FULL TEXT: Mliswa Grills Mthuli On Farm Money
16 September 2020


Wednesday, 9th September, 2020

HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you. My question to the Minister of Finance is what is the wisdom in compensating the white farmers who are a minority US$3,5 billion while it is constitutional, there are many other constitutional obligations which are important and have not been attended to financially.
THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE): First of all, it is not an issue of wisdom but of compliance. Secondly, the issue of farmer engagement or compensation is a process which began a while ago but after the acceptance of the Constitution. I urge all Members to re-read Section 72 and 295. This is a process. So every year in the budget we set aside resources in the National Budget that this Parliament approves for farmers to be compensated, targeting those who are vulnerable. This year in the 2020 Budget we allocated something in the order of $300 million. In 2019, this Parliament allocated something in the order of $70 million. So what was happening was that every year we were allocating and paying the farmers.
All the global compensation did was just to come to a conclusion as to what the overall figure for compensation is for improvement because we were compensating but what is that figure? We were able to arrive at that figure after a long negotiation and evaluation process but also after a process within the farmers themselves as a group, they had a referendum and there was a 95% approval. I repeat, it is not an issue of wisdom but of compliance and we are already doing it. All we did was not to draw a line and establish clarity as to what that final compensation figure is.  The fact that there are other financial demands whatever in the Constitution is neither here nor there. What we are dealing with right now is the issue of compensation for farmers. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: Madam Speaker, the aspect of compliance cannot be based on selective application. There are issues of people who are disabled where they must be accommodated in terms of their movement and in terms of infrastructure. There are issues of the war veterans where they must be accommodated and of the health sector which is non existent where there must be money. So, in terms of priority, is the compensation of the white farmers more important than the health sector where Ministers are going outside because they can afford to be treated so you are lucky. What about the ordinary person who cannot afford to go out? Why are you not injecting money in that sector to ensure that we save lives? Why are you giving a few white farmers who most them do not even require it anymore and are even laughing at us? Where does that money come from when it is not even factored in the budget, the $3,5 billion? This House is responsible for passing budgets. I have never sat down and cast a budget of $3,5 billion to go to the compensation of white farmers. I have passed a budget to look at the welfare of the war veterans, health sector, education sector and I can go on and on. So, when?
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, please may you just ask your question and allow the Minister to respond.
HON. T. MLISWA: Madam Speaker, the land issue is an emotive issue. The compensation of the minority is an emotive issue. Allow those emotions because I am a beneficiary of the land reform and I have invested everything in it. Those who do not have it like the Hon. Minister have no attachment to it. I went to prison …
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Just ask your question Hon. Mliswa.
HON. T. MLISWA: My point is where he is going to get money from when this Parliament has not approved it and there are many other issues like the health and education sectors which need money in terms of compliance. You have not even given them money but you have money to give the minority who really do not need it at the end of the day. Why have you made that decision when the money is not even there? 
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Again, I thank the Hon. Member for that follow up and clarity of his question. First of all, I must say that he has asked I think two questions in one. One is there are other areas that we ought to be covering and supporting as opposed to farmer compensation. He cited education, health, the vulnerable groups and social welfare. The other is about resources, where are we getting the money?
Let me start with the first one, we are releasing resources for the health sector and this is how we are supporting the health sector. Covid-19 is really concentrating our minds. We have done renovations on numerous health centres right across the country, quarantine or isolation centres. We are focused. There is a whole national taskforce that is focusing on that aspect. We have basically given authority as Treasury for the recruitment of more than 4 000 health workers and that recruitment is happening fast.
We are going to resolve industrial disputes with the health workers in terms of dealing with their health and risk allowances at various level.  We are doing all of that.
We also appreciate what the donors have done in supporting us in our objectives.  When it comes to the education sector, our actions are similar.  We are building schools around the country and we are going to make sure that as we negotiate with the civil servants, we are going to improve their salaries….
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order Hon. Minister.
HON. MADZIMURE:  On a point of order –[HON. CHIKWINYA: Inaudible interjection.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Chikwinya.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Development having stood up to continue debating. 
HON. MADZIMURE: Madam Speaker, the Minister must sit down because you have recognised me.
HON. MADZIMURE: Yes. Madam Speaker, the question is very simple. Where are we going to get the $3.5 billion?  This Parliament did not approve that amount –[HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.]-
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members please!
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE:  Let me answer the Hon. Member’s two questions –[HON. T. MLISWA:  Inaudible interjection.]-
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa please, order!
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE:  In the education sector, we are doing a lot.  We are building schools.  We are going to be supporting the teachers.  We are working on raising salaries in that sector as is the case with all civil servants.
For the social welfare, our social welfare programme is robust;  cash transfers and food assistance programmes.  We have had challenges with food – I could go on and on including the Presidential Input Scheme which has been coming through the Pfumvudza system.  That is how we are assisting our ordinary citizens across the board in the areas that the Hon. Member raised.  I am pleased that he raised it.
I will now move on to his second question –[HON. MLISWA:  Inaudible interjection.]-
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa, please may you allow the Minister to respond.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE:  I now want to respond to his second question regarding the sources of funding.  The Global Compensation Agreement is an agreement on the figure – global and final figure for compensation.  The resources will be raised and in that statement, we have said the resources will be raised internally and externally, when we have agreed or concluded on the instrument through which the resources would be raised if it is a debt instrument; which is what we are targeting.  That will be brought before Parliament because we cannot contract debt without Parliament. It is at that stage that the financing instrument will be brought to Parliament.  I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA:  I would like to be protected especially being an independent Member without a Chief Whip and not belonging to a party.  I should be protected more than everyone here.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  You are protected. Please may you go ahead.  
HON. T. MLISWA: The point of clarity I seek from the Minister is – we pass budgets here.  You talked about various Government departments being resourced.  The word you missed out and being a professor is ‘inadequately resourced’.  There is no resource which has been given to a Ministry because the Minister has never come back to Parliament and said what we got is enough.  There is always supplementary budgets which are coming through.  Supplementary means it is not enough.  Inflation has eaten up and this is US$ and not Zimbabwean dollar.  This is the first time I would have liked …..
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Ask your question Hon. Mliswa.
HON. T. MLISWA: My point of clarity is that they have been inadequately resourced.  So the Minister cannot stand here and say we have been providing. The Chairperson of the COVID Taskforce has said that we do not have PPEs – they are begging.  If we have donors coming in, then we do not need the donors that you talk about if we are adequately resourced.  Where is the money coming from internally? Be very clear on that Hon. Minister.  Which entity internally will provide that money?
HON. NDUNA:  With your indulgence, I request a Ministerial Statement from the Minister of Finance and Economic Development in the coming days.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  I think the Hon. Minister has taken note of that.