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SENATE HANSARD - 29 MARCH 2012 VOL. 21 NO. 27

 

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 29th March, 2012.

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

 

PRAYERS

(MADAM PRESIDENT in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY MADAM PRESIDENT

SWITCHING OFF OF CELLPHONES

MADAM PRESIDENT: May I please remind hon. senators to switch off their cellphones or put them on silent please. Thank you.

WELCOME OF THE PRIME MINISTER TO THE SENATE CHAMBER

MADAM PRESIDENT: Before we commence business, I would like to welcome the Right Honourable Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai to the Senate Chamber.

Hon. Senators clapped their hands.

PRIME MINISTER'S QUESTION TIME

SENATOR CHIMBUDZI: Thank you Madam President, I would like to ask the Hon. Prime Minister about the effects of climate change. How prepared are we as a nation so that we do not sink in the future?

THE PRIME MINISTER: Madam President, I would like to make my preliminary remarks to say, it is an honour for me to be here for the first time since the formation of the Inclusive Government. I had loved to be here at an earlier stage but suffice to say, everything has a beginning and already it has a progressive step.

MADAM PRESIDENT: Thank you.

THE PRIME MINISTER: I would like to say, my sincere condolences to all senators who have passed away, who were members of this House and the effects of accidents which have happened in Nyanga and near Ntabazinduna. This is very sad, and I join the nation in passing my condolences.

Senator Chimbudzi, thank you for the question on the Government's preparedness. She asked a very relevant question especially at the time when the country is experiencing severe droughts.

It is a phenomenon we have experienced as a reality over the past 5 or 6 years. We have experienced persistent droughts in Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South and even in the lowveld.

Government has to prepare a response not only on this situation, but also to the effect that people will starve if we do not prepare a response. I want to state that Government has set up a Cabinet Taskforce on Drought Mitigation. It is no longer a question of giving the Grain Loan Scheme, but this Taskforce has to look on a number of aspects like moving grain from the strategic places to the areas in need and also looking at the issue of the effects to the livestock. On a long term, the Minister of Agriculture has been tasked to come up with a 3 to 5 year plan on how Government can respond and to say, what is Government's Agricultural Policy in the next 3 to 5 years. We are supposed to have a long term plan to combat the effects of drought. We have to look on the issue of the climate change situation. Thank you.

SENATOR HLALO: One of the reasons impacting on agricultural performance is poor funding for farmers by the financial sector which is the system of collateral for lending. How is Government envisaging addressing this problem?

THE PRIME MINISTER: If there is any sector that has received priority funding for the past 3 years it is the agriculture. In a number of ways Government has put in grain loan schemes, it has put in seed support to inputs. I think Government has done its part but we will continue to support agriculture. Let me just give you statistics, over the last 3 years, Government has put in nearly US$2 billion into agriculture. That is more than the fair share on anything. Inspite of the fiscal constraints agriculture will always get priority. The second aspect is private funding has got long term implications. You cannot direct private banks to put money into agriculture unless you put a mechanism, security of tenure on the land. So you need to review your land policy in terms of long term security either you make the 99 year lease securitised or you make sure that people have private title. That is the only way people can finance agriculture. Without the security of tenure it is very difficult for private capital to go into agriculture so Government is looking into how private players can play a part in financing agriculture. In the long term Government has limitations in financing agriculture. I also want to say gone are the days when things will be given for free e.g free inputs. I do not think that is sustainable so people must bare themselves that at some stage Government will withdraw from financing able bodied inputs to agriculture. Perhaps the most vulnerable will be supported.

SENATOR MUMVURI: On several occasions Government has promised to look into the welfare of civil servants. What progress has the employer made so far in order to improve their general conditions of service.

THE PRIME MINISTER : I think if you reflect back over the last three years, I can only speak authoritatively on what the inclusive Government has done. We were at a stage where the civil servants were taking home nothing though they had nominal figures but the money was valueless because of the hyperinflation conditions. Ever since the multi-currency regime has been introduced, I think we have progressively improved the incomes of the civil servants. I know that in February 2009, we introduced $100 and it was better than two trillion dollars of valueless Zimbabwean dollars. From then on, progressively the income of civil servants has been attended to. Every six months we have reviewed the salaries of civil servants though of course I am not satisfied with the levels but our aim is to reach the poverty datum line in the shortest possible time. I must also say that the limitation has been the fiscal space and we are trying to look at the expected $600 million from diamonds. If we can get that, I think there will be even greater review of civil servants salaries. I am quite aware that these civil servants have performed a very patriotic duty under very difficult circumstances and I hope if we have more transparency and the expected $600 million, there is no reason why Government should retain that money. It should definitely respond to the plight of the civil servants and that I think is a promise.

SENATOR MAKUNDE : How prepared is our Government on supplying clean and adequate water to Harare residents? I believe we have all witnessed a time when we had a lot of cholera especially in Harare suburbs and in the event the donors who are assisting in water and sanitation here and there pull out, what plans does Government have in place, in terms of supplying adequate and clean water to the residents.

THE PRIME MINISTER: Let us reflect historically what has happened. You know that at the time when cholera was experienced in this country there were two contributing factors. The first was because there was no adequate water supply in the city and that was attended to, because we put in $19 million and you could see people digging around because of a lot of underground leakages. In fact the greatest contributing factor to the water situation in Harare is because there is a lot of wastage underground. So, from Jeffrey Morton Water Works to all parts of the city we are losing about 60% of the water which is not even accessible by anyone. I think it is a major issue.

We are having a water summit tomorrow to try to find out measures to deal with the water situation in Harare and I hope that all invited stakeholders across the board will have to come and assist. If we do not do that our water system is going to be more precarious. So, yes it is a very serious issue to Government and it is expected that another $50 million will have to be injected in the water situation in Harare as it is very critical to deal with this issue. I hope that after the water summit we should be in a position to tell the nation how we intend to resolve the issue from treatment to supply to all the other parts of the City including Ruwa, Chitungwiza and all the other satellite cities.

*SENATOR DETE : My question is directed at indigenisation. Everyday people talk of indigenisation but people are questioning what indigenisation is. When we move around our constituencies they want to know more about indigenisation. When we ask the Ministry of Indeginisation and the pro-Committee they tell us that they are given a certain amount in the budget but that amount does not cascade down to the grassroots. So, you find that if they are given $6000 the grassroots only get a $1000. Hon. Prime Minister, may you please explain to us the mechanisms to be used so that indiginisation takes roots and people benefit, how do they go about it.

MADAM PRESIDENT : I wish to remind hon. senators that when it is time for Questions Without Notice, you ask one simple policy question. I am appealing to you.

*THE PRIME MINISTER: I would like to explain the policy on indiginesation. I am not trying to go into the intricacies of indigenisation because they fall under the Ministry. Why we did embark on the indigenisation policy, the reason was that we wanted Zimbabweans to get the chance and opportunities to participate in business and industry in the country. In the past, you found that those people who were benefitting in the businesses in the country were the whites and the blacks were only used as workers. In other words the main reason for introducing indigenisation was for the blacks to also get into manufacturing. We found that although people are independent politically but not economically independent you are still under bondage and this has to be rectified. Indigenisation does not mean that a few people should benefit while the rest of the people are suffering in abject poverty. What we are talking about is that if there are opportunities and banks are there and people are getting shares, these people should also benefit as a whole. This does not mean to say that indigenisation means impounding other people's companies or invading them - no.

What it means is, as indigenous people, if companies like Lever Brothers are floating their shares - you go into those companies and buy the shares so that as time progresses, the blacks will be taking over the companies through shareholding capacities. The Minister is there taking note of the details of how indigenisation could be propelled. So, what we are saying is, we need to get a broad based empowerment of the majority of this country - we do not want the minority only to benefit because in these days you find that there are just a few people who want to benefit whilst others are admiring them from a distance.

What we want, as a Government, is for people to access the wealth of the nation.

*SENATOR KABAYANJIRI: Thank you Madam President. First of all, I would like to thank the Prime Minister for joining us during Question Time - especially here, in this Senate. I am going to talk about what is happening in the constituencies, especially rural constituencies whereby people are suffering because of the sanctions imposed on the country. I do not know whether you, as Government, are aware of the sanctions? If you are, what are you doing so that you fight for the removal of sanctions because most of the people are in problems and hardships due to the sanctions?

THE PRIME MINISTER: The issue of sanctions is a very contemporary and very challenging issue facing our country. What we have done as an Inclusive Government is to set up a Ministerial Task Force led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs - included in that Task Force are all the three political parties. So, it is not just one party which is going to talk to the Europeans or the Americans on the removal of these sanctions - it is a Ministerial Task Force that has been tasked to go and engage the Europeans.

I said yesterday, in the House of Assembly, that it is unfortunate that the Europeans decided to remove some of the people in the same Government and left some of the people in the same Government. That is divisive and I think that either you reward the progress that has taken place in this country over the past three years or you do not. So, our intention is really to engage the Europeans, to engage the Americans who have imposed these sanctions. So, I am sure that will be done and that is the plan that Government has put in place. And I hope we can put paint to this issue once the discussions have taken place.

*SENATOR CHIEF MUSARURWA: Thank you Madam Presidentfor awarding me this opportunity so that I may talk to the Hon. Right Prime Minister on roads. Hon. Prime Minister, you know the road from Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge when we get to Ngezi, you can see the situation on the road. You find that there are people that are repairing that place so many times - as a Government, what are you doing for this road to have a permanent repair programme rather than making piecemeal repairs? Again, you find that after passing this place, you go through toll gates where you pay some amount for the maintenance of these roads, and yet this part of the road is in a pathetic state. How can you help us as Government to work on this road?

*THE PRIME MINISTER: Thank you Madam President. Hon. Chief Musarurwa, the road you are talking about from Beitbridge is one of the roads which are in the plans of Government so that the road can be widened because we have had so many accidents along that road. You know that I am one of the people who was involved in an accident along that road.

We were talking to the President about that road and we were saying, we do not want to work on patches on that road - we want to dualise the road. We find that there was money that had been put for the dualisation of the road from Beitbridge to Chirundu and the money was coming from the Development Bank of Southern Africa, but we have now been told that, that amount has been withdrawn. So, it is now going to take a long time before this road is prepared - our roads are a disaster.

There are even trucks that are supposed to move bulk goods, using the railway, they are not using the railway - they are just using the roads. So, we do have this multi-faceted problem and it is a priority of Government to make sure that the main roads to Beitbridge to Chirundu, from Bulawayo to Mutare are dualised and it is still part of the plan. Whether we are still going to access that DBSA loan again - I am not at liberty to disclose that.

SENATOR CHIEF NGUNGUMBANE: Thank you Madam President. I would want to thank the Prime Minister for his presence which I feel was long overdue. I would want to direct my question to the Prime Minister about the Grain Marketing Board. There have been complaints year in, year out Hon. Prime Minister about the non-payment of produce supplied by farmers to the GMB. I would want to know what the Government is doing in order for the farmers to be paid for their produce when they deliver?

THE PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, I hope that the Chief is a farmer but not a...what do you call them, those other farmers?

*MADAM PRESIDENT: Ma A1?

*THE PRIME MINISTER: Ma A1 or a peasant farmer - I do not know which one is which. Nevertheless, I think, the issue of the GMB must be looked at much more holistically. There are two functions for the GMB - first, there is the strategic grain reserve procurement which is about five hundred thousand tonnes (500 000) of maize - that has been paid for. So, if the farmers have not accessed that resource - I do not know what has happened, but I know that at every Cabinet meeting, the Minister of Finance has to tell how much money is owed to farmers through the GMB.

The other function is the commercial function which is where you go to GMB, sell your maize and you are immediately ...that is a commercial activity. The problem we have had over the years is that, GMB that is why there is a lot of corruption. Over the years, the GMB has not been able to distinguish between its commercial function and its strategic function. It delayed because it comes from the Ministry of Finance. It is the wish of Government to make sure that farmers get paid. I just want to reveal to the senators here, that in every Cabinet meeting, and at one time I said this is a Farmers' Cabinet, I can tell you the people who are advocating for payment to farmers are the very same Cabinet Ministers. They want to know what is happening to the money. I want to say that it is an issue that Cabinet is tasked with and we do not want our farmers to just grow crops without being paid. As for a specific response, I will ask the Minister of Finance to give the details. I know these two functions have affected the work of the GMB and I hope we will be able to rationalise the functions.

SENATOR JACOB: My question is a follow up on what was asked by Senator Mumvuri on the welfare of civil servants. Hon. Prime Minister, are you aware that since 2008, we have been coming for our sittings and not receiving our sitting allowances? What is Government saying about this? We had also asked for the formation of a Parliamentary Service Commission, which would be responsible for our welfare because at the moment we do not know who is responsible for us. What is the position on that issue?

THE PRIME MINISTER: I hope I will be able to distinguish between politics and trade unionism because I was once a trade unionist. I am not aware of the fact that you are not receiving your sitting allowances. But, as leader of Government business I will make a follow up so that we know where the bottle-neck is.

Now let us look at the Parliamentary Service Commission. You should know that you are not employees. We have the Police, the Defence and the Public Service Commission. These are for employees of the State, but you are not employees of the State. There is a very big distinction because if employees negotiate for their welfare, they are different from you who are elected or appointed to serve in these two Houses. There should not be a Commission but a mechanism on how Members of Parliament and Senators are paid. You are not employees, so there will be no need for a Parliamentary Service Commission.

SENATOR MANDAVA: I want to find out from the Hon. Prime Minister. We pass a budget here in Parliament, both in the House of Assembly and the Senate. In discussions during public hearings with ministries, most of them up to now have not received their allocations. Is Government looking into the reasons why there are delays in the disbursement of funds that are allocated to ministries?

THE PRIME MINISTER: I just want to explain that a budget is an estimate, which means that you estimate what you are likely to get as revenue and you allocate that estimated revenue on what are the expenditure priorities. When it comes to budget performance, that is the real preview of the Minister of Finance - how is the budget, and this is what you should ask the Minister of Finance.

How is our budget performing in terms of revenues and expenditure? Usually on a monthly basis, the Minister if Finance gets revenue. In fact in Cabinet, we have actually insisted that the Minister of Finance must give us the performance of the budget, which means, what has been our incomes and what has been our expenditure. The allocation is given because of the limited space we have, in terms of priority of priorities. Sometimes ministries may have so many demands and those have to be reduced to what is called 'Government Work Programme'. It is the Government Work Programme that defines how much resources shall be put in each ministry as revenue are realised because this is a Cash Budget. This means that the money comes and we spend what we have received and if there is no money that is coming in, there is no expenditure that is going to be distributed.

That is difficult because people think that when you outline a Budget, that necessarily translates into money into the ministry. I realise the constraints that the ministries are facing. I must also add that in our Budget, it is US$4 billion this year and it is likely to be US$4.6 billion if the money from Chiadzwa comes in. The problem we have now is that 70% of that budget is going into salaries. If you have 70% going into salaries, it means that you have 30% to run all the other Government activities and that is a difficult squeeze. I hope that, as senators you appreciate that all of us are trying to scramble to get some share of that 30%.

In a normal country with an economy that is performing, we should actually have the opposite - 30% going on salaries and 70% to other Government current expenditures. That is what you need to squeeze the Minister on how he is performing in terms of his Budget.

SENATOR MAKUYANA: My question is directed at the parastatals and also welcome to the Senate. I understand parastatals have been a drain to the fiscus, what is Government doing to rectify this anomaly?

THE PRIME MINISTER: It is a known fact that our parastatals or state enterprises are draining without putting money back into the fiscus, it is a fact. The Minister of State Enterprise and Parastatals can give you further details but as a principle, there are two aspects. The first aspect is that inter-parastatal debt, which means one parastatal owing another parastatal, has increased dramatically from US$300 million to US$600 million. It means that ZESA is owed by National Railways and National Railways is owed by Hwange Colliery and Hwange Colliery is owed by another parastatal. The inter-parastatal debt is the one we are trying the rein-fence or try to have accounting done so that no parastatal can operate saying we still have our money in ZESA, Railways saying we have our money in ZISCO Steel and we have not been paid.

The second aspect is that there is a policy proposal which Cabinet has considered, which is, that amongst all the parastatals now numbering over 32, there are some that have been catagorised as ready for privatisation. There are some that we have categorised for commercial and others where we believe as Government, as a State you can not do the two. You need private-partnership. For example Air Zimbabwe, for it to run you need a private partnership for instance Air Zimbabwe. Air Zimbabwe for it to run, you need a private partner although Government does not give up the parastatal but you need private partner participation in Air Zimbabwe or else you will not be in a position of running it. There are parastatals like ZESA, you can not privatise ZESA because it has a direct impact on the lives of people. So, those are what we call essential utilities that you can not privatise. So, those will still remain under the State control, the same applies to National Railways of Zimbabwe, you can not privatise National Railways of Zimbabwe.

Of course, when a Government participates in a factory, it is not the business of Government to be manufacturing or to be in business. The duty of Government is to provide services to the population and to subsidise those services especially to the poor. Madam President, when it comes to business, some of the parastatals are ridiculous for Government even to involve itself. We have a parastatal called Industrial Development Cooperation of Zimbabwe, these are IDC companies like ZIMFORCE, Sables and all these other companies. I think that those kind of state owned companies must be allowed to run as business entity and bring money into their own businesses and into the fiscus but for a very long time, the parastatals drain on the fiscus has totally reached unacceptable levels. So, Government is working on this to ensure that we categorise them and we deal with each parastatal as an individual entity before a decision is made. Eventually I think that we should be able to dispose some of them but there are essential services that the Government can not privatise, for example electricity.

SENATOR MUCHIHWA: Honourable Prime Minister, we want to know, what is the policy position of Government with regard to the spot fines by the Police?

THE PRIME MINISTER: Let me start by saying, I want to correct my address to Madam President, I am used to Mr. Speaker Sir, so my apologies Madam President, kudzidza hakuperi.

Madam President, the issue that the honourable senator has raised, is a matter that was discussed and a policy was adopted that there will be no spot fines. The reasons are very simple that there has been a lot of prevalence of corruption as a result of spot fines. This came about as a result of a number of roadblocks that have been displayed on the roads and of course, the outcome is that even with more roadblocks, we are even having more accidents. So, what is the point of having more roadblocks if you are not going to mitigate against such a policy. There will be no spot fines, that is the last Cabinet resolution but you know, it takes time to implement that. The law also says there is no spot fine but out of practice, it has now become an issue that the Police, will of course, resist but we will continue to insist that there be no spot fines because of the abuse that has taken place.

+SENATOR SIBANDA: Honourable Prime Minister, I would like to know about Matabeleland, especially Bulawayo, we have stayed quite a long time without adequate water. We have the Zambezi Water Project which has been in the pipeline for quite sometime. What is Government doing to supply water to Matabeleland, with particular reference to Bulawayo?

THE PRIME MINISTER: There are a number of strategies that the Government has employed in ensuring that there is permanent supply of water in Bulawayo. The first one is the Mtshabezi pipeline which I am assured by the Minister of Water Resources Development and Management. The date keeps changing but I am assured that at least by June or July 2012, water should flow from Mtshabezi to Bulawayo. Once that is done, I am sure the water situation in Bulawayo will be addressed. However, it is not a permanent solution. We have the Shangani-Gwai Project, which is going to be the next phase of the work in order to supply water to Bulawayo. The last one is the Zambezi Water Project. The Zambezi Water Project is a medium to long term but as far as water to Bulawayo is concerned, I think the short term resolution is to get water from Mtshabezi to Bulawayo which I know, when I visited there, a construction programme was going on.

Prime Minister's Question Time interrupted by MADAM PRESIDENT in terms of Standing Order No. 34.

MADAM PRESIDENT: I wish to thank you very much, the Right Honourable Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai for coming to answer our questions. I thank you Sir and look forward to your coming back again.

THE PRIME MINISTER: Of course, thank you Madam President.

MOTION

FIRST REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RIGHTS ON THE STATE OF PRISONS AND PRISONERS IN ZIMBABWE

First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the First Report of the Thematic Committee on Human Rights on the State of Prisons and Prisoners in Zimbabwe.

Question again proposed.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 15th May, 2012.

MOTION

MEASURES TO CURB DROUGHT

Third Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the harsh climatic conditions in Region V.

Question again proposed.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 15th May, 2012.

MOTION

FIRST REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE ON MILLENIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS ON THE PROVISION OF EDUCATION IN RESETTLED AREAS

Third Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the First Report of the Thematic Committee on Millennium Development Goals on the Provision of Education in Resettled Areas.

Question again proposed.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION: I move that the debate do now adjourn.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 15th May, 2012.

On the motion of THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION , the Senate adjourned at Twenty Four Minutes past Three O'clock p.m. until Tuesday, 15th May, 2012.

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