The Member of Parliament for Hurungwe North Reuben Marumahoko says Zimbabwe’s parliament is too big for a small country like Zimbabwe.
In his contribution to the Presidential Speech on Tuesday, Marumahoko, a former deputy Minister, said Zimbabwe could not afford the number of MPs it currently has that is why it was failing to pay their allowances.
“You look at our Parliament Madam Speaker. Can a country like Zimbabwe afford the number of MPs that we have? Of course not.”
Another member asked: “Unoda kubvisa ani?”
Marumahoko did not respond but went on to ask why Zimbabwe wanted to create provincial parliaments when it could not even afford to pay allowances for the current national legislators.
“As we sit here Madam Speaker, Parliament is failing to pay allowances for hon. members who are here, failing to give them fuel to go back to their constituencies. It is a pathetic situation – but what is causing that Madam Speaker? It is exactly what I have said earlier on. It is unsustainable, this is a very small country that can do with a very small Parliament and still achieve the goals that it needs to achieve.”
Zimbabwe currently has 350 legislators, comprising 210 constituency MPs, 60 reserved seats for women, and 80 senators.
Marumahoko also called on the government to look seriously into company closures saying three quarters of the companies that had closed for the Christmas holiday had not re-opened.
He said some companies were closing only to relocate to South Africa or Zambia and then export their products to Zimbabwe.
“We cannot be a country which does not look after its companies and let those companies go elsewhere and start exporting to Zimbabwe. We are now reduced to a trading country. I thought when these big companies are in trouble, it was important for our Ministry of Industry to go and liaise with the companies and try and assist as much as possible to make sure that we avoid the closure of these huge companies,” he said.
“There is an old adage in English which says a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. So, it is important that we look after our industries which are already in the country, assist them where possible if they are facing financial problems. I know we are in difficult times but there are times Madam Speaker, as a country, as a Government, we should go out of our way and assist these industries.”
His full contribution:
MR. MARUMAHOKO: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I stand to join the rest of my colleagues who have responded to the debate on the Presidential Speech. Before doing so Mr. Speaker, let me congratulate His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe for resoundingly winning the 31st July, 2013 elections. In doing so, I must also not forget the party itself ZANU PF, which was being represented by the hon. members here present for winning that important election.
Mr. Speaker, the Presidential Speech in every country, when tabled before Parliament, is a speech which both the opposition and the ruling party will be able to join hands and debate on the issues raised by the Head of State. Mr. Speaker Sir, I am surprised by the opposition of this country who have boycotted the Presidential Speech – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – Having said so, let me also congratulate you for having been appointed to the seat of the Speaker of this Parliament and your deputy as well.
Mr. Speaker, I would want to dwell on international politics. My contribution is targeted at the icon of Africa, the son of the soil, a principled man whose name is Thabo Mbeki, the former President of South Africa. As we sit in this Parliament, we owe an appreciation to Thabo Mbeki. The former President of South Africa Mr. Speaker, made Zimbabwe what it is today. After we went through the 2008 elections where the regime change agenda was at play, the enemies of Africa and Zimbabwe were ready to pounce on Zimbabwe. Thanks to former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki that he came in and assisted in resolving the conflicts.
Apart from that Mr. Speaker, the whole of SADC states stood by Zimbabwe. They all came to assist the stability and tranquility of this country. It is a pity that when the former President of South Africa had finished his mission that was assigned to him to bring together the parties of Zimbabwe, that is the three political parties after they had signed the agreement, on his way back to South Africa, he discovered that his Party had recalled him. Madam Speaker, the crime that Thabo Mbeki had contributed was to assist Zimbabwe to come together and form a Government of National Unity. He was also involved in the conflict of Sudan and also stopped the interdict of President Bashir by the ICC; that did not please the enemies of Africa.
Madam Speaker, together with Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, they went to DRC and stopped the war which was started by the enemies of Africa in that country. The enemies wanted to loot the diamonds of DRC. Mr. Mbeki is known for his quiet diplomacy which did not please the enemies of Africa. I felt Madam Speaker, it was important for Zimbabwe to recognise his contribution to our tranquility and stability in this country. It is important also if as a country we try probably to name one our roads like we did to Nelson Mandela and the other African leaders. This is a way of acknowledging his participation in the conflict resolution of this continent.
Madam Speaker, if we were to read this book ‘8 Days of September’ written by Chikane who was the Secretary of the Cabinet of South Africa, then you know that politics is at play in this continent. You know why Mbeki lost his presidency in South Africa. Not that the South Africans did not want him but the enemies of Africa did not want him – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] –I say so Madam Speaker because he stood by Zimbabwe. He stood by the continent of Africa wherever the enemy of Africa wanted to destroy the good of Africa. He is a man that all of us here including the opposition should appreciate the good work he has done.
Having said so let me respond to the issues raised by the President here. Our President spoke on the economy of the country. The economy of the country at the present moment is not functioning at all. Our industry is dead. When we went for holiday, I am told, three quarters of the companies that had closed for holiday have not opened up to now to resume their operations. Things are not well out there; it needs efforts for all of us to make sure that we have put together our acts to see that our industry performs.
I was taken aback Madam Speaker, when I heard that an old and huge company that operated in this country for the past decade by the name Reckitt and Colman had closed. They had relocated to South Africa. What it means is that we are faced with a situation like what Lever Brothers is doing today. Lever Brothers is manufacturing in Zambia and exports the goods to Zimbabwe. So, the same situation is going to happen to Reckitt and Colman that is going to manufacture goods in South Africa and export the goods to Zimbabwe.
We cannot be a country which does not look after its companies and let those companies go elsewhere and start exporting to Zimbabwe. We are now reduced to a trading country. I thought when these big companies are in trouble, it was important for our Ministry of Industry to go and liaise with the companies and try and assist as much as possible to make sure that we avoid the closure of these huge companies.
Right now the unemployment rate in this country is hovering at 80% and we are here crying for investors yet we are not looking after those who have already invested in this country. There is an old adage in English which says a bird in the hand is worth too in the bush. So, it is important that we look after our industries which are already in the country, assist them where possible if they are facing financial problems. I know we are in difficult times but there are times Madam Speaker, as a country, as a Government, we should go out of our way and assist these industries.
Our economy is driven by agriculture, our economy, is also driven by mining. Today Madam Speaker, the mining industry is also quiet. We depended on gold and the prices of gold internationally have gone down. The price of gold today is US$1.2 per ounce, from US$1 600 which used to be a viable price. So, indeed a lot of gold mining companies have scaled down, most of them are having a skeleton staff, looking after the machinery, looking after the mine without any production going on, waiting for the good moments to come. It means we should also as a country assist where we can.
Some of the challenges being faced by the gold mines Madam Speaker are self inflicting. I say so Madam Speaker, as Government when things are at the stage where they are now, we should also look into the challenges that are being faced by these companies. To start with what they are facing now in the gold industry are huge royalties donated to Government. Because there is no production taking place, these companies are unable to meet the electricity bills. The electricity bills – I hear ZESA is about to increase the tariffs, who would be able to afford such tariffs when the current tariffs are a burden to our industry? The mining industry is the biggest user of electricity so I would wish if they could give special rates so that they remain viable.
Our agricultural sector Madam Speaker, yes we have got very good rains here and we were doing slightly better. I look at my constituency Madam Speaker, where if you come to Karoi town right now, you would be surprised the number of vehicles that you see in that small city. The poor people have now been empowered. In every village in my constituency Madam Speaker, there are one or two vehicles which is a situation that never used to obtain in the rural areas. I remember in the 90s when I used to call for some rallies in that constituency and go out of the way to hire transport outside which is not the same today, they have their own transport. They now have their own transport, they drive themselves to the rallies. If you look at the youths Madam Speaker, everyone has a motorbike, it is so impressive to note. This shows where our economy would be if the sanctions were removed.
Transport Madam Speaker – without transport you cannot resuscitate the economy. Transport also plays an important part in the resuscitation of our economy. The infrastructure is no more there. I will give an example of the city of Harare Madam Speaker. Right now we have resorted to making one way streets in order to reduce the congestion of vehicles that have increased over the years. Is that enough? What happens when all the streets are one way? One way to where? We need to think beyond that Madam Speaker, we need to go up now so that we upgrade our roads so they can accommodate the huge traffic that is anticipated.
The road from Beit-Bridge to Chirundu is no longer safe for the type of vehicles that we now have today Madam Speaker. The heavy duty vehicles that you see today travel at 120/140 km per hour on roads that were made for the vehicles travelling for less than 100 km an hour; now we have these vehicles going at that speed and we need wider roads. Yes, Government is trying by all means the meager resources that we have to improve the road from Bulawayo to Mutare but I would wish if the Beit-Bridge Chirundu road could also have a taker who could widen the road because it carries a lot of goods that goes into the country and out of the country.
The northern Africa is now getting their goods from South Africa through Chirundu road. Thanks to the One Stop Border Post which was introduced at Chirundu and so efficient all heavy vehicles do not have to spend more than three hours waiting to be cleared.
Our President Madam Speaker also spoke on the Constitution, we should congratulate ourselves particularly the MPs and citizens of Zimbabwe at large for coming up with a homemade Constitution after we have been using the Lancaster House Constitution which was amended so many times and become a Constitution that was not really suitable for today’s needs. Yes there could be one or two things that are in the Constitution that we may say we have no choice because it was a compromised document. A compromised document because the three political parties were involved in crafting that Constitution who came from different backgrounds.
You look at our Parliament Madam Speaker. Can a country like Zimbabwe afford the number of MPs that we have? Of course not. –[ AN HON. MEMBER: Unoda kubvisa ani]-
MADAM PRESIDENT: Order!
MR MARUMAHOKO: We went to create the provincial Parliaments. As we seat here Madam Speaker, Parliament is failing to pay allowances for hon. members who are here, failing to give them fuel to go back to their constituencies. It is a pathetic situation -[HON. MEMBERS Hear, hear]- but what is causing that Madam Speaker? It is exactly what I have said earlier on. It is unsustainable, this is a very small country that can do with a very small Parliament and still achieve the goals that it needs to achieve.
I move on Madam Speaker, to what you see today in the papers that is corruption. Our President also spoke about it and was not happy about corruption as a Government Madam Speaker we should be seen to be doing something where ever corruption has been exposed. It seems we only talk, we only punish people from the paper.Those who had committed this crime but no one goes to jail. I have been reading the paper today about Air Zimbabwe, the officials there who are accused of looting Air Zimbabwe; it was just a disciplinary Committee inviting these people to answer the allegations and recommendations of firing the culprits. Is that enough Madam Speaker, when millions of dollars which belong to the people of Zimbabwe have been stolen by an individual? Of course not! Something must be done and it must be done now. Everyday, you wake up and get a paper; there is a new story about corruption. There is a new company that has been involved in corruption. Surely, it is time that we should be seen to be taking action.
I had first of all Madam Speaker touched on the diplomatic …
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, hon. member you are left with only four minutes.
MR. MARUMAHOKO: Madam Speaker, I had earlier on touched on the international politics. I will not have done justice if I were to conclude my speech without thanking the leadership of SADC for standing by Zimbabwe during the times that the regime change idea was being peddled by the enemies of Zimbabwe. They stood by us, they suffered for us but still, they stand by us. It is a gesture that we should be seen as a country to appreciate.
Let me quote what President Kennedy said in the 1960s. He said, “It is those individuals who have no interest in their fellowmen who provide greatest injuries to mankind”. He went further to say, “It is from such individuals where human failure spring”. The greatest desire on human nature, he says, “is the crown for appreciation”. Let us appreciate the good that other people do to us. Let us appreciate what SADC has done for this country; in particular, I have mentioned the icon of Africa, Thabo Mbeki. He is a man who has contributed to the peace that we are enjoying now, but because of that, it cost him his job. The enemy of Africa was not happy to see Zimbabwe enjoying tranquillity and peace. They decided to destroy Thabo Mbeki. So, Madam Speaker,I suggest that this country finds a way of thanking this son of the soil –
[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear]-
Let me wind up Madam Speaker, by getting into my constituency, Hurungwe North. Hurungwe North is a constituency that is bordering the National Parks. As such, the people who live at the border, their lives are affected by the movement of wildlife into the villages. Because of that, an organisation called CAMPFIRE was introduced to assist the communities there.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, the hon. member’s time is up.
MR. MUKWANGWARIWA: Madam Speaker, I kindly ask that the hon. member’s time be extended.
MR. MARIDADI: I raise an objection Madam Speaker.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, there is an objection from the opposite side, so the hon. member’s time has expired.