Misihairabwi-Mushonga says Zimbabwe cannot develop as long as some regions feel they are not part of the country


0

Zimbabwe cannot develop “as long as you have a part of a country and a State that believes that they are not part of the country, that they are being marginalized, whether that marginalization is real or unreal”, a Member of Parliament said last week.

Speaking in her contribution to the Presidential Speech, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, a non-constituency MP for Matebeleland South, said Zimbabwe could not run away from the fact that until it deals with the issue of marginalization, it will never have full development.

“Mr. Speaker, as long as you have a part of a country and a State that believes that they are not part of the country, that they are being marginalized, whether that marginalization is real or unreal, we need to deal with it,” she said.

“We had a group that left this Parliament, they were doing a Committee – I am sorry I cannot remember what Committee. When they went to Bulawayo, they were thrown out, people refused to have that conversation. Instead of understanding that this is a cry for help, it was something that was saying you are not listening to us. We tend to ignore it and say all people of Matabeleland are cry babies, all people of Matebeleland should stand up. It is something that is historical that has come from years and years ago.”

Misihairabwi-Mushonga said to people in the Southern region, it appeared that issues mattered only if they affected people in the Northern region. She gave the example of the recent Labour Amend Bill and how it was rushed through Parliament.

“Mr. Speaker, we were called here very quickly to come and debate the issue around the Labour Bill because we were saying there were thousands of workers that had lost jobs. I did not say this because I knew that the emotions were too high but I wanted to stand up and raise this particular issue.

“If there is a place in which things have gone terribly wrong day-in day-out, it is the area around people who are coming from the southern region. The way the factories have closed, we are even talking here about some Bill that we are saying, we will give you two, three or one month. Those industries that have closed in Matabeleland, people have not even been given the opportunity for those small two or three months issues. They merely woke up, went to a company only to find it closed.

“There is no retrenchment package, there is absolutely nothing.  Mr. Speaker, when they watch us sitting in here and speaking so emotionally about a Labour Bill because all of a sudden, it has now affected, not only the southern region but also the northern region as well, they begin to say okay, things only get bad when things are happening in the northern region, then people wake up. When it is happening to the southern region, it is okay and we can get away with it.”

Misihairabwi-Mushonga said she hoped that the appointment of Jonathan Moyo as Higher Education Minister will make a difference in the Southern region because most youths were leaving the country for South Africa because they did not see any opportunities in Zimbabwe.

“You …have in the Presidential Speech – something that speaks to the issues around young people and how we need to encourage the youth. Hon. Chinamasa will probably remember this, as part of the issues when we were negotiating, he used to have problems around an argument that we would bring to the table, when we would talk about marginalization. We would say, the young people in Matabeleland are not necessarily in the upper echelons of the economic development. He would say most of them do not really want to go beyond Form 4 and 6. So, we used to say to him – ask yourself why?

“Why do we have the majority of the people in the southern region being the ones that die as they try to cross Limpopo? It is because the environment itself does not allow for these children to do the kind of work.

“When you do an analysis around the schools, you will find that the majority of the schools that are in good standing, that can develop and bring together young people who can be engineers, doctors’ etcetera, cannot do so because those schools in the southern region do not have the laboratories that are there. …..

“I am glad Mr. Speaker Sir, that sometimes you think if a place is being held by somebody who does not necessarily come from it, they may not necessarily worry about it. I am glad that we now have Hon. Jonathan Moyo in that particular space – Higher Education and Tertiary institutions. One is hoping that we will see a difference, both in terms of the children that are going into these tertiary institutions as children that reflect the complexion of Zimbabwe and not necessarily those who reflect the complexion of a particular region and a particular side.”

 

Full contribution:

 

MRS. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Mr. Speaker, I want to join the other colleagues in also debating the Presidential Speech but before I do so, let me join others in also giving our condolences to our colleague who just passed away and to thank Hon. Chinotimba for making that point of order. I hope that we can follow it through together as Members of Parliament.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to try and do two things in this debate. I am going to focus on two main principles that are there in the Constitution because as the President started his debate, he started by saying there is need to align the laws to the Constitution. I think what I want to do is to begin to speak to those issues that are in the Constitution and those issues that were raised in the Presidential Speech.

Mr. Speaker, when the President comes to this House, I think what we found missing and which we need to address, is that he is not coming in his capacity as the President of ZANU PF. He is coming in his capacity as the President of Zimbabwe. I think as we begin to do a critique of the presentation, let it be understood that this is a space to which we are dealing with the President as the President of Zimbabwe and therefore, doing a critique of whether the foundation and steps that he has set for this particular Session are the steps that speak to the issues that we think are priority issues.

Mr. Speaker, like I said, I am going to deal with two issues. I am going to deal with issues around fair regional representation as one. The second issue I am going to deal with is the issues around gender, in particular women rights. I think my colleagues have done a good job of raising other issues around those. In my opinion, I think issues of fair regional representation and issues of gender or women’s rights are the cornerstone of any development in any country. I believe that we need to deal with them with the seriousness that we see.

I will briefly touch on one thing that does not relate to those two because I think it is critical and important. I had put it in my motion last time and because we are getting into the other Session, it is not there. So, I used the opportunity of this Presidential Speech to speak a little bit to it because it is raised.

Mr. Speaker, the President speaks on the issues of war veterans, however, I think in this Parliament, one of the issues that I have raised is that when we look at issues of war veterans and issues around women who participated in the struggle, there has always been a problem in terms of whether there is declaration of them as heroes/heroines or whether they are being taken seriously in issues of governance.

Mr. Speaker, I must say I am impressed that at this particular point in time, those that are sitting in this House that we have known as war veterans who are females have at least found space in the area of governance. I think we want to praise that because it speaks. I am just  disappointed that whilst we have done well for the other war veterans, there is just one war veteran that I still find, who has been there for a long time and I wonder what it is about her that has not gotten her to get into that space and it is my sister, Hon. Zindi.

I am hoping that as we begin to move forward, we may have an entire coverage so that we are clear. So, let me congratulate the female war veterans who have been appointed and hope that they will take the aspirations, the things that they fought for, the issues around women that they stood for into the spaces of governance and that they will not conform to the maleness that we have seen, even from people that have been war veterans who are male.

Mr. Speaker, let me go to the issue around fair regional representation which is Section 18. I have spoken about this section many times in my motions but today, I think I want to go a bit deeper into it because I think we tend to lose focus when we speak to the issues around ethnicity. We become tribal and angry and we think that people are beginning to score points around issues of ethnicity. Like I said, I  am proud that I can stand up here as a person who is mukaradhi like Isaid. So, I cannot be said I am standing for a particular tribe. I cannot stand for a Shona or Ndebele because I am a hybrid and probably, this is why I am so good. I bring both sides of the tribes and you know that hybrids usually bring that to you.

As I begin to speak, I hope I can be understood that I cannot be necessarily targeting a particular tribe. We cannot run away from the fact that the issues of marginalization are an issue in this country and until we deal with them, we will not have full development.

Mr. Speaker, as long as you have a part of a country and a State that believes that they are not part of the country, that they are being marginalized, whether that marginalization is real or unreal, we need to deal with it. We had a group that left this Parliament, they were doing a Committee – I am sorry I cannot remember what Committee. When they went to Bulawayo, they were thrown out, people refused to have that conversation. Instead of understanding that this is a cry for help, it was something that was saying you are not listening to us. We tend to  ignore it and say all people of Matabeleland are cry babies, all people of Matebeleland should stand up. It is something that is historical that has come from years and years ago.

Let me explain, even as I sit here why that is an issue. Mr. Speaker, we were called here very quickly to come and debate the issue around the Labour Bill because we were saying there were thousands of workers that had lost jobs. I did not say this because I knew that the emotions were too high but I wanted to stand up and raise this particular issue. If there is a place in which things have gone terribly wrong day-in day-out, it is the area around people who are coming from the southern region. The way the factories have closed, we are even talking here about some Bill that we are saying, we will give you two, three or one month. Those industries that have closed in Matabeleland, people have not even been given the opportunity for those small two or three months issues. They merely woke up, went to a company only to find it closed.

There is no retrenchment package, there is absolutely nothing.  Mr. Speaker, when they watch us sitting in here and speaking so emotionally about a Labour Bill because all of a sudden, it has now affected, not only the southern region but also the northern region as well, they begin to say okay, things only get bad when things are happening in the northern region, then people wake up. When it is happening to the southern region, it is okay and we can get away with it.

So, if we are going to be fair Mr. Speaker, it does not matter where things are happening; it does not matter whether people are in conflict in the northern region or they are in conflict in the southern region. The amount of time and conversations that we give to both those regions should indicate that we are equally worried about a region in the north and a region in the south. Until we begin to operate that way, it will raise suspicion. Look at the kind of debate, whether it was on social media or in the papers, you can see the difference even between the debate that we are having here. While there was passionate, emotional debate in the northern region around the Labour Bill, you could not find as much in the southern region because they know that the majority of people who are in the National Railways of Zimbabwe are between  Bulawayo and Midlands. So they will be sitting there and saying, it is really bad that some people do not have jobs, what about us who have spent 2 to 3 years without getting a salary? Mr. Speaker Sir, I think it is important that we begin to look at those things.

Following up from what Hon Khupe has said, if we are going to kick on the corner stones and the fundamental issues that we are worried about around economic revival, it will not happen unless we create a situation in which the other people in this country feel as passionate and as emotional as being part of that area. What has even become more problematic is the closure of companies. Some of them have just not closed because there is nothing, but have moved from the southern region to the northern region. What does that say, to somebody who is in the southern region? It basically says the economy is in the northern region, so who am I? You then have in the Presidential Speech – something that speaks to the issues around young people and how we need to encourage the youth. Hon. Chinamasa will probably remember this, as part of the issues when we were negotiating, he used to have problems around an argument that we would bring to the table, when we would talk about marginalization. We would say, the young people in Matabeleland are not necessarily in the upper echelons of the economic development. He would say most of them do not really want to go beyond Form 4 and 6. So, we used to say to him – ask yourself why?

Why do we have the majority of the people in the southern region being the ones that die as they try to cross Limpopo? It is because the environment itself does not allow for these children to do the kind of work.

When you do an analysis around the schools, you will find that the majority of the schools that are in good standing, that can develop and bring together young people who can be engineers, doctors’ etcetera, cannot do so because those schools in the southern region do not have the laboratories that are there. So, if I look at this area and the President is speaking about creating an educational Bill, what is that Bill going to do? It should not necessarily be a Bill that is changing how education is  going to be but it is a Bill that is going to be looking at the past and say, regions have different needs and how do we deal with them.

Last time, I brought to this House the issue around a quarter in some of these higher institutions. I am glad Mr. Speaker Sir, that sometimes you think if a place is being held by somebody who does not necessarily come from it, they may not necessarily worry about it. I am glad that we now have Hon. Jonathan Moyo in that particular space – Higher Education and Tertiary institutions. One is hoping that we will see a difference, both in terms of the children that are going into these tertiary institutions as children that reflect the complexion of Zimbabwe and not necessarily those who reflect the complexion of a particular region and a particular side.

Mr. Speaker, if you look at Section 264 in the Constitution, it talks about the issue of devolution. There is one disappointment on our mistaken speech, whatever we want to call it, for the first time, it actually had the word devolution. I literally wanted to jump up and down here, because it is the first time I have heard the President of this country speak about devolution but guess what happened! We now had the new speech on page 2, the same paragraph that the President spoke to in his mistaken speech, where he had included devolution has now been changed to decentralization. That is a political statement against issues of devolution. Why would somebody who earlier on felt that the issue is about devolution around procurement, now think it is about decentralization. It means you are making a political statement in two things saying as the Executive, we are not going to deal with issues around devolution, but with decentralization. We know what decentralization means, it means that the power remains at the centre and somebody decides what power they are going to give you. So, your power does not reside and it is not coming from the Constitution, but it is coming from a particular centre that then decides what power they are going to give you.

Mr. Speaker Sir, like I have said, it follows the issue around what we are doing with different regions. We know that the people who suffer for getting birth certificates, passports, licences are the ones coming from the southern region. If you are moving from Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, you are much nearer to Harare, therefore the centre in which those things are being done can be easily done. If you are coming from the southern region, you are not able to come there. I am going into details Mr. Speaker, because I want to show you that when we talk about issues of marginalization, it is not merely something that people are having a joke over, it is actually to do with something that is serious and that is fundamental to the governance of this country.

Mr. Speaker Sir, let me talk to the issues around the rights of the elderly and again, I will put it in the same vein. When Government decided that it was going to do a head count of those that should be receiving money so that they would decide on who the ghost workers are and who are not. I am not sure how they were doing it in Harare but I did not see old people standing in a queue to be counted as pensioners.

In Bulawayo at Milton High, you would find old people that are diabetic and not well standing in the queue. One begins to question whether we are dealing with these things differently. Have we now come to the northern region and said our pensioners will be dealt with in offices and in the southern region, they will be dealt with in a different way.

Mr. Speaker Sir, the issue that I also found problematic, I do not know whether the conversation that is taking place, that is drowning my voice between Hon. Chinamasa and Hon. Jonathan Moyo speaks to the very fact that I should not be speaking or I am speaking nonsense. It is a bit disturbing because they were not doing that earlier on – [Laughter]-  They can talk but they are literally drowning me and the other one is from the southern region.

Mr. Speaker, when we speak about the issues around the children’s rights, for example I am a bit disappointed that one of the red flags and one of the things that have been very passionate, particularly coming from women has been that whole issue of age of consent. Mr. Speaker, I am surprised that we could have a speech such as this does not speak to that issue of age of consent. It is easy Mr. Speaker, if you would call us quickly to deal with labour issues, why is it so difficult to come in one day and immediately reveal that law, move it from 16 to 18 years. I  think the world has spoken, people have spoken that this is wrong, we do not want it and yet it is not there in it. Do you necessarily want the women to march, to lie on our tummies, to undress? What is it that you want us to do for you to understand that we do not want this law you cannot tell me that my sixteen year old girl can consent to sexual intercourse with any man. I do not care whether that man is 20, 30 or 75 years old.

Mr. Speaker, in line with that particular issue, one of the issues that we have been worried about has been the issue around the fact that we have a mandatory sentence for stock theft. If you steal a cow right now, we have a minimum mandatory sentence of nine years yet people can afford to give the community service to the perpetrator when a child is raped.

Again, women have spoken clearly and loudly on these things and in my opinion, if we are going to have something that is tangible, to quote the statement by Hon. Khupe that speaks to the aspirations of the people of this country; let us immediately have a law that speaks to that  issue where we review the 16 years old and put it to 18 years old which is the legal age of majority.

Secondly, something that speaks to a mandatory sentence because if you love cattle so much, I do not know why you do not care about women and children who are being raped every day. – [AN HON.MEMBER: Inaudible interjection] – I have gone overtime?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order. No, you still have five minutes. Please carry on.

MRS. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Then there is the issue around the right to health. Again Mr. Speaker, I will link it up to the issues that I have been talking about on Section 18. Again if we look at the hospitals and clinics, the difference between the clinics and hospitals that are in the southern region and those in the northern region just does not make sense.

So that right to health yes, is important as indicated in the Constitution but it should also speak to ensuring that it is fair. I am speaking from a personal interest. I have come out openly about my issue on issues around mental health illness so I know what I am talking about.

The majority of people who suffer from mental health in this country are unfortunately women particularly women of an older age.

You must know that even as I speak, it is defined as a chronic illness but if you go to a hospital right now – even medical aid only pays for five days. Let us assume you are taken in because you are severely depressed, suffering from mental depression or whatever and have completely lost it. You will not be covered by medical aid beyond five days because at the end of the day they have defined mental health as if it is not a chronic illness. I think that is problematic, especially knowing the kind of pressures that women are dealing with on a day to day basis.

Mr. Speaker, lastly it is issues around veterans of the war. Again the Constitution is very clear when we are now talking about the veterans of the liberation war that it has nothing to do with just war veterans or political detainees. It is clear that it is about everybody who participated in the liberation struggle.   those women who were carrying  sadza to pungwes and even those who provided whatever safety you want to define it but whoever …

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order to hon. ministers please lower your voices so that the hon. member is heard in silence.

MRS. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Thank you Mr.Speaker, I really had tried. I think even as we begin to look at it, let us look at the real definition that is there. That is not to say, we do not want the war veterans and detainees to get particular benefits that should be accorded to people who contributed to the struggle.

It is critical because we do not want privatisation of the liberation struggle. I have a problem with it. I do not want to ever be in a situation where when people are talking about the liberation struggle, I feel like I cannot be part of the discussion because I know I am part of that discussion. I know that I am totally and completely believe in the liberation struggle perhaps even better than those who want to speak as war veterans.

So as far as I am concerned, that part should broadly look at how it is going to bring everybody else who participated in the war but also be specific to what we are going to do and accord the kind of respect that is due. It is sad that even when we have the Minister of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees, things have not changed for the war veterans. The school fees have still not been paid, they are still struggling and the widows in particular are getting $100.00 as pension. We do that entire hullabaloo at the Heroes Acre and the widows are displayed as if they are part of silverware yet when she leaves there, she cannot even go to hospital to get herself treated. Let us be truthful to the issues, let us not speak and not act in the manner that we are saying we are going to act. They are important, critical and they have a history.

Lastly Mr. Speaker, Hon. Chamisa said something about the President coming to this House. One thing that I would have loved to say to the President is that I hope you are writing because part of what we do not have is written work on what happened historically. Let us  get those things written so that we can read it and begin to sit down and talk about it.

Otherwise like Hon. Chinamasa always used to say to me, history is always written from a victor’s point of view. He knows where I am coming from and the conversation that we were having then. I am sure he knows when he told me that particular story.

Let us have those people write so that we can critique it and seewhere we are going right now. I hope you remember Dinyani Hon.Chinamasa?

(297 VIEWS)

Don't be shellfish... Please SHARETweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email
Print this page
Print

Like it? Share with your friends!

0
Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

0 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *