Zimbabwe minister calls for innovation- says if a country imports 90% of its requirements it is using 10% of its brain capacity




Amon Murwirwa

Zimbabwe Higher Education Minister Amon Murwira has called for import substitution through innovation arguing that if a country imports 90% of its requirements, it is using only 10% of its brain capacity.

Murwira was responding to questions in Parliament on how his ministry was going to exploit the Manpower Development Act to stimulate industrialisation and modernisation.

“The Manpower Planning and Development Amendment Act is a complete revolution in terms of what our education is expected to do. So, we expect the effect to start showing very vigorously as we move in time as a nation within very few months to a year or years to come,”Murwira said.

“Polytechnics, vocational training centres, teachers’ colleges and industrial training centres are now within the league of universities in terms of being accorded the freedom that they need to create, modernise and industrialise this country.”

Murwira said his ministry had done a survey and found that between 2014and 2018, Zimbabwe mported goods worth US$20 billion.

“Now, what this means is that we then need to scroll down this list and start eliminating one by one what we need to import. There are still certain things that we need to import. However, we cannot import everything.

“As it is said Hon. Speaker with your indulgence, somebody said in academic circles if a country imports 90% of its requirements it means it is using 10% of its brain capacity. If a country imports 10% of its requirements, it means it is using 90% of its brain capacity. Therefore, what it means is that at this moment we have to up the use of our brain capacity so that we import substitute.”

Below is the full Q & A:

HON. T. MOYO: My question is directed to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education.  How far has the recently promulgated Manpower Development Act affected the operationalisation of Education 5.0 in stimulating industrialisation and modernisation?

THE MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, INNOVATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. MURWIRA):  I want to first of all thank Parliament and His Excellency the President for enabling the enactment of the Manpower Planning and Development Amendment Act. Hon. Speaker, this Act for the first time in the history of this country gives a very clear intention of education. The clear intention of education as a means to modernise and industrialise this country that the purpose of education is not to have pieces of purpose, the purpose of education is seen in the effect that it has on the industrialisation and modernisation of any nation.

To this end now, all our higher and tertiary education institutions are required to provide an education that is derived from the national need and required then to cause industrilisation through the innovation and industrialisation fund so that we dispose of the idea of looking for work and adopt the idea of creating the work that is needed to feed into the needs of our people. So Hon. Speaker, I want to submit and say the Manpower Planning and Development Amendment Act is a complete revolution in terms of what our education is expected to do. So, we expect the effect to start showing very vigorously as we move in time as a nation within very few months to a year or years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I want to finally submit that this Act conforms to the spirit of creativity in terms of science, research as well as academic freedom that is enshrined by Section 61 of the Constitution which says “if people are free  to think and create that is where the development of a country comes from”. Therefore polytechnics, vocational training centres, teachers’ colleges and industrial training centres are now within the league of universities in terms of being accorded the freedom that they need to create, modernise and industrialise this country. So I want to submit that this is the operationalisation of the heritage based education 5.0 that we have been looking for. There is now a legal basis to do so.

I also want to say Hon. Speaker that this Manpower Planning and Development Amendment Act now enshrines the country to have an ecosystem of scientific institutions including academies of science that are the driver of the strategic thinking and intelligence of a nation whereby  we anticipate new economies and not be befallen by new economies. Instead of adopting what they call now there is industry 4.0, Zimbabwe will start to say there will be industry 7.0 and it starts from here whereby we become participants in the knowledge creation ecosystem of this world rather than just consumers of the knowledge ecosystem.

So Hon. Speaker Sir, by this Act Parliament and His Excellency the President are saying nobody will be able to stop Zimbabwe now in terms of its development. Once a nation begins to learn to think on its own which we call mental sovereignty and do based on what it thinks nobody can stop that nation. I thank you.

HON. T. MOYO: May I applaud the Minister for the response, may be however, may he give us a timeframe in terms of import substitution industrialisation. In Zimbabwe, of late we have seen that the importation of goods into Zimbabwe, especially basic goods is on the decline. So to what extent can we expect this Manpower Planning and Development Act to substitute those imports?

HON. PROF. MURWIRA: I wish to thank Hon. T. Moyo for the supplementary question for us to be more explicit on timetables. Hon. Speaker, I want to submit that through the National Manpower Advisory Council, we did a survey and from 2014 to 2018 – this country imported goods worth US$20 billion, which means on average this country was importing US$5 billion of goods. Now, what this means is that we then need to scroll down this list and start eliminating one by one what we need to import. There are still certain things that we need to import. However, we cannot import everything.

As it is said Hon. Speaker with your indulgence, somebody said in academic circles if a country imports 90% of its requirements it means it is using 10% of its brain capacity. If a country imports 10% of its requirements, it means it is using 90% of its brain capacity. Therefore, what it means is that at this moment we have to up the use of our brain capacity so that we import substitute. We have started already eliminating certain elements. For example, through the innovation process at the University of Zimbabwe we have been able now to substitute the four armyworm medicines with a bio similar of that sort. You would know that the local authorities at the moment are using what we call the LAD (local authority digital) system which was developed by Harare Institute of Technology.

You would know Hon. Speaker that ZUPCO, the tap card system was developed by Harare Institute of Technology. You would also know that Finealt Engineering which is a company under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology is in the process of producing biodiesel which is actually within what we call the bio economy and we are developing more. As we speak, the National Bio Technology Authority is also doing, for the first time a marula factory because we were importing marula juice and wine when we have a lot of marula trees in this country. We expect the commissioning of this factory to start happening by the end of this month.

So Hon. Speaker, while we were being led by policy of Education 5.0 now we are emboldened by the enactment of an Act to make sure that it becomes imperative that universities and colleges are not created for pleasure. They are not decorations. They are a means to the liberation of a people. I thank you.

HON. CHINYANGANYA: My supplementary question is when we can expect to see the alignment of the conditions of service for lecturers in colleges, polytechnics and vocational training centres in alignment to the Act because they play a critical role in the implementation of Education 5.0.

HON. PROF. MURWIRA:  Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir, I wish to thank the Hon. Member for that supplementary question.

Hon. Speaker Sir, by Parliament and His Excellency enacting the Manpower Planning and Development Act, they have created what we call the Tertiary Education Service.  The Tertiary Education Service is in response to the requirements of Section 61 of the Constitution that Higher and Tertiary Education has to have that academic freedom, that creativity that is needed, that operational independence that is needed for such institutions to steer a country forward.  So, what the Tertiary Education Council has done is to transfer all staff who were under the Public Service to the Tertiary Education Service which is actually headed by the Tertiary Education Council.

The Tertiary Education Council is similar to what a University Council would be like, only that the Tertiary Education Council is looking after so many colleges where as a University Council is looking for one to one – one university, one council but this is a council for all tertiary education institutions.  So Hon. Speaker Sir, we believe that we will immediately implement this Act and it is just a matter of practicality but we have already started.  We are now looking for council members who will then recruit the secretary, head of the secretariat and we are on the move to try, to the best of our ability, to make sure that there is immediate implementation.  If immediate is time, it means as practicably as possible but we have already started working on it and I hope that by not saying in two weeks or two months, immediately would serve the purpose.  I thank you.

Source: The Insider