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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 03 - 2013
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
February 13, 2013


The House of Assembly debated the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare on the status of residential care institutions in Zimbabwe for orphans and the elderly. The House also debated a motion by Hon. Fred Kanzama (ZANU PF Mutare South) to turn former detention centres into historical monuments where nationalists were confined during the struggle for national independence.

House of Assembly Plenary

Debate on the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Committee Report on the status of Residential Care Institutions in Zimbabwe for Orphans and the Elderly

The Chairpersons of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare successfully moved a motion to resuscitate debate of the Committee’s Report on the status of residential care institutions in Zimbabwe for orphans and the elderly which had lapsed due to the prorogation of the 4th Session of Parliament. She said the Report lapsed before Members had the opportunity to debate it and she felt that the Committee’s observations were very important and required the urgent attention of Parliament.

The major observation of the Committee was that residential care institutions for the elderly and orphans in the country have been severely affected by the economic situation to the extent that the most of these care centres were failing to meet basic needs of the elderly and orphans. The Committee further observed that the public care institutions were in a worse off situation as compared to the privately owned. In the light of this dire situation, the Committee recommended the following measures to the Executive;

  • Need to resuscitate the Departments of Social Welfare Services through injection of human and capital resources.
  • Institutionalization of children and the elderly must be the last resort. Instead, foster care can be effective if it is adequately promoted and funded by the government of Zimbabwe. Alternatives such as family support services in the communities or in a family setting, kinship care supporting child-headed house-holds and domestic adoption are recommended care options.
  • Government should convert dormitory style institutions to family-based units either through re-modelling of existing buildings or through construction of new units.
  • Government should prioritize resources to these care institutions because it is government’s primary responsibility to meet the core minimum obligation for each child in the residential care institutions. Non-Governmental Organizations should complement government efforts.
  • Government should be consistent in paying out per capita grants for children and employee salary grants
  • Government must put in place structures and systems that will ensure accountability to all resources that are channeled to residential care institutions.
  • Child offenders committing minor offences should not be placed in remand institutions together with hard core child offenders instead they should be integrated back into the community after going through rehabilitation.
  • Old people and children in residential care institutions should be treated free of charge in council clinics.
  • Government should subsidize or exempt those living in residential care institutions from paying utility bills.

Debate on the Motion Regarding Turning Detention Centres into Historical Monuments

Hon. Fred Kanzama moved a motion in the House urging government to accord historical recognition of monumental status to prisons that were used by the colonial government to detain nationalists during the struggle for national independence, such Whahwa, Gonakudzingwa, Sikombela etc. Hon. Kanzama noted that such a move would not only serve to honour heroes and heroines of the liberation struggle who were detained in those centres but will also help preserve the history of the liberation of this country. He further argued that the country also stood to reap economic benefits as these former detention centres will become cultural tourist attractions as is the case in countries such as United States of America and South Africa.

The motion received support across the political divide. However some MPs felt that the motion should not be selective but recognize all other centres across the country that played the same role to reflect the national outlook of the struggle for national independence.

Members, mainly from the MDC formations, appealed to government to ensure that if such monuments were constructed, the roll call of honour should include all the names of people were once detained in those centres regardless of political affiliation. They accused ZANU PF for being selective regarding in according hero and heroine status to nationalists who participated in the liberation of the country from colonial regime.

Today’s Major Business in Parliament

The first segment of the sitting today is dedicated to Question and Answer Session for both oral and written questions where backbenchers quiz Ministers on policy issues under their purview.

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