MP says the effectiveness of a government is judged by how it takes care of the poor


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Nkulumane legislator Thamsanqa Mahlangu says the effectiveness of a government is judged by how it takes care of the weak- that is the poor people- so when making policies the government must make sure that they address issues that affect the poor.

Contributing to the debate on the harassment of women vendors Mahlangu said he did not agree with the confining of the motion to women because legislators were voted into parliament by men, women and the youths.

“We have been complaining all along since we started debating. When a child is crying it will be crying for the mother to hear that he or she is crying. So, it is unfortunate that as we are complaining here, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Dr. Chombo is not around.

“He is the person who is at the centre of this debate. He is the person who can help us to change things within local authorities. His voice can make a difference. It can actually influence policies in the local authorities so that these councillors who sit in these local authorities, they make by-laws that address these injustices that we have been talking about,” Mahlangu said.

Mahlangu said Members of Parliament were senior to councilors so they must make sure that councilors implement pro-poor policies.

“We need to influence these councillors that when they are making decisions, the decisions should ensure that these issues that we have raised here are addressed,” he said.

“It is very unfortunate that as Parliament we can talk and talk here but with all the involvement of these stakeholders, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing himself, Hon. Chombo, I know he can do anything but it is just that he does not want to do it.

“If he wants to change things, I know he can do it. He has got that capacity. If you go to Chitungwiza, he is destroying houses of the people and so forth, he has done that, he has got that capacity to do anything. So, why is he not protecting the poor people?”

 

Full contribution:

 

MR. MAHLANGU: Thank you Mr. Speaker for this opportunity. I would like to thank Hon. Nyamupinga, seconded by Hon. Matibenga for moving this emotional and sorrowful motion, which is people-centred and affecting people in our constituencies.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I come from a constituency with one of the biggest flea-markets in Zimbabwe, which is called Nkulumane Mupedzanhamo in Nkulumane. It is one of the biggest flea-markets, if I am correct. I have been watching in silence whilst people were being victimised by the Bulawayo Local Authority officials as they will be selling their wares in that market. They are made to pay bribes as they fight for a living. People have been made to do what we call hide and seek as they try to make a living.

I just want to say, Mr. Speaker Sir, the people that we are talking about, the vendors, unfortunately this debate has been restricted to women alone. When we talk about the vendors, we will be talking about all classes of people. We have people who are working in the industries that when they knock off, they go into town to sell their wares during the night; people do not sleep because they will be trying to supplement their incomes. We have got even the civil servants who are actually vendors, we have got the youths but we are not talking about them here, these are the people who are not working.

When they finish school they go into the streets of Harare and become vendors. We have got the elderly people, they are also vending, trying to earn a living due to the collapse of our social welfare department Mr. Speaker, so all these classes of people have become vendors, so as Members of Parliament, we have to represent them. We have young people who are not working, 12 years of age or less; you see them in the streets of Harare selling different things.

So, what I am saying is that it is unfortunate that every time in this Parliament when we start debating issues, we restrict our debates into women issues alone. We need to represent all the classes here because as Members of Parliament, I believe and I know that we were elected by men, women, youths and the elderly. So, it is very unfortunate that we end up fighting for the rights of one group of people instead of representing everyone in this Parliament.

Mr. Speaker Sir, it is sad that government policy should not be biased towards poor people and it is said the effectiveness of a government is judged on how it takes care of the weak, that is the poor people. So, when we are making policies as a country, we should also see to it that these policies consider the poor; they address the issues that affect the poor. We have been complaining all along since we started debating, when a child is crying it will be crying for the mother to hear that he or she is crying.

So, it is unfortunate that as we are complaining here, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Dr. Chombo is not around. He is the person who is at the centre of this debate, he is the person who can help us to change things within local authorities. His voice can make a difference; it can actually influence policies in the local authorities so that these councillors who sit in these local authorities, they make by-laws that address these injustices that we have been talking about.

As Members of Parliament, in our constituencies we work with councillors, they are our juniors. So we need to lobby our councillors to go to those local councils when they are making decisions to make decisions that are pro-poor. These councillors are the people whom we live with as Members of Parliament, people elected them into office; they are a very important stakeholder to a Member of Parliament. We need to influence these councillors that when they are making decisions, the decisions should ensure that these issues that we have raised here are addressed.

It is very unfortunate that as Parliament we can talk and talk here but with all the involvement of these stakeholders, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing himself, Hon. Chombo, I know he can do anything but it is just that he does not want to do it. If he wants to change things, I know he can do it. He has got that capacity. If you go to Chitungwiza, he is destroying houses of the people and so forth, he has done that, he has got that capacity to do anything. So, why is he not protecting the poor people?

So we are saying Mr. Speaker Sir, we need to have a situation whereby we have policies that are not biased against the poor people. Again, Mr. Speaker Sir, we need to ensure that we do not politicise our local authorities; the problem that is in our local authorities there is a lot of politics.

We have a councillor elected in a certain local authority, we have these municipal police that are working there who are always arguing with the councillors. Some of these people do not want to listen to the councillors from a certain party and are actually making this thing get out of control because they will be saying, I cannot listen to a ZANU PF councillor or MDC councillor. So, let us de-politicise the work of our councillors.

Mr. Speaker Sir, you go to Mbare Msika, the hon. member who moved this motion was talking about the farmers coming from Domboshava to sell their wares at Mbare. If you go to Mbare, it is not only the municipal police that are actually a problem, there is also a certain group called Chipangano. That group is harassing those farmers when they come to sell their wares, they are asked to pay money.

The local authority has failed to stop that group from doing this to those farmers. So, we need to raise that issue again, the Chipangano group must stop what they are doing. We definitely need to protect our people.

Mr. Speaker Sir, whilst I speak about these challenges that we are facing as a country, we are going to continue facing these challenges of vending for as long as our industries remain closed. I come from Bulawayo, there is no industry to talk about, and people are jobless.

Bulawayo has been turned into an informal sector, there is nothing to talk about, everyone is talking about selling tomatoes and they go home with 10 cents in their pockets. People have been reduced to poverty, they cannot even pay school fees for their children, and people are suffering.

We need to ensure that whilst we are talking about solutions like identifying designated areas for vendors to sell their wares, we should also look at the big picture. The big picture I am talking about is that we should bring investment into this country for industry should open up. When I grew up, I did not want to be a vendor, I wanted to go and work, that was my desire but nowadays, when the youth finish school they think of going to South Africa or to be vendors.

If our people go and work, we will reduce the number of people who are vending. When the population of vendors is reduced, we are going to have fewer problems in future. This is the long term plan and solution that we are talking about. We will talk and talk but even the local authorities do not have the capacity to sort out this problem because the informal sector is spreading like mushrooms. It is now becoming costly for us as policy makers and we need to come up with permanent solutions to these crises. Our local authorities have been shouldering the burden of chasing after vendors instead of attending to their core business of managing the cities, ensuring that our people get clean water.

The local authorities are now focusing on raising money and they do not care about what the residents are drinking dirty water here but no one cares instead, instead they are busy chasing after the poor people in towns, that is very unfortunate. Even holding poor women’s breasts! What is that? That one alone shows that we are losing our dignity as a country because we do not respect our women.

I said, I would not reduce this debate into a women motion but I am saying, the stories that were narrated here by the mover of the motion on victimisation by council officials, are very unfortunate in an independent country like Zimbabwe. We have got the powers in us; we have Ministers and councillors and we need to stop this. It is within our powers, as far as I am concerned. Mr. Speaker Sir, with these few words, I thank you.

(21 VIEWS)

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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.

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