Q & A
HON. SEN. MUMVURI: Thank you Madam President. My question is directed to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Hon. Dr. Gumbo. Your Ministry oversees Air Zimbabwe, Roads and Road Traffic and National Railways of Zimbabwe. It seems as if the last parastatal has not been looked at in earnest. My question is, is the National Railways of Zimbabwe going to be rehabilitated at all? If yes, what measures are underway to achieve this goal? Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. GUMBO): Thank you Madam President. Thank you Hon. Sen. Mumvuri for that very important question about the National Railways of Zimbabwe. You want to know what measures the Ministry is taking to resuscitate the NRZ. Madam President, the National Railways of Zimbabwe’s operations had been going down year after year. Now they have actually worsened to such an extent that it is becoming very difficult to resuscitate the national line.
However, that be as it is, we are working very hard to make sure that we resuscitate the national line because it is important, particularly during this time of the year, when we are expecting a bumper harvest because of Command agriculture. Also, we are looking at improvement in our mining area. So, it is important that we do something about it and that is exactly what we are doing. Just yesterday, we presented a paper to Cabinet seeking permission to allow us to look at options of resuscitating the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ).
The problem that we have been facing is the fact that the NRZ books are so bad to the extent that it has been very difficult to attract investors and partners because of the situation that has affected NRZ for many years. We are at this moment negotiating with some companies who want to partner us. This is the reason why we asked for permission from Cabinet and negotiations are still going on at Cabinet level so that we get guidance as to who we can involve partners to assist us in the resuscitation of the NRZ. It is an important thing to do for Zimbabwe because if you see the damage that you find on the roads, it is because the National line is not assisting by carrying heavy loads or cargo due to the fact that we do not have the locomotives to assist us. Those are the things that we are working at. I want to tell Hon. Senators here that hope is not lost. There is light at the end of tunnel. We are working and what is left is just for us to come up with the best option for our country, which will not work against the interest of the country by getting the best person who can partner us. So, we are doing something about it and I hope that very soon, we will be able to come and tell this august House that something is now on the cards and we are pursuing it. Therefore, we are not just sitting but we are doing something about rehabilitating the NRZ.
There are many issues that bedevil the NRZ. Firstly, it has been over employed. It had about 20,000 employees. By 1990 they had come to about 12,000 and as I speak to you now, the number stands at 5,000 but they are doing nothing. That is where the problem is. However, we just cannot dismiss people before giving them their dues. So, at the moment we continue to get the little that we have and pay people who are seated. These are the things that we cannot ignore as they are governed by our labour laws. I hope Hon. Members will understand where we are coming from and where we are going. We want to be able to give our people something when we tell them to go home. So, from that position, we are still working to make sure that when we part ways with those who have been working for the NRZ for many years, they go home happy. We are trying to balance the scale but at the same time also looking at the interests of the nation.