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Roundup Bulletin No. 9 – 2012
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
March 19, 2012
15 March 2012, the House
of Assembly debated a report on the enquiry of the Phase Two
Willowvale Flats Housing Project, which was tabled by Hon. Lovemore
Mupukuta, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public works
and National Housing. For the first time since the 1st Session of
the current parliament, the Senate had the occasion to field questions
to a Minister.
Proceedings in the House of Assembly
on the Public Works and Housing Committee Report
of the portfolio Committee on Public Works and National Housing,
Hon. Lovemore Mupukuta presented a report on the Committee’s
enquiry on the Phase Two Willowvale Flats Housing Project. The Committee
compiled its report after conducting thorough investigations which
involved on-spot inspections to verify the occupants of the flats.
The report revealed that there were irregularities bordering on
corruption in the manner the Willovale Fats were allocated to the
occupants. The House heard that the Flats were meant for civil servants
and the vulnerable members of society who were in need of housing.
One of the conditions was that the beneficiaries of these Flats
should have been people on the housing waiting list who did not
own other properties. In addition, civil servants were supposed
to deposit $3 500 and other applicants $10 000. However, the Committee
established that the majority of people who got these flats owned
other houses around Harare. Most of the civil servants that applied
for the scheme did not benefit since most of the flats were allocated
to those who had paid $10 000 deposits. The House was shocked to
hear that one beneficiary was allocated three flats which she then
registered under her children’s names. Some of the beneficiaries
refused to be interviewed by the committee when it was carrying
out its investigation.
The report attracted
heated debate in the House and there was unanimity across the political
divide that the manner in which the flats were distributed deliberately
breached laid down procedures and thus defeated government’s
efforts to provide affordable housing to civil servants and the
vulnerable members of society. Hence the House called for further
investigations on all government housing projects as the case of
the Willowvale Flats could just be a tip of the iceberg. The majority
of members called for the establishment of an independent body to
carry out such investigations. Some Members questioned why the Anti-Corruption
Commission had not taken an interest in this matter.
called on the Ministry of National Housing to explain to the House
why laid down procedures were not followed in the allocation of
questioned the source of funding for those civil servants who were
able to raise the $10 000 deposit, given their current salary levels.
They argued that those civil servants should also be investigated
to ascertain how they managed to raise such an amount which is far
beyond their salaries.
The House was
unanimously agreed that those beneficiaries who refused to talk
to the Committee were guilty of contempt of Parliament and therefore
appropriate measures should be taken against them.
on Committees Activities
Water Lands and Resettlement Committee
Minister, Hon. Tendai Biti, appeared before the Agriculture, Water,
Lands and Resettlement Portfolio Committee to update the Committee
on government’s funding efforts to agriculture.
testified that government’s support to the agricultural sector
was in the form of grain procurement from farmers, inputs support,
capitalization of Agribank, extension and other support services,
irrigation development and mechanization, among other things. However,
the Minister testified that the agriculture sector now contributed
just 15% to Zimbabwe’s GDP from the previous levels of 34%
(direct contribution) and 45% (both direct and indirect contribution).
The Minister attributed the change to economic diversification that
has taken place in the country, e.g. Communications now contributed
20% to the GDP while Tourism’s contribution has grown tremendously
to threaten agriculture’s position in terms of contribution
to the GDP. In addition, the Minister pointed to the effects of
the 1997-2008 crisis that was neither occasioned by the lack of
money nor shortage of land, which resulted in reduced production
despite the vast amount of funds that were invested into agriculture.
Hon. Biti also
gave an example of the abuse of the agricultural input scheme by
high ranking government officials. He said this was counterproductive
to government’s efforts to boost agricultural activity. The
Minister also informed the Committee that the problem bedeviling
agriculture and the country at large was that politicians were not
putting the country and the people first. He indicated that more
time was spent on politicking rather than on developmental projects,
which explained why he was being blamed in some quarters of sabotaging
also heard that one of the challenges in financing agriculture was
that the farming season was not in sync with the constitutionally
determined financial year. To remedy that, The Minister indicated
that he was working with the Minister of Agriculture to come up
with a three-year financial roll-out plan to finance agriculture.
In addition, the Ministry of Agriculture was working on a holistic
Hon. Biti identified
the following as major challenges facing the agricultural sector
and what needed to be tackled by government in order to improve
the fortunes of this once vibrant sector;
- The false
belief that the State can finance agriculture when in fact the
private sector has to do the financing: the State should only
come in to assist the poor and a few other sectors.
- The general
lack of appreciation that agriculture and farming are a business
and need to be run as such. Farmers need to come up with a business
model and have a business mindset when they venture into agriculture.
- There is
no title to land. The Minister stated that land needed to be securitized
and be capable of hypothecation. Without this, the finance sector
will not be able to finance agriculture as the finance sector
did before. The Minister added that land should have exchange
value otherwise the land would be dead capital. As such the country
needs to have private property rights that can be transferred.
With title deed, the former white commercial farmers owned live
capital (as opposed to dead capital in the form of communal areas).
Because of the land reform and lack of title in land, four fifths
of the country¡¦s land is now dead capital.
- The lack
of appreciation that the economy of the country was run by finance
to the agriculture sector. The Minister indicated that the land
reform destroyed the financial services sector and, in the process,
shrunk the economy as a whole because of the multiplier effect
that came with it.
Proceedings in the Senate
above, the Senate had the occasion to pose questions to a Minister
during the Question and Answer time. Question and Answer session
is held on Wednesdays in the House of Assembly and Thursdays in
Last week Thursday,
only Hon. Eric Matinenga, the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary
Affairs was in the Senate during Question and Answer session. Senators
were very grateful to the Minister for being the first Minister
to avail himself to the Senate for such a session.
only one question to the Minister regarding the Constituency Development
Fund (CDF) for the entire segment of policy questions. They queried
why they were not allocated CDF like their counterparts in the House
of Assembly. Minister Matinenga explained to the Senators that the
concept of CDF was first enunciated by the Minister of Finance in
his 2009 Budget Statement, in which he outlined the objectives of
the programme as well as its parameters.
said when his Ministry crafted the CDF Constitution and the Accounting
Manual, they were guided by that policy statement enunciated by
the Minister of Finance in his 2009 Budget Statement. The policy
as announced in 2009, envisaged a situation whereby the CDF would
be administered at the constituency level by all elected representative;
that is, the Member of the House of Assembly, the Senator and the
Councilors in each respective constituency. However, due to lack
of communication, other stakeholders have been excluded in the CDF
decision-making process. Hon. Matinenga informed the Senate that
he and his Senator and Councilors were working well together and
this was what should happen in all the other constituencies.
said CDF belonged to the constituency not the MPs and as such the
money should be used on projects meant to uplift the community not
for political gain to the incumbent MP. He said going forward the
parameters of CDF should be fine-tuned so that the responsibilities
of people administering the Fund were very clear to everybody.
Both House are
sitting this week, Tuesday march 2012.
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