President Robert Mugabe must address the succession issue because investors want to be assured of stability beyond his tenure before they can put their money into the country, Mutasa Central Member of Parliament Trevour Saruwaka said.
“As we speak, there are a lot of issues of uncertainty about the future of this country as far as the leadership is concerned,” he said in his contribution to the President’s Speech.
“There are a lot of fights at government level. A number of ministers have said it out where the confusion between warring factions in the ruling party have caused problems with the discharge of duty – so I want to say that the environment does not bode very well for the attraction of any investment.
“So my advice to the President is that he must address the issues around the stability of this country beyond his tenure, because investors are going to put money not for a year or two years, but some investment will probably yield benefits after ten years and they want to be sure that there will be stability beyond his tenure. I think that is one area that must be handled by his office very well so that people know that there is future stability after his departure.”
Saruwaka said Mugabe was not serious about curbing corruption because he was rewarding allegedly corrupt ministers instead of dealing with them.
“The reason why corruption is flourishing in this country is because there has not been any action taken by the President of this country to stop corruption. What we have seen is corrupt people being rewarded with ministerial positions. I will use the example of the divorce case between hon. Minister Chombo and he can come and defend himself,” Saruwaka said.
“When his case was in the courts, he had more than 80 stands and he was the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing. How does one acquire so many stands in a country with thousands on the waiting lists?
“We have people who have been on the waiting list for more than ten years yet one person who is correctly positioned in the corruption machinery has more than 80 stands to his name.
“What do we see? When there is a reshuffle, that individual is given the position of Minister of Home Affairs to deal with the police and we think that that is a way to fight corruption – by putting the thief to guard the granary. I think that we must be more serious.”
MR. SARUWAKA: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me an opportunity to add my voice. Before I proceed with the debate, I probably want to check with you Madam Speaker whether we are guaranteed that indeed the speech which was presented by the Deputy President is the President’s Speech. Other than the President’s picture which was probably taken in the 80s, I do not see anything else that can assure me that what we are debating is indeed the President’s Speech. However, because other Members of Parliament have debated this speech which is supposed to have been delivered by His Excellency, as the President’s speech, I will probably follow suit, but I want it recorded that I am not very sure that what we are going to read is associated with His Excellency.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Saruwaka. I want to assure you that the speech that you are debating is the correct text that was replaced by the Hon. Vice President Mnangangwa.
MR. SARUWAKA: Thank you for that clarification because there was good reason for me to doubt. When debating the speech which was presented, let me say I have got an area that I wish in future, the President must correct in as far as the protocol of the Parliament of Zimbabwe. My understanding Madam Speaker, is that Parliament of Zimbabwe is headed by the Speaker and our President of the Senate is the Vice Chairperson of the Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC). So I would expect that when the President is addressing the House, he should start by recognising the Speaker, not to start with the second in command. That mixes up a lot of issues. As far as I am concerned, this is why some of our things do not fall into place. They appear small but in terms of protocol, I think our President must be guided and corrected in that regard.
In the speech which was presented by the President where he was supposed to put the legislative agenda for Parliament, I want to say he was very bold in one of his first paragraphs, to talk about his efforts to stimulate foreign direct investment so that there is growth in the economy. My comment is that I do not think what Zimbabwe needs is any big document or high sounding words, but the environment which we create for business is more important than what we say in any document. I want to say the politics of this country has caused and scared away capital. Remember, we are competing for capital with other countries which have managed to deal with their succession issues, and managed to implement policies that attract and not scare away investors.
An investor from anywhere in this world has a choice of putting his/her investment in Zimbabwe, Qatar or Mozambique. When you look at our competition, you would realise that we are not a very attractive destination. As we speak, there are a lot of issues of uncertainty about the future of this country as far as the leadership is concerned. There are a lot of fights at Government level. A number of Ministers have said it out where the confusion between warring factions in the ruling party have caused problems with the discharge of duty – so I want to say that the environment does not bode very well for the attraction of any investment.
So my advice to the President is that he must address the issues around the stability of this country beyond his tenure, because investors are going to put money not for a year or two years, but some investment will probably yield benefits after ten years and they want to be sure that there will be stability beyond his tenure. I think that is one area that must be handled by his office very well so that people know that there is future stability after his departure. I want to say in his speech, the President spoke about Special Economic Zones. I want to tie his contribution with what the Minister of Finance and Economic Development brought during his Mid-Term Policy Review, where he indicated that Manicaland and Harare were going to be a special economic zone for diamonds.
I particularly want to speak about diamonds because I come from Manicaland. I believe we were short changed as a zone by how the diamond issue was handled in the past. I want to believe that when this Bill is going to come into the House, there is going to be efforts to make sure that when we speak about diamonds, we associate diamonds with Mutare and Manicaland, and not to try to sneak in Mt. Hampden and Harare so that at the end of the day, they benefit unduly whereas any development to do with diamonds must be directed and must reside in Manicaland as a special economic zone. As long as we put up policies which we do not want to follow through sincerely, then these documents tend to lose value. So, I want to believe that when the special economic zone area is done, the diamond thing must be done for Manicaland.
Madam Speaker, I want to talk about the President commenting on the Labour Act. He was celebrating that Government intervened to stop job losses. My comment is, I do not believe that jobs can be protected by enacting laws. The common law that was used to dismiss workers giving them three months notice was only effected this year, but Zimbabwe has been losing its industrial capacity for the past fifteen years. So for us to say all those workers who lost their jobs from the late 90s to this year was as a result of the interpretation of that law, will be telling lies. I think what is going to protect workers and jobs, is policies that encourage economic growth not labour laws that seek to protect a few workers against millions that have been thrown into the streets because of poor economic policies that have been advanced by this Government of our President.
Madam Speaker, I want to talk a bit about the mining sector which was indicated by the President as one of the areas where Zimbabwe will hopefully come out of the abyss. I want to say our experience with diamonds has not been very good. When the diamond fields were discovered in Chiadzwa, we were given so much hope, but if you go to Manicaland and anywhere in Zimbabwe, there is no evidence that we have got diamond fields which were said at one point accounted for about a quarter of the world’s diamond deposits. My point is when we have got minerals of high value in our land, I think we must stop politicising the exploitation of such resources. What we experienced in Manicaland and during the diamond rush was that there was a lot of politics around the mining of diamonds, not economics but the politics led the day to such an extent that, as a member of the Environment Committee, we were unable to visit the diamond fields to ascertain whether the mining was being done according to the laws of this country. So, you will also realise that there were a lot of human rights abuses at the diamond fields when a number of locals were forcibly removed and relocated to places far away from their motherland. The beatings and killings do not help this economy to grow.
Madam Speaker, I want to talk a bit about the Land Commission which the President was saying there is going to be a Bill to introduce that. My question is, what is it that we do not know about land in Zimbabwe? We know that there are multiple land owners and any other audit is going to be just a repeat. We do not lack the information but what we lack as a country is action to deal with the multiple land owners. It is known and a number of MPs from both sides of the House have said it here that there are multiple land owners. There is evidence even in the courts where especially during divorces – I can quote when the President’s nephew Mr. Leo Mugabe was divorcing, a number of farms were identified. There were at least three farms and that is a point to start from. Take away those farms that Leo Mugabe has because that is multiple land ownership.
When the hon. Minister of Home Affairs, Dr. Chombo was divorcing, there were also issues of many farms that had been allocated to one person. We are saying, we are going to have a Land Commission Bill which is going to result in us getting right our land reform programme. I do not believe that we lack information but what we lack is implementation and taking the corrective measures.
Madam Speaker, let me talk about the corruption where a number of MPs have said, indeed this is where our country is getting it wrong and I totally agree. But I want to say, a fish rots from the top or from the head. The reason why corruption is flourishing in this country is because there has not been any action taken by the President of this country to stop corruption. What we have seen is corrupt people being rewarded with ministerial positions. I will use the example of the divorce case between hon. Minister Chombo and he can come and defend himself. When his case was in the courts, he had more than 80 stands and he was the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing. How does one acquire so many stands in a country with thousands on the waiting lists? We have people who have been on the waiting list for more than ten years yet one person who is correctly positioned in the corruption machinery has more than 80 stands to his name.
What do we see? When there is a reshuffle, that individual is given the position of Minister of Home Affairs to deal with the police and we think that that is a way to fight corruption – by putting the thief to guard the granary. I think that we must be more serious.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order Hon. Saruwaka. You cannot use languages like ‘thief’ in the National Assembly. May you please withdraw that statement and as well any evidence of any corrupt activities dealt by the same department of Home Affairs. The courts of Zimbabwe are the ones that can actually give decision on one’s conduct to their work. So, I would want you to withdraw the word ‘thief’ from your debate.
MR. SARUWAKA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I withdraw the term ‘thief’ on the Minister and I will then say, I am worried about the lack of action taken by our top leadership in dealing with corruption.
Corruption is also closely linked with nepotism. I do not want to believe that it was by coincidence that when Cabinet was recently reshuffled, we found the name of the President’s nephew coming back as a minister in this Government. Corruption and nepotism will not get this country far. So, it is known that even when there were appointments in this House for Members of Parliament who are supposed to serve on international Parliamentary bodies, we were surprised that one of the most recent MPs, because that hon. member is probably a wife to the Vice President of this country, was then appointed to ACP.
MR. J. TSHUMA: Thank you Madam Speaker. On a point of order, I think that the hon. member here is getting a bit lost with his debate. There is a difference between the Presidential Speech debate and what he is talking about now. I think if he wants to speak about all these other things, he must come up with his own motion and move it at a separate time. My point of order is that he is out of order.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Saruwaka, I think that I have alluded to this complaint before when it was raised by Hon. Maridadi. The ministerial appointments are a mandate that is given by the Constitution to His Excellency the President of Zimbabwe, Cde. R. G. Mugabe to appoint whoever that he sees fit to acquire those appointments as well as to dismiss ministers from any offices in accordance to the duties and mandate given by the same Constitution. As set forth, the President has his own five ministerial appointments that he can do outside Parliament if he sees the professional work that one does. So, we cannot question the appointments that were given by the President because it is a constitutional mandate.
On the second note of Parliamentary delegations by political parties in the National Assembly, it is a mandate given to political parties to appoint and nominate their preferred Members of Parliament to go in any leadership of Parliament or delegation of Parliament. As well, we cannot stop any Member of Parliament who is a Member of Parliament because they are relatives or wives to any other people in the Government leadership because they were voted for and they have the same mandate as any other Member of Parliament who is not related to the person that is in leadership.
So, we would also want to make sure that we do not take issues of nepotism and favouritism to also disadvantage those who are also Members of Parliament and have capacity. As far as I am concerned, most of those people also have academic qualifications which can also defend their appointments to certain portfolios. May you please continue your debate on the Presidential Speech? [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]
MR SARUWAKA: Madam Speaker, let me proceed and say I was not happy when I was going through the President’s Speech that there was nothing he spoke in relation climate change. I thought the President was supposed to direct this House to come up with responses climate change. I think as a country and the world over, the impact of climate change has been so devastating that we must be able to come up with policy positions that will help us mitigate against climate change effects.
Madam Speaker, let me talk about a proposal which was introduced by the President where he wants us to talk about the War Veterans Bill. I am very worried, every time we speak about war veterans, that my understanding is that these men and women, gallant as they were, went to fight for this country selflessly so that we can have equal opportunities. They were not mercenaries; they were people from this country who really wanted every Zimbabwean regardless of race, position or party affiliation to benefit from the resources of the nation. But what I see from the late 1990s, is worrying the same group of ‘selfless’ people tend to be selfish in that they are now being treated as more equal than other Zimbabweans and I want to believe that we must be guided by our Constitution in dealing with the veterans issue. I will quote the Constitution on Section 84 where it speaks about the rights of veterans of the liberation struggle. It defines who these veterans are and these are those who fought in the war of liberation and those who assisted the fighters in the war of liberation …
MR. SARUWAKA: Thank you Madam Speaker, I will rephrase, the Constitution says veterans of the liberation struggle are those who fought in the war of liberation and those who assisted the fighters. We have got thousands of such people in this country who deserve to be taken care by this economy. Those who were in prison, detained or restricted for political reasons are entitled to due recognition for their contribution. So when we deal with this Bill, we must define our war veterans correctly not just to pick on those that were holding the guns but take care of everyone who participated in the struggle because there are thousands of elderly people out there who have not benefited from this country yet the war veterans that are being defined by our President have already got the packages, have already received farms, getting mines, we cannot continue on that route. That is mercenary behaviour and I want to say true war veterans must be ashamed of being treated better than any other Zimbabwean.
The last contribution is that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development did very well by advising this country that on ZIM ASSET issues what we lack are bankable projects. On paragraph 88, of his Mid-Term Review Policy Statement, he said a large number of project in our ZIM ASSET Strategic Plan do not have feasibility studies and hence provide very little information for Government and potential private sector investors to make sound investment. So I want to say Madam Speaker, when we speak about ZIM ASSET, I think people must be guided by what our Minister of Finance and Economic Development said that a lot of the ZIM ASSET projects are not bankable and nothing has been done by this Government to make sure that they are. Thank you.