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SENATE HANSARD 30 MAY 2019 VOL 28 NO 48

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday 30th May, 2019

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE)

APOLOGIES RECEIVED FROM MINISTERS

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  I have a list of Ministers who have sent their opologies -

·       Hon. S. G. Nyoni - The Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development;

·       Hon. Prof. P. Mavima – Minister of Primary and Secondary Education.

·       Hon. Chitando - The Minister of Mines and Mining Development;

·       Hon. P. Kambamura - The Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development;

·       Hon. V. P. Haritatos - The Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Climate and Rural Resettlement,;

·       Hon. J. Muswere - The Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services;

·       Hon. E. Moyo - The Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education;

·       Hon. M. Madiro - The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage;

·       Hon. Y. Simbanegavi       - The Deputy Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation; and

·       Hon. K. Coventry - Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation ;

I do not think the issue we have with Ministers is about sending in apologies.  What we want is the coming of the minister so that we have an opportunity to ask what we do not understand in their ministries.  To have two pages of apologies is not going to help.  I do not accept this. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

          *HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: Thank you Madam President and how are you. My question is directed to the Hon. Minister Prof. Murwira. What measures do you have as a Government to build more accommodation for our tertiary students to reside in protected areas which is pertinent so that their welfare is catered for?  

          HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: On a point of order. Madam President, you told us the Ministers that are not present but you did not tell us those who are present.

          THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: My secretariat is helping me with the list but I can tell you off the cuff. We have the following Ministers:

·       Hon. Dr. Kanhutu-Nzenza – the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare;

·       Hon. Prof. M. Ncube – the Minister of Finance and Economic Development;

·       Hon. Ziyambi – the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs;

·       Hon. Mutsvangwa – the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services;

·       Hon. Prof. Murwira – the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Science and Technology Development;

·       Hon. Dr. Gwaradzimba – the Minister of State for Manicaland Province; and

·       Hon. Mavhunga - the Minister of State for Mashonaland Central Province.

*THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. MURWIRA): Thank you madam President. I want to thank the Hon. Senator for the question.  The Hon. Senator wants to know what measures we have put in place as a Government concerning students’ accommodation in higher and tertiary institutions.  We did a survey and realised that we have students who are about 180 000 in our universities and colleges and as the Hon. Senator has said, we have a challenge in terms of accommodation.  We have 15 000 students who are accommodated.  After realising this challenge, the Government embarked on a programme to increase accommodation services to students in colleges.  Government also realised that the PSIP Programme cannot get us to deficit of 165 000. For that reason, on 24th December 2017, the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development together with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, flighted an advertisement in the paper stating that the Government on its own cannot build such accommodation but invited the business sector, those here and outside to come in under the Private Public Partnership which we call PPP in order to have partnership to build accommodation. This will be under the BOT system where they can get their money over a couple of years.

I remember that on 9th March, 2018 we held a meeting with a number of people in the business sector and most people committed to this partnership. We then got into an arrangement and we have signed a partnership with a number of companies. At NUST, we signed an agreement with BancABC who are going to build a medical school. Two weeks ago, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development gave us a green light for CBZ to build accommodation for students at Lupane State University. He also gave us a green light to enable us to build accommodation for students in partnership with CBZ at Midlands State University. CBZ then communicated to us in writing that they are able to give us $150m in order to enable us to build accommodation.

We also have arrangements with big companies that we have had partnerships with, such as Old Mutual and Royal Insurance who are also able to build these accommodation hostels. Be that as it may, this is not an immediate solution but we do have measures in place and business people are committed in this programme. Since the era of  Ian Smith or BSAP no one had ever come up with such a measure that accommodation can be built using such a programme. So, our private sector is excited about this programme and that is the policy that we have. We are saying the Government alone should not take the sole responsibility but accommodation in institutions should be done by those who can afford to do it. I thank you.

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: We also have the Minister of ICT and Courier Services in the House. Hon. Kazembe, you are welcome.

HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: Thank you very much Madam President for giving me this opportunity to ask my question. My question is directed to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development and I am happy he is here today. What measures are you going to put in place to curb illegal dealing in foreign exchange? We hear reports that some children of Ministers are involved in illegal activities?

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I thank the Hon. Member for that very pertinent question. She said this is illegal dealings. We are bringing the law to bear onto those who are doing this illegally. Certainly, we are not aware that children of Ministers and those in privileged positions are involved. The law does not discriminate between those privileged and those who are not. Therefore, if the law has to take its course, it is going to be applied equitably to all. I thank you.

HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: On a point of order. I think when we come to the House we are very much serious. We are representing Zimbabwe. When I ask a question and Ministers start laughing, I feel very – I do not know.

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I do not know what the Ministers are laughing at.

HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: The follow up question is that we have been following the news. Hon. Mutsvangwa’s son was caught with over US$200 000 and is alleged to have been illegally dealing.

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Minister, can you allow the Senator to ask her question.

HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: I am talking about the issue which is before the police.  Madam President, there is a Minister’s son who was caught with over US$200 000 and illegally dealing in foreign currency. When the police apprehended him, he was found with US$20 000.

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: What is the question now?

HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: What is the Minister of Finance going to do to stop such illegal activities?

HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: The Hon. Member has been very clear in the question in saying that the issue is before the police which really means that they are dealing with it. That in a sense, the Minister of Finance has no role because the law enforcement agents have already started their process and they are dealing with the matter. Obviously, we will also watch the space to see how that is concluded. The matter is before the police. The police are doing their job.

*HON. SEN. SHUMBA: Thank you Madam President. I want to thank Ministers who are doing a great job for us and we realise the country is progressing well. My question is directed to Minister Nzenza and I want to thank her for she is giving our people food for sustenance. What I want to know is, what does Government policy say because Government gives people food but the transport operators are charging for that. My question is - the Government has seen that people are suffering, especially the less privileged such as the widowed and orphaned and yet they are being asked to pay the transport costs for the food being donated by the Government.  Where does the Government think that the less privileged will get that money from because those with the money will end up benefiting as they can afford to pay for the transport?  What is the Government’s position on this issue?

*THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. DR. KANHUTU-NZENZA):  I would like to thank the Honourable Senator for such a pertinent question.  It is a nationwide problem that is being faced in all provinces.  We are planning that in each province, district social workers list all the people who are unable to pay for transport for receiving this food.  We are currently working towards placing district social workers who are dedicated to their work in helping us build a database of those who are less privileged and are therefore unable to access food as a result of lack of funds to pay for transport.

HON. SEN. MWONZORA:  Thank you very much Madam President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.  On Saturday, Hon. Minister, we are burying one of the great national heroes of this country, Dr. Dabengwa.  My question is what has been done thus far towards compensation of the victims of Gukurahundi, if anything?  If nothing, why not?  Are there any plans to compensate the victims of the State sponsored violence of 2008?

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  Thank you Madam President.  I want to thank the Hon. Member for the question.  The first part was not a question.  We are indeed burying our national hero on Saturday.  It does not require a response.

The second part Madam President, Zimbabwe, since 1890, has been a country in conflict.  We went through several conflicts – the First Chimurenga, the Second Chimurenga and after independence we had our own share of problems, we have had all these problems.  As a nation,  he was one of the core chairs, I believe, of COPAC.  They came up with a Constitution where it was agreed that we need to have a National Peace and Reconciliation Commission.

Part of the job of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission is for us to deal with our past, with a view of moving forward. I believe he knows that the Commission is doing its job and it would be premature to start talking about any form of compensation when that Commission is doing its job.  Thank you Madam President.

HON. SEN. MOHADI:  Thank you Madam President.  My question goes to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.  Minister, I think we once communicated pertaining GMB Beitbridge which was not operational.  So I just want to know whether now it is operating because it is becoming very expensive for the farmers to ferry their maize from Bulawayo Depot to Beitbridge.  At the end of the day, if we consider the fact...

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Hon. Member that one is not a policy question because it is very particular.  So if it is like that, you have to put your question in written form. 

HON. SEN. MOHADI:  I thought maybe I would just seek for clarification because we once debated about it.

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Since you have talked about Bulawayo to Beitbridge she has to go and research to give you a straightforward answer.

HON. SEN. MOHADI:  Okay.  Secondly, I was looking at the issue of shops that were supposed to be opened at GMB areas.  I just want to find out whether they have been opened or not.

+THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE):  I would like to thank the Hon. Senator for such a pertinent question.

HON. SEN. MOHADI:  On a point of order.  I do not think I used Ndebele.

HON. PROF. M. NCUBE:  I will switch to English for the convenience of the Hon. Member.  When we unbundled GMB into a strategic grain reserve division which is funded directly by Treasury, we also created a new division called Silo Food Industries which has now been incorporated as a separate company as from 1st April.  Its job is to process food and also establish the shops.  So it is the Silo Industry which is going to establish these shops at these depots. 

Also, our aim is that there should be a shop at every district -eventually.  That is the aim.  So we are working through their funding at the moment.  Our initial strategy was to request them to solicit new equity investors into the company.  I am not free to say which ones but I know some names – two institutions and a foreign investor, but we think that there is more urgency now perhaps for Government itself maybe to chip in on a loan or temporary basis so they can move faster in rolling out these shops and provide basic commodities like flour, sugar and cooking oil so as to reduce the prices and the pricing pressure for our ordinary citizens.  I thank you Madam President.

HON. SEN. MUZENDA:  Thank you Madam President.  I want to ask the Minister, how accessible are these shops and are they adequate even for the vulnerable people?  Thank you.

HON. PROF. M. NCUBE:  Madam President I thank Hon. Sen. Muzenda for that question.  They are meant to be accessible.  If there are difficulties, we will make sure those difficulties are ironed out, but really accessibility here is around pricing such that things are affordable and they are cheaper than the ordinary shops.  That is what we are working on.  We have to make sure that the capital, the support we give to Silo industries is such that it translates to lower prices through Silo Industries.

Of course, the other indirect support we are giving is through GMB itself.  Where there are any imports, we give GMB preferential treatment in terms of importations and access to foreign currency, which will then translate into the availability of raw materials for these final commodities and therefore lower the price.  So, accessibility is really around pricing rather than, maybe physical access as such.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN. MWONZORA: Thank you very much Madam President.  Hon. Minister, is Zimbabwe not slowly moving towards a command economy, given that we see the Government coming in, in specific sectors.  For example, the Hon. Minister was talking about ZUPCO transport.  Responding to the increase in fares, the Government came in via ZUPCO and subsidised the bus fares.  Are we not going to see a take-over of the economy by the Government and it becomes a command economy?  In short, is the Government in control of this economy or not?

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Madam President.  I thank Hon. Mwonzora for that question.  We are not turning into a command economy, absolutely not.  It is legitimate and proper for the Government anywhere in the world, to intervene if they believe that there is market failure.  It is also proper for governments anywhere in the world, including ours, to intervene in times of hardships for those that are considered to be vulnerable in the form of social protection – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – Every Government does that and that is what we are doing.  So, we have no intention of moving into a command economy space.  It is just social protection in the form of ZUPCO subsidies and Silo Food Industry shops to lower the prices for the vulnerable.  We think that is the right thing to do and the recipients also feel the same.  I thank you.

          +HON. SEN. P. NDLOVU: I thank you Madam President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. Are you aware that people do not know the meaning of the term RTGS in the rural areas? Is it feasible for you to translate that into indigenous languages so that people understand what RTGS is?  I thank you.

          HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Madam President of the Senate, thank you.  I thank the Hon. Sen. for the question.  I also understand that this word is also just quite big, it needs to be explained.  However, there is no need for us to explain it in indigenous languages.  Real Time Settlement System (RTGS) is actually our dollar.  You just tell the people that RTGS is our dollar, just that.  They can pay through ecocash, swipe and others may use the bond.  The bond and RTGS are equal.  This is our position as Government.  There is no need for us to explain that in indigenous languages, it is just our dollar – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] – I thank you Madam President.

          HON. SEN. WUNGANAYI: Thank you Madam President.  My question is directed to the Leader of the House.  Madam President, we hear the issue of devolution on a daily basis by the Government.  There are people who have been elected to work on that programme who are residing at their homes.  My question is; When will those people begin to fulfill what was agreed on in the Constitution of Zimbabwe?

          Hon. Sen. Wunganayi, having been addressing the gallery.

          THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order, Hon. Member, address the Chair.  You are not supposed to address the Hon. Minister, that is why I am here.

          *HON. SEN. WUNGANAYI: Sorry Madam President.  I asked when this will be done because there was another programme which never took off. Is it not going to be the same thing Madam President?  It seems we are telling the nation what we cannot fulfill whilst making people to believe that we are doing something when we are not doing anything.  Can we go on persuading people, electing them and then let them sit at their homes?  Thank you Madam President. 

          *THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Madam President.  I thank the Hon. Sen. for his question on when the provincial councillors will begin their work.  That is what we are frantically processing.  To fulfill the provisions of our Constitution that there should be a law that enables them to work, we are currently working on the Bill so that it is made available.  Madam President, in the process of crafting that Bill, we are facing certain provisions that are conflicting with our intentions.  So, we are busy trying to align rather than us rushing to implement the programme that will be half-baked.  Our intention is to craft a Bill that we will bring to Parliament, debate and agree on its provisions so that those who were elected can begin to do their work.  Thank you Madam President.

          *HON. SEN. MWONZORA: Thank you Hon. Minister.  As you might know, it has been six years since the Constitution of Zimbabwe was drafted.  It has been two years since the new dispensation came in and it is almost a year into this Parliament.  So, when should the nation of Zimbabwe expect their devolution?  Yes, you indicated that there are challenges that you are facing, but when should we expect devolution to take place? 

          *THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I will allow the Hon. Minister to answer but I want to remind the Hon. Senator to refrain from asking the same question which has been asked the other way round but you are asking the same thing.

          HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Madam President.  There are two issues which we need to separate, the implementation of devolution and the appointment of our councillors.  In the 2019 Budget, there is a provision set aside by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to be allocated to provinces for devolution purposes and that will be done.  I want to say that each and every Government has its own leadership with a different vision.  When our President Hon. Mnangagwa came, he said that he wanted to speed up devolution and the Minister set aside on the first budget, an amount for devolution to happen.  Secondly, the Hon. Senator understands that last year when we held our elections, there were disagreements emanating from your political party, which caused Parliament to open a bit late.  We began Parliament Business in September and  we were rushing with budget issues.  After budget, Parliament was now concentrating on budgetary issues so that by the time we come to January, issues to do with the budget would have been complete.

          After all this, we now came to the issue of amending other laws.  The Hon. Member is aware of all this.  He is asking something he already knows has been happening because he also sits in this House.  I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. MOEKETSI:  Thank you Madam President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.  Minister are you aware that in the rural areas, people are suffering?  Have you ever been to the shops so that you can notice that something which is being charged US$1 is charged RTGs40 or 50 or ecocash?  People are suffering Minister, can you explain to this House so that people in the rural areas understand because this money is ours. Why can you not just scrape the one which is giving us problems so that we all use RTGs?  I thank you.

          *THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Madam President.  I would like to thank the Hon. Member for asking that question.  People are suffering, that is the truth because of price hikes due to inflation.  This is why we are really determined to roll out these Silo food shops so that they can access cheaper commodities.  Secondly, as Government, we are also determined to make sure that we stabilize our dollar….

          THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Minister, can you stick to one language so that recording becomes easier?  The Hon. Member asked in vernacular. 

          HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Madam President.  I will stick to English because my vernacular is at 90%.  The second strategy for us is really to make sure that we do not contribute to inflation and growth in money supply as Government.  That is why we have eliminated budget deficits and now we have some surpluses.  We are now using these surpluses to support social protection programmes for the vulnerable.  This is the feeding security schemes that the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare was talking about earlier.  We are determined to really give social protection to the vulnerable and to make sure that they are not adversely impacted by inflation, at the same time dealing with those areas that are driving the value of our currency down and we try to stabilise it. I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. MAVETERA: Thank you Madam President. Hon. Minister, the question that was asked by the Hon. Member is very important.  What you are talking about that you want to protect the vulnerable, I do not know whether the Minister is a visitor here because if he really lives in Zimbabwe, he would not talk like that.  What you are talking about Minister is similar to what was previously implemented by Dr. Gono called baccossi. It does not work, so we cannot continue telling people that there are social protection mechanisms that will take place where you will instruct GMB to sell its products at low prices to people.  How many will be able to go to GMB?  Let us be realistic Hon. Minister, probably you are the ones who will have access to GMB and those people will continue suffering. 

          Right now people are dying, therefore we want you to give us solutions not something that has previously failed – this is another baccossi, you have only changed the name and call it social protection.  People died during baccossi, so you frighten us when you talk of those things again.  We want us to be serious….

          THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Member, you are now debating.  Ask your question.

          HON. SEN. MAVETERA: My question is - will the Hon Minister give us solutions because the one which he is saying about low cost, it does not work.  We cannot sit here listening to something that we know does not work?

          THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Just ask your question.

          HON. SEN. MAVETERA: Thank you Madam President.  A hungry man is always an angry man.  As I am talking, I am carrying hunger of people out there that is why I am emotional.  So Minister, we plead with you to explain to us what is the difference between social protection where we have GMB shops offering low prices and baccossi which was once implemented by Dr. Gono.  Dr. Gono’s baccossi was better because it touched on many aspects of life but still it failed.  How are you going to implement your social protection programme so that it becomes a success?

          HON. PROF. M, NCUBE: Thank you Madam President.  I think if the Hon. Member is aware of individuals who are in dire straits, please send us those names so that the Minister of Social Protection can also add them to the list of those who are vulnerable so that they are given food but if he is referring to whether we should have social programmes or not; social protection programmes are normal programmes.  Every country has social protection programmes and it is not just Government that is running the programmes.  The international partners are doing the same, United Nations et cetera.  If you look at the UN, they are going to raise almost US$300 million for social protection programmes.

          In the urban areas they have started to even give people cash in the form of cash transfers.  This is normal; it is always a package which is in cash, food or strategy of reducing prices.  They are different ways to deal and cushion those who are in dire straits.

          HON. SEN. CHIFAMBA: Thank you Madam President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.  As Zimbabweans, we work very hard, when are we going to earn actual money, which is United States Dollar because RTGs is not real money?  I thank you.

          THE MIINISTER FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Thank you Madam President.  I would like to thank the Hon. Member for the question.  The RTGs dollar is our domestic unit of account, we support it and we will defend it.  We urge the Hon. Senator to support it as her own currency as well; the reason being that the US dollar is a currency that is currently governed by sanctions.  Zimbabwe is having problems all the time in paying abroad using this US dollar. There are some banks that used to support us by supplying the US dollar from abroad but they are being told not to help Zimbabwe.  Surely, you should realise that there is a problem. 

          Secondly, we are also talking about using a currency, the US dollar which is too strong for the economy. It is killing our competitiveness. Therefore, we need a softer currency of our own and we will put that in place in the form of the RTGs dollar.  Prior to the introduction of the RTGs dollar, if you look at our macro-economic management, we were walking on one leg which was fiscal and we were running a deficit ku fiscal kwacho.  Now, we have unlatched the other leg because they should be two; that is the monetary policy which comes through by launching your own currency so that you now have two legs - one fiscal and the other monetary.  What we are doing now is making sure that the fiscal works by reducing deficit and the monetary also works by managing the currency properly.  I urge Senators to be patient; we will get there but please, accept your RTGs dollar as it is your dollar.

          HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: Madam President, I want to ask the Minister. He is saying that this country is under sanctions and we have to accept the RTGs. The US dollar that is on the street right now, I have just mentioned earlier on of one person who has over US$200 000. Where is that money coming from if we are under sanctions?  The money is out there on the streets, where is it coming from?

          THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Can you avoid hasha – [HON. SENATORS: Inzara.] -

          HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: Madam President, if you convert my salary, it is only US$100. So, inzara.

          HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Madam President.  I am not so sure if this is a policy question kuti mari irikubva kupi, it is not quite a policy question.  Also, we have no control over the US dollar in terms of monetary policy, so we cannot have any policy governing it. That is why we need our own currency, the RTGs dollar then we can govern over it, control it and have policies over it.

          HON. SEN. MAVETERA: Thank you Madam President. The Hon. Minister has shown us that he has failed to tackle the RTGs and US dollar problem.  I am sure we were told by His Excellency that the RTGs is not a currency.  So, why cannot we remove the US dollars and remain with just our RTGs because this is what is being used by unscrupulous people to benchmark and cause a lot of suffering?   This issue is a security issue...

          THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Senator, please put across your question.

          HON. SEN. MAVETERA: The question is - why can the Minister not remove the US dollar from our market and we remain with our indigenous currency?

          HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Thank you Madam President.  The Hon. Senator has actually made a suggestion and a contribution to our policy thinking about currency reform going forward.  I have taken note and we will take it into account going forward.  I thank you.

          HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Madam President.  My question is directed to the Minister of Defence and War Veterans.  What is Government policy on those comrades who died before they were vetted for the purpose of their pensions?  I thank you.

          The Minister of Finance and Economic Development having walked out of the Chamber.

          HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: On a point of order Madam President.

          THE HON PRESIDENT OF SENATE: What is your point of order?

          HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: The Minister is leaving before we have even finished asking him questions.

          THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: The Minister of Finance and Economic Development - [HON. SENATORS: Inaudible interjections.] – Hon. Senators, it is me who is being asked, can I give the answer?  The Hon. Minister has a Bill to answer to in the National Assembly, so I think he is being divided between the two Houses.

          THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND WAR VETERANS (HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI): Thank you Madam President, I would like to thank the Hon. Member for asking that very important question.  Let me hasten to say that the new Constitution recognises the very important role that was played during the struggle by our war veterans, ex-detainees and war collaborators.  This came about as a result of the consultations made during the constitutional process.  No mention was made on those that died during the struggle, so our Constitution is silent on that matter.  We have had presentations in our Ministry for us to consider this as we re-align the War Veterans Act and also the Ex-Detainees Act; so that we re-align these two Acts to make sure that it reflects the expectations and dictates of the Constitution.  We advise that if there are new cases that are coming up, we have to go through the same process because our Constitution is silent on this aspect of war veterans.  I thank you.

          *HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Thank you Mr. President. My question goes to the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services. What is Government policy on information and communication regarding social media? People are opening Twitter accounts in other people’s names and use these accounts saying for example; I am Monica Mutsvangwa, I am insulting this person.  Those who read will then say Monica is fighting with Chief Charumbira, but alas Monica does not even have a Twitter account.  My name is appearing on Twitter but I never opened a Twitter account...

          *THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE:   I am begging you Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira that you ask your question.

          *HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: My question is - what are you doing to protect innocent citizens against this act?

          HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA: Thank you Madam President. I would want to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira for his question. The truth of the matter is that we are now having difficulties in dealing with issues of social media. Earlier on, I heard the Hon. Member alleging that my son was arrested. I do not have a son who was arrested.  As a Ministry, the way we are dealing with social media is that what is important is to know that Zimbabwean people have a paradigm shift because there is a lot of immorality that is happening. People are just using social media at their own accord because social media is borderless. People are writing at various positions or areas.

          The Ministry of ICT is coming up with the Cyber Bill and as the information Ministry, we have a cyber team and they are on duty 24 hours to monitor what is coming out of social media because we have observed that without a law that holds someone accountable to what they would have written, the good thing is to have a good narrative on the social media. That is the only way we are using to curb this scourge of false news and peddling of lies. We are doing this as we do economic reforms in the media as to what people should write in the social media. I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY AND COURIER SERVICES (HON. KAZEMBE): I would want to thank the Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira for his question. This has become problematic worldwide. It does not pertain to Zimbabwe only but as the Minister of Media and Broadcasting Services has said, we have problems with social media. The problem that has been highlighted by Hon. Chief Charumbira of someone who opens an account pretending that he is Hon. Chief Charumbira, put in his picture and writes on that forum, is a problem for us to locate where this person is at the time when they wrote all these falsehoods; these are cyber threats that we are talking about. It could have been in America or anywhere else in the world. For us to locate that person becomes difficult.

          The solution lies in that if it is a twitter account, you write to the twitter account saying that I am the real Charumbira and the account that is being peddled with lies is not mine. We cannot control twitter accounts because the server is in America. When a message is sent, it goes through America first and we have no control over that. There is also someone who is calling himself Kazembe Kazembe junior who is very abusive. We do not have any other Kazembe Kazembe in our own family. There are a lot of us who are facing such problems. What you can do is to write to Twitter or Facebook and they will give you the link to follow and you can complain that I am not the one who has the twitter account as alleged. They can then block that person. Apart from that, there is nothing else that we can do Madam President.

          What we are trying to do in this country which is legal is to see that the law is followed. We encourage everyone who purchases a cellphone line to identify themselves first by giving their address and identification particulars. We want that to be maintained. If someone abuses their line, we will be in a position to curb that so that there will not be an abuse of social media. I thank you.

          HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Thank you Madam President. I believe I am satisfied. Please help me in blocking that person.

          THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: What we expect Hon Minister, you should not fail to come up with solutions because you have researchers and other people. Other countries are overcoming that.

          HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: I move that time for Questions without Notice be extended by ten minutes.

          HON. SEN. GWESHE: I second.

          HON. SEN. CHIEF MAKUMBE: My question is directed to the Minister of ICT and Courier Services. What programmes do they have in expanding coverage to rural areas to enable children in these areas to access information and technology so that information and communication becomes easier?

          THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION COMMUNICATION AND TECHNOLOGY AND COURIER SERVICES (HON. KAZEMBE): Yes, as a Ministry or as Government, it is our intention to ensure that communication and technology or airwaves are easily accessible, be they in rural or urban settings. That is why you saw me a few days ago in Gutu and Tsholotsho opening base stations. The other time we were opening base stations in Midlands and going around the country. The reason why we are doing so as a Government is because Hon. Prof Murwira pointed out that Government on its own is not able to eradicate the challenges that we are facing and we require the private sector to assist us. It is the private sector such as Econet, Telecel and NetOne that is responsible for setting up mobile network operations.

          What they do is to they look and see where there is traffic. If there is no traffic in the communal areas for them to put up a US$500 000 base station, they may not be able to recoup their investment. We cannot look down upon them but as Government, what we do is that we try and subside such activities so that our people can then have access. That is when POTRAZ steps in with the Universal Services Fund, but it does not have adequate funding.  Half a million is what is required for setting up a base station and what we have in that fund is inadequate. That is why we are doing it in stages so that eventually we have that. Again, that is why we are promoting infrastructure sharing. Instead of three base stations constructed for Telecel, Econet and NetOne, they share the base station.

          What we are trying to do is to make sure that we increase coverage. We have a programme with POTRAZ where we are setting up information centres. They are being operationalised at district level. Recently, we were in Gutu and we are bringing computers that are accessible to wifi and such other things so that children and even the elderly can gather and be able to access computers and get access to airwaves. I thank you.

          HON. SEN. RWAMBIWA: My question is directed to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development and it is in connection with the Masvingo tollgate.

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  The Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development is not represented.  You can put your question in writing also so that he can be compelled to come and respond.

*HON. SEN. GWESHE:  We should tell the truth on what is taking place.  Unfortunately, the Minister I wanted to direct my question to is no longer in the House.

*THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  What exactly do you want to say and to which Minister?

*HON. SEN. GWESHE:  I wanted to ask the Minister of Justice, legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

*THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  The Minister is no longer in the House – [AN. HON. SENATORE:  So you can put it in writing.] –

*HON. SEN. GWESHE:  So, I will have to put it in writing?  Any Minister can however answer it – [Laughter.] -

*HON. SEN. CHIEF SIANSALI: Mine is not a question.  I just wanted to commend or aknowledge and appreciate the job being done by the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education.  We spoke about a college in Matabeleland North and he listened.  As we speak right now, we have got a college in Matabeleland North, in Hwange.  So, I would like to appreciate the gesture, Hon, Minister.  At least students have started lessons this week.  Recruitment was done.  My plea is just for you to support the institution and make sure it grows.

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  You remember Minister the issue you were asked in this House?  You had opened the college somewhere else and then the Chiefs protested and you complied.  That is why they are thanking you.

*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHIKWAKA:  My question is directed to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.  What is Government policy towards teachers, as your Ministry is their employer, if they heed calls to participate in stay-aways that are being called for through various social media platforms as this will disadvantage our children especially in urban areas?  I thank you.

*THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. DR. KANHUTU-NZENZA):  I would like to thank the Hon. Senator for his question.  There is a new Bill that is going to be introduced soon known as the Tripartite Negotiating Forum Bill which will assist the Government in ensuring that there are no stay-aways before negotiations between the Government and its workers.  This Bill will be signed by the President on Wednesday.  It is a new initiative that was introduced that workers and the Government engage in negotiations and also with the Apex Council.  Workers can no longer engage in stay-aways before engaging these stakeholders.

*HON. SEN. FEMAI:  This is information that I am seeking because the relevant Minister concerned is no longer in the Senate.  I wanted to know who rates the United States dollar against the RTGS and why he does so.  This is information that I require so that I pass on the information.

*THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Hon. Sen. Femai the Minister is no longer in the Senate.

*HON. SEN. FEMAI:  I said I want to ask the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services so that she can give me information on who does the rating – [Laughter.]-  I only want information so that I can pass it on to the people in my constituency.

*THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  I do not know whether the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services can furnish us with that information.

THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA):  Thank you Mr. President.  I think this is an issue of exchange rate.  The person who is seized with that is the Minister of Finance and Economic Development because we are in the House and that is within his mandate to answer those questions, but if he calls me outside in the office, as the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, we will talk.  Thank you.

THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE:  Thank you Minister.  When the Minister of Information , Publicity and Broadcasting Services is doing her job making public announcements through the media she would have been informed by the concerned authorities on what to say.  So she is just a spokesperson responsible for making such public announcements.

*HON. SEN. KOMICHI:  My question is directed to the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services.  When will we have a media policy in terms of licencing of private television stations as we continue to have one television station in Zimbabwe resulting in us being behind in terms of coverage?

THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION, PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. SEN. MUTSVANGWA):  Thank you Mr. President.  As a Ministry we are actually aware of many demands for licences, particularly for commercial television and also community broadcasting.  We are doing everything, especially in the Second Republic because we take very seriously the rights which are enshrined in our Constitution.  Section 61 and section 62 talks to the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the media and section 62 talks to the right to freedom of establishment of community radios and broadcasting services systems. 

This is precisely what we are fulfilling.  As a Ministry we have already taken our principles in terms of AIPPA, as you are aware, in terms of opening up airwaves and we have also taken our principles on the Broadcasting Services Act to Cabinet and that has been approved.  This is all done to make sure that our institutions like the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) would then be able to issue licences to each and every applicant, as long as they fit in with the qualifications which are required.

BAZ’s main mandate is actually issuing licences.  As you are aware BAZ actually requires that anybody who broadcasts in this country needs to be licenced and this is precisely where we are going.  As a Ministry, we are also putting the boards in place so that all that process can start in earnest.  I want to promise you we, in the Second Republic, take the issues of deepening democracy very seriously.  We take the issues of actually upholding the Constitution very seriously.  So that will be done in the near future.  I thank you.

Questions Without Notice were interrupted by THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in terms of Standing Order No. 62.      

          WRITTEN SUBMISSION TO QUESTION WITH NOTICE

DECENTRALISATION OF REGISTRATION OF NGOs AND COMMUNITY BASED ORGANISATIONS TO OTHER PROVINCES

          11.    HON. SEN. SHOKO asked the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to explain measures being taken by the Ministry to decentralise the registration of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Community based Organisations to other provinces outside Harare.

          THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. DR. KANHUTU-NZENZA): Madam President, there are certainly initiatives to decentralise the registration of Private Voluntary Organisations.  In terms of Section 2 of the General Notice Number 99 of 2007, my Ministry’s District Social Welfare offices in all the provinces of Zimbabwe facilitate the initial assessment of applications for registration.  As such, all prospective applicants submit their applications at their local district social welfare office which then forwards the same to the respective provincial social welfare office.

          The final determination of an application for registration is however subject to the sitting of the Private Voluntary Organisation Board, established and constituted in terms of the Private Voluntary Organisation Act [Chapter 17.05].  My Ministry is therefore considering options to ensure that completion of registration of these organisations does not only wait for the sitting of the Private Voluntary Organisations Board but may also be done at the provinces.  This may entail amending the Private Voluntary Organisation Act.

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND WAR VETERANS (HON. MUCHINGURI-KASHIRI) the Senate adjourned at Eight Minutes to Four o’clock p.m. until 11th June, 2019.

 

Senate Hansard SENATE HANSARD 30 MAY 2019 VOL 28 NO 48