despite the drought which occurred in other districts, my Constituency had a bumper harvest and sold the produce to marketing institutions, to date, these farmers have not received a cent on their production. My heart bleeds for them. I plead with the ministries responsible to allocate enough funds to the Grain Marketing Board so that they may pay these farmers for the grain sold.

The farmers feel very hurt when Zimbabwe imports grain and yet Zimbabwe used to be the bread basket of the region. The Zimbabwean farmers are hard workers, that given enough support they do wonders. It hurts to see our shops and supermarkets filled with imported food stuffs which could easily be acquired in Zimbabwe if the farmer is given enough support.

Given enough support in inputs and implements, these food stuffs can be grown in Zimbabwe and we can have surplus which we can also export. The climate in Zimbabwe allows the farmers to grow crops like soyabeans, sunflower, ground nuts, maize and small grains such as sorghum rapoko and others which are used in the manufacture of food stuffs we import.

May I plead with the powers that instead of spending money on the importation of food stuffs let us direct the money to support our local farmers who will be able to deliver a service to our expectations.

There is another problem which is faced by farmers in my Constituency especially those who are business minded and who are into irrigation. These irrigation schemes rely heavily on the supply of electricity. Unfortunately, the unpredictable load shedding and power cuts are disturbing irrigation activities. The disturbances are due to the fact that some crops need to be watered during the day when the sun is at its highest temperatures and yet electricity is only obtained midnight when the farmers cannot utilise it. Electricity at times may be cut off in as many as two days to the disadvantage of the farmer. May you please assist the farmers by rectifying this problem? If ZESA has a problem, may the ministries responsible give enough assistance so that the farmers do not lose out in their activities?

Let me now turn to the small grains such as rapoko, millet and others. In many instances, these grains are looked down upon to such an extent that they are sold at a low price, which discourages the farmer to continue growing them and yet when somebody is sick, the prescription given includes a healthy diet made up of these small grains. We also know that historically our forefathers survived a healthy life through these nutritious foods. May the responsible ministries recognize the importance of these grains financially?

These small grains are drought resistant but need to be planted in October so that the farmers may have a good harvest. I plead with the stakeholders to supply the farmers with the inputs and implements towards growing these crops.

I will now turn to the availability of these inputs and implements in many instances the suppliers of these essentials are located far from the farmers. It becomes expensive for the farmer to ferry these to his farm especially in resettlement areas. Suppliers of goods and services should be near the farmers so that they will be able to use their scotchcarts or cars for transport.

If the farmer pays heavily for transporting goods and implements to his farm and adds the expense on to the price of his commodity, he will not be able to realize profit on his produce in such a way that even if they sell the produce they will not be able to break even. In my constituency, I have noticed that we now have the young generation embarking on farming projects. They grow crops and undertake poultry and piggery projects. They no longer seek formal employment in big cities or other countries. On the other hand, they are now able to employ other youngsters in the area. Our wish is to see these projects being supported.

When some of these farmers visit banks to seek loans for their production, they face problems such as lack of security guarantees needed by banks for repayment purposes. You will also find out that the loans are payable in the same year. Therefore, we need to change the rules and regulations for accessing these loans so that the guarantees needed for the repayment of loans will be easier for the farmers to acquire farming implements needed for their production.

SENATOR MAVHUNGA: Mr. President, I thank you for this opportunity. Allow me to begin by congratulating you on your election to that esteemed seat for which I believe the election was a clear testimony of your proven capabilities.

May I also congratulate myself and my fellow colleagues for being entrusted by the people from our various constituencies to represent them in this Upper House of Parliament. I am convinced that the representation will take this nation a step further towards sustainable development.

My great congratulations go to His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Mr. R. G. Mugabe for being given another mandate to be the Head of State and Government. Thus, he will continue leading the nation through what we all know to be a treacherous path with thorns of political bickering, gullies of an economy eroded by illegal sanctions and all pointing to a general social discontent. The re-election of Mr. R.G. Mugabe shows how much confidence the people of Zimbabwe have in him as a leader who liberated blacks from colonial bondage in 1980. A leader who continues to fight for the total emancipation of Zimbabweans from all forms of colonial domination, politically, morally, economically and socially.

Mr. President, the speech by His Excellency on the opening of the 8th Parliament was very clear on what direction we need to take as a nation. What is critical now is for the various ministries, departments and all implementing organs at all levels, national, provincial, district and ward level to follow the correct paths towards the development of this nation.

Mr. President, His Excellency pointed out that agriculture is the backbone of our economy and indeed, it has been the backbone of our economy since time immemorial. History tells us how our ancestors practiced such methods like nomadic and shifting farming for subsistence living. With the passage of time, agriculture is undergoing a silent revolution to suit the ever-changing human needs as well as complying with the climatic changes. The present day Zimbabwe is one characterized by a steadily growing population, expansion of urban settlement and an uncertain climate pattern. Under such circumstances, it is therefore necessary to respond positively to these changes through adopting farming methods that comply with the current scenario. The major step towards that is development of our irrigation system.

A developed irrigation system will enable us to improve our agricultural sector through planned farming without the inconvenience of an unpredictable season. A developed irrigation system enhances full utilization of land, which is a finite factor of production against a growing population. What it therefore means is that, we have to harness all the water that we get from the rains and store it for planned use. Mr. President, I am fully convinced that if we increase the number of dams, boreholes and any other water bodies in our provinces and provide adequate irrigation facilities, we will see a tremendous increase in the agricultural output of this country.

In Mashonaland Central, specifically Bindura-Shamva Constituency, which I represent, irrigation systems are a preserve of the fortunate few. Enough has not been done to cater for the needs of the majority who continue to experience food shortages because of inconsistent rainfall patterns. Most irrigation infrastructures are no longer functional and need urgent attention.

Mr. President, industry has been crippled by illegal sanctions imposed on our country. Mashonaland Central has been the worst hit. There is no meaningful industrial activity, save for a few cotton ginneries whose operations are seasonal. This is despite the fact that the province is a producer of raw materials from agriculture, mining and other activities. It is our anticipation that we should have some form of industrial activities in each of our districts, adding value to abundant raw materials produced in each district. For example, we can have a weaving industry in the Dande valley where cotton is grown massively and some food processing plants in Bindura. Mr. President, the development of industry will go a long way towards improving the province of Mashonaland Central and its administrative capital, Bindura.

His Excellency stressed the importance of mining as a catalyst in industrial development. He further noted that, this can only be enhanced by a sound policy and legal framework that promotes extraction and processing of minerals without disadvantaging the people of Zimbabwe. Mashonaland Central is a mineral rich area. We have abundant gold deposits in the Bindura-Shamva area. There is a lot of artisanal mining being carried out by those commonly referred to as makorokozas. I will not call them makorokozas because the term is denigrating of indigenous Zimbabweans trying to earn an honest living. These people are operating outside the law. Mr. President, it is our duty to design a piece of legislation that puts them inside the law so that they operate without running battles with the police. It is our responsibility to see to it that these artisanal miners get Government assistance, just like any other miner in this country.

Mr. President, the state of roads in Mashonaland Central leaves a lot to be desired. His Excellency was very clear when he said that a sound transport infrastructure is crucial in all national development activities. What this means is that, development follows a good road network. We have the Harare Mukumbura highway which needs to be completed. Construction of this road was abandoned some five years ago, leaving a stretch of about 80km to the Mukumbura border. This stretch is in a very bad state and makes travelling to Mukumbura very expensive.

Mbire district has only six kilometers of tarred road. Mr. President, it is very painful and it should be touching to everyone that at this juncture, we have a whole district with only a stretch of six kilometer tarred road. This does not only retard development, but also makes travelling expensive for the ordinary people. It takes an average of twelve hours for one to travel from Mahuwe to Kanyemba, a distance of only 145 kms. There is no road to talk about; hence, transport operators are reluctant to invest on this route. The completion of Bindura-Shamva road is long overdue. A rehabilitation project which has taken more than 15 years.

Bindura is our provincial capital but the face of this town is not as up to standard as a provincial capital should be. The infrastructure development does not match that of the needs of the 21st century. We are calling on the Ministry of Local Government to intervene and set up decent shopping malls, hotels and improve on the face of the town to match modern cities. The provision of water supplies in Bindura needs improvement so as to suffice the needs of the growing population. Bindura is still drawing water from Mazowe River. The construction of Bindura Dam was abandoned and it is our wish that this project is carried on urgently to improve the supply of water in Bindura.

Mr. President Sir, my speech would not be incomplete without mentioning the important role played by our freedom fighters in liberating this country from colonial bondage. By freedom fighters I am referring to the following groups of people:

· Those who received military training at various camps outside the country.

· Those who were trained in the front.

· Those liberation fighters who died in the liberation struggle.

· Those who crossed the borders for the purpose of advancing the armed struggle but did not receive any military training.

· The ex-political detainees and restrictees.

  • War collaborators (Mujibha naChimbwido).

Mr. President Sir, these are the people that brought us the freedom we so cherish today. Some ex-combatants and ex-detainees and restrictees are receiving a pension. We would be happier, Mr. President, if their pension is improved to match the poverty datum line.

As for the other groups, Mr. President, nothing has been done as recognition of their input and sacrifice to the struggle of our independence. They suffered physically, socially and emotionally during the war and they continue to suffer even after the war. They need school fees for their children, food on their tables, inputs for their land, they need basically everything that makes the daily life of a human being; yet they do not have the means.

We are calling on the Government to do the following for our freedom fighters:

· Improve pensions for war veterans.

· Provide pensions to those who are not receiving pensions

· Compensate liberation fighters who died in the struggle and provide pensions to their families.

· Provide decent accommodation to freedom fighters.

· Provide land and inputs to all freedom fighters.

· Assist ex-combatants who wish to advance their education with school fees.

· Support children of living and departed freedom fighters with school fees up to higher and tertiary education level.

· Support widows of deceased freedom fighters.

· Provide decent burial for fallen heroes whose remains are still in the bush.

· Provide a permanent guarantee of allocated land to ex-combatants and their families (evidence on the ground indicates that once an ex-combatant dies, land officers re-allocate the farm leaving the family of the ex-combatant destitute and landless).

Mr. President, the issue of freedom fighters is an emotional one and needs the serious attention of Government.

Mr. President, His Excellency gave us the direction that we should follow. It would be a great betrayal to the whole electorate of this country if we just come here to debate without implementing. It is important that our words are translated into action, and that action produces tangible results, which results we will then point and say this is what the 8th Parliament of Zimbabwe delivered to the people of Zimbabwe. I thank you

*SENATOR MAHOFA: I want to thank you for giving me this time. Firstly I would like to thank this august House for the election of Hon. Madzongwe and Hon. Chimutengwende to lead this country as people who have come of age, who know how to lead adults and they will be presiding over the Senate for the next five years.

Allow me, again, to talk on the issues highlighted in the Presidential Speech. I want to thank the mover of the motion, Senator. Mutsvangwa and the seconder of the motion, for us to begin debating. Allow me again to thank all the comrades in the Senate who managed to come to the Senate. Mostly, I want to thank the President of the country for the new Constitution that we all took part in, that actually led to more women in both Houses. It is something that has never occurred since we gained independence. You know that 80% of people who participated in the war, as well as those who died, were women but in representation at decision making level, they were very few. We are so happy that the people of Zimbabwe, through their chiefs, were able to draft a new Constitution that has increased women representation and other men who were not able to stand in their constituencies.

I want to thank the chiefs that they chose their President of the Chiefs Council. It shows that the chiefs have wisdom and they should be allowed to debate and bring forward what they see and to maintain and ensure that our values are maintained through our customs.

I want to come to the issue that President Mugabe has wisdom. What he said during Parliament showed those who love him that he is a father. When he was elected as President, he realised the need to help the people of Zimbabwe. You do not know the bills that people had accrued in terms of ZESA bills and rates, but before he won, he was able to write off those bills and families were saved from breaking up through this measure.

I want to go on to explain who President Mugabe is. In my own view, even those who say that they do not want him now appreciate him. Firstly, there was water and then there was food and we managed to go and vote. When this happens it means that the spirits are saying, all the people ,regardless of political parties, this is the way to follow. This was done by President Mugabe. In other words, President Mugabe was able to bring back the people to Canaan. This is the man that we are talking about.

I want to go on and say that we can talk about roads, water, schools and many other things but let us look at what has happened in the past five years. There was no development; no road construction took place because of the Inclusive Government. It is time for us to put our heads together despite the different political parties so that we can develop our country. As Zimbabweans we will be free because we will be living in a democratic country.

Mr. President, I normally say, if there are people who have been to other countries, they know the difference between Zimbabwe and other countries in Africa. In other countries there is no peace but in Zimbabwe there is so much peace and good living. It is because of the leader that we have, who won resoundingly in the election. Some people are surprised that there was no violence during the election. Whether people agree or not, I am sure the chiefs will agree with me that the land has its owners, it is not something that we can joke about. Those owners, if they pronounce that there is no rain tomorrow, surely there will be no rain. I believe that land is what sustains us and that is why we voted the way we voted.

Now I am coming over to you. In my constituency of Masvingo, the major issue I would want to highlight is the issue of the Harare - Beitbridge road. Accidents on that road are too many because the road is narrow. All the roads that are in the rural areas that were constructed by DDF, not a single one was repaired in the past five years. We appeal to those in the transport department to ensure that the roads are constructed so that there is better accessibility. We do not want to go back to the 1980 era. I also request that in Masvingo the Tokwe - Mukorsi Dam should be completed, the President mentioned a lot about water. That dam will actually assist in irrigation and this will alleviate the poverty in Masvingo if this dam is completed.

Those in the Lands department should also rectify the issue of land squabbles to ensure that people farm for sustainability. The only thing left for people to sustain themselves is self employment. The only way one can be self-sustainable is through the land. I am made to understand that there are loans that are being given to those people who want to farm. That is what a good leader does. He knows where to put measures to ensure that everyone is happy.

I want to go on and say, the problem that we are facing right now in Zimbabwe is that people go to school and we have a high level of literacy but there is a shortage of jobs. I think the education that we had in the 1960s whereby a child did Form 4 and when they finished Standard 6, they would go and do courses. There were other skills that a child could learn; he could go and farm or be an electrician to ensure that he earns a living. I think that type of education should come back and not to concentrate on Maths and English. That will not help us because we are increasing in number. I urge the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development to look into this and teach people skills that they can use to sustain themselves tomorrow. They can start looking after themselves before they even get a job.

Still on the issue of education, I know some might not agree with me but I am saying the issue of National Youth Service had discipline of teaching people how to join the job industry. I think that should be re-introduced so that children learn different skills and they will also learn to appreciate and respect their country. When we talk of the war and what happened, most children today do not know anything but they need to know that. The truth is to be where we are today as women, it is because of the war. Therefore, children need to be given adequate education from a tender age so that they know what awaits them.

I want to end up by saying; the Senate is a House that I realise when I look at the people who have come of age here that should create an era of history that should develop the country. If we had come to joke we would be fighting with the opposition but what I urge us to do is, together with the opposition we put our heads together and work together. We need mature politics not politics to intimidate each other but politics to develop the nation. If we have such ideas as adults, this country will develop. We want to end this year as the President said, we need to come up with something tangible that we would have done. That is what people out there are hoping to see.

Mr. President, I want to say continue with the work ahead of you together with the President of Senate, Senator Madzongwe. I want to say there is nowhere we can go without you. Our success is based on your leadership. We need to look after this country so that our culture remains there. I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR LIAISING ON PSYCHOMOTOR ACTIVITIES IN EDUCATION (SENATOR HUNGWE): I move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 1st October, 2013.

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR LIAISING ON PSYCHOMOTOR ACTIVITIES IN EDUCATION, the Senate adjourned at Four o'clock p.m, to Tuesday 1st October, 2013.

 

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Senate Hansard Vol. 23 SENATE HANSARD - 26 SEPTEMBER 2013 VOL. 23 NO. 05