Movement for Democratic Change vice-president Thokozani Khupe trashed President Robert Mugabe’s speech at the official opening of Parliament because it failed to deal with issues that reflect the concerns of the people.
“The Executive promised 2.2 million jobs through ZIM ASSET but at the present moment if there is anything, more jobs have been lost. They have actually created 2.2 million vendors,” Khupe said in her contribution to the presidential speech.
Khupe said Mugabe was not explicit on how employment was going to be created, either.
She said that historically, Zimbabwe was driven by performance of three major sectors: agriculture, mining and manufacturing.
“In 1984, agriculture accounted for 41% of our export earnings. Zimbabwe used to be the bread basket of Africa but look at what is happening right now. Insofar as the World Food Programme report is concerned, they are saying 1.5 million people are facing extreme food shortages between now and March 2016,” she said.
Mugabe had not come up with any concrete proposals to revive agriculture yet the country had enough water bodies to irrigate land and produce 2.5 million tonnes of maize which was more than enough to feed Zimbabwe, Khupe said.
Mining used to account for 27% of Zimbabwe’s export earnings.
“We had 1 000 mines which were producing 35 commodities and the President right now is talking about repositioning the mining sector so that it restores its former glory. The President is talking about value addition and beneficiation. The President is talking about an Exploration Bill Mr. Speaker Sir. Thirty five years down the line, as Zimbabwe, we still are not clear on how much we have underground. We do not know how much methane gas, gold, diamond, coal reserves and so on, we have. This is not right,” she said.
Manufacturing used to account for 32% of Zimbabwe’s export earnings with 1 260 firms producing more than 7 000 different products.
The introduction of Special Economic Zones could revive manufacturing, but Khupe said “the problem that I have is that it will end on these papers. We are very good at talking about issues but when it comes to action, we do not act”.
MS. KHUPE: Thank you for affording me this opportunity to be part of this debate. Before I start Mr. Speaker Sir, on behalf of MDC-T which is led by President Tsvangirayi, we would like to pass our condolences to Hon. Tsogorani’s family on the passing on of the hon. member.
As Members of Parliament, I think we must always be alive to the fact that our role is to legislate, scrutinize policies and activities of the Executive and to hold the Executive to account for its actions. As we do this, we are supposed to do it in view of the hopes, expectations and aspirations of the people who elected us into this august House. As Members of Parliament, we are also supposed to shape development strategies that reflect the concerns of the people and I will try and do exactly that. Currently, Zimbabwe is facing a number of economic problems. For many Zimbabweans, life these days has become a struggle. People are failing to make ends meet as money is hard to come by. People are living in abject poverty and therefore I expected the President’s speech to speak to the following issues:
-Hunger and Poverty – people are living in abject poverty and they are hungry yet there is not even a single person who was born poor because every person was born with their own potential. People are poor because of institutions that are built by Government, systems that are created by Government and policies that are formulated by Government. I expected the President’s speech to speak to the issue of building good institutions, creating good systems and formulating good policies so that every person in Zimbabwe is able to explore their potential and get out of poverty.
Foreign Direct Investment is the second issue that I thought the President’s speech would touch on. Zimbabwe is desperate for new money as we speak right now. New money can only come by if we develop investor friendly policies. Right now, the President spoke about the indigenization policy and how it is supposed to be simplified and rationalized. Just simplifying and rationalizing the indigenization policy does not mean anything to me. When talking about FDI, we are talking billions. I do not think we would have any sane person coming here with his billions and then the next day, somebody comes in and say they want 51% of the billions. No one will come and invest because people want to invest where they know their investment is safe. Investors want to see a policy such that when they read it they feel like wanting to come and invest in Zimbabwe. My point is, just simplifying and rationalizing, in my view will not help. If we go that way you will find that very few people will benefit from indigenization. Those who have been promised empowerment – the grass roots will not realise it. It will remain a dream.
We want people to come and invest their money and create employment. When people are employed and they have disposable incomes then those people will be able to buy shares in those companies. Indigenisation should not be an event but it must be a process that benefits everybody. Once people have money they will start buying shares bit by bit and over the years, they will own those companies. Meanwhile they will learn how the companies operate, where to source the raw materials and where the markets for their products are located. This is what I call indigenization, but my point is, we need new money and new money can only be realised when we develop investor friendly policies.
Employment is the third issue that I thought the President would deal with. The Executive promised 2.2 million jobs through ZIM ASSET but at the present moment if there is anything, more jobs have been lost. They have actually created 2.2 million vendors. Also looking at the speech I cannot see where the President is explicit on how employment is going to be created. Now that we have vendors, I am not seeing where the President is clear on the provision of amenities to vendors so that they are able to sustain a living, now that they are there I am not seeing that Mr. Speaker.
Historically Mr. Speaker Sir, Zimbabwe has been driven by performance of three major sectors and these sectors are agriculture, mining and manufacturing. In 1984, agriculture accounted for 41% of our export earnings. Zimbabwe used to be the bread basket of Africa but look at what is happening right now. Insofar as the World Food Programme report is concerned, they are saying 1.5 million people are facing extreme food shortages between now and March 2016. They are facing extreme food shortages and yet, we have got enough water bodies which can irrigate land and produce 2.5 million tonnes of maize. This is enough to feed Zimbabwe.
In the speech Mr. Speaker Sir, I am not seeing where the President is talking about agricultural technologies like drip irrigation. They are sustainable and the yield is very high. If we want to restore our status as the bread basket of Africa Mr. Speaker Sir, this is the way to go. If we want to move away from being a food deficit country to a food surplus country, that is the way to go. I am not seeing where the President is speaking about how we are going to restore our status of being the bread basket of Africa.
The President spoke about a Land Commission which is supposed to do an audit, but we have had land commissions before; the Utete Commission, the Flora Buka Commission and the Commission by the ministry itself. Where are the results or findings from those commissions? What makes the Executive think that this particular commission is going to come out with different results which those other three commissions did not? So we have Mr. Speaker Sir, commissions already that were put in place that did their investigations. Findings are there and all that is needed is to implement what those three commissions recommended.
The other sector is mining. Mining accounted for 27% of our export earnings. We had 1 000 mines which were producing 35 commodities and the President right now is talking about repositioning the mining sector so that it restores its former glory. The President is talking about value addition and beneficiation. The President is talking about an Exploration Bill Mr. Speaker Sir. Thirty five years down the line, as Zimbabwe, we still are not clear on how much we have underground. We do not know how much methane gas, gold, diamond, coal reserves and so on, we have. This is not right.
The President was supposed to be explicit on how the mining sector is going to be revived so that we have those 1 000 mines producing 35 commodities. Once that happens, Mr. Speaker Sir, employment is going to be created. Those 35 commodities are the ones which are going to be value added and beneficiated. What are we going to beneficiate or value add right now when mines are not operating effectively?
Mr. Speaker Sir, the other issue is manufacturing. Manufacturing accounted for 32% of our export earnings with 1 260 firms which were producing more than 7 000 different products. The President spoke about operationalising the Special Economic Zones. If that happens, I think we are going to restore the manufacturing sector but the problem that I have is that it will end on these papers. We are very good at talking about issues but when it comes to action, we do not act. I expect that the Executive is going to act on this matter and operationalise the Special Economic Zones so that we restore our manufacturing sector. Once we do that, employment is going to be created and we will have more foreign currency in-flows into this country.
The other issue that I would like to talk about is corruption. The President spoke about corruption in the speech. Corruption Mr. Speaker Sir, is a cancer which has ravished our economy. Corruption is a major impediment to economic, political and social development. Corruption has destroyed good values, denied quality of life to many Zimbabweans and impoverished the entire nation. Mr. Speaker Sir, the absence of accountability and transparency has accelerated the prevalence of corruption and because of that, it is important that there be a paradigm shift and change of culture that entails serious commitment to eradicate corruption. This must start from the highest office in the land and cascade down to other lower echelons of the society. This is what we need Mr. Speaker Sir.
Perpetrators of grand corruption must be brought to justice for sustainable development. Right now, we are seeing small fish being arrested. You arrested Air Zimbabwe and so on. They were in for six months and now they are out on bail. The big fish must be arrested if we are serious about dealing with this cancer called corruption. Just talking about corruption and not acting will not help us. Yes, we have been talking about corruption. If you look at all the speeches, they talk about corruption but what has happened? We need serious commitment from the highest office in the land to deal with corruption. We want to see heads roll and those found wanting in corrupt activities must be taken to book. Justice must prevail over those people. The President spoke about declaration of assets. It is a very good thing to declare assets but declaration of assets alone without the commitment to deal with this cancer will not help us. Yes, let us declare our assets but at the same time, those who are corrupt must be brought to book. Justice must prevail if we are serious about dealing with corruption.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to conclude by saying, for me, the Executive must move away from doing the same thing and expecting different results. If you look at all the speeches since time immemorial, they have been speaking about the same issues and yet there is no movement. We are sitting here talking about people who are living in abject poverty, unemployment and all those sectors which are not functioning. It is important that we start acting and stop talking.
It is therefore my humble submission that the President’s speech during the Third Session of Parliament, in my own opinion Mr. Speaker Sir, failed to guide the legislative arm towards sustainable development.
The President’s speech for me, failed to deal with issues that reflect the concerns of the people. The President’s speech failed to raise issues in view of hopes, expectations and aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe.
For me Mr. Speaker Sir, the President’s speech failed to deliver real change to the people of Zimbabwe. I thank you.