Binga South Member of Parliament Joel Gabbuza says one does not need economists to explain the importance of reviving the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company. One just needs common sense.
ZISO has been closed for almost a decade though there was at one time a big fanfare after an Indian company Essar said it was going to revive operations.
This year a Chinese company said it would revive the company but nothing has happened so far.
Gabbuza said half of Zimbabwe’s problems would be solved if ZISCO is revived.
“ZISCO will definitely capacitate Hwange because all the coking coal from Hwange will go to ZISCO. Coke from Hwange will go to ZISCO and when coke comes from Hwange to ZISCO, it comes by train. Definitely, the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) will come up because they will now benefit.
“If ZISCO increases up in the production of steel, there is a lot of oxygen that is used. That is why we had Sable Chemicals which manufactures fertilizer. Sable Chemicals, in the production of fertilizers produced a lot of oxygen which was then sold at a low rate to ZISCO.
“In turn, the production of fertilizer because you are now selling free oxygen, it makes the price of fertilizer go down and that helps our farmers. In the production of fertilizer at Sables itself, there is a lot of hydrogen released and that is why we had nearby, Dyno Nobel which produced a lot of explosives for mines next to ZISCO there.
“So, the mining sector will also benefit from that because if you ask many people in the mining industry, they are importing explosives from China and many other places. There are so many restrictions in buying explosives to the extent that some of the explosives they are buying are from the black market and that is not helping anyone. So, there are these basic things that we do not seem to appreciate as a Government.
“Sometimes Madam Speaker, I believe that perhaps one of our major problems is the flight of skilled manpower in the Civil Service because these are basic things that they must advise Ministers so that they are implemented. If you ask me how much is needed for the resuscitation of ZISCO, it is not money that we may get from the investors. We could do it locally as a country because we have many other areas where we could do savings and gradually capacitate ZISCO.
“ZISCO would also help in the resuscitation of the industry. I was driving along Mvuma road the other day. I counted up to one hundred and five thirty tone trucks, magonyeti, carrying steel from South Africa. How much foreign currency are we losing importing all that kind of steel?
“These are basic things that do not need even an economist to think about. You just need common sense to implement such things.”
HON. GABBUZA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to add my voice to the speech presented to this House by His Excellency. There are several things that the President talked about, but I will concentrate on only four issues that particularly affect the part of the country where I come from.
Madam Speaker, the President talked about education. On issues of education, in my constituency Madam Speaker, there is a particular problem of examination centres when it comes to this time of the year. As we speak, students are writing their O’Level and A’ Level examinations and I have several schools in my area – more than 10 secondary schools, which are writing examinations in a camped situation. They have moved from their original schools and have camped some 20km to 30km away from their schools without food; with more like basic things for camping and some are literally in camps, some sleeping in classrooms mainly because they are not allowed to write examinations in their own schools because the Ministry of Education requires that those school must be registered.
When schools have to be registered, there are specific requirements that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education requires, but some of these schools have those requirements. They have enough desks or furniture, they have enough rooms, they have safes, but they cannot be registered because there is an extra requirement that the Department of Physical Planning must survey those schools and make sure they appear on the cadastral maps of the country. One wonders how physical planning comes in issues of ensuring that the school is registered for exams. I think this is one area where the Ministry of Education must assist us because there is no way you can expect those particular schools Madam Speaker, to perform and compare at national level when they are writing in situations where they have to camp like refugees in their major schools. This is a very serious problem which needs urgent attention if we have to see equitable development of our school curricular and the school performances in these areas.
There is the issue of deployment of teachers which Hon. Mackenzie from Kariba articulated. I do not know what policy Government is using of late. Third term, we witnessed a situation where several buses carrying teachers from Mashonaland colleges taking up positions in our schools. we have our own local teachers sitting without employment but we get teachers from other colleges instead of the colleges within the region. I think this needs an explanation because if teachers have the same qualification, well for secondary schools we can appreciate that perhaps some teachers may have specific majored in subjects, but a primary school trained teacher at Chinhoyi Teachers’ College, Belvedere or Seke Teachers’ College is equally trained and has the same qualification like the one from Hillside or United Teachers’ College. I think this is an issue which is worrying the residents of our particular areas where you get several teachers from Mashonaland occupying places of people in our areas. We are not worried if those teachers came with their qualifications but if the local teachers are available from United College, let them be deployed in those areas.
I think the explanation that we got so far is that the Ministry is now employing from Harare. Now, our local teachers from our regions will be sitting there waiting for deployments and the teachers around here quickly take up the posts and are deployed in our areas. For example in Binga, I got to a school and the teacher could understand the local language. The teacher has to ask kuti ichi chinonzi chii. Teachers are being taught by kids in order for the teacher to teach back. It is really funny and we wonder how such things happen. We appreciate the availability of trained teachers but let them be conversant in the local languages, particularly at lower grades. There is no excuse because the teachers are there.
In the area of the economy Madam Speaker, the President said a lot about the economy. I think the major challenge we have in solving our economic problem is there is some discord in terms of policy. Just yesterday, I went to some place called AE Electrical in Southerton. There is a local company producing solar geysers. These local bulbs and locally produced knapsacks; I think their brand is Morgrid. The challenge here is the disparities or the discords in policies. The Ministry of Finance through ZIMRA allows knapsacks to be imported and go through the border duty free and substandard, but when the local company which is providing jobs imports raw materials for manufacturing the same better quality knapsack sprays are not exempted from duty.
When these local companies produce enough because there are so many gadgets that they produce, when they produce for export ZIMRA does not give them Certificates of Origin. When they export to Malawi and Zambia where they have a big market, they are forced to compete with South African companies that are holding Certificates of Origin because when you have a Certificate of Origin, you are not charged exorbitant duties by the receiving countries or markets. For example, I was advised that for exporting to Malawi without a Certificate of Origin, the company is charged 30% and yet the South African companies or the SADC region would have been carrying their Certificate of Origin and are not charged. So, the competition in terms of prices becomes difficult but at the same time, the Minister of Finance, by then Hon. Chinamasa, was always talking about wanting to increase production industries so that we are able to earn foreign currency but we are not supporting our local companies that are prepared to export and are manufacturing locally. That is one area that needs to be looked at extensively.
Secondly Madam Speaker, in Bulawayo we have one company, the only one in the whole country and only one producing the best tyres in the region, Dunlop and it has closed. Once Dunlop closes, most of us driving pickups or land cruisers size 16 tyres; that is the only company that was able to make them. As a result of the closure of Dunlop, you find a lot of Chinese tyres. If you drive along Seke Road from the flyover upto almost a kilometre before Chitungwiza, all those areas have Chinese companies selling substandard tyres which Dunlop could be making. Why do we not as Government capacitate Dunlop because they have the capacity and have the quality products but we allow Dunlop to close and allow the Chinese to bring substandard tyres and take our foreign currency back to China? Whereas, we could capacitate Dunlop which might need only about $500 000, but we are not able to do that. If we allow such strategic companies to close and when we have shortages of good quality tyres, you know what it means; accidents and flight of foreign currency.
I think these are areas which Government must seriously look at. If Government does not have money, it is very simple if you want to capacitate production. Charge these Chinese companies import tax for bringing in foreign products even if it means one percent but by the volumes of commodities that they bring in the one percent will translate to a lot of millions per month. We take those millions and give Dunlop a loan, Government will not have lost anything and we do not need to look for that money. The people importing will be charged to support the local industries and we do the same to several industries, I am sure our problems will be gone.
There is the issue of ZISCO Steel Madam Speaker. The President went to ZISCO and we accompanied him. It was open, there was a lot of funfair and we celebrated, but up to now ZISCO Steel is still closed and yet if ZISCO was opened today, half of Zimbabwe’s problems would be solved – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – ZISCO will definitely capacitate Hwange because all the coking coal from Hwange will go to ZISCO. Coke from Hwange will go to ZISCO and when coke comes from Hwange to ZISCO, it comes by train. Definitely, the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) will come up because they will now benefit.
If ZISCO increases up in the production of steel, there is a lot of oxygen that is used. That is why we had Sable Chemicals which manufactures fertilizer. Sable Chemicals, in the production of fertilizers produced a lot of oxygen which was then sold at a low rate to ZISCO. In turn, the production of fertilizer because you are now selling free oxygen, it makes the price of fertilizer go down and that helps our farmers. In the production of fertilizer at Sables itself, there is a lot of hydrogen released and that is why we had nearby, Dyno Nobel which produced a lot of explosives for mines next to ZISCO there. So, the mining sector will also benefit from that because if you ask many people in the mining industry, they are importing explosives from China and many other places. There are so many restrictions in buying explosives to the extent that some of the explosives they are buying are from the black market and that is not helping anyone. So, there are these basic things that we do not seem to appreciate as a Government.
Sometimes Madam Speaker, I believe that perhaps one of our major problems is the flight of skilled manpower in the Civil Service because these are basic things that they must advise Ministers so that they are implemented. If you ask me how much is needed for the resuscitation of ZISCO, it is not money that we may get from the investors. We could do it locally as a country because we have many other areas where we could do savings and gradually capacitate ZISCO.
ZISCO would also help in the resuscitation of the industry. I was driving along Mvuma road the other day. I counted up to one hundred and five thirty tone trucks, magonyeti, carrying steel from South Africa. How much foreign currency are we losing importing all that kind of steel? These are basic things that do not need even an economist to think about. You just need common sense to implement such things.
I am one person Madam Speaker that does not believe that this issue of bond notes will ever solve our problems. I was talking to the Speaker quietly that if bond notes will solve our problems, I am betting with a beast to come and get it from my home because there is no such thing. That policy does not work and I think all Government economists advise the Government. To imagine that all the intelligent people in Government could sit down and think of bond notes as a solution to our problems, you really do not understand and say may be people are no longer taking time or they have no interest of this country at heart.
Madam Speaker, in the mining sector, at the floor of this House sometime in January, the Minister of Mines told us that he got an investor to resuscitate the Kamativi Dams so that they process lithium, and lithium because of the clean fuel technology that is being talked about the world over, even if you go to Europe, they are now thinking of putting on mass production battery vehicles. Battery power is the future and lithium is a major component of batteries. Kamativi has plenty of lithium because when they were mining the tin, they had no interest in the lithium and it is plenty on the dams.
An investor is there, the Minister confirmed in January that we now have an investor who is prepared, but that investor has been waiting since January to just be given the licence. He is partnered with ZMDC. What is the fear of Government because he is not alone? He is partnered with ZMDC. So, why do we not allow such investments to start off so that we start earning some foreign currency? By the way, that particular investor was going to resuscitate a major plant in Kwekwe. He was also prepared to reorganise the Railway and fund between Dete and Kwekwe to plan where he wants to process the lithium. But, from January up to now, the Minister is sitting on the papers within the Executive.
I think these are some of the issues that we, as Parliament should scrutinise and see what we can do. There is no reason Madam Speaker why Hwange Colliery must collapse. We have never heard of any shortage of market for coal. Zimbabwe or Hwange Colliery has the best coal in the world, with high calorific value, low sulphur content and no impurities. We have three types, coke in coal for coke, power coal for the generators but up to now, you hear people are not paid in Hwange, but the coal is being sold every day. So, what is happening? There is something completely wrong.
I have a very big mine in Binga, Lusulu Coal and the other one that is Lelubu. There is an investor who is prepared to put up a very big power station for 300 mega watts…
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, your time is up.
HON. GABBUZA: As I conclude, that 300 mega watt power station, we have a shortage of energy. The investor has been twisted from one corner of Government to another for 2 years.
HON. MAJOME: On a point of order Madam Speaker. I move that the Hon. Member’s time be extended.
HON. BHEBHE: I second.
Motion put and agreed to.
HON. GABBUZA: Madam Speaker as I conclude, this is where we are saying perhaps as Parliament, we must investigate some of these things. Some people are sitting on very serious investments. We do not have power in the country and we have this company which is prepared to put a very big generator, 300 mega watts which would make a difference in the energy sector. It would produce jobs for our people and it is a low cost energy because they will simply use Zambezi water to cool their turbines and their machines, and flow back the water into the lake, but we sit on such very serious investment and nobody seems to be interested.
We are not in a hurry but at the same time, we are crying that we do not have money and no cash. Where does the money come from if we do not allow these investors to come in? If it is about indigenisation, let us allow them to put the infrastructure. After some years, chase them when the infrastructure is already there than to keep them at bay.
Thank you Madam Speaker.