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National Assembly Hansard 23 January 2018 Vol 44 No 34

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 23rd January, 2017

The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two o’clock p. m.

PRAYERS

(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. SPEAKER

DEATH OF HON. DR. SAMSON T. MUKANDURI

THE HON. SPEAKER: It is with profound sorrow that I have to inform the House of the death of the Member of Parliament for Zaka East Constituency, Hon. Dr. Samson T. Mukanduri who passed away yesterday morning in Zaka East.

Transport will be available at 1630 hours for Hon. Members wishing to pay their last respects. Mourners are gathered at Number 23 Coull Drive, Pendennis Road, near Northpark School, Mt. Pleasant in Harare.

I invite Hon. Members to rise and observe a minute of silence in respect of the late Hon. Member.

All Hon. Members observed a minute of silence.

ADVERSE AND NON-ADVERSE REPORTS RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE

THE HON. SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that I have received non-adverse reports on Statutory Instruments and general notices gazetted during the months of November and December 2017. I have also received an adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on Statutory Instrument 110 of 2017 gazetted during the month of September 2017.

INVITATION TO THE MASASI ACHINOZI BOOK LAUNCH

THE HON. SPEAKER: I wish to inform the House that Hon. Chinotimba is inviting all Hon. Members to attend the ‘Masasi Achinoz’ Book Launch to be held on the 26 th of January 2018, at 1700 hours at the Harare City Library, which is adjacent to ZANU PF headquarters. The book was written by Chenjerai Mhondera. One of the Vice Presidents will be in attendance as guest of hounor.

VACANCY IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I would like to notify this august House that on the 22nd of January 2018, Parliament was notified by the Zimbabwe African National Union (Patriotic Front) ZANU PF that Hon. Eunice N. Sandi Moyo, Proportional Representation Member of Parliament had ceased to be a Member of the Zimbabwe African National Union (Patriotic Front), ZANU PF Party and therefore no longer represents the interests of the party in Parliament. Section 129 (1) (k) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides as follows, “a seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the Member has ceased to belong to the political party of which he or she was a member when elected to Parliament and the political party concerned by written notice to the Speaker or the President of the Senate as the case maybe has declared that the member has ceased to belong to it”.

Pursuant to the above, I do hereby inform this august House that a proportional representation vacancy has arisen by the operation of the law. The necessary administrative measures will be taken to inform His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of the existence of the vacancy in line with Section 39 (1) of the Electoral Act (Chapter 213) as amended.

HON. NDUNA: On a point of privilege Mr. Speaker. I seek your indulgence that because of the proliferation of the scourge of the cholera epidemic that has hit my Constituency in Chegutu, where four people have died and a lot more than 39 have undergone treatment, I ask with your indulgence; that the Minister of Health and Child Care comes to this House during question time tomorrow to give a Ministerial Statement relating to this disease, aware that everybody in Zimbabwe at one point or the other passes through Chegutu. If this is not curtailed and stopped immediately and futuristically, this is going to spill to all other towns.

In 2008, we had 274 people dying and 700 being treated for cholera. I therefore ask Mr. Speaker, that you allow that this cholera epidemic be nipped in the bud before it can spread to other towns. This is my concern and with your indulgence, I ask that a Ministerial Statement be issued so that we can avert, avoid and annihilate the disaster before us. I thank you – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Nduna for your request which is quite pertinent and of national health interest. I shall make sure that the Hon. Minister of Health and Child Care does come tomorrow to give that Ministerial Statement so that the nation is updated accordingly – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]

*HON. MUNENGAMI: Thank you Hon. Speaker. I stood up to talk about Standing Order Number 64. I want to talk about an issue that is important and might disturb us as a nation, especially considering the forthcoming elections. Hon. Speaker, the Head of State, President E.D Mnangagwa is always talking about free and fair elections, free from violence and intimidation that will ensure that other nations view us in good light. However, what His Excellency is saying is not what has cascaded to the grassroots.

Currently, we are undergoing the National Registration process, the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR). The challenge is that people have formed groups and others can no longer move freely because they are being intimidated and are failing to go around freely – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – The most disturbing thing is that when we want to talk about issues affecting the country, if you talk about an issue and others start complaining, it is because they have certain issues that they do not want unearthed. I have not yet mentioned my issue; I think Members of Parliament should give me a chance and listen. If the words that I am going to say are negative, they can also raise their objections.

What I want to talk about is what will develop this nation, but if they want to heckle me, what it then means is that they are not respecting what His Excellency is saying. So, the issue before this House is that of the Voter Registration slips, which is now being demanded door to door and people are requesting those slips and taking the numbers down. In a way, that has intimidated and frightened the voters. So Mr. Speaker, I thought that we are in a new dispensation but we seem to be regressing to where we came from yet we thought we were moving in the right direction – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – People want to heckle because they know what is happening. What is important is that it is us who are in this House who are telling people to show us their registration slips. If it was not us, I think people from the opposite side would be supporting me.

Mr. Speaker, if this issue is not addressed, we will continue to speak out and bring it before you, that there is the issue of violence and intimidation happening in this House. If you want evidence Mr. Speaker, Hon. Saruwaka has evidence right now from a village head who announced at a meeting that everyone should come to the village head’s house with their registration slips. Hon. Saruwaka was informed that it was a directive from the chief. It means even our traditional leaders are also intimidated and forced to support a particular party. It is happening in the rural areas and also here in urban areas. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Our points of order should be brief. What Hon. Munengami is raising could easily be raised through a question tomorrow and the respective Ministers will then be able to respond. So, you can raise that tomorrow so that you get answers from the respective Ministers.

*HON. MUNENGAMI : But Mr. Speaker, that issue has once been raised in this House – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Phiri order. I was still making my ruling Honourable. So, tomorrow we can debate that during question time so that we can get responses accordingly.

+HON. MLILO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. We have a problem with the Ministry of Water. It was supposed to drill boreholes for Members of Parliament in constituencies ....

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Member, you are getting the same route like Hon. Munengami. You will ask the question tomorrow.

HON. MLILO: It is not a question. There is something that I was hoping Administration could look into because there are a lot of bottlenecks in communication concerning the Parliament Administration with the Ministry of Water....

THE HON. SPEAKER: If it is administration, you approach the Clerk of Parliament.

HON. MLILO: I thought that I should put it in Parliament where everyone can hear it as well as your office.

THE HON. SPEAKER: No, no. Administrative matters go to the Clerk of Parliament please. Thank you.

HON. NYAMUPINGA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I just wanted to add on the Ministerial Statement that Hon. Nduna was requesting through you, that the Minister of Health comes and presents a Ministerial Statement in this House. I want to ask through you Mr. Speaker, that when this Statement comes to the House, please let us have disaggregated data of how many women and men have been affected by cholera. It will help us to see the way we overlook care work in this country. Many women get cholera through care work and sometimes it is overlooked. We want to know how many men and women including children are affected.

HON. DR. LABODE: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. I just wanted to tell the House that the Minister of Health and Child Care is coming tomorrow to make a Ministerial Statement. The Committee has already spoken to him. Thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you very much for the information.

MOTION

RATIFICATION OF THE TREATY ON ACCESS TO PUBLISHED WORKS FOR BLIND, VISUALLY IMPAIRED OR PRINT DISABLED PERSONS

THE MINISTER OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. KAGONYE): Mr. Speaker, I move the motion standing in my name:

THAT WHEREAS Section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that any Convention, Treaty or Agreement acceded to, concluded or executed by or under the authority of the President with one or more foreign states of governments or International Organisations shall be subject to approval by Parliament;

WHEREAS the Republic of Zimbabwe is desirous of becoming party to the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled;

WHEREAS the Marrakesh Treaty recognises that Governmental and Non – Governmental Organisations play an important role in providing persons with print disabilities with access to alternative format materials;

WHEREAS the Republic of Zimbabwe is desirous of ratifying the Marrakesh Treaty;

WHEREAS the entry into force of the aforesaid Treaty shall be conditional upon its ratification by the Member States in accordance with their Constitutional Procedures;

NOW THEREFORE, in terms of Section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, this House resolves that the aforesaid Treaty be and is hereby approved for ratification.

The Marrakech Treaty seeks to facilitate access to published works by visually impaired persons and persons with print disabilities. This was adopted in Morocco on 28th June 2013. Zimbabwe joined other member States of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and/or members of the Berne Union for the protection of literary and artistic works in concluding the treaty which allows for copyright exceptions to facilitate the creation of accessible versions of books and other copyrighted works for visually impaired persons. The treaty sets a norm for countries ratifying the treaty to have a domestic copyright exception covering these activities and allowing for the import and export of such materials….

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Minister, are you addressing the Marrakech Treaty?

HON. KAGONYE: Yes.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Are you? I thought you mentioned something to do with intellectual property.

HON. KAGONYE: Yes.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Let me hear you.

HON. KAGONYE: If I may start again. The Marrakech Treaty seeks to facilitate access to published works by visually impaired persons and persons with print disabilities. This was adopted in Morocco on 28th June 2013. Zimbabwe joined other member States of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and/or members of the Berne Union for the protection of literary and artistic works in concluding the treaty, which allows for copyright exceptions to facilitate the creation of accessible versions of books and other copyrighted works for visually impaired persons. The treaty sets a norm for countries ratifying the treaty to have a domestic copyright exception covering these activities and allowing for the import and export of such materials.

In principle, the Marrakech Treaty falls under the purview of the rights of persons with disabilities and visual impairment. Currently, the Disabled Persons Act is undergoing rigorous reforms in the purview of the alignment of laws to the Constitution exercise and incorporating the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Increasing access is not primarily a legal question but requires cultural change of mainstreaming access for visually impaired persons by all actors in the information chain. Once domesticated, it will enhance the right to education, information and participation among others by visually impaired persons at every level who are otherwise finding it difficult to advance to post-secondary education due to limited learning materials and appropriate technology to access works.

The treaty widens the scope of limitations and exceptions to copyright at the international level. It follows that the Zimbabwe copyright system now falls short of the international regime in so far as access to published works by the visually impaired persons and those with print disabilities is concerned. Zimbabwe therefore needs to revise and amend the copyright legislation, particularly the provisions on limitations and exceptions and align it with the Marrakech Treaty.

An enabling legal framework would empower, rather than threaten the ability of rights holders to serve the market of visually impaired persons. It would improve cooperation and public private partnership, and would also support markets instead of only assisting such access. Thank you.

HON. MAJOME: On point of order Hon. Speaker.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Please do not disturb the procedures.

HON. MAJOME: Hon. Speaker, I want to believe that a point order is actually meant to be a point of order in terms of the proceedings and procedure.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Yes, what is the point of order?

HON. MAJOME: My point of order is that the last time that Hon. Minister of Labour sought to table a motion regarding this very same Marrakesh Treaty, I raised a point of order that I have been raising ad nauseam about whether or not it is that this particular Treaty was referred to the relevant Portfolio Committee in terms of our own Standing Orders of Parliament. I raised that and the motion was withdrawn and it is back. So, I am curious and even more curious to know that if the moving of the motion is because we have now followed our own procedures. Our own Standing Rules that we crafted require that treaties that will be referred to Parliament for ratification be brought to the attention of the relevant committee.

This is the second time that this is coming and as a Member of this august House, I have an interest in knowing whether indeed this has now finally been done because it was withdrawn because that process had not been done. I am concerned because if we do not respect our own rules then I do not think anybody will take us seriously or maybe we must amend the relevant rule in the Standing Rules and Orders.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Majome, yes the Committee did consider the treaty and there will be a response accordingly.

HON. MAJOME: I am indebted Mr. Speaker. I am very happy now. Thank you.

HON. MUDYIWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. The Committee engaged the stakeholders on the Marrakesh Treaty and oral evidence was gathered from the National Association of Societies for Care of the Handicapped; and a sensitisation workshop organised by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.

The article covers publications which can be transcribed or distributed under the terms of the treaty. These are “literary and artistic works in the form of text, notation and/or related illustrations, whether published or otherwise made publicly available in the media”. This definition covers books, periodicals and other similar textual works as well as sheet music. It is pertinent to note that the treaty only allows transcribing into an accessible format but prohibits changing contents of a book into “easy to read” version, for instance, thereby protecting the intellectual property rights of the author.

Then we have article 2 (b) which defines the terms “accessible format copy”. It offers a broad definition which does not limit the format or the technique used to make a book accessible. It allows whichever format will provide access to the work “as feasibly and comfortably as a person without visual impairment or other print disability” can use. These formats include: braille, large print and audio.

Going further into the treaty article 2 (c) defines the term “Authorised Entity”. The role of the Authorised Entity is a critical element in implementation of the treaty and these include non-profit or Government agencies that makes accessible copies of works, and limits distribution of those copies to people with bona fide disabilities. It also covers for profit entities that provide services to beneficiary persons using public funds and on a not-for-profit basis.

Article 3 of the same treaty defines beneficiary persons which include any persons with a disability that interfered with the effective reading of printed material. This includes people who are blind, visually impaired, reading disabled, for example dyslexia or have a physical disability that gets in the way of effectively holding a book, turning pages or focusing on the page.

Article 4 of the same treaty requires countries which ratified the treaty to enact a domestic copyright exception …

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! Hon. Holder and your colleagues there hiding behind the benches, please be attentive as Hon. Members. This is a very important treaty. Musahwande ndiri kukuonai. Thank you.

HON. MUDYIWA: I was on Article 4 of the treaty which requires countries that ratified the treaty to enact a domestic copyright exception. This seeks to ensure that member states implement the treaty through enactment of domestic laws that will allow authorised entities to make accessible copies of works without seeking permission from the copyright holders.

The last Articles 5 and 6 permit cross-border exchange of accessible format books, both between authorised entities and directly from one authorised entity to individuals in other countries without copyright holder permission. This helps to avoid duplication of transcription efforts in different countries, and also allows those with larger collections of accessible books to share with counterparts living in countries with fewer resources.

The Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare therefore makes the following conclusions and recommendations that as a Portfolio Committee, we robustly support the adoption of the Marrakesh Treaty. Ratification of this treaty will usher a new era for Zimbabwe as a country and a significant portion of the country’s citizens which is currently excluded from effectively participating in political, economic and social contexts due to lack of access to information.

The Council for the Blind Zimbabwe (2017) estimates that 125 000 people in the country are blind while 250 000 are visually impaired. The treaty will not only facilitate wider social inclusion as espoused by ZIM ASSET, but will liberate this component of society to pursue their academic ambitions, which is the doorway to participation in productive sectors of the economy.

Furthermore, it will propel Zimbabwe towards attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 1, on ending poverty. However, it is important to note that ratification of the treaty alone is not sufficient to change the status quo, but it is critical that a multi-stakeholder approach be expeditiously adopted to domesticate the treaty. Thus, concerted efforts by Government, non-profit organisations, libraries and academic institutions among other players are required to actually deliver the accessible books to the rightful beneficiaries, that is, persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print-disabled. Thank you.

HON. CHASI: Mr. Speaker, I rise to commend Government for taking this very important step to make reading materials available to visually impaired persons and other people in similar situations. This is one of the low hanging fruits that I think, from an alignment point of view, Government ought to really have effected a long time ago. It is a very simple and straight forward matter where Government, having become party to the Marrakesh Treaty, ought to have speedily implemented this particular treaty.

As the previous speaker has noted, we have well in excess of 300 000 people in this country who are not able to access reading materials in the manner those of us who are fortunate enough to be visually abled can do. This is primarily an issue of intellectual property in the sense that the person who writes a book has copyrights over that publications, but the treaty gives an exception which allows Zimbabwe to photocopy or reprint those books without seeking further authority from the author.

So I think, as the previous speaker has pointed out, it is of fundamental importance that Government must be seized with this matter in a very deliberate way, to ensure that the more than 300 000 people who do not access books, who are not able to further their educations, some of them take as much as seven years to go through an initial degree because of the difficulties that have to do with access to the literature that is necessary for their educational advancement.

So, a further point is that the Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services also needs to play a part in enabling people who are visually impaired to gain access to reading materials from the internet. There needs to be a deliberate policy by Government to ensure that these people are given computer hardware and software which allows them to read in the modern way and allows them to access the internet and so forth. We have a growing population of people affected by albinism who are particularly affected visually and a lot of them very capable but unable to go forward due to lack of access to literature that will help them to advance and therefore participate in the economy of the country.

Generally Mr. Speaker, I want to propose that all the treaties that have been signed by Government should speedily be brought to Parliament because as you know, the disabled persons have got their right in the Constitution and this particular step that has been taken by Government can be viewed in that light as part of the alignment process. So, if Government is able to quickly bring those agreements, most of them very straight forward, some that have been signed a long time ago, but which have been parked and not being implemented, it does not show seriousness with international agreements we sign when we sign them and we let them gather dust. It is almost as if we are playing games. I want also to say, Mr. Speaker, that intellectual property is a very important part of industry. Countries like Malaysia have developed their economies on the basis simply of intellectual property and my feeling is that as a country, we are not giving sufficient weight to this very important part of economic development. I thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Is Hon. Mudarikwa in the House? No.

HON. MAJOME: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to start by thanking you, Mr. Speaker Sir and the Clerk of Parliament for finally assisting us, for the first time, to implement our own Standing Rules and Orders as far as international treaties that are tabled before the august House to be ratified in terms of the Constitution.

I am very happy, humbly so - that I have finally been heard that this is the first treaty to be submitted to a Portfolio Committee. I am also indebted to the wisdom and the detailed consideration that the Portfolio Committee has done - it has informed me also as a person, that they have had time to look at the various pros and cons of the treaty and I am grateful for that.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I also want to support the ratification of this long outstanding treaty that shows that we, as Zimbabweans, are a society that does care about each and every person who is in Zimbabwe and does not want to leave anyone behind. In particular, I note that we are doing so in keeping with, I think, the third paragraph of the treaty itself which emphasises the importance of copyright protection as an incentive and reward for literary and artistic creations and of enhancing opportunities for everyone, including persons with visual impairments or other print disabilities.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I do believe and whole heartedly support the ratification of this treaty because it will make sure that people who live with the disability of visual impairment or blindness are not left behind in appreciating art because without art, what would the human being be if we did not have works of art that allow us to appreciate beauty of all forms - literary, visual and so on. We would be no different from animals. Most artistic and literary works are written, composed and done by people who are not visually impaired and a totally different kind of life has been available for people who live with that disability. I am very happy that this treaty will allow such facilities and amenities of life to be available to people that live with disabilities.

I also want to thank the Hon. Minister for bringing this treaty for ratification because indeed, I want to believe that this is possibly one of the first steps that we are taking as a nation to domesticate but maybe through a treaty and not directly the provisions of the conventions on the rights of persons with disabilities.

I recall, Mr. Speaker Sir, that during the Seventh Parliament when Hon. Mpariwa was Minister, she moved a motion for the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and I am concerned that since then, before 2013, I do not think we have made much progress in actually domesticating the provisions of that treaty that we, as a nation, correctly did and what has been done by the Hon. Minister Kagonye is indeed a step towards our domesticating the obligations that we have, particularly the human rights obligations in terms of international law. That is indeed in keeping with our Constitution which is one of our national objectives; that the State shall take all measures to ensure that we domesticate obligations that we have, particularly for human rights.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to finally just end by urging the Hon. Minister and indeed the august House to make sure that we do not allow such positive steps to end up only as piles of paper sitting somewhere in offices. We should take those measures that are required to ensure that people living with disabilities, who are with visual impairment and particularly who are blind, are actually able to enjoy the benefits in terms of access to information communication technologies, as well as them having means to derive the benefits of being able to have literally works of art and other works of art translated into formats that they can use.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I say this in particular because for the beneficiaries in terms of this treaty to actually utilize this benefit there is need for money, resources - financial, human and technical to be applied to ensure that this does not just become talk and just paper. We should just pat ourselves on the back and say we have ratified the treaty, but we have not made monetary allocation to ensure that in the hands of people who are blind and those who are disabled, they do in fact get access ultimately to these works of arts in various forms.

So Mr. Speaker Sir, we have just passed out our budget - interestingly just last week. I am not sure whether provision has been and I hope that Parliament ratifies this treaty. When it does, I do hope that there shall be financial resources that are allocated to ensure that it will be possible to translate these works of art and that people who are blind and those with disability are able to get those. It is my hope that alongside other grants that people with disability get like social welfare is an earmarked fund to make sure that this treaty is indeed a reality. I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.

HON. CHINOTIMBA: On a point of privilege Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE HON. SPEAKER: What is your point of privilege?

*HON. CHINOTIMBA: My point of privilege is to thank the Minister of Energy. If I were to leave this House today, I will leave a happy person because after we had mentioned the issue of the exorbitant price of our fuel, it is a point of privilege... - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjection.] -

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Members, let us not disrupt procedure. After members have debated on the motion, you can then come up with something but not in the middle of the debate.

HON. CHINOTIMBA: Thank you.

HON. MPARIWA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. Let me also begin by thanking and congratulating the Minister for tabling this Treaty in the House. I also thank the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Labour for tabling the report with such detail in terms of persuading the members to adopt this motion so that we also move forward. Hon. Speaker, it pains me to emphasize this point but I will do that persons with disabilities have rights and are human beings too. We are in 2018 Hon. Speaker, where we need to have on board 10% of the nation in terms of them accessing information and technology through ICT, so that they also qualify and do work just like anyone who is able bodied; nonetheless, because they have limited space and capacities hence the ratification of this particular treaty.

Hon. Speaker, if you look back at any other treaty or ratified conventions, you will find that many a times we ratify and that will be the end. Let it be the beginning of having ratified and then we move on to implementation. For ratification alone without any programme of activities that is linked to the implementation of any ratified convention, including this particular important Treaty - I emphasise this particularly treaty for implementation, there would be no progress at all in terms of assisting the disadvantaged or deprived category of persons.

Madam Speaker, access to ICT by persons with disability is one key factor that we need to address as a nation because in terms of ICT, we have also moved as a nation. I would want to actually propose to the Minister that she persuades her colleagues in terms of having a Cabinet Committee of Ministers to deal with a number of issues. When I heard the presentation by the Chair, there was mention in terms of work that is scattered all over in ministries. Three that I will pick are the Ministries of ICT, Education and Tourism.

Why the Ministry of Tourism; when you see people that are visually impaired, most of them do artistic work. If we are to locate them in the Ministry of Tourism or to market the work that they do, then we can turn the lives of many people that we term hopeless to actually flourish and as a nation we need to realise the work that they do as people with disability.

Hon. Speaker, let me remind members that we do not say ‘people living with, it is ‘people with disability’. I want to congratulate this Parliament that once again we have ratified this particular treaty. We have moved in line with the convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. I recall that we had the Disabled Persons Act which was established in 1982 then we need to move with implementation of programmes that promote the work of people with disability. In terms of those that are semi-blind, because they have families and young children, of which some are talented but because of the limitations that have been said in the treaty, I want to associate myself in agreeing that there is need to ratify this particular convention.

*HON. MABUWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. I also want to congratulate the Minister for bringing this Bill and also support the report from the Committee that supports this Bill. What I want to emphasise is that yes, this is long overdue because we should have ratified the Marrakesh Treaty. What is exciting about this treaty is that there are certain things that will help us as a country if we implement the Marrakesh Agreement. If we look at what is happening now, even our Constitution in Zimbabwe which is the supreme law of the land. We do not have it in Braille or in forms that are friendly to those people living with disability. Currently, we have the Constitution which is being translated into various languages. What we need to do is to put emphasis on the need to ensure that it is also produced in Braille. From what Hon. Mpariwa has said, if we only ratify, it will not help at all. There are certain things that can be done soon and one of those measures is to invite teachers that we had in school who can translate written documents that we use to Braille to ensure that the blind are able to access such documents.

I am one of the people who learnt with the blind. I realised that when I was at primary school, there was need for one teacher to be there in school. That teacher translated to other teachers and set examination for those who are blind. I think those are some of the things that we should put into account after we have ratified this treaty. I am hoping that this will be something that we will be able to do.

I also want to support the fact that we have agreed in this House that most ministries have to do with the issue of using Braille. I support the previous speaker who said that we need an inter-ministerial Committee that will consider what can be adopted after ratification to ensure that we come up with an implementation plan which can be actioned upon. I am happy that I once asked the Hon. Minister if we are still the host or are we the ones who once had the ARI headquarters. If we expedite this as Zimbabwe in Africa – that we have ratified the treaty, it might be something that can give us recognition as Zimbabwe by respecting the rights of people living with disability. I thank you.

HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker Maam. I would like to add my voice to the motion in this House. I think it is prudent that we domesticate all other conventions, and ratify all other conventions, in particular, the one to do with people living with disabilities. I am saying this because I am reliably informed that the percentage of people living with disability has risen from 10 to 15%. I would like to say that duty on all materials that are used by people with disability should be reduced…

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, can we minimize movements.

HON. NDUNA: Duty on all equipment used by people with disability should be reduced or should be zero rated so that people with disability can bring in equipment for their usage and for alleviating the plight of the more than 1.5 million people that are living with disability.

I will just give a few examples of these. These include wheel chairs and canes that are used by people who are blind as they cross roads. As long as these are not zero rated in terms of duty where they are sold and imported, what is going to happen is that every blind person is going to wait for a helper before they undertake any task they wish to undertake in particular crossing busy streets, roads and criss-crossing the width and breadth of the towns and their localities. If the duty on wheel chairs is zero rated, we are going to move with technology where we are going to see a lot of electrified wheel chairs coming into the country to alleviate the plight of a lot of people that use wheel chairs.

I will come to the Braille literature. In the same way that those that can see, read and write what we see in black and white – I ask that issues to do with the literature that we have come here to protect and ratify, a Treaty that speaks to and about the people who are visually impaired, the Braille material that is used by the people who are visually impaired – I call them in Chegutu West, people that are differently abled as opposed to people that are disabled.

Aware also that every able bodied person is five minutes away from being disabled due to road carnage; whatever we are doing today for those that we call disabled, it might be an opportunity to have safety nets for ourselves in the future because we are potentially people that are also disabled because of the road carnage.

I just want to end by saying that we are adhering to the ethos of the Constitution that we are all creatures of in this nation. It says in Section 83 – Rights of persons with disability; it says the State must take appropriate measures within the limits of the resources available to it to ensure that persons with disabilities realise their full mental and physical potential, including measures. This includes the ratification of this Marrakesh Convention and Agreement. It means against other things, zero rating the equipment importation of these people with disability. It includes amongst other things making sure that all buildings and infrastructure developed in Zimbabwe is also amenable to those people living with disability. We do not only want to be seen to domesticate the agreements and conventions but we need to also walk the talk and put our money where our mouth is.

I will read; Sub-section (a) to enable them to become self reliant

(b) To enable them to live with their families and participate in social creative and recreational activities.

(c) To protect them from all forms of exploitation and abuse.

(d) To give them access to medical, psychological and functional treatment.

(e) To provide special facilities for their education.

(f) To provide state funded education and training where they need it.

Madam Speaker Maam, in Chegutu, there are people who when they are blessed at birth with people with disability, they close them off and shut them off and make sure that they do not open them to the society. I make a clarion call as I stand here that everybody who has a child who is disabled and everybody who has a relative who is disabled, should not chuck them away from society. They should bring them to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare so that they can be in the all inclusive society and they can also benefit from the Constitution. I say so and aware as I have said that these people should be given an opportunity to choose their leaders in the forthcoming harmonised elections.

They should be taken in for BVR assessment and registration, and also in the registration of getting birth and registration certificates, and aware also that all children need births and registration certificates 42 days or six weeks after birth. I want to take this opportunity to thank the Hon. Minister for bringing this Convention and Agreement for ratification in this august House. I also want to thank you Madam Speaker for giving me this opportunity to add my voice. I thank you.

HON. MLISWA: On a point of order Madam Speaker.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is your point of order Hon. Mliswa?

HON. MLISWA: I would like the Chief Whips to do their job before I invoke a certain provision. They must call their MPs to be here and it is about time that the Chief Whips had meetings with their MPs that when they are coming to Parliament on Tuesday, they must come and work. I do not want to be seen to be somebody who wants to disturb a process, but to say to them can they please get their MPs in here.

They seem to just come like young kids who are going to school to have their names ticked and they go away. What is it that they are doing out there which is more important than this? This issue is important from a disability point of view where as a country we have been behind, but we are very insensitive and MPs cannot be insensitive at a time like this. So, Chief Whips must do their job or else I will exercise my rights in invoking something. – [Laughter.]-

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Mliswa. The point of order from Hon. Mliswa is valid. I think Hon. Members should know that they are representing the tax payers who are very much disappointed with what is happening in this august House that we can have two days of no quorum, but we are being paid by their tax. Honestly, Hon. Mliswa is not wrong with what he is saying.

I have been talking to Hon. Members that the movements are too much. You can see five Members getting out of the House as though they are going to have a meeting outside, but they are supposed to be in this House. What is being debated is very important, but I see Hon. Members not even paying attention to what is being done here. They are going in and out of this House. I think we are mature people and to be called an Hon. Member, you should also respect yourself.

An Hon. Member having stood up wanting to go and take the Hon. Members who were out?

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You are not a Chief Whip, stay where you are.

HON. NDEBELE: Madam Speaker, thank you very much for recognising me. As an extension to what you just said, I have not seen the Order Paper, but I take to this motion naturally as a father because a child with disability is everyone’s child. Allow me therefore, to thank the Minister for bringing this motion to this House. It is really motherly of the Minister to do so. I have prayed very hard until something happened to those Ministers that have not showed heart for the disadvantaged.

At one point Madam Speaker, you will agree that we raised a lot of noise in this House about the fact that we were denied food for the disadvantaged people in our constituencies. My constituency is sandwiched by the constituency of Luveve and Pumula. These constituencies are presided over by Members of the ruling party. They got rice and we did not get rice. That is an ugly way of dividing people –[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]- I honestly pray that in this dispensation, such activities will come to an end because people are at the first level, are Zimbabweans, regardless of their political affiliation I have always asked and I have written letters.

Madam Speaker, in Bulawayo or in Matabeleland, I am aware that Solusi High School, John Tallach. McCartney Primary School, Mtshabezi and Manama Mission teach children that will benefit from the fruit that will naturally flow from this Treaty Hon. Minister. As I was looking at the Order Paper, I failed to unpack and unfortunately, I was not here when the Committee was making their presentation. I failed to unpack what braille equipment really means. I can only anticipate Hon. Minister that in there lies braillers that will enable our children to participate in school as much as the able bodied.

There are also hand frames and stylers. I have seen these used by brilliant kids in law class at the University of Zimbabwe. I hope because of their low cost, at some point, we will be able to get hand frames and the stylers for every kid because this is as good as an exercise book. Those who are blind deserve these and they are cheaper. They do not require service; they are portable and can cover as many learners. Also for the teachers, we wish that each school may get what is called an embosser. It is more or less a printer, but the teacher is able to work on a keyboard and when they command for a document to be printed, they can choose that it be printed in braille.

So, every one of us can then use an embosser, be able to write for those who are blind. Hon. Minister, braille paper could also pass for braille equipment. It is expensive for poor families and it is not easy to get in ordinary bookshops. I wish this could be availed. I had the opportunity when I realised that we were going to debate this to ask one school in Bulawayo and they told me after a very long time. It is only this term that they received six boxes of braille paper. We are grateful for that but admittedly, it can only go so far. So, we really require Braille paper to be covered under the so-called materials under Braille equipment. Braille equipment, in my view, should extend to cover the white-can that those who are blind really need so that motorists and anyone else who can offer help can identify them from a distance. If you look around, a lot of blind people no longer use the white-can. They require it. It is unaffordable. If you could assist with that especially in schools in locations and rural areas where we come from, those are required as facilitatory equipment.

There are also talking calculators so that if my child punches a 2 the calculator speaks back to say “two-o” and indeed that is confirmation that you have hit a 2; 2 + 2 = 4. That makes life easy for the blind. Be that as it may, there is the question of fees for the blind. I wish the Minister could commit herself to pay school fees for every blind child. I have noticed that this happens at the University of Zimbabwe where fees are waivered for those that are living with disability but please, we wish this could extend to Grade 0 going up. A lot of this burden is carried by Non-Governmental Organisations and I really want to commend in this House particularly the local Non-Governmental Organisations such as Jairos Jiri Association, I know they pay fees for blind students at schools like St Bernards in Bulawayo. They must be commended. That support should also flow through these Non-Governmental Organisations. Council for the Blind assists a lot of schools with fixing their equipment for absolutely nothing. So, it would help if there is equipment that some of it be housed at these Non-Governmental Organisations.

Madam Speaker, on a sad note, I really wept after reading about wheel chairs that were discovered stashed away on a Minister’s farm. I have been trying to source wheel chairs for people in my constituency in Magwegwe who are living with disabilities and I only managed to secure 37 yet my backlog runs into 70. I really wept when I saw that for some reason some people could be that selfish. Whether it is the need to rule Zimbabwe from a wheel chair but I really felt that was inhuman. I thank you.

HON. HOLDER : Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Minister for bringing this treaty for ratification in this House. The reason why I would like to congratulate the Minister for bringing this treaty to this House for ratification, it was long overdue. Being blind is something which is terrible. It is something which a person has to accept to say that they have lost their eyesight and they have to live without eyesight.

In this House, we have Hon. Rose Mpofu. She does not have any eyesight but whenever you see her, you can always see how passionate she is to come here and she also expresses her views very openly. The reason why I say this is that some Hon. Members here, I do not want to mention names, you find that they have come into Parliament with their eyesight and by the time they leave Parliament, they have lost eyesight simply because of certain issues that have never taken place. People get blind indirectly. My mother got blind three years ago.

Talking to this august House and congratulating the Minister for bringing this treaty, we could actually help by trying to facilitate blind people because at every robot and street corner you find there is a child who is abused because he has to lead his mother, grandmother or whatever relative it is who is blind and they will be begging by the side of the road waiting for donations.

Being blind is God’s will but we as a nation in this august House by bringing this treaty and ratifying it would actually help facilitate those and try and prevent those that might get blind. Some people get blind because they do not know that they have sugar, blood pressure or whatever disease will be running within their blood systems.

We have people like Paul Matavire. We have people like Stevie Wonder who are musicians. My teacher, Earnest Cognsen went blind and in the end was actually playing music in the bars in order to earn a living. This is where we say if this treaty comes, the Department of Social Welfare can actually get organisations to come and train people to move and read by themselves. The Hon. Member was talking about that Braille paper so they are able to read and know exactly what is going on.

Paul Matavire passed away many years ago but his music still goes on. Where there are occasions you hear them playing his music. There is a message in his music. Most of these things are facts. The reason why I say that, people who live with albinism suffer from two effects. They have poor eyesight especially in the sun. I have a friend who works for me and he has three of those kids. They have to look for special glasses in order for them to see but you find that they are very intelligent, much more intelligent than a normal child although they suffer from this disease of albinism or inability of albinism.

Look at our kids that walk around leading blind people all the time yet they could be in school getting educated and the blind person can go to some organisation where they will be taught to move by themselves to the toilet, certain departments and to be able to do certain things. I actually get impressed when I see blind people walking in the street with those silver sticks and they are just tapping. That is because training and they know how to get from one point to another point. The eyes are very sensitive and sharp because the loss of eyesight – most of the nerves are sensitive in the eyes. So, I want to congratulate the Minister, she is young, intelligent, enthusiastic and good looking as well – [ Laughter.] – Madam Speaker, I just want to say to you, this treaty, this House should ratify it and I congratulate you for bringing it. I thank you.

HON. MLISWA: Thank you Madam Speaker. Like Hon. Holder, I will not say much about the Minister but say that the Minister is doing her job and must be commended. However, at the same time, this is long overdue. The Minister is not to blame because she suffers from legacy issues as well like every other new Minister, but I want to imagine how long it has taken for this to be ratified and how many people have suffered in the process. Are we able to now go back and deal with those who suffered as a result of our delay? Do we have the resources to do that?

We are known for ratifying a lot of things, Abuja, Health- 15%, come time for the budget, the ministers do not even observe that. We are part of too many treaties but how many treaties have we been able to work on and follow what is required of it? You know, it reminds me of a great lawyer in this country, Pearson Nherera. If anybody knows Pearson, he was blind. He was one of the best legal brains ever, he went to Cambridge University. I am saying this because he was exposed to all these gadgets needed to make him become a part of us so that he would not be disadvantaged in any way. I then ask, how many could have been like him? Paul Matavire was mentioned and he was also one of those people who benefited from that immensely.

What provisions have been put in place so that these people do not suffer again? Duty free, is there enough resources for all that, have we created a conducive environment for it not to be a problem again? We tend to sign these treaties and do a lot of things but it becomes a problem for those people again where they are not assisted. From a statistical point of view, do we have the right figures and what stops us as a country and Government from supporting it from a fiscus point of view? We have been able to fast track a lot of programmes, why can this not also be on a fast track in terms of us dealing with deficit which has always been there for them?

I talk about a lady whom I look after, I call her Mamoyo like my mother. As a Member of Parliament, I met her in Hurungwe West, she has about four children and she is blind. Madam Speaker, it is emotional; she has a young man who is not going to school because that young man must look after her. She followed me to Norton and said, I was looking for you, I am glad you won and today she is in my custody; I look after her. This young man has missed school for three years because he has been looking after his mother. He has to go around with his mother all over.

So, how many such children are doing the same for their mothers and yet their lives are not moving forward? To me, it is emotional because this is good news for Mamoyo. She can move on with her life and do what she needs to do. She would say to me, ‘Member of Parliament, where are you?’ She gets on buses with her children, she calls you, ‘I am here, I am stuck; I do not know where to go, I do not know what to do,’ because she has never had access. An intelligent woman whom you would say to yourself, if she had been afforded an opportunity to have this, she would be somewhere in this world. They equally have a right to be leaders. Today, this Parliament and this country is attacked. It is hated because we seem not to be sensitive to the plight of those who are living with disability, but do they not have a right to also be in this Parliament? Do they not have a right to be presidents too, but they have been disadvantaged because we have been insensitive? We have never provided anything for them to be who they should be.

To me, this is great news. I want to say Hon. Minister, we must do this in earnest. We have an institution called NSSA which is under you Hon. Minister, which has a lot of money; some of which they spend in giving to companies and banks which go broke. You see that they are not willing to put money into this but how many institutions has NSSA given money to and the money has never been returned. We then say we have no resources, we have no money. This is under your ambit as the Minister and I expect delivery on this Hon. Minister and no excuses because you control NSSA which is the biggest fund house that the Government has.

We equally want to talk about how we should comply; NGOs are coming in. Let us not also have a situation where NGOs just come in to make money because they want to do this. We have a tendency of NGOs who just come to make money, but they do not do what they are supposed to do. The money which is supposed to go to these great ideas and support system never gets there. So, there is need to have a mechanism in place which monitors where the money is going - is it getting to the people? It is easy for us Madam Speaker, for us to have this monitored because there are not many people. Hon. Ndebele was very clear on how he was able to do this.

This is the new dispensation; those who have been disadvantaged must feel it and say, there is a change now. It must not be similar to what they went through when they gave up and said; this will not happen and so on. Now that there is a new dispensation, this must really be a new dispensation for them in changing their lives.

Madam Speaker, I really want to urge Members of Parliament to be behind any initiative which will augment this great initiative. I want to say to the Hon. Minister, you certainly have done well in dealing with this. It was outstanding for a long time; you brought it, it has to be ratified and as Parliament, everybody is supporting this but what we will need are results at the end of the day. For me, as emotional as I am, it is a great day for VaMamoyo. She will be very happy if I tell her this. Thank you Hon. Speaker – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

HON. M.R.N.S MAWERE: Thank you Madam Speaker. I would like to thank the Hon. Minister for bringing this motion to Parliament for ratification. First of all, I would like to talk about braille. It is a brilliant idea that the blind use this tool, it is to their advantage. Madam Speaker, charity begins at home; we must start using those braille here in Parliament so that we also lead by example.

I would also like to pay tribute to the late Jairos Jiri, the hero of those who were or who are still disabled because they went through the same hands. I would like to encourage the Minister to find a way of getting funding for this purpose because ratification is only sharing of information et cetera, we will not be funded. Disablement is not inability. You go to Government buildings, you do not find space or a way for a disabled person to use a wheelchair. Maybe you will find two buildings, one building in Harare, what is that. Each and every family has a disabled person, how are we supposed to carter for these persons. We are being cruel. We must have buildings that have ramps, and are disabled user-friendly. We must make way for these to move to have tracks for wheelchairs et cetera.

Another issue is that after creating the fund, we also need to see to it that people with disablement do not pay. We must establish a fund, if it is not in operation, it must be resuscitated so that it is operational. We must emulate what Jairos Jiri did in this nation. He is a social hero, equivalent to the heroes lying at the Heroes Acre. He had some brilliant ideas. I urge all Zimbabweans to have the same ideas as Jairos Jiri. I would like to applaud the Minister for bringing this same Treaty into Parliament and ask her implement more measures so that the disabled are catered for. I thank you.

+HON. MALABA: Thank you Madam Speaker for this opportunity. I would like to thank the Minister for the treaty she has brought here. I support this. Madam Speaker, on Saturday, I was visited at my office by people who are blind. They came with reports that affected me which I want to share with you and the Minister. They told me of how they are being looked after and how they are affected in this country. They said, is it good that we are known as a people who are out there begging. Is there no something that we can be involved in so that we can get a living with our children and families? They said, when they are moving along the roads, even if they are not begging, just because they are blind, someone comes to their attention and gives them money. I was happy when this treaty was brought into this House so that the people that are blind can be assisted in the ventures that Government have for them.

Some of the people told me pertinent issues like the canes they use to find their path are very expensive and they do not have resources to buy them. They are of the view that the Government should come up with initiatives so that they can access the canes for free or at a lesser price. They are saying, the Government should help them to be able to have accommodation and houses. The majority of them are renting accommodation from those without the disabilities and these people frustrate them. As people who have no sight, their hygiene ends up questionable and it affects the property owners. I was of the view that, if Government can help them access their own accommodation where they can comfortably live with their families. Madam Speaker, these people have their organisations in this country, one of them in the Council for the Blind and the other one Legal Aid for Blind. All these organisations were under the Ministry of Social Welfare.

These organisations as we talk, we do not know how they are operating because they are not assisted by the Government with the resources so that they can help the blind. My request is that as the Minister has said here, let there be a way so that these organisations that look after the blind, be helped with the resources. I hear someone talking about NSSA. NSSA should help the blind. They are also of the view that they want to engage in projects and even farms. They challenged me that what do you say, do you think that we are useless people? What you do as abled persons, we are also able to do. They also said, Madam Speaker, because of the way they are being looked after at their places and at Government centres, they are not happy at all. They indicated that Government does not mind about them at all. There should have facilities that are user friendly for these people because they face problems when there are no facilities.

In my constituency, there is a place that looks after blind people and it is under the Jairos Jiri organisation. This place, Madam Speaker, there is a time when the City Council disconnected their water and they stayed without water for a long time. As I talk, ZESA has switched them off. These people look after young children who are blind who are in school at St. Bernard. The City Council, the ZESA and the Telecoms companies are not mindful of these people and that they should not do that to these people. Can you imagine a blind person going to the toilet without water, how can that be of help. Can you imagine a blind person staying at a place without electricity, how can they access food?

I request, through the Ministry that this Jairos Jiri place in Pumula that looks after these people, if there is a way that Government can assist to help their children that are blind. There is no other way that Government is helping them. I thank you very much for this debate that has been brought to this House by the Minister. There is a way that Government can help these blind people. I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE (HON. KAGONYE): I would like to thank all Hon. Members who contributed to this debate and have supported it. I was listening very carefully, taking note of all your contributions. Maybe what I can respond to is the issue of financial support. We already have a facility where we pay school fees for disabled children up to tertiary level but the quantities maybe small and where necessary, we need assistance.

Also, to mention that we have various forms of support for the disabled, including the blind whom we were talking about mainly today but the issue of concern is the statistics. We are not sure as a country how many members are living with disability. When we appointed the Disability Board last week, one of the main issues that we spoke about is for them to carry out a census to establish the numbers that we have so that it will help us in terms of planning and implementation of these policies. Otherwise, I would like to thank you all for your contributions. At this point, I would want to move that this House resolves that the aforesaid Treaty be and is hereby approved for ratification.

Motion put and agreed.

*HON. CHINOTIMBA: On a point of privilege which emanates from what the Minister said and we wish that all Ministers would also follow suit that if anything is debated in this House that affects the lives people they should act. If people say the sweets are too expensive, the responsible Minister should rectify the situation. So, I am happy and it should be put on record that I am happy because when I mentioned the issue of fuel especially, diesel. The diesel that goes to Zambia passes through Zimbabwe and costs $0.80c but here it costs $1.34 - that issue concerned a lot of people and I want to thank the Minister of Energy and Power Development who heard my plea and took action for the diesel price to be reduced, and ensure that fuel is affordable like in other countries. I know others may not be happy with what I am saying but all the Hon. Members in this House when you give them coupons they use them and they run out, but they cannot access diesel to go round their constituencies because it is expensive. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I seek your protection Hon. Speaker…

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Chinotimba, you are on a point of privilege, you are not debating and may you wind up.

*HON. CHINOTIMBA: My issue is I want to thank the Minister who saw it fit that the price of diesel should be reviewed. For the economy of this country to develop, it is because of diesel. For electricity they use diesel. If they want to run generators in the industries, they use diesel. So I want to thank the Minister for the reduction of the fuel price and I see the economy progressing. I also want to thank the Hon. Members though they do not like me that the price of diesel has been reviewed. Thank you.

On the motion of HON. RUNGANI, seconded by HON. MPARIWA, the House adjourned at Thirteen Minutes past Four o’clock p.m.

 

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