Mpopoma-Pelandaba Member of Parliament Joseph Tshuma says the government is stifling the development of the National University of Science and Technology by not allowing it to open up to enroll students from non-science disciplines.
However, the tables could soon be reversed as the government is now promoting science because it is the key to develop the country.
Tshuma said because NUST was forced to have a 70-30 student ratio in favour of science, it had now been overtaken by universities that were established after it like Midlands State University which had an enrolment of 23 000 against NUST’s 7 000.
He argued that if NUST enrolled more students, it would get more revenue to develop its science departments.
“If you look at it on a serious note currently, the government does not have enough resources to capacitate NUST to do that (70-30 enrolment in favour of science) as the institution does not have laboratories. I am a current student of NUST and to be honest with you, it is very appalling as the buildings are dilapidated and the laboratories are not in place.
“It is my wish and prayer that maybe, through the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, we say that NUST is presently enrolling about 7 000 students and if we compare it to Midlands State University which stands at 23 000 students, this disparity is caused by the issue of Government locking down NUST and saying, no, you cannot increase your commercial subjects,” he said.
MR. J. TSHUMA: Thank you Madam Speaker for affording me this opportunity to also add my voice to the debate that is pending in this House. I want to begin by thanking Hon. Mutomba and Hon. Dziva for having moved this very important motion. Before I go any further Madam Speaker, may I take this opportunity, on behalf of my constituency, Pelandaba- Mpopoma Constituency and indeed, on my own behalf, to pass my sincere condolences to the Tsogorani family first that lost their dear beloved mother and sister. Also, on that same note, may I also pass my condolences to the Mahlangu family in Bulawayo where I come from, for the loss again of another hon. member, Hon. T. Mahlangu. Indeed, may their dear souls rest in eternal peace.
Madam Speaker, I also rise to add my voice to the current debate that is in line with the revolutionary address by His Excellency, the President of our beautiful nation, Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and the current Chairman of the African Union, Cde R.G. Mugabe. Indeed in him, we have a true visionary leader and always, he demonstrates his willingness to be the voice of the voiceless. This was witnessed at the just ended United Nations Summit where the President again scored a first by standing up for Africa, by demanding that Africa be heard and Africa must have a seat in the Security Council because we are also a continent and a people of note.
Coming back home, it all began with the 10-point plan that our dear President addressed to us here during the State of the Nation Address and then, the Official Opening of the Third Session of this Parliament. His Excellency has set the ball rolling. Once again, he has set for us a high standard to follow and my question is; are we going to live up to it or we will fail him again as we did in the First and Second Session of this Parliament. Over 21 and 19 Bills were put before this House, but only a fraction of those Bills were ever presented in this House and actually debated on. This to me, is a sign of failure because we are busy crying out and loud saying that we are not aligning laws to the new Constitution, but here we are, 21 and 19 Bills that the President had put before us but only about nine of those Bills were put before us. I really wonder why we are doing that and where that will take us to.
Allow me Madam Speaker, to indulge my dear hon. sister, I cannot see her today, Hon. Khupe. I heard the other day when she was addressing the House saying that, the President’s speech did not address the bread and butter issues. I asked myself if she was reading the same speech [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] that the President gave us because if you read his speech, you will know that the President addressed all the pertinent issues [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] I can tell you Madam Speaker, this is the sort of behaviour that really brings our country down – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order!
MR. J. TSHUMA: [MDC HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Why are we heckling at each other? Why are we not taking Parliament business seriously? Why are we not taking the issues of the nation seriously? Do you think that heckling at each other is going to resolve the problems of Zimbabwe? [MDC HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] – Do you think that talking in loud voices is going to resolve our economic issues? [MDC HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] – That is not being serious and honourable at all [MDC HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] – If you want to be honourable, then you must learn to listen [MDC HON.MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] Learn to open your ears and not shout [MDC HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, order hon. members, if the hon. member is saying what you do not like, you will have your own chance to stand up and say whatever you want in this House. May the hon. member please be heard in silence? [AN HON. MEMBER: He must address the Chair!] Address the Chair, hon. member.
MR. J. TSHUMA: Thank you very much Madam Speaker, for protecting me from people whom I thought were honourable and would want to listen to my point of view so that we may do the same when their turn comes. That is the only way that Zimbabwe is going to move forward.
As long as, we the hon. Members of Parliament here behave like school children [MDC HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] then I do not know where we are heading to. [MDC HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] – I shall continue anyway. [MDC HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]
*MR. CHINOTIMBA: On a point of order Madam Speaker, we are mourning our fellow member Hon. Thamsanqa Mahlangu. I am requesting hon. members to conduct themselves in a proper manner. Thank you. [MDC HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]
MR. J. TSHUMA: Madam Speaker, His Excellency the President, in his address when he placed the Bills that we are supposed to consider as a House, out of twenty-one of these Bills, fourteen of them are actually meant to look into the issues of our economy. If we all were to seriously consider and pass these Bills, they would set the tone of our economical turn around as a country and this requires collectively coming together and being together.
I will look at the first one, His Excellency the President touched on the issue of the Special Economic Zones. I will relate this to my constituency in Bulawayo, Pelandaba-Mpopoma and Bulawayo as a whole. We have all known that Bulawayo has always been referred to as, “Kontuthu ziyathunq”, but all that has died out.
Now, if we really were to come up with this Special Economic Zones Bill and pass it, we would be able to attract companies that will come to Bulawayo and set up industries so that we can get our people to be employed again because Bulawayo, unlike other provinces, relies on employment. We do not have land to till but rely on employment and if this Bill is passed, the people of Bulawayo will be employed again.
I would also like to thank the President, for touching on educational issues. When we come to the issue of education, I want to bring the House back to the issue that I once spoke about. We have the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Bulawayo. If we look at that university, it is supposed to deal mainly with science education. Thus, even the thrust when it began, was on a 70 -30% kind of a rationale basis but now, if you look at it on a serious note currently, the Government does not have enough resources to capacitate NUST to do that as the institution does not have laboratories. I am a current student of NUST and to be honest with you, it is very appalling as the buildings are dilapidated and the laboratories are not in place.
So with the Bill that is coming in, I wish Government and the Executive could seriously look into these issues. The other day, I was speaking to one of the lecturers at the NUST and he was telling me that they have a sister university called, University of London who are willing to donate science equipment and all that we have to pay for are the flight charges. When the equipment comes, realistically we can have some of it channelled towards our secondary schools in Bulawayo as they do not even have science equipment. So, how do we now have a system whereby we want to feed into the university when our high schools do not even have the requisite equipment in order for them to teach science subjects productively?
It is my wish and prayer that maybe, through the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, we say that NUST is presently enrolling about 7 000 students and if we compare it to Midlands State University which stands at 23 000 students, this disparity is caused by the issue of Government locking down NUST and saying, no, you cannot increase your commercial subjects.
I would love us to look at this holistically and say, fine, when the going gets tough, let us get a bit tougher as well. In the meantime, why do we not increase on the commercial subjects so that NUST can enroll more students and by so doing, they will be able to have money to run their current programmes? If we introduce degree programmes like Law (LLB) and other such subjects, we will be able to attract people to come to NUST and increase its enrolment. Once we do that, we will have capacitated it for now until our situation is resolved and permits us to revert to the 70 – 30% enrolment. We need to have a way forward all the time as that is the only way we are going to be better people, the only way we will serve in this House and live to say we have done something positive and not destructive.
I will now turn to issues of health, His Excellency the President adequately reminded us of his vision on this subject. I will take the House back to Bulawayo again; we have Mpilo Hospital where we saw headlines in our local newspaper, The Chronicle, about corrupt activities that were happening. Board members engaging in clandestine deals, companies supplying ghost invoices; by this I mean an invoice that comes without any goods but the non-existent goods are paid for.
Now, I am saying to myself, this is the same thing that has resulted in hospitals acquiring expired medication to the detriment of our own people. What are we doing as Parliament because we play the oversight role? Are we properly looking into those issues and what is the Ministry of Health and Child Care doing? We need to wake up to that call because we need to be serious as these are our people. They may be relatives to any of us and when they die, it will be very worrisome and sad indeed. I want to applaud His Excellency the President, for coming up with such issues so that we seriously look into them and be able to note what we are doing for our people.
Madam Speaker, the other day I was shocked when I saw an ambulance without tail-lights and with one head-light and I said to myself, God this is the vehicle that is supposed to ferry me to hospital when I am sick or when I am critically ill or involved in an accident, but the same vehicle is not being properly maintained. Are we being serious about these things? Are we going to sit down here and heckle each other instead of looking at such pertinent issues and solving them? We need to solve that, and this is not an individual effort but a collective one. If ever we want to bring Zimbabwe to where it should be, it must be you and me, both that side and this side. Never ever shall we say it is left for the other side because that would be a sign of failure and we will not condone that?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, hon. member you are left with five minutes.
MR. J. TSHUMA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I will now address the issue of Ekusileni Medical Centre. This hospital was a brainchild of the late father of the nation, Dr. Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, but after all these years and after NSSA poured in millions and millions of dollars to construct that hospital, it is so disappointing to note that up to today, that hospital is still not functional. We were told about a company called Phodiso from South Africa that had come and it would have brought all the equipment and money that was needed for that hospital to come up. Somehow again, somebody somewhere is stopping that project from taking off. This tempts me to actually then borrow from Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga who would start to think of marginalisation, though I know that it is not. It is not real but Madam Speaker, why is that hospital not functional today?
I have a doctor who I know personally who is called Dr. Jeff Moyo who actually went to Singapore. He even went to the UK and to Dubai and he spent over $30 000 studying the subject of fertility. We were going to be one of the first African countries after South Africa to have a fertility centre here where people can do fertilisation through tubes. He spent all that money in readiness to come and work at that hospital but up to today, nothing is happening and I am asking myself, are we really taking these things seriously? Are we really sure that we want to develop our nation collectively? If our answer is yes, I think that it is high time and it is necessary that as a House, we come together with a vision to say, “One Zimbabwe” and that is the only Zimbabwe that we have because we will never have another Zimbabwe.
In conclusion Madam Speaker, may I quote from the Holy Bible 1 Timothy 5, verse 8. It says, “But if any provide not for his own house, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel”. This I am saying to all of us here. Our own President, if I may quote in verbatim, said, “May I remind all hon. members of this august House of the need to always conduct business in a manner that does not erode the stock of trust reposed in us by the electorate. We indeed carry on our shoulders the hopes and aspirations of our people. Let us channel our collective energies towards the development of our country guided by our economic blue print, the ZIM ASSET¡¨. Madam Speaker, if you read from what the President was saying, he was inviting us to come together and be like a soccer team.
I remember just this last weekend Madam Speaker, as a parting note, a very terrible incident which happened but it showed me something about life. We had a team called Arsenal which had good defenders that passed on to their midfielders and strikers and they beat my team Manchester United 3-0. If as legislators here learn that we are the midfielders, let us pass the through- pass properly to the implementers so that policies are guarded accordingly and are acted upon. I thank you Madam Speaker.