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SENATE HANSARD - 30 OCTOBER 2012 VOL. 22 NO. 01

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

THE SENATE

FIFTH SESSION - SEVENTH PARLIAMENT

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 30th October, 2012

(OFFICIAL REPORT)

MEETING OF PARLIAMENT

THE CLERK OF PARLIAMENT read the Proclamation of the President of Zimbabwe dated 30th October, 2012, summoning Parliament to meet on this day for the dispatch of business.

MADAM PRESIDENT: I have to inform the Senate that at Twelve o'clock noon today, the President of Zimbabwe will declare the cause of his calling Parliament to meet.

MADAM PRESIDENT accompanied by some of the Senators left the Chair at Twenty One Minutes to Twelve O'clock p.m.

12 Noon

THE PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE, being seated in the Chair, was pleased to address Parliament as follows:

Madame President of the Senate,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

Honourable Members of Parliament,

 

I welcome you all to the Fifth Session of the Seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe, which draws us closer to the end of the Inclusive Government. Thus, the Session is likely to be an abridged one. I must, however, acknowledge that after faltering starts and stops, there has been some growing mutual collaboration and commendable efforts at togetherness, which are values we should continue to build upon. It is time we believe in our capacity to confront our challenges, without the mischievous external hand that always comes to distort the magnitude and nature of our challenges.

 

The 2nd All Stakeholders Conference held on the 22nd to 23rd of this month was a significant event and marked one of the final stages in the current Constitution making process. By all accounts, the Conference was a major success as it provided a platform for Stakeholders to freely express their views and comments on the COPAC Draft Constitution so as to align the Draft to the views expressed during the Outreach programme conducted last year. Our expectation as Principals is that the next stage will proceed with haste so that this process is concluded expeditiously. The Select Committee of COPAC should work frantically to produce a Report of the Conference summarising the views expressed by the Stakeholders, in particular the divergent views, and submit the Report to the Principals in Government who will take the necessary steps to set up an appropriate mechanism to build the required consensus on the way forward, mindful always that our major objective remains the holding of the next Harmonised Elections in March, 2013 under a new Constitution.

 

I take this opportunity to thank and commend the Select Committee of COPAC for spearheading the Constitution making process over the last three and half years. I also commend the Management Committee for giving guidance to the process. In terms of Article VI of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) the Constitution making process was to have taken 18 months to complete. Instead it has taken more than 3½ years to get us where we are now. Be that as it may, the fact that it has taken this long indicates that the process was indeed a difficult one. There is now the need for Government to assume the management of the process leading to the holding of the Referendum. Should the people express their affirmation of the Draft Constitution, then Parliament would be asked to pass it as the fundamental law of our country. Elections will then become a necessary sequel.

 

This Session comes at an historic time when Zimbabwe and its brotherly northern neighbour, Zambia, are working towards co-hosting the 2013 United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly, which event will take place in our twin border towns of Victoria Falls and Livingstone. Apart from firmly placing our countries on the world tourism map, this auspicious world event should also provide fresh impetus to the growth and development of our tourism industry.

 

Madame President,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

 

The Attorney General's Amendment Bill, which seeks to amend sections of the Attorney General's Act that potentially infringe upon the independence of that office, enshrined in the Constitution, shall be tabled for debate during this Session. Furthermore, to correct the irregularities detected following an audit of the Constituency Development Fund, a Constituency Development Fund Bill, which will strengthen accountability in the Fund's management, shall be brought for debate by Parliament during this Session.

 

Madame President,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

 

The country's economy continues to grow at a slow pace owing to depressed industrial activity, tight liquidity conditions, low international commodity prices, shortages of affordable lines of credit, illegal sanctions and underperfomance in both the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. This negative picture has led to a downward revision of the country's Gross Domestic Product growth rate from the initial projection of 9,4 per cent to 5,6 per cent. Inspite of this transitory setback, the country's economic growth is still within the sub-Saharan average growth rate of 5 per cent.

 

We have an urgent need to redouble efforts in the implementation of initiatives to attract investment and stimulate economic growth as contained in the Medium Term Plan. As part of this thrust, the Zimbabwe Investment Authority Bill, which seeks to enhance the country's competitiveness as an investment destination, will be tabled before this august House during this Session. Through the multiple voices of SADC, the African Union and the Zimbabwe-European Union dialogue, we will continue the call for the unconditional lifting of the illegal sanctions imposed on the country. These cruel measures undermine our people's efforts to turn around the economy.

 

Madame President,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

 

Needless to say, agriculture remains the country's leading economic sector, contributing between 15 to 18 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, 40 per cent of national export earnings, 60 per cent of raw materials to industries, while also providing the largest formal and informal employment. Accordingly, the sector should be accorded priority treatment in terms of planning and the provision of resources. The sector's performance has frequently been undermined by adverse climatic conditions, unavailability of affordable inputs, product market distortions, unaffordable finances and high transaction costs. These challenges have to be addressed in an incisive manner in order to fully unlock the sector's potential.

 

With regard to the issue of marketing, the operationalisation of the Commodity Exchange of Zimbabwe, which is expected to commence soon, should engender efficiency in the marketing of agricultural produce, among other commodities, thereby ensuring fair returns for farmers.

 

Madame President,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

 

The drought experienced in several parts of our country in the 2011/2012 agricultural season has brought about acute food shortages in the affected areas. As always, Government remains committed to ensuring that no Zimbabwean dies of hunger and that food is distributed to all needy persons. A decision has already been taken to distribute maize to needy households under Extended Grain Loan and the Vulnerable Social Groups' Schemes. I, therefore, urge the relevant Government Ministries and Departments to execute this task with a sense of urgency. In addition, measures will continue to be taken to save livestock in drought-prone areas through the provision of supplementary feedstock, borehole drilling and baling of grass. We may also have to consider the translocation of livestock to areas with surplus pastures. Let me take this occasion to appeal to Members of Parliament and our traditional leaders to discourage communities from destroying the available limited pastures through veldt fires.

 

Madame President,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

 

The mining sector's status as a key driver of the country's economic growth and development continues to improve. The long-awaited Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, which seeks to facilitate increased mineral production, provide a more competitive mining legislative framework, facilitate continuous exploration and local beneficiation of minerals will be brought for debate during this Parliamentary Session. The Zimbabwe Diamond Policy, which will guide the sustainable development of the local diamond industry, is now in place. The Policy will entail amendment of the Precious Stones Trade Act and promulgation of a Diamond Act. Continued growth of the mining sector hinges on implementation of intensive exploration programmes. Accordingly, Government, through the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, is resuscitating the Mining Promotion Corporation, a company which will spearhead mineral exploration activities. Already, equipment worth US$4 million has been purchased for eventual use by the company upon operationalisation.

 

Efforts to clear the current backlog on Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs) have been stepped up, which should soon see the resumption in the issuance of new ones. In recognition of the significant contribution by artisanal miners, formerly referred to as illegal panners, steps are now underway to decriminalise their activities and allow them to operate in a legal and properly managed manner.

 

Madame President,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

 

It goes without saying that the realisation of the country's economic recovery and growth hinges on the availability of adequate energy supplies. Regrettably, the country has had to rely on limited power supplies for quite some time now. Government is nonetheless working flat out on a number of strategies to improve power supplies. In this regard, short-term measures currently being implemented include prioritising the maintenance of power stations in order to optimise their performance, and rolling out a programme involving free distribution of compact fluorescent lamps in homes and institutions, which are expected to realise savings of 180 megawatts during evening peak periods.

 

The medium to long-term resolution of the power supply challenges is anchored on the expansion of the country's power generation capacity. In this respect, I wish to note that the evaluation of bids for the expansion of power generation at Kariba Power and Hwange Power Stations is currently underway. When implemented, the two projects will yield an additional 900 megawatts. Work on other long-term greenfield and renewable energy projects, such as the Gokwe North Thermal Power Plant, Batoka Hydro Power Plant, the Gairezi Mini-hydro scheme, and the Lupane Coal-bed Methane Gas project are already at different stages of implementation.

 

With regard to the petroleum sector, Honourable Members of Parliament are no doubt aware that the blending of petrol with ethanol was reintroduced in October 2011, starting with an initial blending ratio of 10 per cent ethanol to 90 per cent petrol. Benefits to accrue to the country as a result of this innovation include reduction in the cost of fuel, which is a major cost inflation driver. Additionally, we expect employment creation in the associated up and downstream value chain activities.

 

Madame President,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

 

In the transport, communications and infrastructural development sector, the Civil Aviation Act will be amended to provide for the separation of the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe into two entities, namely, the Airports Management Administration and the Civil Aviation Regulatory Authority. This will enable Government to better discharge its international obligations and responsibilities with respect to aviation safety oversight and security functions. The search for a strategic partner for Air Zimbabwe is still on.

 

With regard to the roads sub-sector, a strategic partner has been engaged for the dualisation, rehabilitation and

 

upgrading of the Plumtree-Bulawayo-Mutare national highway. Discussions with potential strategic partners for the dualisation, rehabilitation and upgrading of the Beitbridge-Masvingo-Harare-Chirundu national highway through a Public-Private Partnership arrangement are underway.

 

Madame President,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

 

Micro, small and medium enterprises have the potential to stimulate rural industrial development, as they provide income-generating opportunities for people at the grassroots level. Government, therefore, continues to accord priority to the building of the sector's capacity through skills development, technology transfer, provision of infrastructure and marketing information. In partnership with COMESA, Government is currently carrying out a pilot project known as Passenger Cargo Manifest System, which seeks to expedite clearance of passengers and goods as well as capturing cross border trade information between Zimbabwe and Zambia. This year alone, Government distributed 478 business start-up kits to beneficiaries in both rural and urban areas.

Madam President,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

 

Significant progress as already been achieved in the implementation of the indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Policy, especially in the mining sector. Most of the big mining houses have complied with the requirements of the indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Policy, with five Community Share Ownership programmes having been launched around the country. A number of companies in the various sectors of the economy have appointed trustees for Employee Share Ownership Schemes. The empowerment of indigenoius Zimbabweans through the provision of access to finance and skills training is the only way to ensure that our people are not perpetually condemned to the fringes of the economy as by-standers and lowly paid labourers.

 

Madame President,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

 

The implementation of the parastatals reform programme continues to call for a greater sense of urgency. To date, modest progress has been made with respect to restructuring of the Agri-bank. A State Enterprises and Parastatals Management Bill, which is intended to codify the Corporate Governance Framework shall be brought to this august House during this Session.

 

Madame President,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

Improving service delivery remains Government's major priority. It is in this context that Government has stepped up its efforts in implementing reforms and modernisation initiatives under the Results-Based Management (RBM) Programme. Utilisation of Information Communication Technologies under the e-Government Programme will be intensified in all public agencies. Important milestones have already been realised in this regard. In the education sector, these include the establishment of a Tele-Education Centre at the University of Zimbabwe and e-learning centers at Chogugudza Primary School in Domboshava and Landa J. Nkomo High School in Tsholotsho. The spread of the e-learning programme to more rural schools is an ongoing project.

 

Madame President,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

 

The African Union adopted the Charter on the Values and Principles of Public Service Administration at its 16th Ordinary Session held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 13th January this year. The Charter, which seeks to consolidate the decision taken collectively by Member States to improve public service delivery, combat corruption, protect the rights of citizens as users of public service and to promote sustainable development on the continent shall be tabled in Parliament during this Session.

 

Madame President,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

 

The Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) which brings together Government, Business and Labour in negotiations over key socio-economic matters was established in accordance with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No. 44. Although the TNF has pursued dialogue since its formation, its success has however been constrained by the lack of a legal framework. To circumvent this shortcoming, a Tripartite Negotiating Forum Bill shall be tabled for discussion in Parliament during this Session.

 

Madame President,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

 

Zimbabwe has variously been applauded for its progress in eradicating gender inequalities in its society. This thrust has received impetus from the country's participation in a number of regional and international treaties, conventions, protocols and declarations that promote the advancement of gender equity and women empowerment. However, to keep up the momentum, the year 2000 National Gender Policy is being reviewed in order to align it to other international and regional commitments, such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). More recently, a broad-based economic empowerment framework for women and communities in Zimbabwe was launched. The framework proposes strategic interventions to, inter alia, facilitate women's participation in key economic decision-making positions, ensure employment equity and to enhance women's business ownership and entrepreneurship.

 

Madame President,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

 

Government's long held view that youth training and development is an important investment in the nation's future has seen the implementation of youth development programmes, such as the Youth Vocational Skills Training and the Training for Enterprise Programmes. In addition, youth economic empowerment programmes have been and continue to be implemented in partnership with some local financial institutions. The recently approved National Youth Policy will provide further impetus to the implementation of these programmes. In addition, a programme to establish qualification standards for vocational training and entrepreneurship, that will also ensure that all skills acquired are accorded a credit value and may be considered for employment and further training and qualifications, is currently under consideration.

 

Madam President,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

 

Zimbabwe's foreign policy continues to be anchored on the promotion and protection of the country's national interests, respect for international law and treaty obligations, peaceful co-existence with other nations and the settlement of disputes through peaceful means. As a member of the African Union Peace and Security Council, and indeed of SADC, Zimbabwe will continue to play its part in the search for African solutions to African problems.

 

Furthermore, we will continue to work within the ambit of the United Nations in pursuit of world peace and prosperity. Zimbabwe has always obliged when called upon to provide peacekeepers and monitors by the United Nations. It is pleasing to note that our peacekeepers and monitors have consistently demonstrated high level professionalism and dedication to duty, as a result of which they continue to be called upon for such expeditions. We therefore salute our forces for a job well done.

 

Back home, as we prepare for the holding of elections as well as the hosting of the UNWTO General Assembly next year, we count on our security agencies to continue to guarantee a peaceful and stable environment.

 

Madame President,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

 

As we look ahead, irrespective of our political differences, let us continue to be bound together as Zimbabweans, and to maintain a disciplined focus on the task of developing our country for the benefit of our current and future generations. Let us also continue to engender within ourselves the belief that we are masters of our own destiny and the resolve to jealously guard our hard-won independence and nationhood, hoisting national unity as our solid bond. To this end, I wish to appeal to all our leaders, followers of our Parties and other organisations and stakeholders, including the media, to adopt the pledge to work genuinely for national unity and cohesion. Let us all shun violence in all its manifestations and latent forms, especially as we look forward to our national elections.

 

On that note,

Madame President,

Mr. Speaker Sir,

 

Allow me now to commend these matters for your consideration and to declare this, the Fifth Session of the Seventh Parliament of the Republic of Zimbabwe, duly open.

I thank you.

MADAM PRESIDENT resumed the Chair at Fourteen Minutes to One O'clock p.m.

PRAYERS

(MADAM PRESIDENT in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY MADAM PRESIDENT

OPENING OF PARLIAMENT

MADAM PRESIDENT: I have to inform hon. senators that the Senate has this day attended upon the President of Zimbabwe in the Chamber of the House of Assembly. The President was pleased to address both Houses of Parliament. I have for purposes of greater accuracy, obtained a copy of the Presidential Speech.

I lay upon the Table a copy of the Speech, which the President of Zimbabwe has been pleased to deliver this day. For the information of Senators, the Speech will be printed in the Votes and Proceedings and in the Hansard. The Speech will also be available on the Parliament website.

APPOINTMENT TO THEMATIC COMMITTEES

MADAM PRESIDENT: I also have to inform Senators that in order to facilitate the work of Parliament, Committees nominated in the 4th Session of the 7th Parliament, including the changes that were subsequently made by political parties will be retained as they were until such a time that the Committee of Standing Rules and Orders make the necessary appointments.

The full list of the Committee membership will appear in the Votes and Proceedings of the Senate.

MADAM PRESIDENT adjourned the House without putting any question at Nine Minutes to One o'clock p.m. until Thursday, 15th November, 2012.

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Senate Hansard Vol. 22 SENATE HANSARD - 30 OCTOBER 2012 VOL. 22 NO. 01