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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 27 JULY 2017 VOL 43 NO 31

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 27th July, 2017

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)

FIRST READING

SHOP LICENCES AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 10, 2016].

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS AND NATIONAL HOUSING (HON. CHINGOSHO) presented the Shop Licences Amendment Bill (H.B. 10, 2016).

          Bill read the first time.

          Bill referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee. 

MOTION

RATIFICATION OF THE APPOINTMENT OF MR. MICHAEL NDUDZO AS AUDITOR-GENERAL

          THE HON. MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA):  Mr. Speaker Sir, I rise to move the motion standing in my name.  I think that I owe it to the House to give a bit of background to the reason why I am before this august House seeking this approval….

          HON. GONESE:  On a point of order Mr. Speaker.  I beg the Speaker’s indulgence and I will explain why I am raising a point of order on the process.  Before the Minister goes ahead, in terms of Standing Order No. 68 (d), as read with the Constitution; I am going to refer to the provisions of the Constitution, on reflection when you look at the provisions of Section 309, that is the one which refers to the appointment of the Auditor General; I will start from 309 and I will explain why.  Section 309 outlines the functions of the Auditor General….

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Hon. Members on the left, your colleague is speaking and you do not give him due respect!

          HON. GONESE:  I am starting with the functions of the Auditor General because I think that will help me to explain the point of order which I am raising.  First and foremost, Section 309 lays out in a comprehensive manner the functions of the Auditor General.  I believe that this is a very important office in our country.  Then I will go to Section 310 which is the relevant question with the issue of the appointment.  The Section is also very clear that the President is the one who makes the appointment but it is subject to the approval of Parliament which is what the Hon. Minister is seeking.  However, in terms of the office of the Auditor General, I will refer you Mr. Speaker and Members of this august House to Section 313. If you look at Section 313, it is very clear that this office of the Auditor General is a very critical office and in terms of the removal, it is governed by provisions which are similar to the ones applying to the removal of Judges and members of Commissions. In particular, I want to draw the attention of the Hon. Minister as well as Members of this august House to subsection (2) whereby, if for any reason the Minister of Finance and Economic Development feels that the question of the removal of the Auditor General has to be considered, the Committee of Public Accounts…

          HON. CHINAMASA: On a point of order, I think I also need to raise a point of order. There is no issue here of a removal…

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Order! Just a minute! Can we be procedural? I think we need to be procedural. Hon. Minister, why do you not allow him to state his case and you respond accordingly to clarify?

          HON. GONESE: Thank you very much for your protection. The point which I am really making is that there is the involvement of the Public Accounts. The Public Accounts Committee is the one which has got a relationship and it is really our representative as Parliament. That particular Committee has to be consulted. Unfortunately, our Constitution in terms of the requirements for the approval of Parliament to be granted has got a lacuna. There is a gap and it was not clearly outlined.

          I want to draw the attention of this august House to the provisions of Section 339 because I think they have got some relevance. What happens in terms of our Constitution and the reason why I am raising these points is that I believe that we must make a purposive interpretation of the Constitution where there are gaps, where there maybe some issues which may not have been captured but what is critical is what was the spirit.

          In terms of Section 339, it is very clear that there are two processes where there is advice which is being sought or where there is consultation. I will explain why I believe that the procedure in terms of which this motion has been brought is not in accordance with the spirit that was envisaged in the Constitution. In terms of that section which I have just referred to, it actually requires where for example an appointment has to be made on the advice of another authority. For that other authority to be written to in writing and I will read the provisions in details. They say that “the person who is seeking the advice must inform the other person, in writing, what he or she proposes to do and provide the other person with enough information to enable the other person to understand the nature and effect of the proposed act and afford the other person a reasonable opportunity to tender advice and the person or authority is obliged to follow the advice tendered by the other person.” That is where advice is required.

          However, where something is to be done after or in consultation with, the same procedure is followed. The only difference being that the person or authority is not obliged to follow any recommendation made by the other person. In my respectful submission where the approval of Parliament is sought, it is similar to a situation where the President is acting on the advice of the institution in terms of the advice of the Legislature.

          I want to submit that where that is done, we must then have due process in terms of affording this institution adequate time. The reason why I made reference to the issue of removal is that if we are going to have involvement of the Public Accounts Committee, in this instance the Standing Rules and Orders are silent. Where the Standing Rules and Orders are silent, I think it is up to us both the Members of this institution as well as the Minister to try to fill in those gaps so that we are going to act in line and in accordance with the spirit that was enshrined in the Constitution.

          My submission is that the process that we are trying to follow is not in accordance or in sync with that particular spirit. If you listen to what is happening outside regarding the proposed appointment of Mr. Ndudzo, I do not want to delve too much into it but I just want to give that contextual background. We are having a situation where in terms of the reaction of the Zimbabwean population, there are already so many insinuations that are taking place. If you have regard to today’s Financial Gazette, it actually has the headline “Chiri Fired”. If you look at The Herald of today, it actually says “Ndudzo New Auditor General”.

          When you look at those issues in conjunction, I think it is imperative for us as an institution to really maintain the integrity of this august House. I believe we can only maintain the integrity of this august House by having a scenario where we are going to have our Public Accounts Committee to make a recommendation. I want to believe that this motion as it stands is premature. Unfortunately, I have already alluded to the fact that our Standing Orders are silent but I want to give..

          THE HON. SPEAKER: The rules stipulate that we must be silent so that we can understand each other and be able to contribute therefore constructively. But if we have not understood, how do we respond constructively if all of us continue to talk? The Hon. Member is raising a constitutional issue and I am sure the Hon. Minister would like to hear his argument properly so that he can respond accordingly. Please, can you wind up?

          HON. GONESE: I think it is important just to remind Hon. Members and fortunately, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development was in the last Parliament. We had a similar situation where in terms of the appointments of Commissioners, there were no procedures outlined in our Standing Orders. It was simply a provision that the Commissioners are going to be appointed on the recommendation of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders. At that particular point in time, there were no procedures outlined.

          In its wisdom, the previous Committee on Standing Rules and Orders then adopted procedures which entailed the public interviews and so on. At that time we did not have them enshrined in our Constitution. They were only enshrined in the current Constitution but I am saying it because I believe if we look at best practices elsewhere, where appointments are made with the approval of the Legislature and  I will give an example of South Africa; their Public Protector is appointed by the President with the approval of Parliament. They have actually conducted hearings in terms of which they interview prospective candidates and then make an informed recommendation.

          In America where the President makes appointments with the approval of the Senate, they also have some public hearings.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Can you confine yourself to what our Constitution says and not to the South African Constitution or the US Constitution please.

          HON. GONESE: I was simply making reference to looking at best practices but let me go back to the procedure in our Constitution. It says that we must approve and I believe that this institution, for it to be able to make an informed decision needs to be guided. I believe that the appropriate vehicle to guide us is the Public Accounts Committee which can then make some recommendations so that when we come to the approval, we do so from an informed position.

          This is a very critical office Mr. Speaker where issues of integrity, issues of stability are not confined to the issue of a CV.  What has been put in our pigeon holes Mr. Speaker Sir is just a CV which gives us the background and the experience of the person.   But the Committee on Public Accounts, if given an opportunity will then be able to look at the suitability of the candidate, the history of the candidate, how that candidate has conducted himself or herself in her previous work experiences, so that we can then decide as to whether that candidate is a candidate where we can repose our trust.  We do so from a position of knowledge and not at this juncture whereby we are just given a CV and we are expected to do it at the speed of an identified flying object which is just flying past this august House.  So, in my view Mr. Speaker, I believe that if the Minister can really consider seriously the submissions which I have made so that when we do make our informed decisions, it is a decision, we can all be proud and happy about. 

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I am Mr. Speaker, I am going to finalise by saying that concerns have been raised by various legislators across the political divide.  I have actually had some interactions with Members who are really having some misgivings about the appointment of the candidate in question.  I do not want to pre-judge him but I believe that if we are given an opportunity; or at least if our Committee is given an opportunity, it can then do due diligence and at the end of the day, if and when we do make the appointment, it is something which we can all be proud of.  Those are my submissions Mr. Speaker.

THE HON. SPEAKER: The Point of Order appears to be based on newspaper reports and the newspaper reports can be misleading. I think we are also guided in terms of our Standing Rules that we are not even allowed to come to this House and read as evidence what is written in newspapers.  So, unless the argument is based purely on our constitutional provision that argument can be sustained.

HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Mr. Speaker, Hon. Gonese referred to the fact that our Standing Rules actually do not provide for instances such as these.  I want to disagree that in fact they do.  Firstly, let me start by saying if you go to rule 16, in our Standing Rules and Orders, the Public Accounts and the Parliamentary Legal Committee are the two Committees, it is very peremptory, it actually says there must be.  So there are two committees that are referred to in our Standing Rules and Orders as a must that should be there and one of that Committee is Public Accounts.

On Standing Order Number 20 (b), when it is talking about the role of Portfolio Committees  - because like Hon. Gonese said, if you go to Section 310 (2) which specifically speaks about approval of Parliament, that is the only other clause that you find in the Constitution that actually speaks specifically about the need for Parliament to approve.  In some of these appointments it is actually that Parliament will sit probably as Standing Rules and Orders and give specific names to the President, then the President can pick from those names. 

However, for this particular one, it says the President, with the approval of Parliament.  So, whilst there is no particular definition for approval and Hon. Gonese did go to 339 which you can then read to say, it therefore means that consultation has  to be taken in. one understands that that approval is a serious one.  Therefore, it is a serious approval; you then should go to Standing Rules, the one that I was referring to, Standing Rule 20(C) which gives responsibilities to portfolio Committees.  If you allow me, Mr. Speaker Sir, it says, ‘monitor, investigate, inquire into and make recommendations relating to any aspect of the legislative programme, budget, policy or any other matter it may consider relevant to the Government department falling within the category of affairs assigned to them.’ 

So, this Mr. Speaker, I cannot find anything else, in fact, simply put the Auditor General is the secretary to our Committee.  We cannot perform without an Auditor General and for the Minister to come here without even having consulted the Public Accounts Committee; we are making reference to this CV.  If you go to 310 (2), it says the Auditor General must be a Zimbabwean citizen.

THE HON. SPEAKER: It appears now that you are debating the motion.

HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: No, but the point of order is to say can we take his motion.  Can he present his motion, given that he has not followed the due process? 

THE HON SPEAKER: But you have not heard the Hon. Minister?

HON. MISIHARABWI-MUSHONGA: He was going on to explain why we should be considering this particular gentleman for approval and we are saying he is jumping the gun.  We do not want to hear about this particular gentlemen until he goes through the relevant step as provided for in our Standing Rules and Orders.  All we are asking him is for him to come to the Public Accounts Committee, explain, indicate so that when this motion then comes like any other motion, the Public Accounts Committee will then give a report as a response to his motion.  As it is, he has not done what he is supposed to and that is the point we are raising.  Thank you. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] -

 

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, order Hon. Ndebele.  What needs to be clarified is whether or not the Auditor-General has been removed or has left office under certain circumstances, because to jump to the conclusion that she has removed or fired, then try to apply Section 313 of the Constitution before we clearly understand from the Executive whether the Auditor-General has indeed been removed or resigned on her own accord or something else transpired between herself and the Executive – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

          I think it is only proper that the Hon. Minister gives that background information to clear the air as to whether or not she has been removed.  If indeed she has been removed then, Section 313 of the Constitution shall apply, but if she has not been removed and other circumstances have taken place, then there is no issue.  

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA):  Thank you very Mr. Speaker, I consider the statements that you mentioned to have been very defamatory. I think you are within your right to have asked me to say something on this matter.

          I think Hon. Members should not be prone to making statements that have no basis in fact or in law.  The point Mr. Speaker is, the Financial Gazette report is wrong, there is no basis for that report.  I have not even bothered to read it, because it is so wrong.  They say the Auditor-General was fired - it is wrong because she was not fired.  The report in The Herald is equally wrong, they were here when I said I was going to move a motion today, so there is no way an Auditor-General could have been appointed yesterday for the newspaper to say, he is now the Auditor-General – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Let me put the record straight – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          Allow me Mr. Speaker to put the record straight.  Mrs. Chiri has been in the Auditor-General’s Department since joining in 1983.  She was appointed to her current position in 2004.  The 12 years of her term of office expired in February last year, and when it expired, I sought legal advice in the light of the new Constitution, whether or not she was eligible for another appointment.  I was advised by my legal practitioners/lawyers that she was eligible.  I sought her opinion to say, I was going to recommend to His Excellency the President that we give her another term.  She said, no – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Yes, she said no.  I went back to His Excellency the President and said that I would need time to look for a replacement and she was asked to extend and continue.  She has continued since February last year in that position. Clearly, of course, I must have slept on the job because I should not have waited that long – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          In February, I again called her to my office to say, may you reconsider, we want to extend your term?  I had a two hour meeting with her asking her to reconsider.  At the end of that meeting, Mr. Speaker Sir, she said she would agree to have another six year term only to text me.  Unfortunately when I read these reports, I went through my cell phone to see whether or not I still have the text message.  Fortunately for me, I still have that text message and she said, ‘Sorry, I want to reconsider what I told you yesterday.  I do not want to continue.’ – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – For the benefit of the House I can read that statement – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – No, no, we want things – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Mr. Speaker Sir…

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, order just a minute – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order, order Hon. Mashakada and Hon. Mutseyami please.  One good thing about us human beings is that we are endowed with the gift of listening, let us not abuse it.  If you have got contrary views, you can stand up, be recognised and argue your case, but I shall not allow any shouting down of the Hon. Minister.

          Secondly, Hon. Minister, I am not sure you said my statement was defamatory or what?

          HON. CHINAMASA:  No, no I said statements to the effect that she was fired - that is not correct and defamatory.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Alright fine, thank you.

          HON. CHINAMASA:  Equally, I did not also take kindly that The Herald would say a new Auditor-General has been appointed when in fact that was also not correct.  We want facts here and I also hope that Hon. Members stick to the facts when they debate on these issues.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Correct.

          HON. CHINAMASA:  Not to be speculating, if we enter into speculative debate here, it is not good even for the reputation of Mrs. Chiri.  If the House could give me an opportunity, I would be able to basically advise how I want to continue utilising her experience in other respects – given some of the reorganization that we are doing.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Thank you.

          HON. CHINAMASA:  Mr. Speaker, I basically want to explain to the House and I can swear an Affidavit to what I am telling this House and other Hon. Members will not be able to do that.  – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          She has continued in that office for more than a year, probably 18 months after her term of office had expired.  At the will of His Excellency the President, there is no problem that the Government has with the performance of Mai Chiri with respect to the discharge of her functions as Auditor-General.  We had no problems that she be given another six year term which would have made her to have served in that capacity for 20 years.  Like I said, she has been in that office since 1983 and has rendered illustrious service.

          She was appointed to the post of Auditor in 1984 and she served in that capacity until 1986.  She was further promoted in 1986 to Senior Auditor grade and she served in that capacity until 1988.  She was further promoted to Assistant Director of Audit in 1988 and she served in that capacity until 1991.  She was further promoted to Director of Audit grade in 1991 and she served in that capacity for a year or two to 1993.  In 1993, she was appointed Deputy Auditor-General Parastatals post and she served in that capacity until 2004 when she was appointed Auditor-General.  She has served in that capacity, as I said, her second two six year term expired February last year.  As I have mentioned, I asked her to continue after I had received legal opinion that she was eligible for another term because the terms which preceded the new Constitution do not count.  That is the opinion I was given. I had no time to verify it, so I approached her last year to say I want to recommend that you continue and she said no.  I went to the President to say I want her to continue but she has said no.  What do we do?  He said you need to persuade her.  I went back and she said no.  So, I said can you continue in this office until I find a replacement and she has continued for almost 18 months. 

Even then Mr. Speaker, because I had not found anyone to recommend, I again called her to my office in February this year and we had a two hour chat trying to persuade her to accept another six year term.  After the two hours, she said yes.  Then later, she texted me and I think she was embarrassed to tell me directly.  She said no she wants a rest, she wants to give others a chance and so on.  So, it is only then Mr. Speaker Sir that I went looking for a replacement. 

Having given that explanation Mr. Speaker Sir, I hope that I have disposed the issue to do with firing.  However, let me say that I have always, in my interaction with the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee welcomed the comments by that Committee.  I have also taken steps like I have advised this august House of measures that I am taking to address the concerns which are perennially raised in the Auditor’s report.

 I constituted, with the help of the Public Service Commission like I said, two units under the Accountant General; one unit to peruse all financial statements of parastatals with a view to advising me on which enterprises are performing and which are not performing.  I also constituted another unit dedicated solely to combing through the Auditor’s reports and see in what way do they agree, in what way do they disagree.  Where they agree, we take measures to take to Cabinet so that corrective action is taken.  Those two units now are established and I will be in a position to respond to the reports of the Auditor General in October this year.

I also realised that these Auditors reports are reflecting some weaknesses in the way we run our finances in Government.  In other words, there are no systems, trained people and so on.  I approached Public Service Commission to set up an internal audit department situated in my Ministry to take care of internal auditors in line Ministries. 

Again after she refused to have the six year extension, I approached Mrs. Chiri to say I would want her to be head of the Internal Audit Department so that you can set or establish systems for Internal Auditors, as well as training them so that we do not always worry about the horse after it has bolted.  We want to prevent that which is being complained about in the Auditor’s report.  It must be prevented and not to act post-facto when all harm is done.  As a result, I am happy to say that she agreed and we are in the process of setting up the Internal Audit department and I am proposing her as the head of that internal department.

I also want to say Mr. Speaker Sir, that in order to further strengthen the management of our finances, each Ministry is now establishing an audit committee, which will be chaired by a civil servant of principal director or director grade from another Ministry; not from that Ministry.  In other words, the audit committee of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development which will be set up will be chaired by someone from Women’s Affairs or Youth Affairs and so on.  Already Mr. Speaker Sir, 18 line Ministries have already established their committees and we are yet to go and establish ten other  committees.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order.  I hope the Hon. Minister has responded adequately to the clarification of the issue of removal of the Auditor General. I was trying to avoid the Minister going into the Motion.  I am sure he will have the opportunity to do that.  My ruling is as follows, the Auditor-General has not been removed and that is supported by Section 310(3) of the Constitution, which reads as follows; “The term of office of the Auditor General is a period of and not more than six years and a person must not be appointed as Auditor General after he or she has served for one or more periods, whether continuously or not, amounting to 12 years.”  Auditor General Chiri has served for 12 years plus the other 18 months or so.  In fact, she has gone beyond the constitutional provision – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] – Order, order.

Secondly, if you read the Constitution in terms of Schedule 6, officers who served in their current offices before the enactment of this Constitution continue to serve without loss of any benefits and position.  So, read the Constitution not in terms of just one section but read it in a composite manner.

Thirdly, as the Hon. Minister has confirmed, the Auditor General was given an opportunity to state her case and she stated her case.  According to the Hon. Minister, she continues to serve Government still in the Audit department, perhaps on a more elevated area in terms of the responsibilities that are being assigned to her. So, there is no question of removal as such. I will therefore rule accordingly and ask the Hon. Minister to move his motion accordingly.

          HON. MUNENGAMI: Thank you Hon. Speaker. We really appreciate your ruling, but I was suggesting that we have heard the Hon. Minister’s side of the story and we have not heard from Ms. Chiri. We do not know whether what the Minister is telling us is actually what transpired. I think it will be prudent enough for us as Parliament just to hear the other side of the story from Ms. Chiri because the Minister is talking about message texting and again Ms. Chiri accepting another post, but at the same time refusing another post. It becomes difficult even from this other side of Parliament for us to know what actually happened. I am just suggesting that if it is possible, maybe we can also hear from her side of the story for us to have an informed decision through the Public Accounts Committee and not through the Minister. Thank you.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you. If you listened carefully to the Hon. Minister, the reason of coming to Parliament is for the approval of the appointment, and that is a fundamental issue with the approval of Parliament. That is what the Hon. Minister is doing and you are free to debate thereafter when he has moved his motion.

          Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga having stood up to debate.

          I will not allow any further debate. If you want any debate, you will debate the motion. –[HON. TSHUMA: Inaudible interjections]-Hon. Tshuma, please hold your cool.  Hon. Member, you are going to debate the motion and say everything that you want to say. Thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. CHINAMASA): Mr. Speaker Sir, I believe that I am acting in accordance with the Constitution and according to the provisions of the Constitution, more particularly Section 310. All the sections which were quoted, read them – they are not relevant to the motion, none of them are relevant to the motion. Even the Standing Orders that were quoted are also not relevant to the motion. As I see it, I am completely within the confines of the law and above all the confines of the Constitution and I am acting properly.

          The motion before the House is I am seeking approval of this august House to approve the proposed appointment of Mr. Machael Nyamadzawo Ndudzo to the position of Auditor General. We cannot find...-[HON. MEMBERS: No, no.]- Mr. Speaker...

          Hon. Mutseyami having stood up to debate.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order. Hon. Mutseyami, I said if you have issues, you are going to debate the motion. Can you sit down please? You have the opportunity to debate the motion and say all that you want to say. The Hon. Minister has clearly said the proposed appointment. So, the debate is still alive. Thank you.

          HON. CHINAMASA: Mr. Speaker Sir, in moving this motion, I call upon Hon. Members to support the motion. Mr. Ndudzo has had an illustrious career... –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-both in the public and the private sector.

          Hon. Chinotimba having been speaking aloud.

          THE HON. SPEAKER: Hon. Chinotimba, please allow the Minister to speak.

HON. CHINAMASA: He qualifies in terms of the Constitution to be Auditor-General. He is the first person who established the office of the Accountant-General in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. He served in that capacity as the first Accountant General. So, he understands Government systems and what needs to be done, he clearly understands. Mr. Speaker Sir, I have circulated his CV. After serving in that capacity for about six years, he went into the private sector and has been a director of many companies. These are set out in the CV of Mr. Ndudzo.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order Hon. Minister. Order, order Hon. Members. Anyone who is going to shout now, I shall remove him from this House. I have said if you have got issues, you will debate.

HON. CHINAMASA: Mr. Speaker Sir, I value the experience and it is this experience that Mr. Ndudzo has accumulated over many years in both the public and private sectors that more than qualifies him to occupy the office of Auditor-General. That exposure is very important if we are to reform our institutions in Government. We have taken strides in attracting experienced people to come back into Government. The current Accountant-General retired from Price Water House and has brought a wealth of experience into Government. The relationship that we have build between Treasury and the Auditor-General is largely because of the reforms that the Accountant-General is undertaking. I am now looking forward to Mr. Ndudzo serving in this capacity so that he can complement what the Accountant-General is doing.  As I have already indicated, Mrs. Chiri will head the Internal Audit Department and I believe that between the three institutions, we should be able to get our finances back on track in terms of management, accountability and transparency.  Mr. Speaker Sir, I accordingly move that the motion be adopted.  I thank you.

Hon. Chinotimba having stood up to give a point of order.

THE HON. SPEAKER: This is the time for debate.  I do not want to disrupt the Hon. Minister’s motion.  Can you debate the motion.  Can you approach the Chair.

Hon. Chinotimba approached the Chair.

HON. HOLDER: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for giving me this opportunity to contribute towards the Hon. Minister’s motion.  Mr. Speaker Sir, after the explanation that the Hon. Minister has put towards this House and after your ruling, a few things have run through my head as I was going through the Curriculum Vitae (C.V) of Mr. Mike Ndudzo.  If you take note Mr. Speaker, you are very passionate about the Auditor General’s Report and every Member of Parliament in this House is also very passionate.  All our debates arise from the Auditor General’s Report.  However, taking note of the C.V that has been presented to each Hon. Member, you will see that most of the companies that this Michael Ndudzo have worked for are in big problems – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

His C.V is very colourful with all sorts of information but with so many companies that are currently battling it out.  Dorowa Minerals has not been operating for a long time until it was recapitalised later.  If you look at Modzone Enterprises, it is bankrupt and Sunway has failed to take over.  If you look at all these companies that he mentioned here Mr. Speaker, my question is - why were public interviews not held? A person who was handpicked, I suspect foul play there; why handpick one person instead of having public interviews?

Mr. Speaker Sir, in such a short period of time, look at the number of companies this man has worked for.  None of these companies are operating smoothly, including National Railways of Zimbabwe.  Firstel has got a problem.  So, I feel that there should have been a panel where public interviews are held and Public Accounts is contacted.  I am sure there are other people who have C.Vs, who are eligible to hold that office. 

However, for us to just accept to say so and so has been appointed or recommended to His Excellency, where somebody is actually misleading His Excellency by telling him false information - I am not a professional Mr. Speaker, but I want to say to you that his academics and everything on the C.V is pretty good, but again when you look at the companies he had put reference to, you will find that there is a bad track record and anything he touches turns to rubbish.  On that note Mr. Speaker, I rest my case.

*HON. KWARAMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I rise to say a few words concerning appointment of Mr. Ndudzo to the Auditor General’s Office.  I heard the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development saying Mr. Ndudzo has a wealth of experience.  However, if we look at the track record of Mr. Ndudzo, everywhere he once led, the joint ventures he did with IDC were not successful. So, I realised that we are talking of Mr. Ndudzo who has not done anything fruitful in the past – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –  I am saying the appointment of Mr. Ndudzo could have been a result of a recommendation by some people whom he associate with and have told lies to the President – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

Mrs. Chiri was doing a splendid job.  We read the Reports she came up with which were presented to us by the Public Accounts Committee. We know that Mrs Chiri, as a mother, a woman does good work – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – Women as you can see do not steal; we do not want to destroy the country – (Hon. Members chant Chiri, Chiri, Chiri.) - Thank you.  We want to develop our country so that our children can get employed but if there is corruption, our country is brought to ruin.  We feel that this woman should be given another term of office so that she continues with her work because in my opinion, she was doing a good job.  She should continue doing her job and not replace here with men who steal. Thank you.

Hon. Members chant Chiri, Chiri, Chiri.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development approached the Chair.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, order.   The Hon. Minister has approached the Chair and would like to make a statement.  It is the Chair’s authority.

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA):   Mr. Speaker Sir, I think listening to the sentiments of the House on both sides of the political divide, I would want to carry out further consultations – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, order.  Hon. Kazembe Kazembe, order please.  I think that the Hon. Minster has indicated that he cannot proceed with the debate and I think he has done an honourable thing and let us allow that to happen - [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

          Now Hon. Members on that score, it has been moved that the debate do now adjourn - [AN HON. MEMBER:  You have not yet moved it Mr. Speaker.] -  I understood him very well - [AN HON. MEMBER:  We will check in the Hansard.] – Hon. Members, I think that the Minister has moved that the debate be now adjourned.

          HON. GONESE:  I want to say for the first time today, I am in total agreement with the Minister for the debate to be adjourned.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Tuesday, 1st August, 2017.

          HON. ADV. CHAMISA: On a point of order Hon. Speaker.  In terms of Standing Order No. 68 (d), I just want to say that the kind of approach that we have seen in this Parliament where we debate issues without being partisan is a very good approach.  It is a privilege Hon. Speaker Sir, that we cherish that as we continue, we may need to look at issues without the colour of a party, without the colour of a person’s geography but just look at a position on the basis of merit.  This is a positive Hon. Speaker Sir.  If we may continue to do this on any other issue, that would be the Parliament that Zimbabwe misses and deserves.  Thank you very much Hon. Speaker.

          HON. ZINDI: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.  In terms of the observation of what has transpired in this House this afternoon…

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  No, no, Hon. Zindi, please do not flog a dead body.  I think the point has been made.

          HON. ZINDI:  I take back my words but the message has been sent.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Thank you very much

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA):  I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 2 to 5 on today’s Order Paper be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE PRIVILEGES COMMITTEE ON DEATH THREATS TO MEMBERS OF THE MDC-T PARTY

          HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the Report of the Privileges Committee on Death Threats to Members of the MDC-T Party.

          HON. ZIYAMBI: I second.

          HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA:

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

SMS is an acronym for Short Message Service. It is a text messaging service component of most telephone, World Wide Web, and mobile telephony systems. It utilises standardised communication protocols to enable mobile phone devices to exchange short text messages.

SMSC is Short Message Service Centre. This is the core of the SMS platform. It is tasked with SMS operations such as routing, forwarding and storing of incoming text messages on their way to the desired endpoint. It creates a buffer. Wireless network operators connect SMSCs through gateways.

Spoofing is a service that allows a caller to masquerade as someone else by falsifying the number that appears on the recipients caller ID display. The same also applies to messaging.

Smart phone is a mobile phone that performs many of the functions of a computer, typically having a touchscreen interface, Internet access, and an operating system capable of running downloaded application (apps).

A basic phone (feature phone) describes mobile phones which are limited in capabilities, in contrast to a modern smartphone. These have the simple functions of calling and sending text messages.

A switch or a network switch (also called switching hub, bridging hub, officially MAC bridge) is a computer networking device that connects devices together on a computer network by using packet switching to receive, process, and forward data to the destination device

A common short code (CSC) is a short telephone number, usually consisting of five digits, that is used to address SMS and MMS messages from a cellular telephone. Each common short code is designed to be unique to each operator.

Cyber crime is defined as a crime in which a computer is the object of the crime (hacking, phishing, spamming) or is used as a tool to commit an offense (child pornography, hate crimes).

 

A server is a computer or device on a network that manages network resources. There are many different types of servers. For example: File server: a computer and storage device dedicated to storing files. Any user on the network can store files on the server.

1.0                    INTRODUCTION

1.1           Following submissions by Hon Nelson Chamisa that he and several Members of Parliament from the MDC -T, had received death threat messages on their mobile phones on the eve of the Official Opening of the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament and that death threats and harassment of MDC-T Hon. Members had become the norm each time His Excellency the President was due to address Parliament, the Speaker of the National Assembly ruled, on Thursday, 6thOctober 2016 that there existed a prima facie case of contempt of Parliament. As a result, he directed that the matter be referred to a Privileges Committee to be appointed by the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders to look into the alleged death threats received by some Members of the MDC-T Party.

The Committee on Standing Rules and Orders subsequently appointed a six Member Committee chaired by Hon. Senator Chief Charumbira. The members of the Committee are:-

Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira (Chairperson)

Hon. Chakona

Hon. Chimanikire

Hon. Mlilo

Hon. Mpariwa and

Hon. Ziyambi

2.0           TERMS OF REFERENCE

The Committee’s terms of reference were given as follows;

1.             To determine whether the said messages directly, indirectly or by inference constitute contempt of Parliament;

2.                To investigate the source of the alleged threatening messages;

3.                To make appropriate recommendations and report to the House by 31 March 2017.

The Committee began its work on the 5th of December, 2016.

3.0           METHODOLOGY

3.1  The Committee began by making announcements in both Houses on 25thJanuary and 7thFebruary, 2017 in the National Assembly and the Senate respectively, calling for Hon. Members who had received death threat messages to give evidence to the Committee on the threats received. Two Members indicated willingness to give evidence to the Committee, i.e. Hon. Chibaya and Matienga.

The Committee invited Hon. Khupe to give evidence in her capacity as Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly.  Hon. Gonese was invited to give evidence as Chief Whip of MDC-T in the National Assembly and as the Committee subsequently discovered, he was also a recipient of death threat messages.  Hon. Sen. Mlotshwa in

 her capacity as MDC-T chief Whip in the Senate, was invited to give evidence, but was unable to attend the meeting.  Hon. Chamisa was also invited, but he too was unable to meet with the Committee.  The Committee also called Mr. S. Madzore, who was a Member of Parliament but received similar SMSs after he was no longer in the service of Parliament.  ZRP officials had indicated that he had reported receiving death threats as well.

3.2  Assistance was sought from Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) i.e. NETONE and Econet. The objective of hearing oral evidence from them was to understand as much as possible how the kind of technology involved operates and whether it was possible to trace and therefore identify the culprit who had sent death threats to Honourable Members of Parliament.  By the same token, the Committee invited POTRAZ to give oral evidence.

3.3   Officials from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) were invited to confirm to the Committee whether there were in fact reports of death threats and what progress, if any, had been made in apprehending the culprits of such an odious deed.

3.4    Flowing from oral evidence received from officials from ZRP, who informed the Committee that complaints of death threat text messages were reported to the Police by some MPs as well as Mr. S. Madzore who was no longer an MP, the Committee decided to invite him to give oral evidence on the same.

3.5   The Committee wrote to Econet, in terms of the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act, requesting that the offender(s) who sent death threat messages to Members of Parliament be traced.  Econet had indicated during oral evidence that it had the capacity to do this, but that it could take about two months to accomplish.

4.0    SUBMISSIONS BY THE COMPLAINANTS AND VARIOUS STAKEHOLDERS

4.1    Complainants

The Hon. Chibaya and Matienga showed Members of the Committee the text messages they received on the 5th of October, 2016 and the import of the messages was the same. Hon. Matienga received three messages, Hon. Chibaya seven and Hon. Gonese five. The senders of the messages reflected as ‘Hitman’ and ‘Death’, and not the name of a person or a number. Hon Chibaya and Gonese had also received similar messages in 2015, prior to the Official opening of Parliament. The messages read as follows:-

i)      “You may have a false immunity as a group but remember after that you will be alone again, you will be remembered for a few days after that you are history.

ii)               Be reasonable as you think of what you intend to do in the august house.  Your family is better ofF around you.  Be severely warned.!!!!

iii)            Don’t be used by those planning to demonstrate for their selfish ends, for they won’t be with you when the dark cloud of death engulfs you.  We are trailing.

iv)            I have killed many, if you want me to add your name on my death list, continue participating in tomorrow’s demo in Parliament.

v)               Am watching your steps 24/7, don’t try to be a hero. Be warned.  Your participation invites death at your doorstep.

vi)            I have plenty of space to bury your corpse. Be warned, your involvement in tomorrow’s planned demo is a clear indication of joining your ancestors.

vii)          Urikufa nemukadzi nevana Zimbabwendeyeropa (sic)”.

          All the Hon. Members who received messages could not see the number of the sender.  Where the number or name of the sender should have been, were the names ‘Hitman’ and ‘Death’.  They could neither reply nor call the sender of the messages.  Hon. Matienga and Chibaya still had the messages in their phones.  Their cell phone lines were in basic phones.  Those who received the messages on their smart phones could not retrieve them as they simply vanished from their cell phones after some time.

Hon. Khupe, the leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly informed the Committee that she encouraged MPs who had received the threatening messages to report to the police.  The Speaker of the National Assembly also encouraged those who had received the messages to make police reports. 

As a result of these threats, Hon. Members interviewed by the Committee all reported that the messages affected their contributions to debate in the House and in Parliamentary Committees adversely.  They all reported that they feared for their lives and those of their families.  Each one of the Members who presented oral evidence to the Committee testified that after the messages, they were afraid that they were being watched or followed.  Some said they had to change their usual routes and routines as security precautions. 

4.2    Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)

The Committee also heard oral submissions from ZRP officials who told the Committee that they received complaints of death threats from the Hon. Chamisa, Chibaya, Majome and Gonese in 2015. In 2016 Hon. Majome and another member of the MDC-T party made reports to the police with similar complaints of text messages containing death threats. It was submitted by the ZRP officials that investigating crimes of this nature takes time. 

The Committee was informed that Detectives involved Postal and Telecommunications Regulating Authority (POTRAZ) because the crimes were cybercrimes. They also requested help from all licensed mobile network operators. Through provision of the law, they made applications to find out whether the criminal element went through these operators. It was found that they did not go through the usual cell phone operators.  Instead, they used a short code -33284, which reflected as ‘Death’ and ‘Hitman’ to those who received it.  The ZRP officers explained that if the short code had been operational in Zimbabwe, it should have been and would have been registered to someone in the country, but it was not registered with any of the licensed operators. ZRP further explained that short codes are usually used for promotions only and are allocated by POTRAZ.  The person(s) who used the short code stole from POTRAZ because they hacked into the POTRAZ system and did not pay the fees due to the regulator.

The messages may have been generated in or outside Zimbabwe, either roaming or otherwise, ZRP officials could not be certain. ZRP went on further to say that POTRAZ has the capacity to determine where the SMSs came from, but had failed to do so. Hackers can by-pass POTRAZ and can use the short code which is then untraceable on the mobile network.  The Police have not been able to identify the user of the short code because they lack cutting edge technology.

The Committee was informed that experts were working with POTRAZ to identify the perpetrators. The ZRP officials advised the Committee that cybercrime is a new method of operation by criminals, and technology in Zimbabwe needs to be upgraded so that police can track such crimes in good time.  To assure the Committee of the capacity and willingness to fight such crime, the police officials told of two cases involving cybercrime which they had successfully solved.

ZRP Officials emphasized that there must be trust between ZRP and complainants in order to solve crimes in good time.  Trust in the police is eroded when people report crimes but do not get results.

4.3    Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority in Zimbabwe (POTRAZ)

After meeting ZRP officials who indicated that POTRAZ had the capacity to track down the sender(s) of the death threats, the Committee felt it prudent to interview POTRAZ officials.  POTRAZ officials informed the Committee that the messages in question had been sent via the SMS platform and PORTAZ had engaged mobile phone operators to assist in tracing the origins of the SMSs. The Committee heard that if the messages had been sent from a locally registered number, it would have been easy to identify the source. However, bulky SMSs which are computer generated are a challenge because these do not have a centre number.

It was further explained that POTRAZ does not have a direct role in tracing the messages as these were resident in the archives of the service providers. Telecommunication companies are compelled by law to maintain a data record. They keep archives of where the messages originated from. It was further explained that one of POTRAZ’s mandates is to manage the national numbering plan as a way of identifying users and network operators.  POTRAZ also facilitates promotions for cell phone line operators who are issued with three to five digit short codes. 

POTRAZ informed the Committee that Bulk SMS providers computer generate messages which may appear as if they are from a cell phone, when they are not.  Such messages are given a centre name e.g. ‘Hitman’.  POTRAZ officials said that is called ‘spoofing’, where internet users can send messages to chosen numbers using whatever name they choose as a centre name.  Most of these services are foreign based.  POTRAZ assists network providers with lawful communication interception, to ensure compliance with legal licensing requirements.

POTRAZ further informed the Committee that the short code 33284 used to broadcast the threatening messages was not allocated by the regulator as its database indicates that it was not allocated to anyone. The Committee was also informed that short codes are not assigned on a permanent basis and that it was very difficult to trace the origins of a message sent from a computer. It was explained that in certain cases, the messages pass through many layers, thus complicating the task of locating the actual source, particularly where the message originates in a foreign jurisdiction.

4.4    NETONE

           In giving evidence, NETONE officials indicated that as a general rule, they are not allowed to divulge subscriber / client information except in a case where the said subscriber / client uses their line for illegal activities. They informed the Committee that when an illegality has occurred, client details are only disclosed upon production of a court order by Police. However, the officials assured the Committee that if all the requirements were met, any messages received on their NETONE lines could be traced, as well as the location from which the messages were generated.  They further explained that where an SMS originated from an international number, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact source of the message. 

The NETONE officials explained that even though it is possible to pinpoint the country of origin of the message when the message has been sent through a cell phone, the opposite is true for a message generated from a computer and sent via the internet.  They also explained that it is possible that the person(s) who sent the death threat messages may have used a cloned number. A cloned number is an international number reflecting as a local one.  Certain technology is used to mirror a local number in order to bypass the billing system. This way, the call is billed as a local number. A caller identity can be hidden for calls but not text messages.

NETONE informed the Committee that ordinarily it does not listen in on conversations, unless there is an inquiry by state security on a matter of national security.  This, however, does not mean they cannot, the volumes of phone calls are too high. Every mobile network operator has a switch, which can be used to listen into conversations, but is only accessible bypass word to security personnel. The Telecommunications Act, does not allow them to intercept information between parties.  

NETONE reported that it keeps a log of numbers of SMSs a mobile line sends out, but not the content. The SMS count helps to keep an account for billing purposes. The records are voluminous and take up a lot of space, this therefore means that there is a limited period of time that they can be kept.

4.5    Econet

Econet officials informed the Committee that it is possible to trace the source of messages sent to its network subscribers. Records that Econet keeps can help track the second number and its country of origin.  The law requires that records be kept for up to eight years.   Since Econet has many subscribers the records are in millions and it would take a long time to work through them to trace the messages in question.  As previously explained by NETONE, Econet reiterated the fact that some SMSs are originated from computers, through the internet. The computer can access some device which can work like a cell phone or SMSC. It was explained that an SMSC is a machine which, before sending an SMS, analyses the address where the SMS is supposed to go, and then it delivers that SMS accordingly. 

When an SMS is generated by a computer via the internet, the SMS can circumvent the network service provider. In the case of a message being sent from a computer on the Internet or from a server, the message will be sent directly to the customer. Econet is able to recognise that a number on its network received an SMS and the country of origin, but will not be able to identify the number from which the message was sent.

Where the identity of the sender has a name such as ‘hitman’, this would indicate that the messages most likely originated from a computer. If a message comes with a name which is not in one’s phonebook, this means that the message originated from a computer or a server. In terms of the law, information concerning subscribers, can only be divulged to entities or institutions specified by law such as the police carrying out their investigations of criminal activities. The police have to produce a warrant of search and seizure in order to compel the mobile network operator before they can search through their network.

1.                Econet only keeps a record which shows that a particular number sent a message to a certain number, but not the actual content of the message.

The information is easy to retrieve within 60 days, after that, it goes to the archives. The recovery of such a record after two months is a long and cumbersome process which could take up to a month or longer.  The Committee wrote to Econet on the 20th of April 2017, requesting that the source of the death threats be traced and no response has yet been received.

5.0    The Committee’s Findings

5.1    POTRAZ’s control and monitoring systems are very weak, it emerged during their submissions that they do not have a direct role in tracing the messages as these are resident in the archives of service providers. It is the service providers who keep the archives of where the messages originated from. However, in this instance none of the service providers could trace the origins of the messages.

5.2    The Committee also found that Bulk SMS senders computer generate messages which may appear as if they are from a cell phone, when they are not, and messages sent via the computer are very difficult to trace. Most of such services are foreign based, which is the most likely scenario in this instance because the short code 33284 used to broadcast the threatening messages was not allocated by the regulator.

5.3    The Committee also noted that even though the messages were sent to Econet lines, Econet could not establish the origins because the messages were not sent directly from a mobile cell phone, but probably a computer, through the internet.

5.4    The committee found that despite the identity of the culprits not being known, the act of sending threats of any kind to a Member of Parliament is criminal and contemptuous of the August House.  Even if the reason for threatening or inducing fear is not clearly stated, such will be attributed to the conduct of the Member in Parliament or its Committees.

5.5    All the above findings revealed that the country does not have the capacity, technologically and legally to combat such intrusions through the use of information communication technology systems. POTRAZ should be taking a proactive role in lobbying for technological evolution.

6.0           Discharge of Mandate

6.1    To investigate the source of the alleged threatening messages

The Committee made its investigations to find the source of the alleged threatening messages using all the possible avenues and could not determine the source of the death threat messages.  The messages were sent to Econet lines, but Econet could not establish the origins because the messages were not sent directly from a mobile cell phone, but probably a computer, through the internet. The mandate of the Committee was to investigate the source of the alleged threatening messages and the Committee established that death threat messages were indeed sent, but could not establish who the sender was.

6.2    To determine whether the said messages directly, indirectly or by Inference constitute contempt of Parliament.

The Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act (Chapter 2:08) (PIPPA)paragraph 13 provides that, “Making any oral or written threat to a Member or challenging him to fight on account of his conduct in Parliament or a Committee” constitutes contempt of Parliament.

According to Erskine May [1]  “contempt of Parliament”   is “any act or omission which obstructs or impedes either House of Parliament in performance of its functions, or which obstructs or impedes any member or officer of such House in the discharge of his duty, or which has a tendency, directly or indirectly, to produce such results which may be treated as a contempt even though there is no precedent of the offence.  The definition of Contempt of Parliament as provided for in the PIPPA was confirmed by the Court in the case of Roy Leslie Bennet v Emmerson Mnangagwa (in his capacity as Speaker of Parliament).

The act of sending death threat messages to a Member of Parliament constitutes contempt of Parliament and is an offence at law.The nature of the threats or intimidation must directly affect the member and negatively impact on his/ her duties as a Member of Parliament. The Oral evidence presented before the Committee clearly showed that the death threat messages were aimed at hindering Members in the discharge of their mandate in Parliament. The principle of Parliamentary privilege includes the right of a Member to discharge his /her responsibilities free from threats and intimidation from other Members of the House or from any person.

7.0    Recommendations

7.1    There is need to improve technology in the telecommunications sector in order to effectively combat cybercrimes.  Ministry of Information, Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, in conjunction with Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should make budgetary provisions for technology development in the 2018 budget.

7.2    There is need to expedite the process of bringing into the operation of the Cybercrimes Bill, which should establish  a Cyber Security Office, a Cyber-Crime Special Unit and a Ministerial Committee to deal with cyber-crimes.  The Bill should be introduced in Parliament by September, 2017.

7.3    The Postal and Telecommunications Act must also be amended to reflect the technological changes around the globe and render certain actions as unlawful, for example in the matter before the Committee, the culprit unlawfully accessed the system. A bill proposing amendments to the Postal and Telecommunications Act must be brought to Parliament before the end of 2017.

7.4    There is need for legislation or bi-lateral agreements which enable the ease of access of information beyond the Zimbabwean borders. This is essential for the facilitation of cooperation between the police and prosecuting authorities in different countries. Ministry of Information, Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services should facilitate this by December, 2017.

7.5    Parliament should by resolution of the whole House exhort the Commissioner General of Police to lead the investigation and finalisation of this matter.  ZRP should report progress to Parliament by end of October 2017.

7.0 Conclusion

7.1    The Committee condemns any conduct whose aim is to undermine the lawful performance of Members of Parliament or citizens. Such conduct is an anachronism in a civilised society and undermines democracy.

7.2.   The complaints in question revolved around information communication technology systems. The lack of proper technological and legislative mechanisms to combat such crimes was clearly apparent in this case. It is the Committee’s view that mechanisms be put in place to ensure that proper controls and legislative frameworks be put in place to curtail such incidents.

7.3.   The Committee condemns any conduct whose objective is to undermine the lawful performance of Members of Parliament. Such conduct is an anachronism in a civilised society and it undermines democracy. I so submit Mr. Speaker Sir.  I thank you.

HON. CHIMANIKIRE:  Thank you Mr. Speaker. Firstly, I would like to thank the Chairman of the Privileges Committee, Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira and I would also want to thank the other members of the Privileges Committee with whom we worked together.  At first, the impression was that it was going to be a very quick exercise but that was not to be.  When we first met, our arguments were more academic around the issue of Contempt of Parliament or no Contempt of Parliament.

          However, we soon realised under the guidance of the Chairman that we had to use various methodologies that would ensure us achieving the objective of finding out who the culprit was.  It was a bit disheartening that when we announced in both the National Assembly and Senate, the response from the affected members was rather luke warm.  In fact we had only two Hon. Members of Parliament responding, it was Hon. Chibaya and Hon. Matienga but later on we had to devise ways and means of ensuring that we had a widespread consultative process which we then undertook which involved also calling in the police and the various service providers cell phone operations.

          Mr. Speaker, we even worked when Parliament was not in session to ensure that we would be able to cover as much ground as possible.  In some instances, some Members of Parliament had their spouses threatened.  I will quote Hon. Chibaya as messages were also sent to his wife.  Other than the Hon. Member of Parliament, his wife was also receiving the messages.  So you can imagine Mr. Speaker the amount of trauma that this brings to a family when both husband and wife are being threatened over the job of a Member of Parliament who is the husband.

          Mr. Speaker, it is sad that this kind of mentality was found within our own communities to try and threaten Members of Parliament who have a mandate to represent their constituencies without fear or farvour.  I have a personal experience that I take out of the lesson of such actions that were taken.  I visited Rio de Jenairo in 2004 to attend an international conference and next to the hotel that I was staying in were armoured vehicles, tanks as well as police and army who were actually donning semi-automatic weapons.  When I enquired as to what was going on because I thought maybe the Brazilian President was staying in that hotel.  I was then informed that these soldiers and police were guarding Members of Parliament, actually Members of Parliament were staying in that hotel.  On further enquiries as to why Members of Parliament had to be guarded in Brazil?  It was revealed that gangsters who trade in drugs were kidnapping Members of Parliament, holding their families to ransom and forcing the Members of Parliament to pass legislation that was in favour of less controls on drug trading in Brazil.

          So Mr. Speaker, when one reads into these messages that are coming from whoever is called ‘Death’, - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MUTOMBA): Order, order, less noise please.

          HON. CHIMANIKIRE:  When one reads into the messages that were being sent to members of the MDC-T Parliamentary Caucus.  One would look at a situation where it got worse in Brazil until they had to be guarding hotels where Members of Parliament were staying to avoid gangsters influencing proceedings in Parliament, which is sad. 

          Mr. Speaker, we hope our recommendations are very clear.  They are very clear in the sense that Zimbabwe has not adequately prepared itself for cyber crime fighting.  So, it is important that within the deadlines that we have put as a Committee, the Minister responsible for funding, Hon. Chinamasa must ensure that he puts into place mechanisms and infrastructure for fighting cyber crime. 

          I remember Hon. Chamisa when he was the Minister of ICT, he had made several proposals towards this goal but nothing occurred in the last five years.  It will be sad that if you do not prepare to fight cyber crime, we will be caught with our pants down and victims will be ourselves and our families across the political divide.  Mr. Speaker, it is misguided elements seeking to adulterate what I would call the democratic dispensation in this country that would actually take such an initiative.  However, as a Committee Mr. Speaker, we unanimously agreed on our recommendations and we have put them before this House for adoption.  I thank you Mr. Speaker.

          HON. CHAKONA:  Thank you very much Mr. Speaker. I just want to clarify a few things with regards to the report. Firstly, I would like to thank our Chairperson, Hon. Sen. Charumbira for leading the investigations professionally and also with so much vigor.  I want to explain that the SMSs have been classified under cyber crime.  Throughout the world, cyber crime has been very difficult to detect even in instances where money is involved.  I would want to give you an example.  In the United States, as far back as 2002, cyber crime resulted in more than US$54 million being lost in the financial services sector.  By 2008, over US$1 billion was actually siphoned out of financial institutions.  Out of all this money, nothing was recovered, which actually goes to prove that cyber crime is very difficult to detect.

          Mr. Speaker, as far back as 1994, cyber crime already existed and one such person was a guy in Russia who moved US$10 million to different banks throughout the world.  That money was difficult to recover.  This guy was called Leven.  He moved the money to different banks and it was never recovered. 

          I would also want to say as far back as 1950, there was cyber crime and in this case it was basically subjected to a virus. It was spread at an institution when a student who was researching sent this replicated virus and it affected a number of machines.  Mr. Speaker, the point I am trying to drive is that cyber crime throughout the world has never been traced and it is difficult to detect the source of cyber crime.  We also have things like child pornography, which is actually prevalent and is taking place in our houses.  Children are watching pornography in very sophisticated ways.  It has been distributed to children in sophisticated ways.  What it goes to prove is that cyber crime is difficult to detect and also to get to the source of the crime. 

In this instance, the crime was perpetrated through what we could say an internet protocol generated message. It is easy to change the source and the characters of a message, especially when it is being generated from a computer using what we call IP.  As I speak, in Zimbabwe in order to try and reduce the amount of cyber crime, the ICT sector in Zimbabwe has been trying to improve the internet protocols by basically moving from version 4 to version 6.  Hopefully, by the end of this upgrade, things will improve.  Mr. Speaker, I have tried to explain that the reason behind the Committee failing to get to the source of the problem is because cyber crime is difficult to trace and to get to the source. I thank you.

HON. MANDIPAKA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker.  I just want to be brief but let me congratulate the Speaker of the National Assembly for having directed that a Committee be set up to investigate the threats. Mr. Speaker, I take notice that the Committee that was set up, technically could not have been able to establish the source. Why do I say so?  Like what Hon. Chakona has stated, cyber crime the world over is presenting some very big challenges and for Zimbabwe, this is a wakeup call for our security agencies to be on the alert on this very sophisticated nature of criminal activity happening in our communities.  Having said that Mr. Speaker, let me also challenge the Zimbabwe Republic Police and other state agencies that provide security to be on the alert for such kinds of criminal activities that are on the increase. 

Mr. Speaker, an investigation of this nature which was done established no results at all.  So, we are just debating for the sake of record in this august House but the results that we would have wanted could not be ascertained due to the nature and complexity of how this criminal activity was perpetrated.  I heard the Chairperson of the Committee state that they have every reason also to suspect that the messages could not have been originated within; the messages could have been originated without.  So, it makes it very difficult, very complicated, not only for this Committee but even for the Police to come out with the source and the suspect.  If we were in Police circles, we would say this docket in the interim can be closed.  I thank you Mr. Speaker.

HON. MAJOME:  I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for allowing me to debate this motion.  As one of the Members of Parliament of this House who received these death threats, I want to thank the Committee for looking into this matter but I wish to express my dismay that in my very respectful view, I think the Committee would have been able to get more information if it had actually talked to those Members of Parliament who received these threats.  They would have gotten more information because other dimensions of this matter were not looked at.  Unfortunately, I personally was not invited by the Committee and I will say that I am concerned Mr. Speaker Sir that Members of Parliament can be threatened. 

Firstly, I think it is a shame that this Committee was only tasked to do this investigation only the second time that a second wave of messages came.  In 2015, Members of Parliament including myself were threatened and Parliament did not even bet an eyelid, no sleep or nothing was lost. It reflects badly on this Parliament in the international arena. You will note that the Inter-Parliamentary Union has a Committee whose role is to protect the human rights of Members of Parliament.

          When a Member of Parliament such as myself is elected, I am entitled in terms of Section 67 of the Constitution to hold office. When I receive a death threat, that threatens me in connection with my sitting in this House and that also threatens my family members. In my case, my son who was 13 years old and then 14 years old also received these death threats. It interferes alongside other Hon. Members who had also other family members who were threatened. Coincidentally, we were threatened in connection with the visit of His Excellency the President to this Parliament. I can only ask myself why these particular threats were received only on the occasion when His Excellency was to come and address Parliament.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I think it invites all sorts of very uncomfortable and unpalatable conclusions. It therefore means that even the Zimbabwe Republic Police who are tasked to handle such issues did not handle the case properly. I am saying it is a shame and an indictment of this Parliament that it did not care at all when the first batch of death threats were received by Hon. Members in 2015 and that it took Parliament a very leisurely year for them to then do this investigation when the second batch of Members of Parliament were threatened.

With respect to the Committee, I thank them for the work that they did because it was clearly not easy. I would have hoped that they would have taken the trouble to also speak to the Hon. Members who were threatened which is including me. I do not recall ever receiving a request for me to furnish information as to the threat that I got and its effects. I am particularly concerned because in the first round, my son who was 13 years old and the next time around he was 14 years old, also received the same threat that I believe was meant for me.

I would have wanted the Committee to show somewhat their findings in connection with the coincidence of the timing of the death threats. I would have wanted them to explain what they found in relation to the question as to why is it that those death threats were only ever received coincidentally on the occasion when His Excellency the President would be coming to this House. Those death threats have not been received and surely, this Committee must investigate the link and be able to indicate that.

Also in relation to that, the Zimbabwe Republic Police with respect are just not interested in this matter. When I personally reported to the police, they were simply not interested. On the first report, I got one of those usual outcome of reports received that this matter is under investigation and that we shall tell you if anything else has come up. This happened two years ago. They also indicated to me that they were not able to find out who would have done this because as was reported by the Committee, the identity of the centres of the first message was death and in the second batch it was hit man. They said they could not do anything about it.  

So, it comes to me as a surprise because in my report to the police, they asked me as to whom I suspected had done this.  I told them that I suspect that it is the State security agents who sent those threats. The police behaviour in refusing to find out - they did not even want to go to Potraz. I am surprised that when the Select Committee investigating this asked them, that is when they started to go to Potraz and ask information providers. But, when the police refused to do that, it only strengthens my suspicion that it is someone who is connected to the State apparatus that is able to do that.  I think they have every duty to make sure that they investigate and exonerate and refute that suspicion because it is a valid suspicion.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to also say that I was dismayed and unless I did not hear correctly, it seems to me as if the Committee only asked ECONET and NetOne. I do not know why they did not go and ask Telecel Zimbabwe because some of the threats including the one that I got to the number that was sent to my son, it was from Telecel. I believe that they should leave no stone unturned in finding out what it is going on. I am concerned that I seem to hear a slant in the report about cyber crime and its sophistication but I did not hear sufficient accent on the need to protect Members of Parliament in executing their duties.

It seems to me that the issue has now become one of lamenting how cyber crime is so difficult and that we must tighten cyber crime investigations. I am concerned that instead of taking measures to protect Hon. Members of Parliament from expressing and enjoying their political conscience, this report is going to be abused to actually tighten and curtail freedom of speech and access to information in Zimbabwe by saying that if the Cyber Crime Bill comes, everything will be fine.

Mr. Speaker Sir, with respect, I think that is to lose the plot. I would as one of the people who were threatened together with my son,  like to see this Parliament being more concerned about the safety and the security of Members of Parliament. I hope that it would make recommendations that look at how this Parliament can do everything it can to ensure that Members of Parliament are able to participate in this House and outside with the utmost of freedom, the utmost of security and representing their constituencies. 

I am also concerned that this lack of interest in the security of Members of Parliament is the culture that is so rampant in this Parliament. I say that because it is seen even in other respects. If you just look at the equipment that Parliament uses. The bus of Parliament for example, there are no seat belts. If a Member of Parliament were to crush in that bus, they would all perish and die. The other day the two tyres of the bus exploded on one tour of public hearings. What kind of a Parliament is it that does not seem to care? If you ask whether there is any insurance either for risk injury or even for life insurance of Members of Parliament if they are injured or killed in the conduct of their duties, there is none Mr. Speaker Sir.

So, I would have wanted this Committee to look at those issues and ensure that the security and the safety of Members of Parliament is looked after. It is well when no one has lost their lives, but if somebody sends you a death threat and tells you that they are going to kill you and that you are only useful when you are in that Parliament, when you come out of there, you will become an ordinary person. Watch out and I am going to kill you and bury your body. It is not a joke. It requires this Parliament to take those measures.

It also goes with the attitude of this Parliament, the administration to take the safety of Members of Parliament when Parliament Committees are conducting public hearings. I have been assaulted when I was chairing the Portfolio Committee on Justice in Mutare at Dangamvura Hall. Parliament has done absolutely nothing. Instead, I get sniggers from some members of staff at this Parliament at the senior level who are sniggering in a very sarcastic manner about it that, ‘Parliament does not take any action to ensure that there is security, police and so on.’   Mr. Speaker Sir, I am not surprised that the police would say, ‘we do not know what we can do,’ because even now, there has been no report from Dangamvura Police Station to tell me who it is and find out people who assaulted me and other Members, when there was video evidence. The police simply do not want to investigate and my suspicion is that it is because they know exactly who it is who sent these messages.

I am also surprised that they can say that all these messages are from outside the country.  Why can the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) not use their expertise because they are extremely good at snooping around and finding out everybody?  Why can they not deploy that expertise and interest in protecting Members of an arm of Government, this august House?  Why were they not involved in the investigations.  Surely, we saw even the police going as far as Silicon Valley when they were investigating about; I think it was something about Baba Jukwa and so on.

In this particular case, are we telling ourselves that we are so backward.  I think it is embarrassing that the police will be content to say, ‘we cannot find this,’ even the Post and Telecommunications Regulation Authority (POTRAZ), how does it justify its existence if it does not have the technology to secure.  It cannot tell me that because it is coming from a computer and they cannot find out what it is.  We cannot hide behind the non-passage of the Cyber Bill to refuse to deal with an issue of intimidation.  The more the police refuse to take measures to investigate and the CIO to also investigate, personally my resolve and suspicion is that it is the State apparatus who sent those threats; it is further resolved.  The CIO was not at all involved.  Is it because it was already known that they are the ones who sent those death threats?  Surely, they must clear their name, they must show that it is not them and must find whoever it is who sent those messages.

 I would want the Committee to make recommendations about improving the security and safety of Members of Parliament.  Members of Parliament might snigger but today it is us, but with the volatility of even party politics today, some of them might find that they are on the wrong side of whatever faction and it might be you tomorrow.  So, it is in the interest of every Member of Parliament, that Parliament invests in the security of Members of Parliament and finds this. 

If I do not get any joy, I am going to file a complaint to the Inter Parliamentary Union.  If Parliament of Zimbabwe cannot protect my human rights as a citizen and an office bearer, I will have to go to the international fora and file a report with the Human Rights Committee of the Inter Parliamentary Union.  I was going to do that but I said, let me give a chance to this - finally this Parliament in one to two years later had decided to investigate, let me give it a chance, but so far I am not getting any comfort or joy.  Without that Mr. Speaker Sir, I think we are left to our own devices.  Let us please do something drastic and concrete about the security and safety of Members of Parliament.  Yes, only the opposition was threatened, but as I said, tomorrow who knows what is happening in the politics of factions in this country, it might be those who think that they are very safe.  I thank you Mr. Speaker.

HON. ZIYAMBI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I rise to debate on our Report, being one of those who were in the Committee.  I just want to make a few clarifications.  Mr. Speaker, our Committee was mandated to determine whether the messages directly, indirectly or by inference constitute Contempt of Parliament.  That is what we were supposed to look at and also to investigate the source of the alleged messages and make a recommendation.  This was when Hon. Chamisa had notified the House that he received these messages and implored the Speaker to set up a Committee to do that.  No other Member had done that.

When this happened, it was because one Hon. Member had come forward to say, this is what happened to me.  So, it would be very unfair on the Committee to say that, ‘why did they not investigate something that was not within the terms and references of what they were supposed to do.  When we gave our report, we indicated that it was indeed Contempt of Parliament and by sending those messages one will be inducing a certain level of fear on the Hon. Members to the extent that they will not be able to discharge their duties.  Then, when somebody says that the Committee did not do enough; we investigated, we determined that this was not correct and even went further to say that this is cyber crime.  We could not even identify the source of that message.  So, it was not within our purview to name call and say that this or that department was responsible for sending a message when we could not determine it.

We made our recommendations and investigations.  We could not even investigate what happened outside the purview of the messages or what happened at public interviews, that was not our brief.   What we were supposed to investigate was whether these messages constituted Contempt of Parliament.  I think when we are debating and apportioning blame on us for not having done our duty, we should narrow it to the terms and references which we were given to do our job, which is what our Hon. Chair, Hon. Chief Charumbira has done, to present a report on the findings.  Hon. Chimanikire even alluded to the fact that we debated and argued but in the end we agreed on a working platform on what we were supposed to do.  I think as a Committee, we have made recommendations that would ensure that the culprits who sent such messages can be nabbed.  I believe that our report was fair and balanced and it is one of the best reports that we have produced.  I thank you.

HON. MISIHAIRABWI- MUSHONGA: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir.  I will not take long.  I think it is important that we are clear about what we intend to do with this Report.  I got something that says; it is a ‘Take Note Report.’  To me, it is just something that is being given to the House but with no specific resolutions of where we go from here.  I find that problematic from the Committee’s point of view, moreso, because it is something that is talking about the protection of Members of Parliament.  Yes, the terms of reference may simply have been to see whether there was a Contempt of Parliament, but one would think that it is common sense that beyond establishing that fact, you then say as a Committee, what needs to be done? 

What I thought I heard from Hon. Majome was to say, we need to speak beyond this particular position.  For your own information, Hon. Majome is talking about the future and saying some people may find themselves in trouble.  We have actually seen it here Mr. Speaker Sir.  We have a ruling that you are supposed to be making over a Member who threatened another Member in this very House.  So, this issue of violence is problematic in a number of ways.  If we are going to be going out there and telling people that violence is wrong and yet in this Parliament itself, people out there believe that Members of Parliament are not safe, why would anybody else who is a basic citizen believe that they are safe to make any political choice they need to make?  That is how fundamental this particular discussion we are having is. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, I would have thought that beyond being a Take Note Report, the Committee would have said, ‘Having observed the following, we are therefore setting a Committee that will begin to look at what it is that Parliament needs to do to ensure that this does not happen again.’  I did not hear that.  What is there that will stop this person from sending other death threats, that it was debated in this House or that there was a discussion about it?  If I am a person who intimidates and threatens people, this is just a joke.  So they sat, met as a Committee and said we cannot get the people who sent it; it is probably some internet-based process of some kind.  The next time, I will do exactly the same and as usual and speaking as a woman, violence exists where there is secrecy.  If a man wants to beat up their wife, they do it in secret; they do it in darkness.  So, what we have basically done with this report unfortunately, is to confirm that you can continuously do this as long as you do it under the cover of darkness.  Whereas, that cover of darkness is purportedly being said, internet is another thing.  So, I am not getting it and it is unfortunate Mr. Speaker, that even as people stand up, this is not about to who the death threats were sent.  It is not about MDC-T, but it is about the principle and the position that we ourselves are going to be taking in this very House.

          Like I am saying, speaking as a woman, I have gone to these public hearings.  Mr. Speaker, there were public hearings in which people were almost assaulted or were assaulted in the case of Hon. Jessie Majome.  Even the environment – you are sitting there and you are saying to yourselves, it just takes somebody to be holding bottles to throw them at you and you are gone.  It takes somebody coming up with a knife to knife you and you are gone.  What is Parliament going to be doing to ensure that we do not have those kinds of incidents? 

So, to have a Committee that will just be so, sorry to use the word, almost ‘myopic’ to say this is the window that we are going to look and not to look at the broader issues that this thing is bringing up, I think it is problematic.  I was actually exited because I thought that this was an opportunity for the Committee to actually come up and say this is what we are going to be doing; but beyond Parliament this is what we are going to be doing in communities to make sure that the issues of violence do not take place.  How do we deal with the intelligence issues and make sure that they themselves are agencies that protect and not themselves become perpetrators of violence?

          That is the debate that I expected us to have here and I must say that I am very disappointed that we set aside the better part of this afternoon – many of us would have thought that we are about to adjourn and let us go to our homes.  However, the reason why we are still sitting here is because we were hoping against hope, that this is a report that was going to be revolutionary to change the way that business is done in and outside Parliament. 

I must say I am very disappointed that it is not.  Like I said, I am disappointed that it is just a take-note motion.  So really, whether you speak to it or you do not, it really does not matter.  So, I have just stood; up to raise my frustrations at the report.  I thank you.

          HON. NDUNA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I will not take much of your time.  I just want to say the tabling of this report is a start of greater things.  Beyond that, I want to say Members of this Parliament are well travelled and if we equate our Speaker to some of the Speakers around other jurisdictions, certainly there is not much protection given to our Speaker, first and foremost.  You are in the Speaker’s Panel; I speak about you as well and to this issue.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, at some point we went as a Committee on African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption (APNAC) to Indonesia and the way we are protected in other jurisdictions or the way we were protected there, including Yours Truly, it is certainly out of this world.  So, that should also come into this jurisdiction in terms of protection for you as a person and for you also - to have at least a lead car so that you can have your car protected from any harm Mr. Speaker.  We also went as African Parliamentarians’ Network on Development Evaluation (APNODE) to Sudan and the way we were protected there is out of this world.  I call also for protection of Members of Parliament in the same vein within our own borders. 

Having said that Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to go beyond the protection of our person to our automobiles.  There are more than 20 000 automobiles or Governement vehicles in this country but they do not have insurance.  So beyond an accident, you are not covered, because you also drive one of those vehicles that is not insured and a Government vehicle. 

          Mr. Speaker Sir, seeing that the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning is here, I ask for him to make a deliberate move to ensure that all Government vehicles - and that is beyond Parliamentarians, it also speaks to him as an Executive Member and as a Member of Government; that they get to be protected beyond them being Members of Parliament, but also in the Executive so that they can be insured in those automobiles.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for giving me this time to eloquently, vociferously, effectively and efficiently air out my views on this report.  Thank you.

          HON. HOLDER:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for giving me this opportunity just to contribute and congratulate the panel that Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira has presented to this House today.  Mr. Speaker Sir, as a Member of Parliament, I do understand the need for us to be protected.  It is so sad that people go so low with intent to threaten individuals.  Mr. Speaker, I suffered the same sort of problem when I first entered Parliaments.  The reason why I say that is because, sometimes most of these issues come from most probably our neighbourhoods or our backgrounds where we come from.  It is sad to note that Hon. Members of Parliament have lost faith in the security system in our country.  I want to say, there is only so much that the security system can do. 

If you look at it in my way of looking at things, there is peace in our country and this is why you find that there are a lot of investors and interest of people coming to our country.  This Panel that made the report has made a report because it has got to where it has realised that there is only so much that they could do.  When I was being haunted, followed and sent messages, I only found out that the service provider is the only one who is able to trace where these messages are coming from.

 They can trace to the repeater; they can trace whether it is a computer; they can trace whether it is a cellphone and they can trace in different sorts of ways.  With the technology that is still being introduced into our system, things are taking a bit of time.  It is a bit slow but you will find that our police and our intelligence organisation do not have the capacity to trace exactly where the messages are coming from and it is a sad note.  I think we need to look into that, where we can get the country to invest into situations like that because every time a Member of Parliament is threatened or every time a Member of Parliament receives a death threat, something happens, it costs the country a lot of money.  It is the taxpayer’s money Mr. Speaker.

          I only wanted to say to the Committee  that they have done their best and I would like to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira for the report.  He is not the investigating officer but they are looking into the issues of all the angles and channels that are supposed to be looked into.  Mr. Speaker Sir, I feel for our Hon. Members of Parliament who have been threatened.  It is a sad note and when we look at it, this should not be allowed in this country. I think the sooner the Cyber Crime Bill comes to Parliament, the better it is that we debate and pass a law so that at least our Hon. Members of Parliament feel safe. It is wrong for us to blame because we have not managed to get to the bottom of it. I thank you.

          THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA): I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Tuesday, 1st August, 2017.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. CHINAMASA: I understand that the next item is Order Number 7, which again is a matter of privilege. The Speaker wanted it presented today. So, if we could proceed Mr. Speaker Sir.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE PRIVILEGES COMMITTEE ON THE ALLEGED CONTEMPT OF PARLIAMENT BY MR C. KUWAZA

     HON. KAZEMBE: I move the motion standing in my name: That

this House takes note of the Report of the Privileges Committee on the alleged contempt of Parliament by Mr. C. Kuwaza.

          HON. TOFFA: I second.

          HON. KAZEMBE: The Privileges Committee was appointed on the 17th of May 2016 to investigate the alleged contempt of Parliament by the late Mr. C. Kuwaza when he appeared twice before the Mines and Energy Portfolio Committee.  The following Hon Members were nominated to serve on the Privileges Committee; Hon Kazembe K. as Chairperson; Hon Chasi F., Hon Sen Mutsvangwa M., Hon Toffa J., Hon Chamisa N., and  Hon Majome J.

2.0 TERMS OF REFERENCE OF PRIVILEGES COMMITTEES

The terms of reference of the Committee were as follows;

2.1            To establish whether the conduct by the late Mr. C. Kuwaza constitutes contempt of Parliament;

2.2            To determine whether the alleged misrepresentation impaired the work of the Committee in the discharge of its constitutional mandate;

2.3           To determine whether the conduct or the statements attributed to the late Mr. C. Kuwaza directly, indirectly or by inference constitute contempt of Parliament; and

2.4    To make appropriate recommendations and report to the House by the 30th of October, 2016.

3.0 BACKGROUND

The Committee on Mines and Energy, referred to as the Committee in this section, conducted an inquiry into the tendering system of the electricity sector projects and invited the late Mr. Charles Kuwaza, the then Executive Chairperson of the State Procurement Board, to a meeting to provide oral evidence. The meeting sought to gather pertinent facts on the operations of the State Procurement Board in respect of the electricity sector projects. The late Mr. C. Kuwaza was given a notice period of more than 14 days to prepare for the meeting and subsequently met the Committee on the 30th June 2015. The Committee also included in the invitation letter, questions to be asked in the meeting. During the meeting, the late Mr. C. Kuwaza failed to satisfactorily respond to the questions raised by the Committee on the tendering system by the State Procurement Board, in spite of him being notified of the purpose of the meeting more than 14 days prior to the meeting. This led to the postponement of the meeting in order to give the late Mr. Kuwaza sufficient time to prepare.

The Committee held its second meeting with the late Mr C. Kuwaza on the 6th July, 2015. When asked whether he had brought written responses to the sets of questions that had been brought to his attention, the late Mr. Kuwaza contended that he had sent a set of answers via email to the Committee Clerk.  The late Mr. Kuwaza, for the second time, failed to answer the questions to the satisfaction of the Members of the Committee. The Committee asked the late Mr Kuwaza to respond to the questions orally but the late Mr. Kuwaza referred the committee to the email sent to the Committee Clerk. Members of the Committee took turns to impress upon the late Mr. Kuwaza that it was important for him to provide the sought answers, but all efforts were in vain. The late Mr. Kuwaza allegedly became abusive and at one point suggested that there was no order in the committee.

4.0 METHODOLOGY

To have an appreciation of what actually transpired during the meetings held by the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy, the Privileges Committee listened to the two audio recordings of the oral evidence sessions and considered the available documentary evidence. The documentary evidence consisted of emails, letters and minutes of meetings held by the Mines and Energy Committee. Furthermore, the Privileges Committee received oral evidence from the following witnesses; Hon L. Matuke, Hon S. Mudarikwa, Hon B. Majaya, Hon W. Musvaire, Hon P. Mutseyami. The late Mr. Kuwaza though invited, did not turn up to give evidence.

5.0 FINDINGS AND CHALLENGES

After listening to the audio recordings of the oral sessions and considering the documentary evidence before it, the Privileges Committee resolved that there was a prima facie case against the late Mr. C. Kuwaza. The six witnesses that testified were consistent that the late Mr. C. Kuwaza’s conduct was disrespectful of Parliament and impaired the work of the Committee of Mines and Energy.

In order to conduct the enquiry through a procedure that is fair, reasonable and that conforms to the dictates of the Constitution in particular, section 68 of the Constitution, the Privileges Committee resolved to give the late Mr. Kuwaza, who was the key witness, an opportunity to give evidence before the Committee. Section 68 of the Constitution states that;

 Every person has a right to administrative conduct that is lawful, prompt, efficient, reasonable, proportionate, impartial and both substantively and procedurally fair”.

          The Privileges Committee, referred to as the Committee in this section, made several efforts to invite the late Mr. Kuwaza to give evidence and twice asked for an extension of the deadline by which to conclude the case. The Committee faced the following challenges:

·       On two separate occasions, the late Mr. Kuwaza refused to acknowledge receipt of invitations to meet the Committee;

·       The late Mr. Kuwaza then refused to receive or acknowledge the summons that the Committee had served him;

·       The late Mr. Kuwaza suddenly fell ill and became hospitalized. His lawyers acknowledged receipt of the summons and requested the Committee to excuse the late Mr. Kuwaza until he was well;

·       The late Mr. Kuwaza’s lawyers later advised the Committee that the late Mr. Kuwaza would not be able attend the Privileges Committee meetings on medical grounds.

·       There was no meaningful progress made from October, 2016 to April, 2017 as exchanges of letters between Parliament and the late Mr. Kuwaza’s lawyers continued relentlessly until the unfortunate incident that led to the death of Mr Kuwaza on Tuesday, 18th April, 2017.

6.0  OBSERVATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE

·       The late Mr. Kuwaza could have taken advantage of weak parliamentary procedures and deliberately made it difficult to have summons served on him. The Committee, therefore, could not conclude the inquiry without according him an opportunity to give evidence.

·       Parliament procedures do not confer adequate powers to the Privileges Committee to enable it to execute or conclude its inquiry in cases where an individual refuses to appear before the Committee without justifiable cause. Possible contempt charges could have been established by the Committee in time. The alleged conduct by the late Mr. Kuwaza violated paragraph 4 of the Schedule to the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act [Chapter 2:08] which provides for a charge of, “Prevarication or other misconduct as a witness before Parliament or a committee”.

·       Witnesses called to give evidence could not remember the minute details of what had transpired due to the time lapse between the dates of the of the meetings in question and the date the Privileges Committee was appointed. The last of the meetings in question took place on of 6th July, 2015 and the Committee was appointed on the 17th May, 2016.

7.0 RECOMMENDATIONS

Given the challenges outlined above and the observations of the Committee regarding the omissions in the Parliamentary procedures concerning summons, the Privileges Committee recommends that;

·       The CSRO urgently deliberate on possible amendments to the Privileges Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act (Chapter 2: 08). 

·       The Committee also recommends that the appointment and setting up of a Privileges Committee should be done as early as possible to avoid delays in concluding inquiries and loss of evidence due to memory lapse.

8.0  CONCLUSION

The Committee could not conclude the case without hearing evidence from the key witness. After the passing on of Mr. C. Kuwaza, the Committee resolved to close the case. May his soul rest in peace. Mr. Speaker Sir, I now commend this report for consideration by this august House.  I thank you.

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA):  Mr. Speaker Sir, I thought that this is a motion that should be withdrawn, given the circumstances of the matter, there is no point in pursuing the issue and I was inviting the Hon. Member to withdraw the motion.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  The Speaker should have been advised accordingly.

  HON. KAZEMBE:  Thank you Mr. Speaker.  In view of the fact that the accused is no more, I wish to withdraw the report.

Motion with leave, withdrawn.

MOTION

ADJOURNMENT OF THE HOUSE

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. CHINAMASA):  I move that the House do now adjourn.

HON. GONESE:  I thought it would be fair for the Minister to appraise, before the House is adjourned formally Mr. Speaker Sir...

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Order.  Hon. Gonese, you are a very seasoned Member of Parliament in this Parliament.  I have already adjourned the House.

HON. GONESE:  Yes, I know, but he has not asked for debate.  We only want clarification.  You have not done things properly Mr. Speaker.  We just wanted clarification on what business do we have because we were supposed to adjourn according to the calendar.  That is all we needed.  The other Members do not know and I do not know.  I just wanted it formally. 

The House accordingly adjourned at Five o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 1st August, 2017.

 

 



 

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National Assembly Hansard NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 27 JULY 2017 VOL 43 NO 31