Mabvuku-Tafara legislator James Maridadi said Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa could not talk about retrenching civil servants because they had a right to take the government to international court and they were likely to win.
In his contribution to the mid-term fiscal policy review statement in which Chinamasa said the government had to reduce spending on wages from 83 percent of the budget to under 40 percent, Maridadi said the government was supposed to be creating two million jobs and not cutting jobs.
“ZIM ASSET, which is the economic bible of this country, talks about the creation of two million jobs. We spoke about the creation of two million jobs at the elections in 2013. Hardly two years later, we are talking of retrenching people. I think this is actionable by the workers,” he said.
“Workers can take Government to an international court and Government will lose because instead of creating two million jobs, the Government wants to cut on employment. We talk of a pro-poor budget. Is a pro-poor budget there to reduce poverty or induce poverty? The statement that was presented by the Minister in this House is a statement that will increase poverty.
“We cannot talk about retrenchments. We know the chaos that is going on in the private sector. Government cannot ride on that chaos and also try to induce that chaos in the public sector. I think Zimbabweans reserve the right, if they are retrenched by this Government, especially civil servants, to take this Government to an international court and sue this Government. I know that the Zimbabweans will be able to win,” Maridadi said.
Maridadi’s contribution was before the introduction of the Labour Amendment Bill which seeks to stop the wholesale retrenchments. The bill was passed by both the National Assembly and the Senate and now awaits presidential approval.
More than 20 000 workers had already lost their jobs since the Supreme Court ruling that eased retrenchments. The bill seeks remuneration dating back to the judgment.
MR. MARIDADI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I might not be able to cover all the areas that I had intended but I would want to premise my debate on the following: economic growth, revenue collection, food security, mining sector, protection of domestic industry, wage bill reduction and employment creation as well as labour market flexibility.
Mr. Speaker, I want to look at the statement that was presented by the Minister. He revealed that the projected growth of 3, 2% has been revised downwards to about 1,5%, which means it has been reduced downwards by more than 50%. The Minster talked about the agriculture sector as the backbone of this economy but I think the industrial sector if it is properly funded will replace the declines in the agricultural productivity and stir the economy.
The focus of policy towards the re-capitalization of the manufacturing sector will be essential in order to increase productivity in the economy. The Minister did not however sufficiently deal with efforts to restore the manufacturing sector in the recapitalization of the sector. I think what we need to do now Madam Speaker, is to be honest with each other and also tell each other the truth. As the previous speaker has said, there are policies that we have in this country that do not do anything to encourage foreign direct investment. The Minister talks about different types of taxation and he did not talk about foreign direct investment. I think what this country needs more than anything else is foreign direct investment. Prevailing double digits in lending rates on the financial markets are preventing the recovery of the universal sector because money is very expensive. So, companies cannot borrow.
Interest rates are up to 20% and a company cannot borrow and expect to pay back at an interest of 20%. What kind of business will one be engaging in for one to raise that 20%? Madam Speaker, I want to go on and say the Government has to make conscious efforts to deal with three underlying macro-economic challenges that we have while at the same time putting in place formulas to deal with corruption and poor management of public funds. The 2015 National Budget proposed a focus on the forms to promote accountability and management of public resources. The financial audits of 10 major parastatals have not been done except for ZBC. ZBC is the only one out of 10 important parastatal that had an audit done, the rest of them audits have not been done because it is under the supervision of Hon. Prof. J. Moyo. The proposed Public Sector Government Bill that will seek to ensure compliance as well as illegally enforce corporate governance in state enterprises and parastatals. That is what we need to put in place.
In terms of accountability, Madam Speaker, the Auditor General reports that for 2014, 2014 clearly exposes the lack of compliance with approved frameworks, that is taking place in Government departments and in ministries. Mismanagement of resources is one of the major deterrents to service delivery in the country and this impacts on the effectiveness of the national development agenda. Madam Speaker, it is not sufficient to just mention that the Government is already working on development of necessary mechanisms for accountability, as stated by the Minister in his statement. Government needs to design ways to deal with this matter. Political will will also be required to ensure that public funds are used for their rightful purpose. If you look at the Auditor General’s report on the various parastatals, it appears parastatals are not sticking to their mandate that there is a lot of pilferage I do not necessarily agree with Hon. Kereke when he said that we must not talk to international organisations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. If you look at page 197 of the Minister’s statement, the Minister says “on 16th February, 2015, Zimbabwe and EU signed the National Indicative Programme under the 11th European Development Fund for the period 2014 to 2020”. Under this the Minister goes on to say “the National Indicative Programme (NIP) is programmed on an indicative amount of US$234 million and outlines the following areas of support:–
Health – 88 million Euro
Agriculture – 88 million Euro
Government and institution buildings – 45 million Euro”
He goes on to give a list of the money that will be received by this Government totaling about 250 million Euro. The Minister says “However, you will be aware that Zimbabwe has not been benefiting from the IFAD initiatives due to our current arrear situation in line with finance governing laws”. The Minister does not talk about sanctions.
He talks about Zimbabwe’s arrears, which is the money that we are not paying. He says that “I am therefore pleased to advice that Government is involved in negotiations with IFAD on finding a solution to our arrears situation which will facilitate the resumption of IFAD support to our agricultural sector. The amount of arrears due to IFAD is 16.6 million Euro which is equivalent to US$ 23.1 million”. So, when people are debating on the Minister’s statement, it is important that people read the statement…
THE ACTING SPEAKER: Hon. Maridadi, you are left with two minutes.
MR. MARIDADI: Madam Speaker, I will leave everything that I wanted to debate and go on to ask the following questions to the Minister. What is Government policy in ensuring that the improvements that have taken place in the health sector as a result of the Health Transition Fund are sustained given the fund is approaching its expiry date? What has Government put in place to ensure there is speeding up of beneficiation of minerals such as gold, platinum and chrome among others? What is Government policy on the recapitalisation of local manufacturing industries? What has Government put in place to ensure employment creation through the Youth Employment Creation Fund?
What measures have been put in place to cater for the salaries that are being owed by parastatals, namely the NRZ, Air Zimbabwe and the GMB? Lastly, what is Government doing to ensure that small holder farmers, in particular, are able to access irrigation equipment so that they can sustain their productivity if they face unreliable rains as experienced in the 2014/2015 season?
Madam Speaker, while I am on that, looking at what the Minister said in terms of retrenchment, you cannot talk about retrenchments at the moment. ZIM ASSET, which is the economic bible of this country, talks about the creation of two million jobs. We spoke about the creation of two million jobs at the elections in 2013. Hardly two years later, we are talking of retrenching people. I think this is actionable by the workers. Workers can take Government to an international court and Government will lose because instead of creating two million jobs, the Government wants to cut on employment – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] -. We talk of a pro-poor budget. Is a pro-poor budget there to reduce poverty or induce poverty? The statement that was presented by the Minister in this House is a statement that will increase poverty.
Madam Speaker, we cannot talk about retrenchments. We know the chaos that is going on in the private sector. Government cannot ride on that chaos and also try to induce that chaos in the public sector. I think Zimbabweans reserve the right, if they are retrenched by this Government, especially civil servants, to take this Government to an international court and sue this Government. I know that the Zimbabweans will be able to win. I thank you Madam Speaker.