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  • Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 29- 2012
    Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
    June 22, 2012


    The major highlight of this week’s sitting in the House of Assembly was the Prime Minister’s question and answer session where backbenchers sought clarifications from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on a number of topical policy issues affecting citizens in the country. The Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Hon. Walter Mzembi, made a Ministerial Statement in the House of Assembly on the country’ preparedness to host the 2013 United Nations World Tourism General Assembly in Victoria Falls. The House of Assembly also ratified the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially, Women and Children.The House also debated a motion by Hon. Jeffryson Chitando (MDC-T Masvingo Central) on the need for government to put in place mechanisms that will ensure a peaceful post election transition in the country.

    The issue of “ghost workers” in the public service came under spotlight in the Senate this week. The Senate also debated a motion on the plight of teachers in the country.

    Plenary Proceedings in the House of Assembly

    Prime Minister’s Question and Answer Session

    The Prime Minister prefaced his question and answer session by expressing his gratitude to the National Football Team for winning their match against Burundi last Sunday. He also thanked all MPs who participated in debates in the House during this session. He expressed disappointment at the poor attendance to parliament by Ministers and expressed hope that there will be change of attitude by Ministers in the next session of Parliament. Below are some of the issues discussed during the Prime Minister’s Question and Answer Session.

    Plight of Livestock in Drought Stricken Areas

    Responding to a question by Hon. Paul Mazikana (ZANU PF Mbire) regarding the plight of livestock in drought stricken areas mainly in the Southern Region of the country, the Prime Minister said government was already seized with the matter. A Cabinet Taskforce has been appointed to look into the issue and advise government appropriate measures to take.

    Political Utterance by Senior Military Officers

    Prime Minister Tsvangirai told the House that as much as political utterances by some senior military officers were unfortunate, they reflected personal views of a small clique in the security sector. He noted that most officers in the security sector were committed to upholding the Constitution and the protection of the people of Zimbabwe. However, he said such statements tended to undermine efforts to hold credible, free and fair elections. The Prime Minister was reacting to a question by Hon. Blessing Chebundo (MDC-T Kwekwe Central).

    Plight of Cotton Farmers
    Hon. Isheunesu Muza asked the Prime Minister to explain to the House measures that government had put in place to address the plight of cotton farmers in their price impasse with merchants. The Prime Minister noted that the current impasse was mainly due to policy contradictions in the cotton sector; government liberalized the cotton marketing system on one hand and imposed price controls at the same time. He said the best model was for government to subsidize the inputs supply side so as to cushion cotton farmers from fluctuating international cotton prices.

    Government Position on the Chisumbanje Ethanol Project

    The Prime Minister clarified government’s position on the Ethanol Project in Chisumbanje to the House in response to Hon. Moses Jiri’s (MDC-T Chikomba Central) question. He said government was not against the green fuel project but the issue at the core of the problem was that the agreement between the investor and the Agricultural Rural Development Authority (ARDA) was poorly constructed to the disadvantage of government. He said government was currently looking into the agreement to ensure that the project benefited the country.

    Influx of Imported Drugs

    Hon. William Mutomba (ZANU PF Buhera North) noted with concern the influx of imported medical drugs and herbs in the country and asked the Prime Minister what government was doing regarding the issue to ensure that consumers were not exposed to harmful drugs. The Prime Minister said the Minister of Health was better placed to answer that question. He, however, said government relied on the advice from the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe on such matters.

    Food Deficit Mitigation Measures

    Prime Minister Tsvangirai said government would ensure that grain was moved from surplus areas to deficit areas to avert starvation in those areas which did not harvest adequate food. In addition, government would import 500 000 metric tonnes of grain possibly from Zambia to offset the grain deficit in the country. He was responding to a question from Hon. Reggie Moyo (MDC-T Luveve) who wanted to know measures that government has put in place to avert looming starvation in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.

    Plight of Children Living with Disabilities

    The Prime Minister told the House that government was very committed to improving the plight of children with disabilities so that they have a normal upbringing like all other children in society. However, he said government could only do what it could given the limited resources at its disposal. He thus called upon everybody in society; families, the corporate sector and all other stakeholders to assist government in improving the plight of children with disabilities. He was responding to a question by Hon. Anastancia Ndhlovu (ZANU PF Shurugwi South).

    Water Situation in Harare and Bulawayo

    Hon. Gift Dzirutwe (MDC-T Glen Norah) wanted to know what government was doing to address water woes in Harare and Bulawayo given the perennial challenges the two major cities in the country have been facing for some time. The Prime Minister said government was aware of the acute water and sanitation problems in the two cities and was currently implementing some measures to address the problem. Regarding the situation in Harare, the Prime Minister said he would be commissioning a new water treatment plant this weekend. He said this will go a long way in addressing water supply challenges in the city of Harare. Regarding Bulawayo, he noted with concern the slow progress regarding the completion of the Mtshabezi Dam Water Project, meant to augment water supplies to the city. He said delays were mainly attributed to the red tape in the State Procurement Board which took its time to adjudicate tenders thereby offsetting project timelines.

    Government Response to Climate Change Phenomenon

    Hon. Abraham Sithole (ZANU PF Chiredzi East) asked the Prime Ministers what measures government was putting in place to address the phenomenon of climate change. The Prime Minister noted that climate change was a global phenomenon that required a collective response from all the countries in the world. He said the Rio Summit in Brazil on Sustainable Environment that the President was currently attending was one such response to the phenomenon by the international community.

    Government Position on ESSAR Deal

    The Prime Minister was asked by Hon. Settlement Chikwinya (MDC-T Mbizo) to clarify to the House government’s position on the ESSAR deal given conflicting press statements from the Minister of Industry and Commerce and the Minister of Mines and Mining Development. In his response, the Prime Minister said the apparent lack of consultation between the two ministries was unfortunate. However, he said Cabinet has already made a decision on the issue and agreed that Mwenezi iron ore claims be released to ESSAR as part of the deal on condition that ESSAR and the Government of Zimbabwe will conduct a joint evaluation of the claim.

    Distribution of the AIDS Levy Fund

    Hon. Franco Ndambakuwa (ZANU PF Magunje) raised concern to the Prime Minister regarding the distribution of the AIDS Levy Fund. He said despite the fact that all employees in the country contribute to the AIDS Levy Fund ever month, many people living with HIV/AIDS were struggling to access anti-retro viral drugs. The Prime Minister said he was not aware of the quantum of revenue realized from the Fund and as such was not in position to say whether the money was enough or not to meet the demand of people who require this service. He thus advised Hon. Ndambakuwa to refer his question to the Minister of Health and Child Welfare who was better placed to address the nitty-gritty of the Fund.

    Revenue from Diamonds

    Hon. Marvelous Kumalo (MDC-T St Mary’s) asked the Prime Minister to clarify the correct position regarding revenue from the diamond sector. In response, Prime Minister Tsvangirai informed the House that Cabinet in its Special Meeting on Thursday last week discussed the issue and agreed that all revenue from the diamond sector should be channeled to treasury. He noted that between January and May this year treasury received less than $25 million, a far cry from the projected revenue. He said the projected revenue of $600 million in the 2012 National Budget would not be met given the current inflow trends from the Diamond Sector. On a suggestion by Hon. Willias Madzimure to cancel licences of the current diamond mines in Chiadzwa, the Prime Minister said this would be counterproductive. He said the issue with diamond revenue had nothing to do with production but with transparency and accountability in the marketing of the Chiadzwa diamonds.

    Civil Servants Salary Freeze

    In response to Hon. Jeffryson Chitando’s (MDC-T Masvingo Central) question regarding press reports on the salary freeze for civil servants, the Prime Minister said government has not adopted such a policy. However, he said as much as government was committed in upgrading the current salaries of civil servants, government did not have the latitude to do so at the moment given the tight fiscal space it was faced with. He further said it was irresponsible for some people in government to apportion blame on the Minister of Finance, Hon. Tendai Biti. He said government decisions were made on the basis of collective principle and as such the Minister of Finance was merely responsible for articulating government policies on public finance.

    Phasing Out Private Transport System

    Hon. Rusipa Kapesa (ZANU PF Makonde) enquired from the Prime Minister if government had any plans to phase out the private transport system in favour of the public transport system given the carnage on the roads in the country. The Prime Minister said government was not in a position to do so for now given that the public transport sector was still facing many challenges and was thus not yet in a position to provide a better service.

    Status of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ)

    The issue of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) came up again in parliament during the Prime Minister’s Question and Answer Session on Wednesday. Hon. Misheck Shoko asked the Prime Minister to clarify the correct status of BAZ given conflicting statements from government officials on the issue, especially the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity’s insistence that BAZ was properly constituted. Prime Minister Tsvangirai said BAZ was one of the 24 outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which the Cabinet and Party Principals agreed it should be implemented. In addition, the Prime Minister noted that nominations by Parliament’s Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC) to the Board were ignored by the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity, Hon. Webster Shamu. Thus the Prime Minister called for the censure of Minister Shamu for disobeying directives of Cabinet and GPA Party Principals.

    Ministerial Statement by the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry on the hosting of UNWTO Conference by Zimbabwe and Zambia

    The Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Hon. Walter Mzembi, made a Ministerial Statement in the House of Assembly on Thursday 21 June 2012 on the country’ preparedness to host the 2013 United Nations World Tourism General Assembly in Victoria Falls.

    He assured the House that preparations were well on course. The Minister said government has given high priority to this event and as such all government agencies have been marshaled towards the successful hosting of the event. At Cabinet level, government assigned Vice President Hon. Joice Mujuru to coordinate preparations for the event.

    However, Hon. Mzembi appealed to the nation to maintain peace and security in the country as this was a prerequisite for the successful hosting of the event of this magnitude.

    Ratification of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children

    The Co-Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Theresa Makone brought before parliament the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially, Women and Children, for ratification in terms of Subsection (1) of Section 111B of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. She said the purpose of the protocol was to prevent and combat trafficking in persons in especially women and children. Thus the protocol seeks to protect and assist the victims of such trafficking with full respect for their human rights and also to promote cooperation among third parties in order to meet those objectives.

    The House unanimously approved the protocol and it now awaits approval by the Senate. Debate on the Motion on the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance The House debate a motion introduced by Hon. Jeffryson Chitando on Wednesday 20 June 2012 urging government to institute mechanisms to ensure a peaceful post election transition in the country. The motion further called SADC and African Union to ensure that member states subscribed to the ethos of the AU Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

    Hon. Chitando urged the government of Zimbabwe to emulate other countries in the continent such as Zambia, Malawi, Senegal and Lesotho for peaceful power transitions in their countries. Regarding the forthcoming elections in the country, he urged SADC to deploy its election observers in Zimbabwe at least 6 months before and after the elections.

    Although Members who debated the motion were agreed across the political divide for the need to institute mechanisms that will ensure peaceful elections in the country, they differed along partisan lines on some aspects such as the invitation of election observers from western countries who ZANU PF MPs said they were hostile to their party.

    The motion was unanimously adopted on Thursday 21 June 2012 after extensive debate by Members across the political divide.

    Plenary Proceedings in the Senate

    Debate on a motion on Ghost Workers in the Public Service

    Senator James Makore (MDC-T Chitungwiza) moved a motion on the alleged existence of ghost workers on the Public Service Payroll. He condemned the financial prejudice government suffered as a result of the alleged ghost workers in the public service, who continue to draw salaries from government coffers. Senator Makore also expressed dismay at the lack of an expeditious response to correct the situation by eradicating the potential existence of ghost workers and bringing to account all those responsible for illegally recruiting these so-called ghost workers.

    Plight of Teachers

    Senator Chief Musarurwa moved a motion on the plight of teachers in the country. He noted that teachers were not remunerated well despite their commendable efforts of providing quality education for children. He thus called upon government to take appropriate measures to alleviate the plight of teachers otherwise the country risked deteriorating education standards.

    Adjournment of Parliament

    Both Houses adjourned to Tuesday 10 July 2012.

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