Bulilima East Member of Parliament Mathias Ndlovu has called on the government to protect Zimbabwean workers in South Africa and Botswana because some of them are going for months without being paid while others are denied sick leave when they fall ill.
Ndlovu said he was pleased that President Robert Mugabe had, in his speech to officially open the current session of Parliament, said that the government would put a national diaspora policy in place because this would protect Zimbabweans working outside the country.
While most people thought of countries like England, Europe or America when talking about the diaspora, most of the people in Matebeleland South worked in South Africa and Botswana.
Zimbabweans working in South Africa and Botswana are estimated at anything between one and three million.
Ndlovu said he was pleased that there were now formal channels of bringing money into the country as most Zimbabweans working outside were bringing in their money illegally. But he hoped that this money would be used for investment rather than consumption.
“Of concern to us is the issue of safety for these people who work in diaspora. Some of them work for months without being paid. When they complain, they are just deported, lose their properties and do not get their salaries,” he said.
Ndlovu said a number of workers in the diaspora were suffering from tuberculosis but they were denied leave to get treatment. They ended up using illicit drugs, creating further problems for them.
MR. M. S. NDLOVU: Thank you Madam Speaker. First of all, I want to thank Hon. Mutomba the mover of this motion. I rise to contribute on three issues which are foreign direct investment, water and the general amendment of laws.
I come from a constituency that is at the border, called Bulilima East in Matebeleland South. I was very pleased when our President said that the national diaspora policy will be put in place very soon. I know most of us have had about the diaspora when people now go to England, Europe and America. We know that people of Matebeleland South have always worked in neighbouring countries but there are issues that affect our sons and daughters. They bring in money, mostly illegally but we are happy that now there are channels put in place to enable our children to bring money.
Of concern to us is the issue of safety for these people who work in diaspora. Some of them work for months without being paid. When they complain, they are just deported, lose their properties and do not get their salaries. We would love that we as Government, we look at these issues. You are aware that some of them get sick, most of them they will be suffering from tuberculosis. Recently, I attended a workshop on tuberculosis and Matebeleland South was at the top in terms of tuberculosis infections. Most of our people, when they suffer from tuberculosis, go to South Africa to get medication from South Africa but they are unable to leave their jobs to get the required treatment. It has created an impression that the tuberculosis (TB) treatment in South Africa and Botswana is not effective yet it is just the same as here. They do not have time to attend to this thus they end up getting illicit drugs that create further problems for them.
I would also want to point out that it is important that when our diasporans remit money, it should be directed to investment, technology transfer and the establishment of enterprises instead of just consumption.
Coming to water, I am glad that our Vice President, Hon. E. D. Mnangagwa was in Gwanda last week and he emphasized the issue of water not only for Matabeleland South but for the country as a whole. There is always a problem with statistics, I will give you an example of one of our wards in Bulilima East. Statistics show that the ward has got seven boreholes but in actual fact, for the past four years, only two boreholes are working. Some of them have not been working because they are shallow having been drilled in the 1960s. Dams are silted but when you look at DDF statistics, they will show you that there are a multiplicity of dams, yet they are no longer functional. I do not want to repeat this because the Hon. Vice President Hon. E. D. Mnangagwa emphasized that something must be done and people should get out of their offices.
Then there is the issue of education that the President holds very dearly to his heart. I would like to commend that immediately after His Excellency delivered the Opening Address, we were blessed, let me put it that way. In that the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development came to Plumtree and allowed us to have Plumtree Secondary School as a coeducation institution because numbers were dwindling while the infrastructure was not being fully utilised.
At the same time, the Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Hon. Zhuwao, also came down and he was talking about indigenisation. We in Bulilima and Mangwe do not have minerals like most areas in the country but there is a project that has been on the books since the 1980s of the sewer pan on soda ash. It is most painful that this project could be an answer to most of our agricultural problems in that it could produce salt, fertilisers and whatever but we do not know what has happened to the project as it is gathering dust somewhere.
We were also pleased that Cde. Saviour Kasukuwere also came down and had a meeting with all civil servants …– [MR. CHIBAYA AND MR. MUTSEKWA: Hausi kuti Hon. Minister nei?] – Sorry?
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. member, kindly address the Chair.
MR. M. S. NDLOVU: Thank you for protecting me. I would like to salute them for having come to Gwanda and heeded His Excellency’s call that ministers should stay in touch with the people.
In conclusion, I would like to salute the grand master of asymmetric warfare Hon. R. G. Mugabe for the peace and tranquility that prevails in the country. Thank you.