Southerton Member of Parliament Gift Chimanikire said President Robert Mugabe’s bodyguards were a national embarrassment because they allowed the State President to embarrass himself when he addressed the United Nations general assembly last month.
“As a citizen of this country, I am very much concerned at the carelessness that the bodyguards to the President displayed in front of international cameras when the President had actually to struggle to get to the podium ,’ he told Parliament on Tuesday.
“I have observed Mr. Speaker that heads of other States are even wheeled on a wheelchair to the podium. Why did our bodyguards allow the President to embarrass himself by moving towards the podium with so much effort when they should have been there to look after him? As a citizen of this country, I have a right to complain on the behaviour of those who accompany the President to the United Nations.”
Chimanikire also said the First Lady was a national embarrassment because of what she did in South Africa especially when Zimbabwe is trying to introduce a Child Justice Bill.
“Mr. Speaker, we cannot talk about the Child Justice Bill without taking into consideration what occurred in South Africa, perpetrated by the First Lady. That was abuse of children in South Africa,” he said.
“As such, we should take note of that and not overlook some of the short comings that we have within our own state in terms of attitudes towards the child justice both in Zimbabwe and South Africa,” he said before being asked by the Speaker to drop the subject as it was sub-judice.
But Chimanikire was not done with the First Lady.
“I am again forced to observe the issue of State capture as in the manner of the expulsion of workers and mine workers (makorokoza) at Manzou Farm in Mazowe District. Again, it is sad to note that there is the element of State capture by personal possession of the Mazowe Dam which was constructed before the First Lady was born. It is sad that those who were doing business on Mazowe Dam can no longer do so and it is being controlled by police to ensure that everyone is kept out in preference to the use by the First Family.”
HON. CHIMANIKIRE: Thank you Mr. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to debate on the Presidential Speech. Before I go further, allow me Mr. Speaker to thank the previous speaker, Hon. Chinotimba for his views over the issue of corruption. I would not differ but I am also going to discuss in my debate the issue of corruption and what I envisaged personally as a Member of Parliament as the issue of State capture.
Mr. Speaker, allow me also to thank His Excellency, the President, Cde. Robert Gabriel Mugabe for the speech that he delivered at the United Nations General Assembly. As a citizen of this country, I am very much concerned at the carelessness that the bodyguards to the President displayed in front of international cameras when the President had actually to struggle to get to the podium – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Let me finish. I have observed Mr. Speaker that heads of other States are even wheeled on a wheelchair to the podium. Why did our bodyguards allow the President to embarrass himself by moving towards the podium with so much effort when they should have been there to look after him? As a citizen of this country, I have a right to complain on the behaviour of those who accompany the President to the United Nations.
Mr. Speaker, I do believe that when the President comes to Parliament, the input that he put before us is contributed by the various Ministries. As such, I observe that there were certain benchmarks that the President was supposed to set on the various topics but these were overlooked. There is the issue of pension for example Mr. Speaker. We are aware that in Zimbabwe, we have pensions that used to be paid by white bosses who have since left this country. No piece of legislation has been proposed to address the issue of pensions. As a result, we have destitute former workers who are not benefiting on issues of pension from any other source. Therefore, we have destitute people who are elderly and are unable to look after themselves. I thought that should have formed part of the agenda on the presentation of the President’s Speech.
The President, in his third paragraph, actually discussed the issue of handling of children that are in conflict with the law, the Child Justice Bill. Mr. Speaker, we cannot talk about the Child Justice Bill without taking into consideration what occurred in South Africa, perpetrated by the First Lady. That was abuse of children in South Africa. As such, we should take note of that and not overlook some of the short comings that we have within our own state in terms of attitudes towards the child justice both in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Member, I am sure you are aware that this matter is before the courts and therefore it is sub-judice, it cannot be discussed. So, if you could withdraw that element.
HON. CHIMANIKIRE: Mr. Speaker, I withdraw that statement but my understanding was that diplomatic immunity had been availed to the …
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, the matter is before the courts.
HON. CHIMANIKIRE: I withdraw that statement Mr. Speaker.
THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you. Carry on.
HON. CHIMANIKIRE: In his fourth paragraph, the President talks about the Coroner’s Office Bill. Mr. Speaker, this Bill is to establish the Coroner’s office that will be responsible for medical legal investigation. It brings to mind the issue of what transpired after the death of General Mujuru. While the inquest referred to a blue flame, however, the final report had nothing to do with the facts that were presented before the courts. So Mr. Speaker, I personally do welcome the introduction of the Coroner’s Bill because whatever deaths that occur in this country are going to be thoroughly investigated. I hope in retrospect, because some of the investigations that were conducted during the death of General Mujuru were never conclusive.
Mr. Speaker, I go to paragraph 5. Paragraph 5 refers to the issue of increased optimism about the economy of this country. Credit is given to Command Agriculture. However Mr. Speaker, observing when one travels around this country, almost 45 to 50% of the land that is supposed to be utilised is not being used for agricultural purposes. Farms are still lying fallow and we need to improve on the issue of utilisation of land. Not only that Mr. Speaker, when we talk about the revival of our economy, we still are witnessing long bank queues where people are unable to withdraw the funds that they would have deposited or funds earned from either selling of tobacco or maize that farmers are producing.
Mr. Speaker, it is not a secret that we are still witnessing high interest rates in terms of loans that are given by banks. That makes borrowing in this country very expensive. As a result, I would have thought the President would have inferred to the issue of high interest rates that need to be lowered in order to make funds available for capital far much less expensive than is the case at the moment.
Mr. Speaker, there is also the issue of holding of goods that is being conducted by leading companies that we expect to be exemplary. Madam Speaker, I would like to point out on the issue of farming also. We have Hon. Members sitting in this House that are actually advocating for the denial of inputs to MDC T supporters – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I will give an example. I am not stopping. The Hon. Member for Guruve South, I was there yesterday afternoon. It is very unfortunate that he called for meetings and advocated that MDC T members should not receive inputs that were actually being donated by the President. I do believe Madam Speaker that when a President donates inputs – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Member. Hon. Members, I hear loud voices. I am appealing to the House. We want to hear what the Hon. Member is debating. Do you not want to hear what he is saying?
HON. CHIMANIKIRE: I am making allegations here, I want you to defend yourselves.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Could you please proceed?
HON. CHIMANIKIRE: Thank you Madam Speaker. The Hon. Member for Guruve South I will repeat, Hon. Dutiro actually called for a meeting where he advocated for the denial of inputs to MDC T supporters in Guruve South. I was there yesterday afternoon.
Madam Speaker, one thing that I thought the President was going to touch on apart from Command Agriculture or agriculture in general is the issue of infrastructure development in resettlement areas. Infrastructure in resettlement areas is suffering from lack of primary and secondary schools. Secondly, there are no clinics. I remember the Minister of Health and Child Care stating before this House in October 2013, that his target was to build 2 400 clinics. I would have wished that the Minister would have been here and finally give a response. Did he construct 2 400 clinics in resettlement areas? It is not true Madam Speaker. I think we would be very lucky if he has constructed 40 or 50 of them; if not less than 20. We expect such issues to be addressed when the President comes to open Parliament as he sets out his agenda.
On paragraph 8 Madam Speaker, the President refers to enhancement of National Economic Competitiveness so that the country can become a destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Madam Speaker, I will restate again. The 51-49 % indigenisation policy is the one that has denied us foreign direct investment. I challenge this House to nominate or mention two or three people who have benefited from the 51-49% legislation that was passed in this House in the last parliamentary sitting. There is not even a single soul and we are not reaping any advantages. Unless we come together in this House and scrap indigenisation, yes but the methodology of going about it is not to say, if I come from Japan and I have one hundred million dollars, Zimbabwe takes fifty one million and they leave me with forty-nine – who will then chair the board? It does not make sense. Unless we sober up and recognise that the 51-49 proportion on indigenisation is actually detrimental to what is happening in this country and that we need to correct it.
Madam Speaker, on paragraph 9, there is also the issue of the amendment of the labour laws that is to address the plight of workers. However, the President refers to the labour market flexibility. I spent fifteen years in the trade union movement. There is nothing like labour market flexibility other than allowing people to be exploited as was the situation during colonialism. Infact, we should be protecting jobs and protecting the workers as well. Job security is very important.
However, I am going to mention something that I have also observed as State capture – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, I think it is the row of benches where Hon. Matangira is sitting. You are having your own meeting there. Please may you be quiet?
HON. CHIMANIKIRE: Madam Speaker, I am again forced to observe the issue of State capture as in the manner of the expulsion of workers and mine workers (makorokoza) at Manzou Farm in Mazowe District. Again, it is sad to note that there is the element of State capture by personal possession of the Mazowe Dam which was constructed before the First Lady was born. It is sad that those who were doing business on Mazowe Dam can no longer do so and it is being controlled by police to ensure that everyone is kept out in preference to the use by the First Family.
I also observe when we talk about labour market flexibility; there is the issue of parastatals. Parastatals are being exploited by having salaries reduced unilaterally. Parastatal workers are being exploited by actually losing leave accrued during their service when they are working for the various parastatals. I cite one – Tel One as one example where I have evidence that was brought to me by some of the workers on how they are being exploited.
When we talk about economic revival, one cannot allow a situation where the President overlooks the issue of Air Zimbabwe or National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ). In Africa today, there is development of the fast train. If we look at Ethiopia, the Chinese are building fast trains. Only this afternoon, I learnt that one North African country- [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members!
HON. CHIMANIKIRE: I learnt that one North African country was testing a fast train which was going at 275 km/hr. That is in Africa. We have underground trains in Johannesburg but however, what we are witnessing in Harare is congestion after congestion of smaller cars, mavitz.
I would like to appeal that even the appointment of parastatal boards should not be done on a partisan or ethnicity basis. The award of tenders in parastatals is an issue that this Parliament is supposed to discuss. Let us not be diverted by just aligning laws with the Constitution and overlooking major issues that this Parliament is supposed to discuss.
Paragraph 10 talks of the Cooperating Societies Amendment Bill, if I am to read it correctly, maybe it was supposed to say the Cooperatives Societies Amendment Bill. The abuse of cooperatives in urban areas is such that there has been the bastardising of urban planning. Where cooperatives start setting up their houses, no servicing will have been conducted. In other words, structures are put up but there is no drainage system. If we look at White House, Operation Garikai, those houses were constructed without toilets or any drainage system. I can see that my time is almost up Madam Speaker. I wish I would go on and on.
When we talk about infrastructure – I was in Muzarabani yesterday. In Muzarabani, dams and bridges that were damaged by El-nino have not yet been repaired. Only one bridge has been repaired. I travelled a circumference of almost 150kms – roads are damaged and there are more than 15 bridges that have not been repaired. Which country are we living in? I wonder what the Muzarabani Member of Parliament is going to stand for in order to be re-elected for 2018 because the damage there needs repairs. Hon. Kanhanga is doing something in his constituency.
In conclusion, I bemoan the absence of pertinent issues in the President’s speech to Parliament which does not address the issue of infrastructure development or rebuilding our national railways so that we can re-coup what we have lost throughout the years. The speech does not dwell on the issue of road expansion in the urban areas so that we have intertwined roads that move with the times. Failure to address youth unemployment in this President’s speech leaves a lot to be desired. With that Madam Speaker, I will stop here and I will continue through other debates. – Insider