As the Chairperson of Higher Education, I took the time to make inroads on my Committee and that of our counterparts in Turkey. As you have already heard that we had only 20 students that were being given scholarships by the Turkish Government. After our resident Ambassador was assigned to Turkey, we had 35 more students annually. For us it has raised a point that the Turkish Government actually spoke about how they would want more students coming to Turkey to study in various programmes.
As a Committee we saw it fit that before that can happen, we must have an exchange programme to go and see how Turkey has managed to let their education fit into the economic growth of Turkey. We also took it upon ourselves that we will have to go with parastatals like ZIMCHE so that they ascertain the quality of education that is being offered by Turkey.
Also of note was the issue that was raised by the Ambassador, that prospective students see advertisements where it will be stated that, we will be offering accommodation and everything else and when parents then send their children, there is something else. It was highlighted mostly in Cyprus which is near Turkey where we have about 27 students being arrested there for various crimes ranging from drug trafficking and prostitution. So Madame Speaker Ma’am, who would take these scholarships at face value to please first go through the right authorities to ascertain that these scholarships are indeed authentic because we have our children going to be even sex slaves because of these scholarships.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, a lot has been said but allow me to talk about the state of our embassies and Ambassadors. I have been a member of the Foreign Affairs Portfolio Committee since the inception of this Ninth Parliament. We have always heard Ambassadors and foreign diplomats lamenting on their way of life and remuneration having taken time to reach them. Let me applaud our Minister of Finance and Economic Development and our Government that when we got to Turkey this time around, the Ambassador was in good spirits and thanked the Committee for the efforts that it put because currently they are fully paid and everything is in order. I would also want to thank our former Chairperson for pushing this to come to pass. I remember in Bulawayo during the Post Budget Seminar, he actually had to post pictures of one Ambassador in tattered shoes with a car that looked more of a scrapper. So I would want to thank our Hon. Minister for a job well done.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, I would also want to talk about the MOUs that have to be signed and ratified and domesticated. It is very important for us to go through these and make sure that the relevant authorities start working with Turkey through the signing, ratification and domestication of these MOUs. Madam Speaker, of note and of importance to me, was how the Turks looked at us as Africans and more so as Zimbabweans. They did not look at us as second class citizens but looked at us as a continent or as a country that can give something in return to what they would be offering. For me, that was a very important point that I took home that even when we start talking about business, exchange programmes or mining, they know that they are approaching a Government that has a people with their own thinking and way of doing things. I really like that because some countries think that when they are developed, the other countries are underdogs or have to beg for anything that they have to be given, but in this instance Hon. Speaker Ma’am, it will be two countries at par discussing on how they can further the relationships and engagements going forward.
Madam Speaker Ma’am, I will not go into a lot of things because they have been said, save to say that I was surprised when Hon. Mliswa did not show his excitement and enthusiasm about the Sports Club having been given a leaf to say let us do sports diplomacy where we have to exchange visits and do our sporting activities. Turkey is a free country where sport is also taken as more important as economic issues and as a Parliament queen who plays netball, I cannot wait for the Zimbabwean parliamentary teams – both netball and soccer to go and showcase what we are made of.
Lastly Madam Speaker Ma’am, I would want to talk about the COVID-19 and vaccination issues. Turkey is one of the countries Madam Speaker Ma’am that has scaled its vaccination programmes; almost half of its population has been vaccinated. This allows for activities to return to normal. We saw people socialising as normal as you can think, we saw birthday parties being held, weddings being conducted because at least a quarter or herd of immunity would have been reached. So I urge our people of Zimbabwe to take the vaccination, the effort that is being done by Government on the vaccination issue to make sure that a lot of people are vaccinated, thereby encouraging the opening of things and we return to normal. Having said that Hon. Speaker Ma’am, I rest my case.