Extracted from Parliament Hansard:
Committee of Supply
Main estimates of expenditure
First Order read: Committee of Supply 2019: Main Estimates of Expenditure.
House in Committee
Vote 1 – Office of the President and Cabinet – US$294 700 000 put and agreed to
On Vote 2 – Parliament of Zimbabwe – US$101 013 000:
HON. CHIKWINYA: Thank you, Chairperson. I rise to make submissions on Vote 2 – Parliament. The first critical issue is that this Vote does not support the capacitation of Parliament in the first manner that number one, if you look at the justification from secretariat itself, in conjunction with the work plans that have been submitted by all the Committees – including the latest documents that we received from the Speaker which is the national strategic document. They speak to capacitation of Parliament in as far as 1) workshops are concerned. We are having an issue whereby Committees are having to heavily rely upon technical partners, civil society organisation for capacity building. That is unsustainable and that is not correct. It puts Parliamentarians under the control of those civil society organisations.
Parliament must be able to stand alone and capacitate its own members alone for them to be able to carry effective inquiries. Some of the civil society organisations have got a conflicting mandate and mission with Parliament. How then are we able to superintend and perform our oversight duties when we are being sponsored by the same civil society organisations? In as far as capacitating members for them to be able to go through all the planned efforts, we need this Budget to be increased. That is number 1.
Number 2 is the issue of Constituency Information Centres, only yesterday we received portraits of the President. I did not take that portrait and that was not out of disrespect, but where do I put it. Where do I hang it? Are you going to be happy to see a parliamentarian hanging the portrait of the President under a tree because this is what the Minister is entailing and implying that I must hang the portrait of the President under a tree because he did not support the establishment of Parliamentary Constituency Information Centres – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –
THE HON. CHAIRPERSON: Order in the House Hon. Members. Can the Hon. Member be heard in silence, please?
HON. CHIKWINYA: Hon. Chair, only today – the 20th of December, the Minister announced a new board for ZIMRA. On that board is the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Finance. I was seated across to understand his wisdom on why he put a permanent secretary to sit in the board. His reasoning is why I did not stand up to raise a point of order because I could understand that they need a technical person who interlinks between the Ministry and the Board. The very same principle must be applied for Members of Parliament. We need researchers to interface between the Constituency and the parliamentarians – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – The very principle of having a technical mind interfacing with politicians because board members are policy makers and like politicians, we also need researchers to be able to understand the technical input from the Constituency to the parliamentarians who then present as a matter of policy to Parliament.
The $2 380.00 allocated under the PCIC is not enough to employ even one individual at the minimum Government rate of $400 for even three months. At that rate, we are going to be employing our personal assistants at $94 and this is on the assumption that it is a one as to one in terms of the regime.
My third and last point under Parliament is that you would recall that three weeks ago, heavy rains befell this city and affected Parliament. It was an embarrassment to see water locked in Parliament. There is need to support our secretariat to carry out the mandatory repairs in this Parliament. Our secretariat cannot even function. I have not even touched on issues of welfare because I want to believe that he has totally ignored that.
Therefore I move that the Vote 2 be restored to where it was in terms of the proposal and where do we get the money? In the Budget, there is $70 million which he allocated to himself and did not qualify how it is going to be used and it has got a special name. I therefore propose that the Budget of Parliament takes away a chunk from that $70 million and present it to Vote 2 for us to be able to have a way forward. I thank you.
HON. E. NDLOVU: Mr. Speaker Sir, I stand here to acknowledge the presentation by my learned friend…
THE CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Member can you address the Chair.
HON. E. NDLOVU: Hon. Chair, I would like to respond to the issues raised by my learned friend from Kwekwe – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE CHAIRPERSON: Can we have order in the House. Less noise in the House Hon. Members!
HON. E. NDLOVU: I appreciate that we, as the Government of Zimbabwe have limited resources. Our envelop is limited and our money is limited. We do not have enough money to allocate Parliament.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Member can you approach the Chair?
Hon. E. Ndlovu approached the Chair – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE CHAIRPERSON: Less noise in the House Hon. Members please.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you Chairman. I do not blame the Hon. Minister Ndlovu for wanting to debate the budget because she is in the Executive. She is not a Member of Parliament. She has two cars, she has bodyguards and many allowances – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I really understand.
We now go back to the three pillars of the state and we ask ourselves we are supposed to be equal. The Member of Parliament are entitled to one car for five years. Ministers are entitled to two cars plus those of the subsidiary that they have. They have allowances. They have everything that they want. This is one pillar of the state which is the executive. We have got the judiciary as well, the judges, magistrates….
THE CHAIRPERSON: Hon. Mliswa, would you be guided to concentrate your debate on the – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
HON. T. MLISWA: The issue is that we are trying to understand the relevance of Parliament but you cannot talk about the relevance of Parliament without talking about the three pillars of the state and then say, what role does Parliament pay? The Executive has got a role that they play but we are supposed to be equal. This is the point. But if we look at it, we are not equal in any way because others are capacitated more than the others, yet this Parliament here is the one that is responsible for oversight over everyone but it is paid less. How then do we expect this country to move forward when we have those who are supposed to be exercising oversight are less capacitated? Because of that, the relevance of Vote 2 being there is that Parliament having the role of oversight must be able to do it in a manner where they are not compromised. Members of Parliament here are looked down upon because of the welfare issue more than anybody else.
We are all Members of Parliament with the Ministers who are also appointed by the President but the moment that they are appointed to the Executive, we are different because of what they have. Members of Parliament spend more time in the Ministers’ offices begging for coupons because Ministers have a full book of coupons per month/week. If you look at it, how then do you expect Members of Parliament to also exercise their role? So, you have a situation where you will have one of the cousins who is poor and as a result, they also get allowances on the cars that they have. If I am not mistaken, I think they get cars every two years and they buy those cars at book value. A Range Rover costing $120 000, they get it for around $6 000 book value.
If you want to see the difference, go to any Minister’s house today and see how many cars are parked there. This is out of order yet in terms of performance as Ministers, they have failed to move this country forward. So, it is only important that we are all equal and being equal is also about the resource which is given to us.
The Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development is very much aware that the budget that he is going to allocate to the Members of Parliament have oversight over it and for them to be effectively capacitated, we talk about the researchers and the Clerks in Parliament. We have a situation where one Clerk serves three Committees and one researcher serves three Committees. So, how then do you expect us to be able to be discharging our duties in a professional manner when we are handicapped in terms of research and human capital? That is glaring and we do not have the time because we are not full time and we do not have the time to be doing research. The research for us is done by the Parliament staff which is critical in ensuring that this Parliament is mandated to do its job accordingly.
I want to talk about the aspect of the community information centres and the constituencies as well. There is no way that you expect a constituency to function without being resourced and it is that one car again that goes around. The cars that we get are not too hard for the terrain. We are talking about a land cruiser which is the only car which is able to make sure that these Members here are able to do a job because the Toyotas that you give us are not able to do the job. You need a 4X4 Land Cruiser, V8 with chrome – those new ones. Those are the ones that we want. Members of Parliament who are seated here, the only thing that they own is a car and if they are not given a car which has value and which gets them to do the job, they will not be able to do their jobs. We can no longer have a situation where when a Member of Parliament ceases to be a Member of Parliament, he or she is a destitute. It is sad.
This is the only Parliament in the world where you regret not being a Member of Parliament. If you want to see how poor they are out there, the pension is not good enough, the allowances are not good enough yet they would have served this country. This is the time this year this budget must address the welfare of the Members of Parliament. As Members of Parliament, we have been labelled in a bad way because of our welfare. People look at our welfare and already they judge us and say Members of Parliament are not able to do A, B, C, D because of our welfare and that perception can only go away if this issue is addressed.
I want to talk about the role of the Members of Parliament on the ICT. Today we are in the ICT world – Ipads are not here, they do not have the computers yet we are expected to follow. You can see even at times Parliament does not even give us this Order Paper on time but, if we all have Ipads, we are able to take notes. This is the world that we are faced with at the end of the day and it is important that Parliament is capacitated in that way.
I want to also talk about the sitting allowances. They mean absolutely nothing. The Committee that I chair can sit from 8 to 8 in the evening working for this country but what they get is a pittance $75, not US dollar. Bond cash is better than RTGS and these are people who are working tirelessly for this country in those Committees. Those Committees have a risk on their own because you are exposing people who have money and who have the ability to even put a mafia together for you but what do we get – $75. That has to be reviewed because you want Members of Parliament to be able to execute their duties in a professional manner and that can only happen when they are sitting there and they are able to be given an allowance which is conducive. We meet on Mondays where the kitchen is closed and they are hungry – they do not eat.
You expect people to work yet they do not even get lunch when they are here and this budget must address the welfare of the players from even eating well.
We are talking about wanting to be a world class Parliament but we only have a one course meal and the dessert is an apple/banana yet when we go out to other areas we get trifle, a nice fruit salad, custard, ice cream and all that. But, look at what we get here – a mere banana and apple. There is no soup. The diet of Members of Parliament is important. Nutrition is important because when Members do not eat well, they do not function well. So, it is important that the nutrition of the Members of Parliament is maintained in order that they are able to discharge their duties.
Mr. Chairman, the Hon. Minister must understand that there is a programme called wellness. Wellness is the wellbeing of the Members of Parliament. They do not even have a gym where they can go to. They do not even have a sports club where they can go to and recreation is important for the mind. They are stressed in here. We have Members of Parliament dying because of blood pressure and stress that you know. So, how many more are going to die before we rescue the situation. We must have a recreation club where we play golf or choose any sport that we want to partake in. We must be able to have world class gyms where we are able to train because when you are strong physically, mentally, it equally helps you.
So, this is the world class Parliament that we are talking about. I want to talk about the issue of fuel coupons given to Members. Already, Parliament has actually cut down what Members are supposed to get. What we used to get in the Eighth Parliament is not what we get now. So, now you are saying to yourself, even the coupons that we got in the Eighth Parliament were not enough. Members of Parliament are people with integrity and dignity. Trust them and give them a whole book and let them have a book and not be scrounging around for coupons. We queue up like little children for coupons which are not even enough.
So, when are we going to have integrity and dignity left for the Members of Parliament? Members of Parliament, because their welfare is not enough end up selling fuel coupons. We are known for selling fuel coupons. Whenever it is a Thursday, all the service stations know that Members of Parliament are coming to sell fuel coupons because of the welfare that we have. It is a situation which is unattainable and a situation which cannot be allowed to happen. The role of Parliamentarians cannot be underestimated.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF COMMITTEES: Hon. Member, you are reminded of your time.
HON. T. MLISWA: Ok, I am going to summarise now. I talk about the allowances that we get when we leave this country. The allowances that we get are US$50 leaving Zimbabwe. It is not enough. The foreign currency that we get is not enough at all and it has to be looked into and the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development must be able to also increase that allowance we get when we leave the country. Parliament must be able to give us a credit card which you use and you account for it because when I do not have my money, it is parliamentary work that I am doing. There must be a credit card which is given to Members of Parliament when they travel and what they must do is to account for it when they come back, not a situation where the money that we get is not enough even for you want to buy meals when you leave the country. It does not represent the country well.
Lastly Mr. Chairman, Members of Parliament cannot be divided. They are all entitled to diplomatic passports and it is important that that money also goes towards Members of Parliament being given diplomatic passports. We cannot be divided. If I have a diplomatic passport and when I am travelling with my team, they do not have a diplomatic passport, they use the other route. How can we be divided over a mere issue that just needs capital injection? So, may I propose again that the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development ensures that Members of Parliament are all issued with diplomatic passports so that we are the same and no different. Thank you.
*HON. KWARAMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I rise to make my contribution on the welfare of Members of Parliament regarding the cars which are allocated to us. Being a Member of Parliament is a very tough task, especially for Members of Parliament who come from rural constituencies. The car which is given to the MP is a service vehicle which is used in the constituency. Even when there is a funeral, that car is used at that funeral and yet servicing the car is a very expensive exercise. At times we are not able to service that car because of the expenses involved and using your salary, it is not enough.
You will notice that because of the situation you are forced to use commuter omnibuses to conduct your business and we are now using public transport. We are saying, may you please expedite the process of allocating us vehicles for moving around because as stated before, the car given to the MP is a service vehicle. It is a universal car for the constituency. Whatever assignment has to be done in the constituency, the electorate expect that car to carry out those duties. I am pleading with you to increase allowances for better cars so that the MP can maintain the integrity and status expected of him. I thank you.
HON. SIKHALA: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Hon. Members, I want to remind you of a very important statement which our Speaker told us during the day of our induction at Pandari Lodge. The Speaker said, the powers belong to the Members of Parliament for them to see the votes to pass in Parliament. I have had a number of debates by Hon. Members on this vote, Mr. Chairman, which is up to the Members of Parliament today to see whether they are going to exercise their powers as the third arm of Government. The Legislature is part of the three arms of Government, Mr. Chairman, including the Judiciary and the Executive. Overlooking the interest of this Legislature where we are taken as kindergarten children, that hour must come to an end.
Mr. Chairman, the most concerning issue why I want to contribute to this vote is that Hon. Minister, do you understand that our Parliament is a member to a number of international organisations where we participate in various activities as part and parcel of international integration. The Zimbabwean Parliament is a member of the SADC PF, IPU, ACP-EU and Afro PAC. Our members who have been attending those meetings, Mr. Chairman, come back home humiliated when Zimbabwe’s membership arrears are 10 years back.
I still remember when I went to Geneva to attend the IPU meeting with the former Speaker, the late Hon. J. L. Nkomo. Zimbabwe was among only five states that had outstanding arrears to the IPU. If we ask the Speaker today and his delegation to the IPU, Zimbabwe is still in arrears 12 years back. Does the Minister know that? When Parliament made its bid, it was based on its…
HON. CHINOTIMBA: On a point of order – [HON. MEMBERS: Go and read your Standing Order, this is a Committee of Supply.] –
HON. SIKHALA: Mr. Chairman, what I want to impress on the Minister is that he must not be oblivious of those obligations. So specifically we urge him to reconsider the parliamentary vote. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): Hon. Chairman, if I could respond to the input from the Hon. Members questions starting with the Hon. Member Gonese. He raised a number of issues. Obviously, the first issue which cuts across is about the size of the resource envelope that the $101 million that we have allocated to Parliament is not adequate [HON. MEMBERS: It is Hon. Chikwinya.] –
It is Hon. Chikwinya who came to talk to me and also contributed, my apologies Sir. So he raised the issue of the size of the resource envelope and that cuts across the three contributions from Hon. Members of $101 million. I submit that this is a 25% increase from the previous year’s budget. We do work in terms of increments per annum. Twenty five percent is quite a bit from the $80 million from the 2018 budget to the $101 million for the 2019 budget.
Coming specifically to the issue of vehicles, this issue is under control; we are dealing with it. Members of Parliament, you will get vehicles and I think we had even agreed on the model and if my information is correct unless they have changed, the model, it is a Hilux twin cab – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – if I can proceed Hon. Chair, we can debate the model of the car offline – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections ] –
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Can you listen to the Minister please.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: We are dealing with the issue of motor vehicles; you will get your motor vehicles. I cannot give you the model right away because you are already disputing the model. Maybe my information is not correct on the model but you will get your vehicles. I also want to correct an impression that has been created in the House that the Ministers have received their cars. That is not correct, we have not authorised the purchase of vehicles for Ministers. I certainly do not have a vehicle that has been allocated by the Government. In our view, we said that the Ministers should be the last people in line to receive vehicles whilst Members of Parliament receive their vehicles. That is what we agreed – [AN HON. MEMBER: When?] – soon enough. I am also acutely aware that the hotel costs have gone up. I know that those who have to use hotels, you used to negotiate at a rate of $120 per night and now some of these hotels are saying you must pay $180 per night. $220 is a higher end like Meikles and so on, we are fully aware and naturally we will be able to accommodate you in terms of adjustments. I have got some reserves that we can make use of and we will look into those reserves and make sure they are accommodated.
We are also aware that there is another issue regarding the gratuity payment for Members of Parliament who have served one term. A formula is being finalised and that will be dealt with. I am now adding issues myself, they did not even raise it but I want to show that we understand these issues and we are very concerned. Should any situation arise where we have to adjust Government salaries sometime in our lives, certainly, I do not see any reason why Members of Parliament and staff would not be included in that adjustment.
Let me come to the other issues that have been raised; for instance issues around donor agencies from Hon. Chikwinya. Donor agencies are a key part of what we do as Government and State. We welcome them, they support us with capacity building and I am delighted to learn that they are actually supporting Parliament. I was going to invite more of them to do that, especially when it comes to supporting research, Paliamentarians and capacity building on issues of service delivery which I discussed at length when we were in Bulawayo at a Retreat where we can invite institutions such as the AfDB and others to support Parliament in capacity building. This is normal, let us not miss that opportunity and ignore donor agencies, that is what they do and that is why they give us funds. So, let us work with them.
I would also want to say that there is no risk of donor agencies influencing the debate or Parliamentary agenda. I am not aware that they have done that in the past unless they have done so. We should not shy away from working with them, that is what they do. In the Budget, we budgeted about over $600 million that will be contributed to our entire budget by the donor community and we welcome that absolutely.
Hon. Mliswa raised issues over the size of the envelop itself, the role of Parliament, which I agree with. He also raised issues of the gym, quality of the building but also Hon. Chikwinya raised similar issues in terms of the building and so on. We are aware of this but the way to deal with capital expenditure is through the PSIP but also in a multi-year approach, we cannot fix everything in one year, that is what we are going to be doing. However, we also allocated a budget for the New Parliament Building which is being built in Mt. Hampden. Also what we do not want to do is to overinvest in the building that you will be abandoning instead of investing in the one that you are going to occupy in the future. So, that is the balancing act that we have to deal with. Imagine if we over-invest in a top gym in this building and then in another two and half years you will all be migrating to a new building, that will certainly be a waste. I urge members to bear with us on this and focus all our investment on the new building. However, we will spruce up whatever needs to be spruced up here so that the comfort levels can be raised.
Hon. Sikhala raised similar issues on increasing the resource envelope on the role of Parliament, that is correct. The issue of arrears is about the availability of foreign currency. It is not just arrears in terms of Parliament; it is a whole lot of international arrears, including debt. The debt is being dealt with separately. We are also in arrears with Embassies and we continue to make best effort in raising foreign currency to clear these arrears so that the Hon. Member Sikhala and others can participate as full members of the international community without the embarrassment that they have suffered in the past.
To conclude, I would like Hon. Members of Parliament to bear with us, we are in a very tight fiscal situation and really the budget of $101 million, which is a 25% increase from the previous year, we think is a very good start. We do have reserves and all the issues that they are referring to, especially that of vehicles is being dealt with and I think they will be very happy when they see the vehicles they will receive at the end of the day. We are working so that as soon as possible, they will receive their vehicles. I thank you – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
The Chairperson asked Hon. Prof. M. Ncube to approach the Chair.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON: Order Hon. Members.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Hon. Chikwinya raised another very important issue regarding the Constituency Information Centres in which he requested that they be capacitated. We have listened to this and again, we will use reserves to deal with this issue. It is a very important issue and we agree with him that it is important.
HON. MUSABAYANA: Thank you Hon. Chair. I want to add my voice to this debate on Vote No. 2. Hon. Chair, I think this august House should agree on reminding the Minister that when you are looking at Vote 2, we are not looking at it as an expense, it should be looked at as working capital. When you are giving a budget to Parliament, you are actually investing into the economy [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – Mr. Chair, these are the people who are involved in the policy formulation of this country. We are looking at policies and we are looking at the Constitution, it is the quality of work that is produced in this august House that will determine the level of investment that will come to this country.
If our Parliament is robust, is engaging in health debate, if Parliament is fully committed to the work of Parliament, then we will have results in this august House. We have a challenge in this august House and time and again, the Speaker is complaining about members who come and sit in the House for a few minutes. It is not their fault, it is because they are moonlighting, and they are trying to eke out a living.
Mr. Chairman, we want this Budget to help some of the Hon. Members who have been voted to this august House but do not have any other form of income to be able to fend for themselves and their families and also to be able to produce quality work. Mr. Chairman, we also need to look at the issue of oversight. When you are looking at oversight, you are looking at compliance in terms of corporate governance. Our ministries are involved in trade deals and we expect Parliament to carry oversight. That role requires that Parliamentarians are ethical; parliamentarians must be honest and are people of integrity. It is difficult for our members to have integrity if they are not well paid. For Hon. Members – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Mr. Chairman, we have a challenge where Hon. Members are soliciting for presents, they are soliciting for allowances when they go out to do their oversight role. That is very embarrassing Mr. Chairman – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –
I think it should be enough for an Hon. Member to have a normal or average standard of living. So, it is my proposal that the Minister reconsiders Vote No. 2 to be able to help members to improve. Having said that Mr. Chairman, it will be better for the other side of the House to consider that we are looking at Parliament and we are not just looking at party issues. We are looking at national issues – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – but when we look at national issues, we must always know that there is a Head at the top – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – and it is the Head who chairs the Executive, for the opposition not to recognise that we have a Head of State and then at the same time wants the Executive to consider entries in Budget, I do not think it makes sense. So, I beg the other side of the House to reconsider their position and acknowledge that we have a Head of State, His Excellency the President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa then we will be able to walk this journey together. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): I request that we adjourn debate for 30 minutes for caucusing and then we will resume at 1540 hours sharp.
Business was suspended at Half-Past Three O’clock p.m. and resumed at Five Minutes to Four O’clock p.m.