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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 2 - 2012
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
February 03, 2012

Introduction

Below is summary of oral evidence received by Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Committee and Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Committee from government departments they shadow.

Highlights of Committees Activities

Public Service Labour and Social Welfare Committee

The Minister of Public Service Hon. Lucia Matibenga appeared before the Committee on Public Service Labour and Social Welfare to apprise the Committee on the on-going industrial action by the civil servants. The Minister informed the Committee that the media had misinformed the public about the real issues behind the strike. She said what triggered the strike was the delay by the Ministry of Finance in coming up with government’s position paper as demanded by the civil service unions. She also informed the Committee that the unions were demanding, among other things, that revenue from diamonds should be accounted for in a transparent manner.

In its position paper, government offered civil servants a resource envelope of $240 million and placed the obligation on the unions as to how the money could be disaggregated in terms of salary adjustments, allowances and pensions etc. The unions refused this as they felt that the offer was opaque and therefore demanded that government should clearly spell out the actually percentages. The Minister further informed the Committee that while she appreciated the plight of civil servants, there were simply no resources to meet their demands given the tight fiscal space that government was operating in. She said current employment costs for civil servants accounted for 67% of the national budget, a scenario which described as “unsustainable”. She also placed the onus of Members of Parliament by pointing out that the 2012 Budget which they passed in December last year did not have a provision for salary adjustments for civil servants and yet her ministry is expected to increase salaries for civil servants. She counseled Members of Parliament to seriously scrutinize the budget next time instead of rushing it through without understanding its social and economic impact.

Transport Communications and Infrastructural Development Committee

The Committee received oral evidence from the Chief Executive Officer of the Zimbabwe National Road Authority (ZINARA) Mr. Chitukutuku on the awarding of contracts by district councils for the rehabilitation of roads, the current position on tollgate construction, take-over of toll-gate function and the rehabilitation of major highways.

Mr. Chitukutuku informed the Committee that efforts for ZINARA to take-over the toll-gate function from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) were at an advanced stage. Recruitment of staff was currently underway. He estimated that by the second quarter of this year, ZINARA would be in charge of the toll-gate fee collection.

The Committee also heard that in 2011, ZINARA collected US$13 million from tollgates. The amount has been disbursed to the Department of Roads for the maintenance of highways and tolled roads. In addition, part of the money has gone towards servicing a US$10 million loan from the Finance Ministry obtained through the Investment Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) for the Harare-Norton and Harare-Skyline Road dualisation project.

For the Road Fund (toll fees, vehicle licence fees, fuel levy, abnormal load fees), ZINARA collected a total of US$80 million and the money was used for road maintenance.

Regarding the awarding of contracts for routine maintenance in various districts, ZINARA informed the Committee that District Councils selected their own contractors. ZINARA only conducted due diligence on the chosen contractors. Mr. Chitukutuku also indicated that because most Rural District Councils lacked the capacity for quality control, ZINARA played a monitoring role from the inception to the completion of the project.

On construction of tollgates/toll plazas, the CEO indicated that ZINARA would construct 10 model toll plazas on the Plumtree-Harare-Mutare highway currently under rehabilitation. The current toll-gate structures would be removed to pave way for the construction of new modern structures. The Committee questioned government rationale and cost implications of constructing new toll-gate structures barely a year the current structures were constructed.

Regarding the Plumtree-Harare-Mutare highway, the ZINARA CEO informed the Committee that there had been delays clearing the equipment by ZIMRA.

Forthcoming Committees Activities

A schedule of committees’ activities for the week-ending 12 February 2012 is attached herewith.

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