PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Wednesday, 19th May, 2021
The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two o’clock p.m.
HON. T. MLISWA: Madam Speaker, the Speaker himself is on record saying that he will ensure that he takes appropriate measures to the ministers who do not attend Parliament. I am sure the Clerk would agree to that. He would write letters but he also indicated that appropriate action must be taken. I think this issue is beyond us Members of Parliament now. I think the onus lies with the Speaker and yourself to take decisive action once and for all because we are really tired. It has become a song and the authority that Parliament must have is sub judice and the authority that Parliament must have at all is not there. What more can we do if you have a father and mother and you constantly tell them there is a problem and they keep quiet – we also pull back but this institution can only be respected when the Speaker and yourself take real action. It is my call that you remind the Speaker that he said he would ensure that it happens.
Members of Parliament appear before the Privileges Committee for anything that they do – even some of us when there were accusations of bribe with Goddard, there is the Privileges Committee but those who have a task for the country never come to this Parliament. In a way, it is an insult to this institution, the leader of the institution, yourself and Zimbabweans at large. So really, may you and the Speaker sit down and take action – hold them in contempt. I used to be energised about bringing this issue up but I have really got retired. You try and point that this Minister is contempt for not coming – Parliament administration will come up with an answer and say no, they apologised after Parliament. We then came up with rules that, what is the cut off time? The Speaker said 12 o’clock. Right now, the members of Cabinet who are not here, Deputy Ministers; 12 o’clock has gone and when Parliament ends, another rule comes up. They send their apologies late. There is inconsistency in terms of decision making and appropriate action by the leadership. I would like you to convey that to the Speaker, that we are getting disillusioned and they are no longer serious in their discharge of duties when the country is faced with numerous problems and at the end of the day, the Leader of Government business who is equally here must be able to tell the President on what is happening and so forth. My call once again, may you and the Speaker ensure that this institution is respected by coming up with a serious decision which is constant and consistent with how Parliament must be run.
HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you very much Madam Speaker for giving me this opportunity as you had promised yesterday. It is not many people that keep their word nowadays, and I must thank you for that. Madam Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the statement which he made after the High Court ruling in the Malaba matter. When the matter was still going to approach superior courts as it has done, was it not subjudice, and as the Minister of Justice, would it not be proper for him to do good for the country and step down so that the justice prudence which is expected in this country is maintained?
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon Mliswa is that a question or you are suggesting something else. Please ask your question.
HON. T. MLISWA: The question is the statement made by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs after the High Court ruling on the Malaba case was totally unacceptable in terms of the justice delivery system, and as such, what does he intend to do to instil justice in the system when that statement has totally destroyed the trust and the confidence of this country in the justice delivery system as the father of justice? I know the Minister might want to say the matter is subjudice, but it is not the matter or application before the courts but his statement which is not before the courts, in case he wants to come round that one.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Madam Speaker. There are those that wrote a letter indicating that they want that statement to be subjected to interrogation by the High Court. So it is subjudice.
HON. T. MLISWA: The issue the Minister is talking about that there are those who want to write for the matter to go before the courts is not the same as the matter before the courts. When I say I want to hit you and I do not hit you, it does not mean I hit you. The matter is not before the courts. Can he respond because the intention to write and to take it to court is different from the matter before the courts. I do not have to teach him law. I am not a lawyer. The matter is not before the courts. Can he respond to his statement. When the matter is before the courts then it is subjudice. I am glad he said subjudice – hopefully next time he will not comment on other High Court judgements or any court judgements that come. The matter is not before the courts. The intention is to take it to the court but it is not there, so how does it become subjudice?
HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Madam Speaker. I respect my brother Hon. Temba Mliswa but he does not work in my office nor does he stay at my house to know that it is not in court. I would not come here and say something that is false. I have papers that were sent to the High Court with the same complaint about the statement and his insinuation is totally wrong. So I will not comment on it because they have started the process and I await direction from the court. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: I am glad and I must be professional enough to say if the matter is indeed before the courts, then I withdraw my question. He had said they intend to bring it to the courts so I withdraw. I am professional enough to follow the dictates of the law that if the matter is before the courts, I withdraw my question. May we allow the process to take over. I think I should be appointed the Minister of Justice next time. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: My supplementary question is; Hon. Minister, you spoke about this finance structure with many players, i.e. maize and soya but did not talk about tobacco. Already, tobacco farmers are complaining of late disbursement of funds. They sell their tobacco today and their money comes out after two weeks. I heard on the State media that they were camping for two weeks to wait for their money and these are women who have responsibilities at home. You know that when a woman is away from home, there is havoc. Musha mukadzi, kana pasina mukadzi hapana musha. So why would we then say we are disbursing money? I did not hear you talking about tobacco players in that matrix in terms of disbursement of money. Can you tell us whether the tobacco players are involved in that structure and if not, can you please involve them so that they get their money early especially women farmers. Thank you.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: I really thank Hon. Themba Mliswa for that intervention, query and question in seeking clarification. You know tobacco farmers are some of our special farmers especially the small scale farmers and the women farmers that you referred to. They not only just produce tobacco, create jobs, income for themselves and feed their families but they also earn us foreign currency. So they play that extra role and are a special group of farmers in a way, if you can indulge me to use that word ‘special’.
In the payment process, I am also quite unhappy that payments are taking as long as two weeks as he indicated. It was brought to my attention and we are dealing with it. In terms of the payment process, frankly the truth is, we had not included tobacco farmers. Those are the facts because tobacco farmers, we always deal with them through another structure that is led by the Central Bank due to the foreign currency element. We really need the Central Bank. So I will engage the Central Bank to make sure that they work together with Treasury to resolve this delay in payment but also try to get to the bottom of it – is it the banks that are delaying, is it us the authorities; what is really going on? We will look into that to solve the problem but then just make it more efficient.
I also hasten to add that in terms of their foreign currency retention this year, it has improved to 60% and I think that is good progress. We have also said that for all exporters, their retention ratio is a lot more favourable with the order of 80% for those who are performing above a certain threshold. I am only on the tobacco issue Hon. Mliswa and in fact, I have not yet visited the tobacco floors this year because I have been occupied with other things that I am fine tuning but I can assure you that in the next two weeks, I am going to visit tobacco floors. You mentioned one issue but there may be more, so it is important for me to be hands-on, visit them and understand the issues and try to deal with them comprehensively. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: Has the Government not got a deliberate policy to fund indigenous people after the protracted liberation struggle where they were oppressed by the Smith Regime and identify indigenous companies who want to grow their business so that there can be an economic balance after the oppression of the Smith Regime? Have you not also accommodated white companies in the new Zimbabwe unlike the time of Rhodesia when it was the white companies who benefited? Thank you.
HON. PROF. M. NCUBE: Hon. Mliswa is right. We do have an empowerment policy which has been re-launched and refreshed – that exists. Through this policy, Government has been supporting indigenous business companies but also they have been creating special financial institutions to further sharpen that empowerment agenda. All they are looking at is the Women’s Bank or the Youths Bank and now we have the National Venture Fund. All those are pockets of resources that are meant to sharpen the empowerment agenda.
I think where we could do better is in the area of procurement where again we would want certain groups and SME’s to be supported by Government in the procurement process. Once someone has got a contract as an SME, it is easier for them to source them funding because they now have an order. The bank can discount the value of that order and give them a loan. So, our procurement processes need to speak to that empowerment as well. I think that is an area that we could improve but he is right that we have been targeting certain disadvantaged groups to make sure that they are supported as we grow our economy to make sure that no one is left behind. I thank you.
HON. T. MLISWA: This is a very important question on State land. There is the Uchena Report which clearly did an investigation on State land. This report has not been brought to Parliament by the Minister to deliberate on it. Not only that, the Joshua Nkomo Aspindale 49 A and B land which was given to the people by the First Republic, the Second Republic is now going to repossess that land from them yet offer letters were given out by the First Republic. Is the Minister of State for any province responsible for State land or it is the Minister of Local Government because for example, Hon. Chidawu was in Kambuzuma telling people that this land belonged to Billy Rautenbach and Swane who are whites yet Government had taken this land as State land and given it to the people through the housing cooperatives which are well constituted and well regularised. Why is Government going back taking State land from people again when it has issued that state land and the Provincial Minister of State being in the forefront of that? Is he the custodian of Sate land, especially Hon. Chidawu who is now taking away land from the people and people are dying because of heart aches and blood pressure as a result of this Second Republic taking land which was allocated to them by the First Republic which remains the same Government? Is it Government policy to repossess State land from people who benefited from the First Republic?
HON. CHOMBO: You brought up a lot of follow up questions – you brought up the issue of the Uchena Report which was as a result of a Commission set up by the President. My Ministry does not have the mandate to release that report. My Ministry is studying that report and we are analysing the cases that should be forwarded to ZRP, those that should go to ZACC and those that we have to handle internally. Definitely, we have been doing that and I think you have seen some arrests emanating from that Uchena Report.
The Billy Rautenbach issue is too specific – you should bring it to my office and I will go through it. It is not my Ministry’s policy to repossess State land that was allocated in the previous republic.
HON. T. MLISWA: The Hon. Deputy Minister did allude to the fact that they were studying it and they were starting to arrest people. Already, Parliament has oversight and we are asking for our role of oversight. You cannot start arresting people before we exercise our role of oversight and before the report is tabled in Parliament. This is not the first time that Hon. Markham has asked for reports. We now believe that the Minister is involved in the corrupt dealings of some of these land issues because there are many reports which have been asked to come before this Parliament to be tabled and they are not coming. We would want to know what is it that is stopping you from taking this message to the President to say that we need these reports. The Uchena Report was released and the President read, then it goes to the appropriate Ministry which should then bring it here. So, do not bring the President’s name into disrepute by saying it is with the President. He got the report and set up the commission which did its own investigations so it must find itself in Parliament so that we exercise our role of oversight. You cannot be arresting people before you bring the report here. We have an oversight role to play and your Ministry is overwhelmed with these reports, but you do not bring them here and the Minister himself is never here. You are always here but he is always going around giving land but not to answer questions why he is giving land.
HON. CHOMBO: Thank you Hon. Mliswa for that explosive follow up question. I am going to check who is supposed to release it and as I said it did not emanate from my office, but I was given as a Ministry which is managing the state land to make sure that I look at issues that address the state land issues. So it is just a part of the Uchena Commission that we are dealing with. When we give the Ministerial statement, I will also give a statement towards that. I thank you.
On the motion of HON. MUTAMBISI seconded by HON. NDUNA, the House adjourned at Sixteen Minutes to Six o’clock p.m.