The Member of Parliament for Bulawayo East Tabitha Khumalo said workers at most parastatal organisations should be at Ingutsheni, a mental hospital in the city, because she did not understand how they were making ends meet when some of them had not been paid for two years.
She said it was quite disheartening to learn that workers were going for such long periods without pay when the chief executives were paying themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars every month.
Khumalo said parastatals had become bus stops for looting for ministers so it was high time President Robert Mugabe did something about corruption.
“Mr. Speaker, I would like to end by giving my recommendations to the President of this country with due respect. My recommendation is for him to activate an instruction that says, ‘Every person in the parastatal who is found to have been looting must be incarcerated and the monies that were looted must be paid back. If all the property has been attached and sadly those properties were bought with the parastatal’s money and if we do not recoup all that they stole from the properties, can those individuals be incarcerated until their trial is over’.”
MS. KHUMALO: Thank you Mr. speaker Sir, I would like to commend the mover of this motion because this motion starts from the top and goes right down to the bottom. Everything that needed to be said about what is happening in the corridors of corruption has been said, but there is one area that we have not spoken about and this is the area of the workers that are affected by this corruption. Mr. Speaker Sir, the impact of the corruption that is taking place in the parastatals is so devastating for the workers of this country to the extent that I am very surprised that as at now, they are not senile.
I expected that the workers of this country, for example those in Bulawayo should be at Ingutsheni. Why am I saying that Mr. Speaker Sir? Let me give you an example of the Cold Storage Company. It was in the newspapers that CSC is now on its knees because of corruption and the corruption did not start today. The advantage that I have is that I once worked for the CSC. We tried our level best as workers to raise the issue of corruption within the avenues of Government. The earlier speakers said that is the survival of the respective ministries, for them to be as fat as cows from the CSC which have gone through the 120 days feeding scheme.
Mr. Speaker Sir, CSC has got 9.1 tonnes of beef that we need to take to Europe. Up to this date, we have not done so. Recently what is happening there is that they have what they call service slaughters, where if farmer A takes his animals to the CSC and CSC slaughters on behalf of that farmer, all that they get are the fifth quota and the insides which are going to be eaten by the workers that are not even being paid.
The same beef then goes to our people in the locations. A worker who has not been paid for one year is supposed to go and buy the same intestines for US$2, which he does not have. It is very sad because that worker is not even recognised but must come to work with a white shirt and a tie, polished shoes, which he cannot afford. The same applies to us as Members of Parliament. We are supposed to dress very formal when we are underpaid, over worked and not respected.
Mr. Speaker Sir, let us come to the issue of salaries. CSC workers have not been paid for the past two years. They have to come to work. The same workers have got homes, where they must pay rent. The same workers must buy food, have their children go to school and must go to hospital but they cannot afford it. The City Council and ZESA will come and cut them off if they do not pay and you say workers are supposed to go to work.
They must walk from Chitungwiza to town in order to impress the same parastatal manager who is looting because all parastatals are bus stops for looting for the ministers, especially the permanent secretaries because they are board members of the same institutions. How does a permanent secretary become a board member of an institution where there is looting and does not collect the loot because he is the instigator of that looting. So, the issue of permanent secretaries sitting in boards must come to an end, Mr. Speaker Sir. We cannot afford to have bus stops for looting in Government institutions at the cost of the people of Zimbabwe.
The buck must stop with the help of our President Robert Gabriel Mugabe. The time has come for the President of Zimbabwe to make a pronouncement in terms of corruption. Action needs to be taken because the buck has to stop with him. We have tried as Members of Parliament and we have said that is enough. He has to pronounce and there must be action.
Mr. Speaker Sir, having spoken about ZESA, I had an opportunity of seeing the workers of ZESA at work. Our cable was blown up where I stay and it was raining. When I got there, they said to me Hon. Khumalo, we have a problem. They had dug a tunnel and they asked if I could please go and get umbrellas for them. They were using phones to torch the cable, so that they could fix electricity for the consumers.
When we met the management and the permanent secretary of the energy sector, we were given the impression that the energy sector makes at least US$1 billion every month. Can you tell me, Mr. Speaker Sir, that ZESA is failing to buy a tent, torches like mine or like what the fire brigade have, these bright lights that they use when there has been an accident. ZESA cannot afford that but the CEO, Mr. Chifamba, is as fat as a cow from the CSC which has been through 180 days pen fattening. He told us that it was genes. What genes?
You can tell a difference between a Member of Parliament and a minister. If you look at the skin of a Minister rinotsvedza. If you observe the ministers complexion, you will find that it is healthy and shiny and he puts on designer wear suits and yet us ordinary people will purchase whatever is affordable, which may cost US$5, regardless of the quality. We purchase our clothing from market stalls, which are colloquially called kotamai boutiques. In Bulawayo we have such a market stall in the city centre near the city council offices. This is where people like us, your ordinary Members of Parliament, purchase our clothing and on the contrary the Minister will be putting on expensive attire such as Pierre Cardin. An ordinary MP puts on second hand clothing, which is imported in bails and also referred to as zhing-zhong.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I then want to go to the issue of ZESA respecting its work force. We had a cable that was burnt and we had no electricity for four days. I followed up to find out what the problem was. They said that they were waiting for the tools because the kit that they needed to use was in Harare, so they had to write a requisition that goes to Harare and then Harare takes it to the stores. The stores authorise for that kit to come to Bulawayo and five days have gone by without electricity. Is Bulawayo or any other province a lion? Having said that, I want to believe that we have agreed on the issue of decentralisation and we say that such kits must be readily available for each and every ZESA office within Zimbabwe, not relying only on Harare.
I had the opportunity of being sick, Mr. Speaker. I got so sick and since I have medical aid from the public service, I went to Mater Dei Hospital. They asked me if I was on medical aid and I said yes. When they saw my medical aid card, they said no, you do not pay. I was supposed to go through an emergency operation. I left Mater Dei and went to the United Bulawayo Hospital, a Government hospital. I was put in a private ward where there were no doors, the lights were not working, you could not close the windows, the curtains were hanging upside down, the beds, when you sleep, half the time you must be careful when you jump off because it will follow you. There was a worker who was there, who is a nurse looking after me.
As if ranga ririshura, electricity was cut off. I phoned the regional engineer asking what the problem was. He said that we have fixed the problem from the ZESA side, the problem is within the UBH. I thought to myself that as a Member of Parliament, we have our oversight role. I went to management and asked what the story was. They needed 150 millimetre core cable which is 600 metres that was burnt. I asked them that the two days that I had been there we had burnt 600 metres of a cable. No. It was because someone did not care. The person who is benefitting in that institution as well as management have no reason to come to UBH, they have to go to Mater Dei Hospital or a private hospital because they can afford it. We the poor people go to UBH.
I asked them for how long they had known about this. I phoned Dr. Chimedza, I hope he is still here, and I said there was a problem here at UBH. We had an incubator where we had small babies and those babies died. I went into the theatre Mr. Speaker Sir, and when one goes into the theatre they ought to be given a gown to wear. I had to use my own gown and I wore it inside out. The stretcher was screeching and you get to the theatre and find that the trolleys are not working and they are making so much noise.
The equipment to use for sewing dissolvable stitches is not there. I am sitting with stitches for those 21 days because the dissolvable stitches were not there. Now, you tell me, what on earth is happening? If you leave the theatre and go to the administration block you will see a Mercedes Benz parked. Do you know what we were eating – sadza, beans and cabbage. When one is sick, it is important to get a good diet so that you are able to come out of hospital, recover very fast and your wounds will heal but it does not work that way. That is UBH for you. This worker is sick and he is given chomolia, beans and sadza to eat. These are workers who are supposed to endure this because the so called parastatal looters are enjoying something better.
On the issue of dialysis, an ordinary person is being charged US$110 to use the dialysis machine. They are only charging them for using the machine and every single ingredient needed for dialysis, you have to bring it yourself. I am the same worker who has not been paid for one year but I need a dialysis machine for US$110 twice a week. Where do I get that kind of money from?
Mr. Speaker, I would now like to turn to Air Zimbabwe. We were once upon a time the best airline in Africa and the world over, but today we have management that is not paying workers. What they have been doing is to get to Bulawayo airport and on realising that there is staff that is not working, they recycle them. They remove these people from Bulawayo and take them to Harare and you are just told to see what you can do until things are alright. That is a worker who has left his family at home and he has not been paid, but there is a CEO who is making deals with insurance companies stealing above US$5 million which only benefits him.
The next thing, we are told that the CEO of Air Zimbabwe has been arrested and is applying for bail. Those people should never be given bail until and unless they tell us where our money is. If they cannot pay that money, let us attach their properties and if we cannot attach the properties, they must go to Chikurubi Maximum Prison and serve the State. We should ensure that they go and clean the grounds at Air Zimbabwe so that they are seen to be ploughing back to the community as a worker unpaid and overused.
These workers, Mr. Speaker, are dying and cannot afford to be buried. As a Member of Parliament, you go to their homes and you will not even find salt or matches, something that does not run out in any home. Then you think, as an MP who is not respected as an elected person by the people of Zimbabwe, who is not paid and with the change that you give us from the allowances that we get after claiming from the Ministry, Clerk claiming from the parastatal and flying using the Parliament privilege of flying; that change that you get and want to share with your small house is what we get as Members of Parliament. I must then go and bury that person Mr. Speaker Sir. How many of them am I going to be able to bury with the amount of money that I have. You go to the City Council’s social department to look for a
pauper’s burial, and you are told that for us to give you a pauper burial the minimum number of bodies that have not been claimed by relatives is 10 and as we speak, we only have 2. So, I am supposed to go and kill 8 more people to be accorded a pauper’s burial. How many of these people are going to die Mr. Speaker Sir, while they will not bury this person from my constituency.
It is the same worker who is working for the same parastatal which is being looted by the same Minister, the Permanent Secretary and others, who is now suffering? Shockingly as workers, the same board and same management, the moment I break one of the rules of that company I am suspended pending investigation without pay but Cuthbert was suspended pending investigation with pay. He was reinstated temporarily because in the paper he is suspended but he is in the office sitting and working Mr. Speaker Sir. So, where is the difference between me, as the worker and him who is the CEO? For him to earn the US$300,000 that he has been looting is because of the work that I am doing, for the patients are coming and we are servicing the same patients whom we are failing to pay the service provider. That is the same man who is suspended with pay and workers are suspended without pay, the same worker that Cuthbert has not paid.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to end by giving my recommendations to the President of this country with due respect. My recommendation is for him to activate an instruction that says, “Every person in the parastatal who is found to have been looting must be incarcerated and the monies that were looted must be paid back. If all the property has been attached and sadly those properties were bought with the parastatal’s money and if we do not recoup all that they stole from the properties, can those individuals be incarcerated until their trial is over”.
We do not want a situation where I have been sentenced to jail for 10 years for stealing and on paper, I am in jail yet in reality I am at Rainbow Towers. We do not want that because workers go to jail for stealing and therefore, CEOs must also go to jail for stealing. We are all workers and we are working for the Government.
The other issue is – there is nothing as embarrassing as staying in a hotel and this Parliament does not pay for our accommodation and then when you wake up at 12 midnight you find a letter telling you to pack and go because of non-payment. You are doing that to the workers of those hotels who voted us into power and we become dishonourables because you do not respect us. Which Minister has ever received a note which says, please can you vacate the hotel or office because you have not paid?
You closed our constituency offices because rent was not paid. How much was the rent? We chose offices that were the cheapest with rentals ranging between US$150-US$200 but you closed them all. However, the Ministers have got their offices air conditioned, flat screens, leather sofas and fridges. If you walk into a Minister’s office, you sit on leather sofas and you are offered a soft drink and that same Minister is saying my office should be my car.
That brings me to the issue of cars. You said we must take our cars to COPAC because we are working for the country. When we took our cars there they were brand new but they came back old and destroyed. No-one paid us and until today CMED owes us money. They never paid. The same Ministers’ cars did not go. So, Mr. Speaker, the time is nay for us to get our cars as Members of Parliament. Takavhotegwa nevanhu, tikahwinha. It is our right. It is not an obligation to have those cars. It is a condition of service. Give us our cars, coupons, sitting allowances and respect us. I thank you.