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SENATE HANSARD 28 JULY 2016 VOL 25 NO 67

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 28th July, 2016

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

PRAYERS

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

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA:  I would like to ask the Minister of Agriculture; what the policy is, regarding replacing electricity powered pumps for irrigation schemes with the solar sourced energy?

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE (LIVESTOCK) (HON. ZHANDA):  Thank you Madam President.  The policy is there, that is why there is the issue of rehabilitation of current irrigation schemes.  You are aware that wherever there are water bodies, a committee has been put in place under the Chairmanship of the Hon. Vice President Mnangagwa to make sure that the water bodies which are not being used, are resuscitated to make sure that there is production taking place. As to the issue of replacing all the pumps with the solar, where there is no electricity, nothing is in place at the moment because of the capital outlay of the solar system. It is far much expensive than the conventional motors.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. CHIEF NYANGAZONKE:  My question is directed to the Minister of Agriculture.  We have noted some good operations in Matabeleland South under ARDA.  Is the Community going to benefit? If yes, how?

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE (LIVESTOCK) (HON. ZHANDA):  I would like to thank the Hon. Senator for the question.  Yes, there has been a good outturn at the ARDA farms in Matabeleland South, particularly in Matobo.  The benefit that is going to accrue to the local people obviously is the issue of creation of employment.  Moreso, the broader benefit is the issue of producing food for the country.  There has been good production taking place, for example, at Mapisa project, last year, there was good production of wheat that took place there.  There was an average of eight tonnes/ha OF maize.  This year again, there is wheat and maize.  So, the revival of ARDA Estates and use of irrigation is a good element, taking into consideration that the estates have been lying furrow for a very long time.  As Zimbabwe, we should congratulate ARDA on the work they are doing on a Joint Venture basis.  The fact of the matter is that, the use of the idle furrow land is going to benefit the country.  It is also going to create employment and more so, to reduce our import bill which has caused a lot of cash shortage in the market.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. MOHADI:  We understand that there is a scheme or partnership with farmers; can the Minister elaborate on that?

HON. ZHANDA:  I would like to thank the Hon. Senator for the question.  Whilst I am not very privy to the actual details, I am aware of the broader aspect of the intention of the thrust that ARDA is going to identify people with resources that they will put into partnership with other farmers.  The partnership is meant to increase production particularly, where there was no production taking place.  The ARDA scheme is also a welcome development in terms of identifying people with resources who will partner with farmers to make sure that there is production taking place at these farms. 

HON. SEN. CHIMHINI:  I direct my question to the Minister of Agriculture.  There is a new term called ‘command agriculture’, can the Minister clarify what it is?

  THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE (LIVESTOCK) (HON. ZHANDA):  Thank you Madam President.  It depends on how you want to understand the word command.  It is not really marching people or commandeering.  It is Government’s intention to identify and mobilise resources and at the same time, identify those farms which have got the potential to produce and make sure that the resources that have been identified by Government are directed to where they are to be utilised so that this country, at the end of the day, can be able to produce. 

I think Hon. Senators will be aware that at the moment, this continued importation of maize is not good for us from an economic point of view.  That thing alone is going to work very well, particularly if resources can be mobilised.

When we talk about ‘command agriculture’ in terms of the resources that have been talked about, it does not mean that those resources will come from Government alone.  It means as Government, we are going to identify people with the capital and find out what kind of comfort we can give to those capital providers so that that capital is directed to agriculture.  It is not like being forced.  The terminology is just used for the sake of mobilising resources and identifying where the resources should be directed to.

HON. SEN. CHIMHINI:  Is this programme under the Ministry of Agriculture or it is a separate Ministry or Department?

HON. ZHANDA:  It will be under the Ministry of Agriculture.  The involvement of the Vice President is because of his capacity as the Chairperson of the Food and Mobilisation Committee but otherwise the programme remains under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture.

+HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:  My question is directed to the Minister of Media and Broadcasting Services.  I had prepared my question properly but I cannot find it.

What is the policy on musicians and royalties?  I think musicians are not being treated the same by the Zimbabwe Music Broadcasting and also their videos are not being played on television.  The viewing commission is also only found in Harare.  Those are the people who have to view the videos before they are played on television.  How can those musicians who are not based in Harare have their videos played on television?  People need music and these other musicians’ music has to be played as well but Government has not put a policy in place on how they can be treated. Even if you look at the list showing how they are paid their royalties, there is a difference.  Some are not even paid because their music is not being played.  The same genre of music is continuously being played.

+THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF MEDIA AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MATHUTHU):   Thank you Hon. Sen. Mlotshwa for a very important question.  Yes, royalties that are paid to musicians and all song writers is not the same.  It depends on how many times the song has been played on air.  They also have to discuss with their promoters. Their promoters have to get in touch with ZBC for the songs to be played on air many times. 

The problem is that there is so much competition in music and at times we find that we do not have enough time to play music for certain people all the time.  There is also a phone in programme where people phone and select their own type of music that they want.  That is the reason why some of the songs by certain musicians are not played or maybe that is why they get very short airplay.

There is a section that views musicians’ videos. At the moment, ZBC has committees all over the provinces where they look at content production or content - for example Montrose Studio in Bulawayo and other studios; I have mentioned Montrose Studio because it is on my way to my home.  That branch works very hard to see to it that a lot of programmes are placed on broadcast programmes when we go into digitalisation. 

We now wish to broadcast all over so that people can view whatever they want so that we get a lot of our content, videos or music.  If we can broadcast for 24 hours, those who pay licences and for those who want their music or productions to be played, we will be having about 12 broadcasting stations. 

I am sure for those who were complaining that they are not getting enough air play, they will be having more time because we will be having more stations.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:  Can your policy not be specific in the programmes that a disc jockey plays, instead of him making his makes his own choice of songs so that it will promote all the other artists because they are doing a good job for the country?

HON. SEN. MATHUTHU: Yes, there is a policy that we should play more local productions so that the upcoming artists also can get some exposure.  The policy is there but the DJ’s are human beings and at times they will fall in love with a certain artist, thereby keep playing their music.  There is this facility that I mentioned the, phoning-in programmes.  And, we hope that those artists who think that their music has not been exposed much, should also take part in the phone-in and request their own songs so that they also get attention.  Thank you.

          HON. SEN. TIMVEOS:  Thank you Mr. President, since there are no other Ministers, I am going to give the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development a question.  Hon. Minister, what policies have you introduced or what is new that is happening in your Ministry that can improve the lives of Zimbabweans?  Thank you.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (LIVESTOCK) (HON. ZHANDA): Thank you Mr. President and thank you Hon. Senator.  If I got you right you are saying, what is our Ministry doing to improve the lives of Zimbabweans?

          It is a very broad question which requires a Ministerial Statement.  Anyway, one of the polices obviously is, what you should take note of is a deliberate policy by Government of paying like for maize $390 a tonne.  This is meant to incentivise farmers to grow maize in order for them to earn a living.  It is a heavily subsidised prize of $390 and as I said, if you cannot make money with $390 on maize, one wonders what a farmer would make money out of.

          Secondly, as Government I think that in terms of SADC, we have the highest number of extension workers to farmer ratio – meaning, for extension to provide technical advice to our farmers so that they are equipped with knowledge and whatever activities that they are engaged in could be profitable.  Most of the emphasis now within the Ministry is to concientise our farmers to consider farming as a business and not as subsistence.  As Government as well, when we also provide things like dip-tanks all over the country, it is to make sure that the farmers do not lose their livestock. 

Again, if you want to look at, particularly now that people are delivering maize to the GMB and they are being paid promptly, that is another way of making sure that we encourage our people to earn an honest living.  The colleges around the country also are meant to equip our farmers with the necessary knowledge as well so that whatever activities they engage in are profitable.  So, there are a lot of things that the Ministry is doing, including the issue of the programme on the Brazillian Equipment that is being given to various irrigation schemes around the country - equitably amongst the provinces.  It is also meant to enhance and make sure that those irrigation schemes are profitable.  The continued rehabilitation of irrigation schemes dotted all over the country as well is another way of wanting to make sure that the farmers or the general populace particularly in the rural sector are also equipped with the necessary equipment to make sure that they earn an honest living.  I think that the list is endless.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN MLOTSHWA:  Hon. Minister, it is deliberate Government policy to have farmers like the ones that you were mentioning at Antelope Irrigation Farm.  They call them settler farmers who are from the community, and they have one and a half hectares for 103 people that are participating.  But, the issue that I want to supplement on Hon. Sen. Timveos’s question is, where when you make a directive of how to manage the settler farmers, you do not renew because now farming is high on technology. 

The directive is there at the Antelope Irrigation Farm, I am a member there, it is very old and maybe it was given in 1981 or 1983.  The Committee that runs the day-to-day work there is called the Management Committee; which was a deliberate move that was made by Government.  The directive is outdated.  It is not renewed and they are still using the same directives and it is affecting the production of those small holder farmers.  I thank you.

          HON. ZHANDA:  Thank you Mr. President and I also want to thank the Hon. Senator For the question.  However, since the question does not relate to policy, it is a specific issue related to a specific project. I would appreciate a written question so that we can investigate because this issue is not affecting everybody across the country but that particular project. 

Again I must also say that as Government we do not give directives as to who should be the Chair or the Committee composition.  I think that there should be a constitution which guides the composition of those committees and how they should be re-elected over what period.  Therefore, if you can give me that in writing, I promise to come back to this Chamber with the answer.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN. D.T. KHUMALO:  Thank you Mr. President.  I would like to ask the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development the question that, how do we encourage the eating of other foods when we are only and mainly talking or concentrating on delivery of seeds, that is maize and small grains – the starchy foods.  Where do other foods get in here so that people know that it is not starchy foods only which are supposed to be eaten?

           THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (LIVESTOCK) (HON. ZHANDA):  Thank you Mr. President.  I would have been surprised I got out of this House without the Hon. Member asking me a question.  I must thank the Hon. Senator for her concern on the issue of healthy eating.  However, the healthy eating aspect does not reside with the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development.  It resides with the Ministry of Health and Child Care.  They should be the ones who should be on the forefront of promoting consumption of healthy diets and us as a Ministry; we are only concerned about the issue of household food security. 

We do not dictate or promote on the health aspect that people should eat this or grow that.  They do not start by eating but by growing.  Therefore, the issue of growing might not at that juncture be on the basis of production of healthy commodities.  It could be very commercial in terms of what gives them more money from a farmer level point of view, then the consumption comes in later.  So the consumption should be done by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.  I thank you.

  1. SEN. D.T. KHUMALO: The Ministry of Health and Child Care does not promote the growing of foods.  The Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development promotes what should be grown.  I thought that maybe you would say you are linking with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to do this.  If you are saying the Ministry of Health and Child Care is responsible for promoting the eating – how does it promote the eating when it will not promote the growing?  I thought that when I grow crops I should be told to grow maize and so on by the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development. 

The health of the people does not depend on the Ministry of Health and Child Care.  I think that we are not aware of the function of the Ministry of Health and Child Care on the nutrition.  The function of the Ministry of Health and Child Care on the nutrition is to see whether you have done it properly and not to tell you what to grow.  The balance is with the Ministry of Agriculture as far as I am concerned. I have worked for both Ministries and I know which Ministry is supposed to do what.

          HON. ZHANDA:  I want to thank the Hon. Senator for her steadfastness in terms of nutrition but all the same, the country is divided into various regions, which indicate the amount of rainfall received there.  As a Ministry, we promote the growing of small grains in marginal areas, particularly, in Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North, part of Masvingo and part of Midlands, taking cognizance that whenever there is drought or little rain, those small grains will do very well.  In doing so, we do not emphasise the health aspect because we do not think that lies with our Ministry.  Our Ministry is mandated to ensure that there is enough food at household level.  We cannot then say do not eat this but eat this because it is healthy as it becomes very cumbersome for our Ministry.  I hope you will appreciate that. 

HON. SEN D. T. KHUMALO:  Previously the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development used to be involved in promoting the other foods and this has since stopped since the 1990s.  You used to do beans, peas etcetera but you are no longer talking about those.  You are not food secure when you are going to have children with a big stomach full of starchy foods because you are giving children more diseases.  Food security means including the beans and peas.  Are we including those to encourage people to have a balanced diet and be healthy?

HON. ZHANDA:  I think I must explain that as the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, we do not force farmers what to grow.  When farmers want to grow a certain commodity, our job is to provide technical advice through the extension workers, to make sure that they will successfully grow commodities in a commercial manner.  We, however, cannot go as a Ministry to a farmer and tell them what to grow for healthy eating.  That is not our mandate.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN CHIMHINI:  My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Information.  Minister, musicians are represented by Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (ZIMURA) and currently, it is in the public domain that the representative body is failing to access the royalties from ZBC.  Can the Minister tell this House when those royalties can be paid to ZIMURA so that the money is given to the musicians?

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INFORMATION (HON. MATHUTHU):  Thank you Hon. Sen. Chimhini for that fundamental question.  Yes, we owe artists some payments for their royalties but like any other organisation at the moment, we are cash strapped.  Even the workers are not being paid everyday, as you may be aware. As soon as ZBC gets its coffers healthy, I am sure that those payments will be made.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN. CHIMHINI:  When we are talking about these royalties, these have been in arrears for two to three years and this is where they get their livelihood.  That is their form of employment and if you say you will consider them when you have money, yet we are all aware that at the moment the economy is not performing well, what is it that the Ministry can do to alleviate the suffering of these musicians who have to earn from these royalties?  Some of these musicians have already passed away and their families are supposed to live on the royalties. 

          HON. MATHUTHU:  Thank you Hon. Member for the supplementary.  As you may be aware, very few people are paying for their listener’s licences, TV licences and even car radio licences.   The Ministry has to engage other Ministries to assist with collection of fees.  So, like I said before, as soon as we have adequate funds and resources to pay those royalties, we will do so, though I cannot give a date when that will be done.  We depend on everybody else in the country to support ZBC work.  I thank you.

           HON. SEN MOHADI:  I would like to find out from the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development whether you have in your policies issues pertaining exporting of agricultural produce to South Africa.  If so, how can one get an export permit?

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. ZHANDA):  We are not seized with identifying the markets ourselves but wherever an individual has found a market and wants to export any commodity, we simply assist in terms of providing the necessary export licences and to enable the individual to export.  I would want to emphasise that the issue of exports is really at the heart of Government and every form of assistance will be rendered to anybody who wants to export any commodity from the country. 

          HON. SEN MOHADI:  Hon, Minister, can you clarify how, if I want that export permit I should go about it or where I should go.

HON. ZHANDA: The department that deals with export and import licences is the department of Economics and Markets at the Head Office, No 1, Ngungunyana building, Borrowdale road.

          *HON. SEN MAWIRE:  My question is to the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development.  I want to find out from you about what we have heard from the media pertaining engaging in livestock breeding.  When will this programme start and are you looking at the gender aspect of it with particular emphasis on women?  Are the resources being equitably shared especially the livestock?

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, MECHANISATION AND IRRIGATION DEVELOPMENT (HON. ZHANDA):  I thank the Senator for her question.  Currently we do not have a programme to give people livestock or cash. The programme that we have right now is to go to those people with livestock and capacitate them on how to keep their livestock. In Zimbabwe, we have 5.3 million cattle but the most important thing that is happening is that the cows that are bearing calves are very low. There are so many people who are keeping livestock of which the larger number are cows and we want to educate and conscientise them on how they can increase the number of calves from the cows that they have. There is a challenge whereby some cows become more of an expense and do not bear any calves throughout the year. So, we want them to bear calves every year so that it becomes productive. I thank you. 

HON. SEN. CHIEF GAMPU: Thank you President. My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development. May I know if there is any GMO food on our shelves in Zimbabwe? As a country, we need to know exactly what is going on. If the answer is yes - why and if the answer is no, why? Thank you.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE (LIVESTOCK) (HON. ZHANDA): Thank you Mr. President. I want to thank the Hon. Senator for the question. I was just beginning to wonder whether if I say they are there then it must be why and if I say no, it must be why again. So, as Government we do not promote the consumption of GMO feed. However, the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development has got a department which screens the issue of issuing permits to people who want to import feed or food into the country. That department makes sure that from a food safety point of view, whatever is being imported is safe consumption. I cannot guarantee that there are no other feeds or food which is coming in which might slip through the finger.

I cannot also say it is commonly known or they are labeled that there is GMO food on the shelves in supermarkets. One would want to think that if they are there, it is not the intention of Government to promote the consumption of GMO food. I have no evidence to say we have come across that but as I said, one of our departments ensures that whatever food is being imported, particularly for human consumption is obviously safe for human consumption. I thank you.

HON. SEN. KHUMALO: My question goes to the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development about the issue of GMO. Can you explain to us what ‘GMO’ stands for? Secondly, in Matobo, we used to have short, medium and long term maize which we used to grow. How does it become short, medium and long term? That is supplementary to GMO.

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE (HON. TAWENGWA): But that is not a supplementary question. That is a new question altogether.

HON. SEN. KHUMALO: It is a GMO issue.

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: Short, long and medium term is not GMO.

HON. SEN. KHUMALO: Yes, it is GMO.

HON. ZHANDA: Thank you Chair. I thank the Hon. Member for the question. GMO stands for ‘Genetically Modified Organisms.’ The issue that you are talking about in terms of short, medium and long term is a type of a variety, which variety is not developed because of GMO. It is the seed breeding aspect which takes place taking into consideration that you must come out with short term seed varieties so that they can cope, particularly where normal rainfall has taken place.

So, the short season varieties aspect on long season is a research outcome of varieties of the seeds that we are yet to develop in order to cope with the various conditions prevailing in our country. It is nothing to do with GMO. I can safely say that has nothing to do with GMO. In actual fact, if there is anything that I am very certain about, it is that as Government, if there is anything that we will never allow to come into the country is any GMO seed that would be used for growing purposes. We will not allow that.  

HON. SEN. B. SIBANDA: Could the Minister help us. Is there empirical evidence that GMO products are harmful to human life?

HON. ZHANDA: Thank you Hon. President. Thank you Senator for the question. I think it is an ongoing debate. No conclusiveness has been arrived at to say it is harmful or non harmful. When you look at where GMO started, I think evidence is there that it has been discouraged. That is why you find even in Europe, the so-called developed countries, they do not favour or allow the importation of GMO food into their countries. This means they have also discovered one way or another that it has got a long term negative effect to the people. So, whilst we have not conclusively said it is harmful, surely I think worldwide, it is something that is being discouraged.

HON. SEN. MAKORE: Thank you Mr. President. My question goes to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development. It seems there is low morale in the growing of cotton in the country. What motivational measures is the Government doing to encourage farmers to grow cotton again? Thank you.

THE DEPUTY MNISTER OF AGRICULTURE (LIVESTOCK) (HON. ZHANDA): Thank you Hon. President. I want to thank the Hon. Senator for the question. I think last year Government took a bold step in availing some inputs to cotton growers for free to rejuvenate the growing of cotton. Coupled with this year as well, Government has put 45 cents a kilogramme for COTTCO to buy cotton from farmers. The 45 cents is well above the market price.

When you look at the ratio of the delinting between the seed and the lint, it is almost about 45% lint and 55% seed, which means when you want to multiply your 45 cents per kilogramme, it is almost a dollar. Farmers are paid a dollar for the link equivalent but the market price is not paying that amount. Moreover, we have no control over the market. Cotton is always exported and it is an exported commodity. The price is determined by the supply and demand and the production taking place in major growing cotton areas like the United States of America and other countries.

So worldwide, the demand for cotton has been affected by the introduction of synthetic fibres. It is no longer the old days where most of the countries used to use a lot of cotton, particularly China. In actual fact, what influences the price of cotton worldwide are your stocks in China and your production in the United States which are the major producing countries. I must as well say to the Senators that whilst the United States is signatory to the WTO where subsidies are discouraged, one of the issues that is affecting third world countries including Zimbabwe about the price of cotton is because of the subsidy by the American Government to cotton growers in the United States leading to overproduction and oversupply into the market.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA:  Thank you Mr. President.  My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture.  What is your Ministry doing to enhance maize crop production in the 2016 /2017 season?  Thank you. 

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE (LIVESTOCK) (HON. ZHANDA: Thank you.  I am lucky the Vice President is here.  He is the Chairperson for the Food Security Committee.  He recently announced measures that the Government has taken in order to boost maize production and other various programmes that the Government has taken aboard.  With your indulgence Vice President, can I leave it to you to explain some of the measures that you have taken aboard?

      THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MNANGAGWA):  Thank you Hon. President of the Senate.  Indeed, we announced recently command agriculture.  The components of the command agriculture is to achieve certain objectives.  The first objective is to be self-sufficient in the provision of food within the next three or four seasons in this country.  How do we achieve it?  To be self-sufficient, we need at least two million metric tonnes of grain in the country.  How many hectares of land would give us that amount of grain?  Through expert consultations with experts, we are satisfied that if we support farmers in the production of grain and peg yield levels at five tonnes per hectare, we will need four hundred thousand hectares in the country times five tonnes per hectare; that will give us two million metric tonnes per season.  That is sufficient for provision of food in the country as well as the strategic grain reserve. 

There are various approaches we are making:

  1. We have to identify the 400 000 hectares in the country in the ten provinces. Once we have done that, we need to empower such farmers identified to grow the grain by giving them machinery or equipment, seed, fertiliser and so on.  Who will fund this?  We are determined to say initially we must have domestic resources to run the programme.  To do so, we must have various sub-sectors of the economy relating to agriculture to come on board.  So, we must first of all discuss with seed houses in this country so that they can contribute to the programme.  We have done so and they have come on board; 
  2. Secondly, we must discuss with the fertiliser and chemical companies in the country. We have done so and they are coming on board on the programme;
  • We must discuss with financial institutions in the country and see what they can contribute to the programme and we have done so;
  1. We must discuss with the farmers themselves and indicate what we want to achieve. For instance, out of the 400 000 hectares, we say if each farmer has to have 100 hectares, how many farmers would we have - about 4 000.  However, we can also say a farmer with 50 hectares and another farmer with 50 hectares can come together and be given implements and support in the programme;
  2. We have water bodies in the country such as dams and weirs and in some areas, we have rivers which run throughout the year, perennial rivers. All those people around water bodies must be identified and asked to come on board so that they can also produce grain twice a year; summer and winter.  As the Deputy Minister was saying, we cannot force people to come on board.  However, if you are near water and you do not want to come on board, we put you where there is no water.  We then bring those who want to be near water so that we can support them.

The other issue is that we are focusing on grain.  However, it does not mean that every area in this country produces grain.  There are other areas in this country which produce products other than maize.  They must also be supported.  We are not going to limit ourselves to the production of grain.  For instance, I have just arrived from Zvimba where we had gone.  Three months ago, we went to Matabeleland South at Ingwizi.  We found that the cattle were dying already because there is no grass.  When we discussed with the Chairman of ARDA, Cde. Nyabadza, he said he is aware of grass that is grown in Brazil, which can sustain cattle.  We were able to secure 2 000 hectares of land in Matabeleland South and we imported the grass.  Fortunately, we discovered that this grass could be found in South Africa.  It has been there for the past four years.

     We have got another farmer in Zvimba who gave us 50 hectares of land and there is Darwendale dam which can irrigate it.  We have been there today to see the grass that we have imported.  It grows on 50 hectares.  A demonstration has been done now that we have the correct climate to grow that grass.  On 2 000 hectares, we are able to feed 60 000 herd of cattle.  That again, contributes to feeding our cattle and relieving our maize from being used as stock feed so that there is more maize for people’s use or export.  So, in the area of food sufficiency, I think we are on track.  I thank you. 

     Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order Number 62.

     HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:  Mr. President, I move for the extension of time for Oral Answers to Questions Without Notice by 15 minutes.

     HON. SEN. TIMVEOS:  I second.

     HON. SEN. MUSAKA:  I thank you Mr. President.  My question is directed to the Leader of the House, Hon. Vice President on Questions with Notice on the Order Paper; what is the period allowed because we get disheartened.  I have questions that have been on the Order Paper for more than three months without the Ministers concerned responding. 

          THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT:  Which question is that?

          HON. SEN. MUSAKA:  For example question No. 4 and 5.  They have been on the Order Paper for more than three months.  The Ministers responsible for the questions are the Minister of Health and Child Care, the Minister of Rural Development and Preservation of Culture and Heritage and the Minister of Mines and Mining Development.

          THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MNANGAGWA):  Thank you Mr. President, your concern is as good as mine.  I am also very concerned that the Ministers have not been able to answer questions and I have done the appeal in Cabinet.  Mr. President, even on Tuesday, I read those questions and said these Ministers should come to Parliament; possibly because of other arrangements which collide with the sitting of the House, perhaps they are unable to come.  Let me assure you that I encourage Ministers to come and give answers to written questions. 

          *HON. SEN. MURWIRA: My question is directed to the Minister of Agriculture (Livestock). I believe it is the wheat growing season now.  I want to find out what is the status quo and are we going to be able to get wheat for bread as a nation. 

          *THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE (LIVESTOCK) (HON. ZHANDA):  I want to thank the Senator for the question posed.  Currently we are doing assessments to see wheat that is under the plough.  Yes, it might have been grown but I do not think it is enough to sustain us for the whole year.  That is what the Vice President was talking about that we are not only considering maize production but we will also consider the issue of growing wheat. 

          The supply of electricity has improved.  We also had large volumes of water but what remains is that the price of wheat that is being paid to the farmers is very lucrative and if you are a farmer getting so many tonnes, you will get good profit from the production of wheat.  What affects most farmers from growing wheat is the issue of finance.  It is expensive to grow wheat and hence farmers are not left with much profit afterwards.  So, if the issue of wheat production is addressed, it will help the farmers.  We held a meeting with those who use wheat as well as the big companies that are waiting upon the Government to get wheat and maize.  So, through that meeting, we were able to come up with a way forward that they are in business and they should come in and finance the farmers to grow more maize or wheat because if they do not, then it will affect the nation. 

Mr. President, if we look at the companies that I am talking about, they can get money at very minimal interest rates and can assist farmers to grow wheat.  I thank you.

HON. SEN. MAKONE:  My question is directed to the Minister of Agriculture (Livestock).  When we do experiments to vary the speed at which crops grow, in other words to make them short term, medium term or long term varieties, I believe that is the modification of the genetic combination of the plants.  So, if a plant becomes a different variety from what it used to be, is that not a form of GMO. 

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE (LIVESTOCK) (HON. ZHANDA):  I want to thank the Hon. Senator for the question.  In terms of coming out with new seed varieties, we do not experiment.  The seed variety is a result or an outcome of extensive research and that research is not any modification. It is coming out with a new variety, not an improved.  It is a new variety altogether, either which is, short term in nature or drought tolerant and this is not GMO. 

The research institutions are the ones which carry out those findings and come out with varieties, then they experiment before they release them to the farmers.  Once you see them releasing to the farmers, then obviously, they would have been satisfied that the seed meet the specification that they intend to meet.

 The issue of GMO is not something that is embodied in the seed itself.  It is the additional, for instance, when you talk about cotton cultivars, that they put a chemical into the seed that when you grow it, then the issues like pests and so forth do not come and eat because it is already in the leaves and so forth.  GMO naturally does not mean that you get higher yields out of GMO varieties.  What happens is that you get less input costs into it.  It costs you less to produce, therefore the cost is less. 

Let me also enlighten this House that even in Zimbabwe, the conventional seed varieties or some of the seed varieties that we have in this country can produce up to 14 tonnes per hectare.  We must note that it is not the seed that does the trick alone, it includes land preparation, your timing, amount of water, application of fertilizers, soil composition et cetera, making up at the end of the day to achieve those yields.  The yield is not a result of GMO, most people’s perception is that if it is a GMO, it automatically translates into a higher yield, no, it is not like that. There are other issues that are applied. 

HON. SEN. MAKONE:  I am asking this question as a scientist of agriculture myself.  One of the studies that we undertook at Nottingham School of Agriculture was to look into the improvement of yields of certain crops in the United Kingdom that was way back in the Seventies when they were actually starting to work on these genetically modified crops. The whole idea of GMOs came with competition amongst farmers in Europe, United States and the United Kingdom and other countries where they were actually subsidising their own people for whatever they expect but to do that competitively, they had to be high yields on limited land which as you know they have overseas.  So, to do that, you had to genetically modify the growth rates of whether there are crops or animals so that things come to fruition than they would have otherwise done. 

The question is, when you say that genetically modified is not necessarily changing the cultivar that we have got, I fail to understand. 

HON. ZHANDA:  I want to thank the Hon. Member and I want to state clearly that I am very much aware of that system.  One of the issues about GMO seed is that they will even put to an extent a chemical when a farmer grows the crop.  You cannot then use what you have grown for seed purposes.  So it is a protected patent.  It is not about modifying.

Let me give you a typical example. When I was at COTTCO, Mosandu, that is the people who started the GMO technology, based in St. Lewis in Missouri.  They are the ones who wanted to come and buy our seed house here which is called Quton and we refused what they wanted because they already hadinformation that our cultivars were good enough.  They wanted to buy in order to convert our seed into GMO by not modifying the seed or not researching on the seed but simply putting a chemical that will prevent that seed to be used by farmers like what they do in conventional maize.  So it is not like that.  It is biotechnology system that they use into the seed.

It does not follow that they produce a GMO without necessarily researching on the cultivar itself, on the seed variety itself.  The GMO comes at the tail end but the research work on the cultivar must be carried out in order to produce a seed that is equivalent to whether it is short, long or medium term.  They will not come here and convert our seed into GMO by simply converting them.  No, it is not possible.

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:  My question is directed to the Vice President and Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.  On passing the General Laws and considering the landmark ruling by Constitutional Court (Concourt) on child marriages.  When do we envisage the amendment to the Guardianship of Minors Act?

Also, is it going to take care of the criminal act of guardians who are impregnating those that they are supposed to take care off?  Is the ruling going to charge those men who are married to minors and are still living and having children with them?

THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. MNANGAGWA):  Thank you Mr. President Sir.  Thank you Hon. Senator but before I answer, may I say something about the earlier question posed by Hon. Sen. Makone.

I think we are lucky that we have Hon. Sen. Makone.  She is a renowned scientist.  So the questions she asked, she has capacity to answer.  –[HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] –

With regard to the question asked by Hon. Sen. Mlotshwa, it is a very technical question which requires to be put in writings so that I discover where the Attorney-General’s Office is in relation to drafting, what is in the amendment and what is not in the amendment and the stages at which those amendments are.  Then we can present.  You would not expect me, off the cuff, there are so many Bills that are currently under drafting for me to know the stage at which each one is and the provisions of each Bill.  That is not possible but if you put it in writing, we will give you a full menu of the provisions of what you have asked.  I thank you.

Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE (HON. SEN. TAWENGWA) in terms of Standing Order No. 62.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE

REHABILITATION OF CHAMASWISWI DAM

  1. HON. SEN. MOHADI asked the Minister of Environment

Water and Climate when Chamaswiswi Dam in Beitbridge West will be rehabilitated

THE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT WATER AND

CLIMATE (HON. MUCHINGURI):  Mr. President Sir, the dam that Hon. Mohadi is referring to is Tshamaswiswi Dam on the confluence of Chabili River and Masangakuwa water course.  The main use of the dam is to supply water for irrigation to Chamaswiswi Irrigation, which is in Region V characterised by low rainfall.

         The dam was constructed by “Give a Dam Campaign” for the benefit of the community in the Beitbridge communal area.  This dam was destroyed by floods in January 2014.  The irrigation fields were also washed away after the dam failed.  Sixty (60) families who benefited have since lost their source of income and their livelihood has been affected.

         However, my Ministry, through ZINWA, has since established an Emergency Drought Relief Committee to attend to such situations as the Tshamaswiswi Dam.  A team visited the dam and produced a report on the failure of the dam.  The Committee is sending a team to site to produce the survey and the necessary Bill of Quantity (BOQ) to establish how much the works will cost.  The main works will primarily consist of the dam wall and the spillway.  The dam will be considered for rehabilitation under the Emergency and Drought Mitigation Fund and when resources are available, the dam will be repaired.  I thank you.

          Questions with Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE (HON. SEN. TAWENGWA) in terms of Standing Order No. 62.

MOTION

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

First Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the Second

Report of the Thematic Committee on Gender and Development on Early Child Marriages.

          *HON. SEN. MAVHUNGA:  Thank you Mr. President for affording me the opportunity to debate on the motion that was tabled by Hon. Sen. Makore and seconded by Hon. Sen. Buka. Early marriages are a problem, especially in Zimbabwe. Going into a marriage before the age of 18, as enshrined in our Constitution is causing a lot of problems.  I want to believe such early marriages are being caused by poverty in our society.  If a family is poor, at times children will end up marrying at an early age.  Young girls will even have affairs with sugar daddies.  The low value placed on our young girls will cause them to engage into early marriages. 

If the family cannot afford to send a girl child to school, in the majority of cases, the family is struggling to pay fees; the girl child is the one who is sacrificed from attending school – the rationale being that the boy child will extend the family whilst the girl child will extend the family that she will be marrying into. 

Some orphans may be forced into an early marriage because they might think that if they have their own family, home or their own husband, they may be in a better position to look after their siblings.

Religion is also the other cause of these early marriages.  There are sectors where people claim that they had dreams and that a certain old man should enter into an early marriage with a child.  As a result, an early marriage starts. 

In terms of our laws; the age of consent should be amended and the age of consent should be 18 years and not 12 years as it is now.  These early marriages amongst teenagers cause a lot of problems.  The girl child has to leave school because she will need to breastfeed.  Even if she is brilliant, she would have lost focus regardless of the fact that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education said the child can re-enroll and go back to school – it may not be the ideal situation.

Early marriages stifle development in terms of the person being unable to be productive because she will now be looking after the family – since the grandparents will also be uneducated.  The same trend will continue for the father, child and the grand children who will be uneducated.  These early marriages are the cause of many divorces because the participants to these early marriages do not appreciate how to treat either the husband or their in-laws.  As a result of this, the marriage will crumble.  Once it has crumbled, orphans arise and these young girls engage in prostitution as was tabled yesterday in the report of the Committee that went to carry out an investigation.

Early child marriages with regards to women are detrimental to the young girls because they become sexually active before they are strong enough.  Complications arise and they will have difficulties in conceiving and have problems in delivering.  Some might even die while giving birth.  Cervical cancer also results from early indulgence in sexual activity.  These are some of the findings that we got and that there should be solutions to eradicate such ills.

The practice that when a child is impregnated whilst still young should not be a secret.  Private marriage arrangements between families should be exposed and the culprits jailed, so that this acts as a deterrent to such behavior.  There is need for re-alignment of the law to be in line with the age of marriage versus the age of consent to sexual activity.  This will eradicate some of the problems.  Let us ensure that our people are properly empowered and that we have adequate forms of wealth creation because we have identified poverty as one of the causes of these early child marriages.

We want to encourage each other as Hon. Members of this august Senate to increase the frequency of our meetings and discourage early child marriages, especially in the farming areas where we are.  You even see young teenagers that are married and the marriage hardly lasts.  As soon as they divorce, they change partners rapidly and this is not good practice.  We want people to go into marriages when they are mature.  I repeat that children fail to go to school because of early marriages.  With these words, I would want to thank the report by the Committee that I am a member.  I urge this House to support this report.  I thank you.

*HON. SEN. TIMVEOUS:   I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Makore, who brought this report.  I would want to talk about early child marriages.  This is not a good practice in this country and in Africa as a whole. Two days ago, I received the news that a Malawian man was paid and they said that it was in terms of their culture that when a girl becomes 12 years of age, some monies are paid and they go to a certain place.  The man in question broke over a hundred girls’ virginity and the man was HIV positive.  I was happy that the Malawian President, Dr. Mutharika urged that the man be arrested and this was despite the fact that the man had the consent of the parents to have their children killed through HIV infection. 

As a country, we should seriously look into the issue of early child marriages.  Our economy is not good. Be that as it may, let us closely examine and place the proper value that should be placed on the life of the girl child.  I went to South Africa where there was an HIV Conference.  I attended a workshop and there were some adolescent girls who were HIV positive.  One was from Botswana, the other one from Kenya, Tanzania and all over.  They were lamenting that our Governments and even our relatives have let us down.  Let us say I have a  child and I am in a second marriage and my husband who is the step-father to my daughter becomes sexually involved with my daughter.  The mother would then protect her husband, urging the child to remain mum so that the matter cannot be reported to the police and the step-father continuously raped or violated the young girl.  There was an issue of a grandfather or uncle who violated a girl and the parents then said the two should then stay together and the child was 12 years old.

Our culture has certain values that are good but there are others that are bad – which tend to take advantage of our children.  We are shy to report our relatives who would have violated our children for fear of what our neighbours would say.  As a result, they start accusing their child of what they wear and that maybe they would have caused this abuse which has befallen them. 

We should have legal instruments that clearly spell out these things.  I am happy and proud that our Constitution now says that, for anyone who is 18 years and below, that person is a child.  As parents, let us have a paradigm shift and a change of mindset that anyone who is 18 years and below is a child and should be treated like a child.

In Zvishavane where I come from, I have seen the police going around conducting awareness campaigns because of the prevalence of sexual abuse by relatives.  I want Zimbabwe to know that if a relative has visited you; ensure that your relative has come with good intentions and not sinister motives to abuse your daughters.  The police have said that cases of sexual abuse are on the increase.  You may dispute that but just take your mind back and think what might be happening to your daughter whilst you are here in this august House.  I would want the law to closely examine and be very tough in that area so as to ensure that our fathers and brothers value the lives of the girl child.

We should fight against child marriages.  Just a few years back, I do not know if it is still happening in the apostolic sects, they would force children to get married at the age of 12 years.  We went to a workshop in Nyanga and we heard that there is an apostolic sect that wanted their 12 year old virgin daughters to get married to older men in their church.  They encourage early marriages so that they do not lose their virginity.  So this man who is over 60 years of age will cause this girl to lose her virginity.  It is so detrimental to the extent that the mother or the woman might even assist this elderly man to penetrate the virgins.  We are awaiting that Bill with abated breath because the Vice President said that there is a Bill which will be brought so that we can deal with it.  I hope that the law will be very tough on those that are abusing children that are below the ages of 18 and those that are condoning such marriages.  No one should be forced into a marriage because it is quite painful. 

Our culture and community should change and we should respect the girl child.  I have seen the girl child driving buses and some are now lawyers.  I heard about Linda Masarire who was the first to drive a train and as women, we can do anything if we are given the opportunity.  We urge the police to arrest the abusers of these young girls.  Girls, when they become older, are very responsible and they look after their elderly parents. The same cannot be said about a young man who may not look after you very well.  They may even ill treat you.  Let us value the lives of the girl child and they should not go into early marriages.  I thank you.

*THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. If we are discussing about the issue of early child marriages, there is murder and rape but it is different from early child marriages.  Let us confine ourselves to the debate.

*HON. SEN. BHOBHO:  Thank you Mr. President.  I would want to add my voice and be grateful for the report that was tabled by Hon. Sen. Makore of our Committee which I also belong to.  We are facing challenges as parents because of early child marriages.  We need to put our heads together as the elders to see that there should not be any of these early marriages.  The boy child or the girl child should not be involved in early marriages because it is problematic to us as parents.  The two young children who have now become married are not self-sustaining and they still need to be looked after by their parents.  The child that is a product of that marriage cannot be properly looked after by the two, so there is an extra burden on the parents.  We need to put our heads together and let us find opportunities to urge our children to become closer to us as parents so that we quickly notice if anything amiss is happening.  As has been earlier on mentioned by the previous Senator, the parent who has remained behind whilst we are here at work should be in a position to see if there is anything amiss going on.  Children are becoming mischievous through friends, churches and school.  There is also abuse from the churches.  It is a spirit which is within this country and it is akin to HIV/AIDs which has killed a lot of people.  We should look after our children.

          Other husbands or mothers become too cheeky instead of finding out why the child is not excelling at school.  Instead, you should encourage your children to desist from early marriages and point out the dangers to them as well as names of role models of those that would have gone to school and married at a mature age.  Children should be told that they should not have these early marriages because they soon get fed up with their spouses and abandon them for new ones.  It should be acceptable in our community that early marriages are not good because the issue of HIV/AIDs medication has now become acceptable within our society. 

Parents are still very defensive when it comes to abuse of their own children.   They may not want to report the husband or brother who will have abused the child.  The mother can secretly scold the brother for the abuse and not to repeat it because she fears he will be chased away by the brother-in-law.  The fathers of these children seem to be demon possessed because they are even abusive to their own children.  It is unheard of for women to be accused of having abused their 13 year old children.  But I know of a father in my area that impregnated his own daughter.  When the child was about to be impregnated for the second time, she went to the police without the knowledge of the mother and the father was arrested.  We need to put our heads together.  We have the HIV/AIDs pandemic in our midst.  Our husbands are the fathers of our children but they are the chief culprits.  Nothing much has been heard of mothers abusing their own children but the same cannot be said of our husbands.  We have a lot of children that are on the streets that have been impregnated and dumped and their products are now on the streets.

Programmes which are to be viewed by children on television should also have parental guidance.  Children are very good at copying so they should not see pornographic material on television.  Let us assist each other.  There are those with inadequate living space because they lodge.  The children observe their parents undressing and that is a bad habit.  In the past, children would go to school and they would then be in a position to look after their own children after they will have attained their education.  However, today you find that the mother and the daughter are living under the same roof as well as the grandchildren because there is no one to look after them.  Tame those while still young, is what I advocate for.  So, let us start talking to our grade six pupils about the dangers of what they see on television.  I know they will start arguing with you because they do not want to be barred from seeing their favourite programmes.  Nevertheless, the end result is that they at last suffer as they will have infected each other.  It is a problem which parents are facing.  Government should support such a programme so that this august House can go far and wide preaching the gospel of the ills of early marriage.  This will act as a deterrent to would-be-offenders.  All of us should be the custodians of our own children.  We should not even be ashamed to report our kith and kin should they abuse our children. 

All of us have a duty to ensure that we eradicate this practice because we even have grandchildren fostered upon us at a time when we are not prepared to look after these grandchildren.  This puts a strain on the fiscus and on the Government needs because these children are uneducated and cannot even look after themselves nor can they properly bath themselves.  When they got married, they were just children. So the husbands were bound to run away from them because they do not know how to bath properly.  As parents, let us look after our own children and discourage them from early marriages and giving birth before they mature.  I thank you.

*THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT: Order Hon. Senators, let us follow the motion that is before us and not deviate to other issues.

*HON. SEN. MOEKETSI:  Thank you for affording me the opportunity to add one or two words to this debate.  I thank the mover of the motion Hon. Sen. Makore who was seconded by Hon. Sen. Buka.  Allow me, Mr. President, to address this august House and say to the male Members of Parliament and Chiefs that are here, to please respect the children even if they are not your own blood.  We do have a law that we enacted as a House and after we had enacted the law, there was also the granting of freedom to a child who is now 18 years old.  If the father and the mother were to assault or discipline that child and that child would cause your arrest. For instance, I have seen my child with a man who had a car. When I question her about what was going on, she would simply say she is now 18 years of age and there is nothing I can do about it.

I urge this august House to enable us to go to the communal lands where the children are abused by the male populace. We have males who know that when they go to churches, they will be facing young girls and they are not going to talk about this issue. Allow us to go round the country because the male folk are not respecting the women and their children. It is my plea that as male folk, you respect your children - the boy and the girl child. Be able to restrain or remonstrate with your girls and boys.

Our biggest problem in Zimbabwe is that the majority of the children that we are talking about who are entering into these early marriages are being married with mature men who are suffering from illnesses. The children that we are looking after in the communal home require medication every week and you are aware that this is a child of a certain individual. Allow this person to pay a beast as compensation. You will have pointed out that he has raped someone’s child. We have some courts that are not taking us anywhere. They have killed this country. We now have the formation of sex worker organisation, I thank you Mr. President.

*THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE Let us conclude because our time is almost up.

HON. SEN. MOHADI: Thank you Mr. President for giving me this opportunity to also add my voice to this report which was presented by Hon. Sen. Makore, seconded by Hon. Sen. Buka. I am not even a member of this Committee but the issues that they touched about on early marriages is what forced me to make a contribution. My contribution will not be long but as this august House, I think we should call the Minister concerned and then we propose stiff penalties for those who marry children under the age of 18.

Mr. President, you will recall that last week I raised a question of a girl of 18 years who was abused by a certain businessman in Beitbridge. The matter was taken to courts and the perpetrator went scot-free without the consent of the mother and it was just like that. I am having a problem when coming to this issue. Those who sometimes read papers will find that in Beitbridge again, even though I cannot say much about the issue because it is before the courts, a perpetrator took two sixteen year old children.

He pretended that he wanted to marry them. When I was alerted about the issue, I went to that House and found that the other girl was sitting on the veranda. She was almost seven months pregnant. The other one was inside the House. When I tried to find out what was happening, he said he wanted to marry them. I asked as to who gave him consent to marry these children because they are under the age of 18. No one agreed because I had gone there with their mothers and they were crying right through, but the perpetrator was not arrested.

I am urging that the courts deal with these issues on a serious matter because even though you report, the police will take the matter forward. When it gets to the courts, I do not know what happens. Those people are released and they go scot-free at the end of the day. Our Constitution clearly says that an issue of a 13 year old child is taken as rape case, but I do not know what really happens.

I urge members that let us be very serious when we are talking about these matters because as long as we just talk about them and leave them here, nothing is going to happen and our children are going to be abused. They will also not have a chance to go to school because a 13 year old is supposed to be at school but they are now called mothers. What kind of a mother is that one? Where else can we find a mother of that nature? Even ourselves at this age, you find that marriage is a difficult thing but what about 12/13 year child? With these few words Mr. President, I thank you.

HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA: Thank you Mr. President. I will endeavour to stick to the objectives of the report tabled in this House by the Committee on Gender Development. I want to thank the Chairperson Hon. Makore and the seconder Hon. Buka for this qualitative report. We are looking at the challenges being faced by the girl child. When you look at these challenges, you have to look at what exactly is driving men to marry young girls and you will get to know that sex is the agenda.

There is nothing that they want from these young girls other than sex. So Mr. President, other Hon. Senators talked about the culture, not only in Zimbabwe but all over the world. There are other cultures that at a tender age of 9, 10 or 11 years, the girl is forced to undergo genital mutilation because already, they are thinking of marrying that girl and they do not want her to enjoy the benefits of her body. So that is why they do the genital mutilation.

They are only thinking for themselves not for the girl. If you think who sits to decide on these cultural activities, you find that in most cases it is men. This is because in Africa, nearly three quarters of our cultural custodians are men. They want this culture to go on because it is not benefitting the girl but benefitting them. This young girl is not allowed to enjoy or decide about her body which is God-given because when God gave her, she has a right to decide when to do and with who to do. I wish that all over the world, men should respect these young girls.  They should know that these girls should mature first like in anything else.  Even if you plough your field, you wait for whatever is there to mature.  The Deputy Minister of Agriculture was talking about the short, medium and long term varieties.  We want to see whether the girl is coming up to be a short, tall or a medium person when she matures before you start to think of marrying her by force.  You will find that in most of the early child marriages, the girl cannot consent to the marriage.

          Mr. President, I would also want to make this point that in a marriage, it is not really about sex for a woman.  Your pelvis, breasts and mind need to be mature in order to know how to take care of people in the house.  If you are married when you are still very young, how do you know when to take out your curtains and wash because you still need your mother to tell you that the curtains are dirty?  You still need your mother to tell you that the dress that you are wearing is dirty and it needs to be washed.  So, that girl will only be a sex symbol to this old man.  Otherwise, she will not even manage to do all the other chores that a woman should do.

          Mr. President, I asked the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs when we are going to have the amendments to the Guardianship of Minors Act because most of these child marriages emanate from girls who do not have biological parents who would at least feel pity for them. 

Like what the other Hon. Member said, if a male relative visits you, you do not have to automatically trust the person and say ‘I am going to Parliament in Harare for a week, I will live you with this Grade 2 child.’  You have to first understand the motive of the visit because if you trust that person, you will be shocked with what your own brother or father could do to your child. 

          Mr. President we are talking about girl marriages.  It starts by a man wanting to go to bed with the girl.  It does not start with the man failing to cook and think who will cook for him.  We are asking the Minister to bring the amendments to the House so that the Guardianship of Minors Act, the Children’s Act, the Marriages Act and all the other Acts are in conformity with the Constitution of Zimbabwe.  Even if you look at the Constitution, it says a girl can be married at 18 years.  I still say she is a child because even at 18, you still need to guide the girl because she cannot take care of a home.  Of course they can consent to the marriage but you will be called time and again to say she has done this.

          If you are married to a young girl, if you find her playing netball outside the house, you are not supposed to be surprised because that is what she is supposed to be doing.  When you are married to a young person, you must be prepared to go back and do all the things that you did when you were young because she is not mature enough to take care of you. 

          Mr. President, at times, girls are married in order to alleviate poverty.  In such cases, the parents consent to the marriage.  If the amendments come here, we are going to suggest that if this man wants to marry the girl and the parents are consenting, it means that an agreement should be made that the man should support the family until the girl is mature before he does anything.  You will find that nobody will agree to that because they are in a hurry to go to bed.  That is the only drive to the actual thing.  If you say, you want to marry my 15 year old child, give her six more years before you touch year but give us the maize because we are starving; you will find that nobody would want to do it that way.  It shows that when parents are hungry, they forget that this child is supposed to be protected by them.  When they are hungry, they look at their hunger only.  However, it is their failure.  The girl has to be protected and the parents are supposed to provide for their families and not to sell off their girl child in order to get food that will sustain them just for one month. 

Mr. President, at times the society believe that it is not proper for men to marry many wives and maybe that is why men are looking at their side and violating the young girls.  They think that for them to be respectable, they should marry one woman but in their hearts they are not satisfied by that woman.  Women are in abundance, they form 52% of the population.  Why are men not marrying five women because they know that their appetites go beyond one woman?  Mr. President, with these few words, I thank you very much.

          HON. SEN. MASUKU:  I move that the debate do now adjourned.

          HON. SEN. MLOTSHWA:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Tuesday, 16th August, 2016.

          On the motion of HON. SEN. MASUKU seconded by HON. SEN. MOHADI, the Senate adjourned at Nineteen Minutes to Five o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 16th August, 2016.  

 

Senate Hansard SENATE HANSARD 28 JULY 2016 VOL 25 NO 67