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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 28 NOVEMBER 2018 VOL 44 NO 21

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 28th November, 2017

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER

DEATH OF HON. ALDRIN MUSIIWA

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: It is with profound sorrow that I have to inform the House of the death of Hon. Aldrin Musiiwa, Member of Parliament for Chakari Constituency on Friday, 17th November, 2017.  I invite Hon. Members to rise and observe a minute of silence in respect of the late Member of Parliament.

          All Hon. Members observed a minute of silence.

VACANCIES IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Chair would like to notify this august House that on the 27th November, 2017 Parliament was notified by the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) that the following Members;

·       Hon. Mandiitawepi Chimene        Makoni South Constituency

·       Hon. Kudzanai Chipanga               Makoni West Constituency

·       Hon. Prof Jonathan Moyo             Tsholotsho North Constituency

·       Hon. Dr. Ignatius Chombo            Zvimba North Constituency

·       Hon. Saviour Kasukuwere             Mt Darwin South Constituency

have ceased to be members of the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) party and therefore no longer represent the interest of the party in Parliament. The notification was signed by Hon. P. Chinamasa in his capacity as the Secretary for Legal affairs of ZANU PF.

          Section 129 (1) (k) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides as follows; “a seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the Member has ceased to belong to the political party of which he or she was a Member when elected to Parliament and the political party concerned, by written notice to the Speaker or the President of the Senate, as the case may be, has declared that the Member has ceased to belong to it”.

          Pursuant to the above, I do hereby inform this august House that vacancies have arisen in the following constituencies by the operation of the law;

·       Makoni South Constituency

·       Makoni West Constituency

·       Tsholotsho North Constituency

·       Zvimba North Constituency

·       Mt. Darwin South Constituency

          The necessary administrative  measures will be taken to inform His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of the existence of the vacancies in line with Section 39 (1) of the Electoral Act Chapter 213 as amended –[HON. ZWIZWAI: Are you sure Zhuwao’s name is not there?] -

NON-ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I have to inform the House that I have received a Non-Adverse Report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the Public Entities Corporate Governance Bill [H.B. 5, 2017].

          HON. ADV. CHAMISA: On a point of clarification Madam Speaker. I am very conscious of the fact that in terms of our Constitution if a vacancy arises it has to be filled but if regard be had to Section 158 (3) “Polling in by-elections to Parliament and local authorities must take place within ninety days after the vacancies occurred unless the vacancies occur within nine months before a general election is due to be held, in which event the vacancies may remain unfilled until the general election”.  – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members. We want to hear what is being said.

HON. ADV. CHAMISA: Madam Speaker, my point is just to seek a point of clarification because the use of the word may clearly indicates that there is an element discretion but I know that there has been a ruling in certain cases that even ‘may’ can be interpreted to mean ‘shall’ in certain circumstances.  I do not know what is motivating your Chair, in saying that the vacancies have to be filled.  If we have due regard and consideration of the fact that we are supposed to have an election between the 22nd of July and the 22nd of August in terms of the law, how are we going to go about it?  Do we really need to fill in these vacancies or they have to remain vacant so that we do not unnecessarily go into the coffers of the State and waste taxpayers’ resources?  I do not want to interfere with the discretion of the political party, but just in terms of the law…

          HON. SAMUKANGE: On a point of order Hon. Speaker – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Samukange, please take your seat. Order Hon. Members – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -  Hon. Members, you are taking my duty.  Thank you.

          Attending to your point of clarification Hon. Chamisa.  I think we all know that…

          HON. SAMUKANGE: On a point of order Hon. Speaker. You must hear me.

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Samukange, can I please reply to this point of clarification – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Hon. Members, at times we have to behave.  The role of Parliament in terms of the Constitution was just to clarify by the court.  It is to notify you as Members of Parliament what has happened.  Now His Excellency the President and ZEC will then have to sit down and agree on what they will be doing, not Parliament.  Thank you.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          HON. RUNGANI: Madam Speaker Ma’am, I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 12 be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.

          HON. MUKWANGWARIWA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

FIRST REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

ON TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT ON THE INQUIRY INTO THE TURNAROUND STRATEGY FOR THE NATIONAL RAILWAYS OF ZIMBABWE

           HON. NDUNA: I move the motion standing in my name that;

This House takes note of the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development on the Inquiry into the Turnaround Strategy for the National Railways of Zimbabwe.

           HON. MAONDERA: I second.

           HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.  This is the First Report on the Portfolio Committee on Transport on the turnaround strategy for the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ). 

           The National Railways of Zimbabwe is undoubtedly a key carrier, particularly in terms of the commercial and industrial bulk goods transportation in the country.  However, it is a matter of public record that, like most parastatals, NRZ has become a liability…

           HON. HOLDER: On a point of order Madam Speaker Ma’am. 

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

           HON. HOLDER: Madam Speaker, my point of order is on privileges and immunities.  I wanted this House to take note that we have got our new President, His Excellency, E. D. Mnangagwa and we would like to congratulate him and the First Lady who is in the House today, we want to congratulate her – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

           HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.  I will begin by the introduction.

         1.0    Introduction

1.1    The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is undoubtedly a key player particularly in terms of commercial and industrial bulk goods transportation in the country. However, it is a matter of public record that, like most parastatals, NRZ has become a liability and not the strategic asset that it should be to the country. To put the issue into perspective, out of a fleet size of 166 locomotives, only 60 locomotives are operational.  These average between 33 and 50 years old, whereas a locomotive has a useful lifespan of at most 25 years. Employees are owed over USD 90 million in outstanding salaries while debts have ballooned to a staggering USD 176 million.

1.2    Despite this untenable prevailing situation, the Committee is convinced that NRZ still has the latent potential to be an important cash cow for the Government and people of Zimbabwe especially in these challenging times when domestic resource mobilisation has become the operative mantra. The Committee is firmly convinced that the revival of NRZ should be pursued with vigour and intent as it is key to the transportation sector, particularly the transportation of bulk commercial and industrial goods.

1.3    Given this background, the Committee saw it fit to invite the board and management of NRZ to enquire into their proposed turnaround strategy for this key institution. This is premised on the recognition that an efficient and profitable NRZ will contribute significantly to the fiscus and to the attainment of the accelerated economic growth trajectory envisaged in our economic blueprint- ZIM ASSET.  This report presents the findings of that enquiry.

 2.0   Submissions from the Board & Management- Current State of NRZ

The Committee received input on the current state of NRZ from the board and management of NRZ. Their submissions highlighted the following:

1.    Out of a fleet size of 166 locomotives, only 60 patently unreliable locomotives are operational; 

2.    The average age of the said locomotives is between 33 and 50 years whereas a locomotive has a useful lifespan  of only 25 years;

3.    Out of a total of 7153 wagons, 3641 have been decommissioned for various defects, leaving only 3512 in service;  

4.    Out of a fleet of 283 passenger coaches, only 108 are in use and these are in a deplorable state; 

5.    Two hundred and fifty five kilometres of the 2760 kilometres of rail network are under speed restrictions to the extent that a train has to slow down to a speed of 10 kilometres per hour in these areas causing inordinate delays in transportation of commercial and industrial goods;

6.    The Centralised Train Control System (CTC) has been rendered dysfunctional due in part to vandalism.  This entails that there is little control over trains from the given control position. 

7.    Employees are owed over USD 90 million in unpaid salaries; and,

8.    The parastatal’s debt has since ballooned to USD 176 million

2.1    Projected Operational and Financial Performance

Given the afore-stated background, the NRZ Board & Management submitted the following projections for 2017:

2.1.1           Freight Movement

          In 2017, NRZ would transport freight tonnes amounting to USD 3.5 million, an improvement of about 30% from the $2.7 million realised in 2016. This positive difference was attributed to the long haul nature of some of the freight that was to be transported.

2.1.2           Passenger Movement

          In terms of the passengers, NRZ was targeting to move 387 000 passengers against the 287 000 that were transported in 2016. This would translate to a 34% improvement in passenger transportation in 2017.

2.1.3           Revenue Generation

          NRZ projected that the revenue to be generated from both freight and passengers against the anticipated increase would be USD 87 million.  If achieved, this would be a 32% increase from the USD 66 million raised in 2016. 

2.1.4           Transportation of Grain and Chrome Ore

          NRZ had transported 372 000 metric tonnes of grain from the projected harvest of 700 000 metric tonnes in 2016. In 2017, they were targeting to transport 300 000 metric tonnes within the first six months of the year. However, the revenue generated from the transportation of grain was not provided at the time of the enquiry.

3.0    Key Strategies to Improve Operational and Financial Performance

In order to attain the set targets for 2017, NRZ proposed the following strategies and interventions:

1.    Reduction of Salary to Revenue Ratio from the current 94% to about 62% in 2017 on the back of cost- cutting measures and an improvement in revenue as highlighted above.

2.    Rebuilding Customer Confidence through Service Level Agreements between NRZ and its regular customers which outline commitments to service delivery.

3.    Flexibility in pricing tariffs which allows price adjustments as and when necessary to remain competitive.

4.    Lobbying the Government to expedite the enactment of legislation banning bulk goods transportation by road and thus ring- fencing traffic to rail.

5.    Advocating for a waiver of duty on diesel for locomotives.

6.    Increasing Frequency of Cross Tripper Trains, that is, trains which do not stop and are manned by two sets of crews to expedite the movement of cargo. 

7.    To alleviate the challenges associated with the moribund, antiquated and dilapidated fleet, NRZ proposed to engage the private sector to assist in terms of recapitalisation.

8.    Selling of Scrap Metal to raise the much- needed revenue. Scrap metal reportedly earned the organisation about USD 2.5 million in 2016.

9.    Sourcing funding for recapitalisation from the Government.

4.0    Committees Observations

1.    The Committee noted with dismay that a large part of NRZ management’s resuscitation strategy is premised on recapitalisation by Government. Given the well documented fiscal constraints that we are currently faced with, this appears highly unlikely in the immediate future. This ‘business as usual approach’ will not achieve the desired results of reviving the once thriving NRZ.

2.    While the reduction of the salary to revenue ratio is a long- overdue initiative, there does not seem to be any solution in sight in terms of raising the much- needed financing for the workers who are already owed over USD 90 million, let alone those who, by virtue of the cost- cutting measures, will join the long list of creditors.

3.    Public private-partnerships offer the most plausible and ideal strategy to get NRZ out of the doldrums. However, the debt overhang of USD 176 million exacerbated by the USD 90 million owed to employees are making it increasingly difficult for the entity to attract serious investors.

4.    Bureaucratic red tape between the organisation and the parent Ministry is inhibiting expeditious decision- making particularly with respect to price tariffs. This has rendered NRZ uncompetitive especially against road transport as the latter is able to make price adjustments instantaneously in line with market forces.

5.    The Committee observed that NRZ is not actively following up on the mineral claims held in South Africa which provide an alternative source of much- needed revenue for the entity. Given the challenges NRZ is facing, the lackadaisical attitude towards this critical resource is incomprehensible.

6.    While management foresees an improvement in passenger movement in 2017, there are no concomitant initiatives taken by the organisation to lure passengers to use rail transport instead of road transport. The Committee could not ascertain the basis of this confident projection given the stiff competition in the road transport industry at the moment.

7.    The collapse of the Centralised Train Control System could have devastating fatalities on both cargo and passengers if it is not replaced as a matter of urgency.

 5.0   Recommendations

1.    Government must take over or at the very least, guarantee the debt owed to employees if NRZ is to attract a serious private investor. This should be done by 30 September, 2017

2.    The parent Ministry should expedite the enactment of legislation banning the transportation of chrome ore among other bulk goods using road transport and ring-fence traffic to rail. The area which has speed restrictions should expeditiously be attended to and all rail ballasts should be installed. This should be carried out by October 2017.

3.    Procurement and decision-making procedures must be streamlined to reduce red tape and enable quick decision-making in this cut-throat industry. This needs to be done immediately after the tabling of this report.

4.    The Centralised Train Control System must be replaced as a matter of urgency to prevent loss of lives and/or cargo resulting from fatal accidents by September 2017.

5.    The board and management must actively pursue the mineral claims resident in South Africa as they could provide an important source of leverage in sourcing funding. Immediately, a committee should be set up by the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development to pursue this game-changer by December 2017.

6.    NRZ must develop an inventory of all its properties both within and outside the country and use some of the properties to liquidate their debts. This needs to be presented to Parliament by end of August 2017.

7.    Engineer Mukwada who is now substantive General Manager of NRZ should immediately cease sitting on BBR Board, a competitor in the rail industry as this is bound to compromise his service delivery at NRZ and also a poor corporate practice.  

8.    NRZ must come up with a proper Industrial Relations policy to avert the breakdown of relations without the organisation staff by August 2017.

9.    Given that Cabinet has given its nod for engagement of PPP for NRZ, therefore NRZ should immediately make rigorous efforts to engage in PPP by December 2017.

10.                        Government to immediately remove duty on fuel meant for NRZ Locomotives but to put stringent monitoring measures to avert and make sure there is no abuse by end of July 2017.  

5.0    Conclusion

5.1              The National Railways of Zimbabwe remains a key strategic entity in domestic resource mobilisation, employment creation, national development and the revival of the Zimbabwean economy. Its resurrection should therefore be an imperative rather than an option. However, for this to happen, the board and management need to think outside the box and pursue alternative revenue generating initiatives as opposed to approaching the Government again and again with the proverbial begging bowl.  I thank you.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order.  There is a Silver Jaguar ADI 9575 blocking other vehicles.  Please may the owner go and remove it.

HON. MAONDERA:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  I would like to congratulate the Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development for coming up with such a – [HON. MEMBERS:  Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. DEPUY SPEAKER:  Order.  Hon. Members, I am talking to the House, I am talking to you and you are busy having meetings.  Are we together in this House? – [AN. HON. MEMBER:  Inaudible interjections.] – No, no.  I said, those who need to go and discuss, you can do it in the Lobby and even outside this House so that those who need to hear what is happening here can listen. 

HON. MAONDERA:  Thank you Madam Speaker.  I would like to congratulate the Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development for coming up with such an important report on the turnaround of the NRZ.  I am glad that we have the former Minister of Transport in the august House who was charged with superintending on the NRZ.  The NRZ is an asset of strategic importance to the nation.  Over the years, it has not been performing well because of a plethora of reasons, chief among them being corruption.  We have an array of parastatals in Zimbabwe which have not been performing because of corruption and the NRZ is one of them.  It is our fervent hope as a Committee that this turnaround that is being proposed for National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is going to bear fruits – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

          Currently there is a deal between NRZ and DIDG to try and recapitalise NRZ so that it becomes a modern transporter.  Before we operationalise the recapitalisation proposal, I think it is imperative that this august House be given an assurance that this plan is being done in a transparent manner because we got worried when – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MARUMAHOKO): Order, order Hon. Member, if you are moving out, please do so quietly.  I am talking to you by the door, may you move out quietly.

          HON. MAONDERA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir…

          HON. MUDARIKWA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir, for the smooth debate of this very important motion, we are now supposed to have the report in the pigeonholes but it is not there.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Order, order that will be looked into, you may proceed Hon. Member.

          HON. MAONDERA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, I was saying that the proposed DIDG deal with NRZ must be done in a transparent manner.  We got worried at some point when we heard that in the previous Government of Mr. Mugabe, the former Cabinet was disagreeing on the deal although it was said that they later agreed.  I hope when – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Order, order Hon. Members. Order please, do not blame me if I were to send you out. Very soon, someone will find himself or herself outside – [AN HON. MEMBER: Send them to Chikurubi!] – May we maintain order, you may proceed Hon. Member.

          HON. MAONDERA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, so we want that deal to be handled in a transparent manner.  It has been said in the past that some investors who wanted to come to Zimbabwe could not do so because they were frustrated by senior Government officials including ministers who would ask for kickbacks before they were allowed to invest.  If we are serious about reviving NRZ and other parastatals we should not put bottlenecks to would be investors. The second President of Zimbabwe was very clear in his speech that corruption is going to be a thing of the past.  I hope that if His Excellency is going to walk the talk, these parastatals including NRZ are going to be revived because corruption has been a major factor that has been stalling development in these parastatals.

          The other issue that I want to talk about is the issue of worker salaries at NRZ.  Previously, there have been a lot of problems regarding employee issues like pensions, salaries and other salary arrears.  I hope the new minister who is going to be appointed to head the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development is going to take serious measures to resolve problems regarding workers salaries and other benefits that are owed.  Workers are an important asset in any organisation and when they are disgruntled, whatever effort you may try to put or money you might try to get in terms of capital may not work if workers are disgruntled.  So we hope that the new minister is going to take seriously the issue of employee welfare including their salaries, pensions and medical aid.

          The other issue on NRZ is on management, previously when the late Rtd. Air Commodore Karakadzai passed away, there was an Acting General Manager for more than four years which is not healthy for any parastatal.  I would like to applaud the former Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Dr. Gumbo for taking a bold initiative to try and ensure that in all the parastatals in his former ministry, those in acting capacity were appointed to substantive positions.  There is no way you can expect someone to turnaround an organisation when they are in a prolonged acting capacity.  So, I think, in future, we need to appoint people to substantive positions in all parastatals and Government Departments so that they are able to work with certainty.

          The other important issue Mr. Speaker Sir, is the policy on bulk transportation.  The world over, railways play an important role for bulk transportation but in Zimbabwe, there has not been a clear policy to compel bulk transportation of goods and raw materials.  We hope this time if the policy is there, it is going to be more pronounced so that we do not damage our road infrastructure.  Most of our roads have been damaged because we have been ferrying goods on roads.  So this time, I hope it is going to be a policy position to compel transportation of bulky goods using railways so that we preserve our roads and at the same time helping NRZ – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

          In conclusion, we need to ensure that all these turnaround plans or programmes that are being proposed bear fruits so that we do not see any parastatal going to Treasury for more funding.  There is no way we can have a parastatal that has potential to raise revenue on its own going to Treasury seeking for more funding yet Treasury is saddled with other demanding needs like health and other social services.  Once a turnaround plan has been implemented, it must bear fruits.

          I would appeal to the incoming minister to ensure that whatever money is going to be invested in NRZ will bear fruits so that Zimbabweans will realise the benefits.  We do not want a situation whereby we start crying again that NRZ has failed despite huge amounts being ploughed into that parastatal.  So we need an assurance and we should put some safeguards to make sure that things move according to plan.  I thank you.

          HON. ZINDI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker, I also rise to support the report on the turnaround of NRZ but perhaps before I proceed; let me congratulate, yes, she is still around.  Let me in my own capacity congratulate the First Lady, Mrs. Mnangagwa – [AN HON. MEMBER: It is Honourable!] – Makorokoto.  – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – Yes, I take cognisance of your correction but in this capacity, as First Lady, I really wanted to address her as Mrs. Mnangagwa in her capacity as First Lady but I take cognisance of that, congratulations.  Thank you.

          I am extending this in my own capacity and on behalf of my constituents.

          Mr. Speaker, coming back to my support to the turnaround of NRZ and its revival, I just want to raise something, which I think in my opinion, are very critical areas.  The use of the railway road for transportation is the cheapest.  It has got a chain reaction until to the end user of any goods that is transported along the railway line.  So, in my own opinion, it is very critical that we ensure that National Railways of Zimbabwe is revived.

          Yes, the seconder of the motion has mentioned the issue of destruction, wear and tear of our road infrastructure with regards to bulky transportation.  I am one person who has always been raising the issue of truckers, the fuel trucks plying our highways – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]- Mr. Speaker, can I be protected please.

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Members!        

          HON. ZINDI: I am one person who has been raising the issue of bulky transportation, particularly the fuel truckers using our highways.  One good example is the Mutare-Harare highway.  It is hardly 12 months it has been repaired but already, it is pitted with potholes because of the number of fuel truckers that are plying that road.  If at all the National Railways of Zimbabwe was as busy as it was before, we could be seeing less trucks which are using our main highways.  As a result, it might sound like a repetition but this is emphasis because we want our National Railways of Zimbabwe to be revived.  This has got an effect to the end user in terms of whatever product that is transported using the railway line.

          Mr. Speaker, I do not think it was a mistake if you noticed it; when the colonialists, colonised Africa, they made sure there is road and railway line leading straight to the port of delivery or the port of receiving – that was not a mistake.  If you notice, no matter how under developed an African country is that was colonized, there is a railway line and there is a reason for that.  Straight to the sea as I have mentioned earlier on, that only shows the importance of how the railway movement is important.

          So, therefore, we should not underestimate the benefit of ensuring that our National Railways of Zimbabwe is revived.  It has got tremendous benefits.  Therefore, we need to take this seriously and make sure that NRZ is revived. 

          The issue of bulky transportation, I need again, to repeat that and repetition is emphasis.  I am saying so because we need a  policy that will force the transporters like fuel, timber to be using the national railways once it has been revived and we then see less accidents again on our main roads.  Right now, we are experiencing so many fatal accidents on our highways because of the number of the bulky transportation by the truckers hence it is causing these accidents but once we revive our National Railways of Zimbabwe, definitely we will then experience less accidents. Of course I am not saying it will minimise totally but it will be less than what we are experiencing at the moment.

          Mr. Speaker, having mentioned that, I think those are critical areas which I thought I should raise in supporting this motion.  I thank you.

          HON. CHIMANIKIRE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity.  My constituency actually represents what I would call the bedroom of workers in the National Railways of Zimbabwe, that is Rugare and Lokinver; they fall under my constituency. 

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order! Hon. Zhou, I thought we were friends.

          HON. CHIMANIKIRE: Mr. Speaker.  I will repeat again that I represent the bedroom of workers, former and current workers for the National Railways of Zimbabwe. I know some are in Bulawayo but the main dormitory is in Harare.  Now, when I listened to the report, I heard of a turnaround of the National Railways of Zimbabwe operations.  I sincerely hope that it is not about a derailment of the NRZ.

          Mr. Speaker, the people that I represent, 50% of them have retired, they are not receiving any pension although they are entitled to, and that was spent as capital by the management of the National Railways of Zimbabwe.  They have no medical aid and their families are not benefiting.  Home ownership that is supposed to have been carried out under the National Railways of Zimbabwe have been wishy washy such that most of them do not own the houses that they live in, they are still owned by the NRZ.  Sometimes they are actually kicked out of these houses willy-nilly.  

          Mr. Speaker, the former Government vis a vis NRZ, I remember travelling to China twice with the late Cde Karakadzai – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]- 

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Members to my left, I think you are taking it too far.  If you feel you have a debate with your friend, can you just go and do it outside.  They are official debates taking place here.

          HON. CHIMANIKIRE: Thank you Mr. Speaker.  I was referring to two trips that I undertook to China in the company of Cde Karakadzai, we were in the same flight.  He was endeavoring to try and find a partner to partner with National Railways of Zimbabwe so that there could be a turnaround; alas he died without achieving that objective.

          Mr. Speaker, ever since that started, we have ZIM ASSET which actually referrers to the turnaround of the National Railways of Zimbabwe but ZIM ASSET has failed in four years to do anything about it. We only hear of plans  but we have never been privileged by strategic plans that reveal that we intend to revive and develop NRZ.

          The problem as mentioned by the seconder of the motion was management - the board.  At one stage the board was even tribally appointed with the dismissal of the then board chairperson because he was coming from the wrong hand of the stick and it was mentioned in this Parliament.  What is bedeviling the NRZ is the same problem that is bedeviling Air Zimbabwe. 

          Mr. Speaker, as a Nation, without transportation, we are doomed, it must be emphasised.  The answer to the problems of the NRZ is privatisation not partnership.  We should give away those things that we cannot control.  Government is a poor businessman and we have to recognise that.  We should allow the private sector to run some of these things instead of the Government hanging on to them like a baby hangs on to a doll.

          Mr. Speaker, if we look on to the African region developments in terms of railways, in South Africa we now have not only surface railways but underground railway line system which is in Johannesburg as it were. The Chinese are now developing a fast train that is going to travel at over 600 kilometers an hour.  In Zimbabwe, alas, even that one which travels at 5kms an hour – the railway system is gone.  On your way to Kambuzuma, the amount of grass that has grown on the railway line, for a railway train that is still moving to Bulawayo is amazing.  The grass is even taller than me – the Member of Parliament for that area.  So when we talk about the turnaround, it should not be just plans to turnaround the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ).  We are not even cutting the grass.  As a nation, it is a shame that we have to witness this.

In Morocco, they have just developed a fast train as well.  Just a few months ago, they were testing the speed of that train in the Moroccan desert so that they can introduce the fast train.  In Ethiopia, the Chinese are developing a fast train and this is in Africa.  Here in Zimbabwe, we have not talked about infrastructure to develop an underground train.  The only things that we have underground are electrical cables, Tel One and Econet cables but no railway line underground.  It is high time that as a country with people who have gone to school and are educated, we to have development of infrastructure in terms of NRZ.  It is not only a turnaround of those tall grasses that we see when we cross to Kambuzuma.  It should be infrastructure development and also enabling us to absorb technological development in terms of railway development.

We used to have electrification of the railway line from Harare to Dabuka.  Today, there is not even a single electrical cable along that railway system.  It was stolen, so we are told.  We do not know whether those who were stealing were part of management or ordinary civilians.  We used to have a proud passenger train in this country.  When we grew up, I remember I used to catch a passenger train from Chinhoyi.  I would be in Mutare the following morning visiting my girlfriend at Mutare Teachers’ College – [Laughter.] -  I would leave on Friday, get into Harare by bus and catch a train to Mutare.  I am talking of things that used to be, that even our children today are unable to enjoy.  They do not know that there was first class in the NRZ, there was second class – pawaienda wakarara.  There was also what they called the sleeper and there was ‘mbombera’.  Even Mtukudzi sang about ‘ukakwira mumbombera’- today there is nothing chekukwira.  Hapana. As a country, we need to look back and say where did we come from, where are we and where do we need to go?  This is very serious. 

The transportation of grain and fertilizer used to be done by the railway lines but today most of the areas where these trains used to move are potential accident sites because the train moves once in twelve months.  When it comes, those drivers who transverse along that road are not even aware that there is a train coming.  The road signs are not there to warn people about oncoming trains and so, serious accidents are occurring in these areas. 

When one reads that the 94% of the income of NRZ as reported is going towards payment of salaries – payment of salaries for what? Nothing is happening in that organisation.  Why should people be paid? We will be surprised that the board is actually claiming sitting allowances and management is claiming salaries.  However, there is no service that they are providing to the nation. Once in a while and not very often, you see a train moving and people are surprised in what direction they are going. 

At the same time, there is no marketing of the services.  I have heard from the presenters of the report that they are supposed to do this and that but there is no marketing of the services that they are able to provide. One wonders what is it that we are supposed to be doing to turnaround NRZ. Unless we turnaround our thinking starting from here in the Legislature, there will be no turnaround of the NRZ.  There will be lip service turnaround and nothing will happen.

We need to see direct commitment by NRZ management.  We need to see direct commitment by the board of NRZ.  Their debt is $176 million - commitment of funds that are being accrued by very little operations that are going on.  We need to have a turnaround of our mindset before we look at the turnaround of NRZ.

There is this reference to mineral claims in South Africa by the Chairperson of the Transport Committee that NRZ is supposed to benefit from.  I thought he is Chairperson of the Transport Committee and not Chairperson of the Mining Committee because you talk about mineral claims going to fund the turnaround of NRZ that is misplaced.  NRZ has nothing to do with minerals.  Minerals belong to mining and therefore, if there are any claims in South Africa, we should sell them and the proceeds from the sale of these minerals or claims should then be used to fund infrastructural development.

To show how important railways are in this country, even the now His Excellency the President vaMnangagwa actually blew up the railway station and the railway lines to show that transport is a very essential service in a country.  That time, as a strategy and as a guerilla, it was necessary to blow up the National Railways of Rhodesia but now it is high time to build the National Railways of Zimbabwe.  I thank you.

 HON. MANGAMI: Thank you Mr. Speaker.  May I also begin by adding my voice on the list of those who debated before me, to congratulate His Excellency and the First Lady who is in here on the elevation of the position of the President of the country.

May I also thank the Committee on Transport for coming up with this report.  It has given us an opportunity to identify some of the issues that are actually happening in the NRZ.  The turning around of NRZ if ever it is going to be turned around, I think first of all, they should solve the problems relating to the workers. Of course, I have heard other Members saying that they are not doing anything but as long as they are supposed to be going to work, they need to be paid.  They have been given half salaries for quite a long time. 

I have a brother who has been working in the NRZ.  I am privileged to have some issues that pertain to NRZ because I have stayed with him.  I am actually advocating for finalisation of all the salaries that those employees have so that they are not demoralised in terms of carrying out their jobs.

Also on the issue of housing for NRZ, at one time in the 90s, they were actually asked to occupy all the houses which they were living in.  Those people who were living in Sizinda, Tshabalala and all the locations where there were houses for NRZ got ownership.  There were people who were living in camps like those in Westgate where NRZ also has got its houses. Those people were told that they would be given a certain amount of money to purchase their own houses but surprisingly, they were not given anything.  Right now, they are being evicted instead of them being allocated houses as other members have had; they are actually being evicted.  I also have a relative -Wiseman Ndiriishe who is being chased out of the house yet they are supposed to be given either the house or money. I think it is important that when we are turning around NRZ, we solve some of the problems that are on the ground so that people do not continue to be disadvantaged.

I also want to look at the issue of RailMed. RailMed right now is not doing very well. There are no drugs in RailMed for those employees who are getting half their salaries.  The medical aid should be resourced so that the employees can access their medical aid.

          I want to look at the last issue of the importance of NRZ in the country. Hon. Members who spoke before me have given an emphasis on the importance of having NRZ being resuscitated. When that is done, I think most of our services are going to be cheap especially the movement of bulk resources to areas of destination. By so doing, that can also turn around the economy. May I thank you once more Mr. Speaker Sir, for according me this opportunity to debate on NRZ. I thank you.

          HON. CROSS: I want to compliment Hon Dr. Gumbo this afternoon for the manner in which he sorted out the railways in the past 12 months. I want to point out to Hon. Members that the Public Accounts Committee interviewed the management of the railways some 12 months ago and at the time the General Manager was acting, we were extremely impressed both with the general management and with the financial management of the railways. I am glad that since he took over the post of Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, he has replaced the Board of Directors so that we now have a decent board running the railways. On top of that, I believe the management of the railways today is a good sound team. I think that is fundamental. Those are the foundations of any recovery programme. Have you got the right people in the right places? I also want to compliment the railways because they produced a clean audit account this year. We received their annual report for 2016 the other day and that also was on time.

          Out of 105 parastatals, 54 are three years in arrears on their accounts. Some parastatals are four to five years arrears on accounts. It is extremely important that parastatals that are functioning have clean audit accounts and also up to date accounts. Otherwise you do not know what is going on. I am also pleased that the Minister was able to push through in the dying days of the previous Cabinet, the deal with the diaspora group in South Africa and Transnet. I want to say to Hon. Members today, that in my view this deal is a solid transaction which not only involves the diaspora resources we have around the world but also the key institution in the region which has the resources and the technical capacity to guide the recovery of the NRZ in Zimbabwe in effecting a partnership between the top railway organisation in Africa, the diaspora business community and the National railways of Zimbabwe.

          I am not one of those who is advocating for the privatisation of parastatals. I spent 20 years managing parastatals and I believe that there is nothing wrong with parastatals provided they are treated as businesses and not as an enclave of political patronage and privilege. What Minister Gumbo has done at the NRZ has been a classic example of how to turn a failing institution around.  What have we got to do? We have got to rehabilitate the railway network. We might think it is a massive job but it is not. Only ten percent of railway network requires serious work. The rest is in reasonable functioning condition.

          We need to replace the train control system and we need to use modern digital technology to do so. We do not have to use lines down the railway lines – communication through copper wire. We can do it digitally. I think a new train control system can be implemented at relatively low cost. We need to restore the electric power system between Gweru and Harare. We need to rehabilitate our locomotives and wagons. All of that is not a huge task, the Minister knows it and I know it, that this is a job which we can do in a comparatively short period of time -12 months.

          The real question is - how do we increase the volume of traffic on the railways because there is no point in rehabilitating the system if we do not generate the traffic? I know we have an economy which is not performing well but in 2016, 14 million tonnes of cargo were carried across Beitbridge Road Bridge. At Forbes Border Post the other day road traffic was held up for three or four days and the queue on the Mozambique’s side was 28km long. Five million tonnes of cargo a year are travelling through Forbes Border Post. The bulk of that traffic should not be on road. It should be on rail. We have something like 700 trucks a day transiting Beitbridge. We have 500 trucks a day transiting Forbes. Nearly all of that traffic should be on rail.

On top of that, we have got the question of regional fuel supplies. The countries of Congo, Zambia and Malawi require about four to five million tonnes of fuel a year. The logical port of entry is Beira. The logical system of moving that fuel is by rail and not by road. If you have a look at the fuel traffic between here and the Congo, it amounts to 2.2 million tonnes per annum. It travels from Beira to the Congo by road at 12c per tonne per kilometre. The railways can move that at 4c. That would be a massive saving in terms of costs for the countries of the interior.

In addition to that, Botswana could buy its fuel from Beira cheaper than it can buy it from South Africa but you cannot move it by road. You have to move it by rail. That is another 80 000 tonnes of cargo per month. Zambia consumes more fuel than we do. Zambia’s consumption is about 160 000 tonnes per month. That is a lot of fuel. It is another 2.5 million tonnes a year for Zambia. Zambia should be moving that stuff by rail from Beira or from Maputo. If we did that, if we started moving our coal supplies by rail, why does ZESA move 60 000 tonnes of coal a month from Hwange to their power stations by road? Answer that question. Why did they do it when in fact they can save two-thirds of the cost of transport by moving it by rail? And then, there is bulk food and fertilizer.

I have no doubt Mr. Speaker Sir, that we could put the railways back on its feet next year if we simply fixed a few things. All the ingredients are there. All we need now is a cooperative move across Government – all Ministries of Government must look at this and pay attention to what they can do to contribute. The Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Mines, everybody and I think if we work together mushandirapamwe,believe me we can put the railways back on its feet and we can make it the proud organisation it once was in the past. I thank you.

HON. MUDARIKWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to deal with areas that have not been touched by other Hon. Members. The railways is where it is today because it is mostly that there are unqualified managers who do not have experience.  The banning of chrome exports, poor performance of Hwange and Zisco Steel, they lost almost 50% of their work in one year.  That reduced the amount of goods they could move but the element of mismanagement is very common. 

          People are saying people must use rail, I phoned four different companies now, including our company, Harare-Beira, 28 tones by road costs up to US$1 150 and Harare-Beira, 28 tones by rail costs US$1 893.  So, when you use road transport, you save US$743.  There is no fool who can leave the road and go to rail transport when there is US$743 at stake. 

It is a situation of gross mismanagement.  People were just covering up for their cost. The other time I went there, they were expanding the car park because they had imported big vehicles which could not fit under the car park.  So, it was an expansion of the car park and not the railway line or infrastructure.  I am one of the first few guys to drive the VX 200 Series and the moment I got there, everybody wanted to know and asked, ‘where did you buy it from.’  They were also buying the 4X4 – [Laughter.] – 200 Series costs US$186 000, this vehicle should be used by a company that is performing like mine – [Laughter.] – not a company that is making loss.  You cannot have those luxury cars in such a situation.  So, these are some of the things Members of different committees must look at when you visit some of the institutions.

          The other thing is that our roads are being damaged by the so called heavy trucks and everything.  However, the load does not fly onto our roads, it comes from roads in South Africa, Mozambique and so on.  Our roads have got very poor workmanship.  If you look at the Harare-Mutare Road, when it is summer, the tar will be sticking but the moment you get to the Botswana side, there is nothing like that.  So, there is an element of very poor workmanship.  If it is the quality of our engineers, then the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Zimbabwe must be summoned to Parliament and we ask him why.  Look at the quality of the road, there is this Harare-Nyamapanda Road, it was constructed in 1972, up to now, it is not as smooth as Plumtree-Mutare Road.  So, let us look at the quality of the workmanship, how our roads are being constructed, who is constructing our roads?  We have got engineers all over, but you will find that we then get Chinese, we get other foreigners who are even under-qualified.  South Africans for example, who are very under-qualified and do not even know how to read English, who were speaking Africans on that road.  So, it is a result of colonisation, we are not a colony of South Africa, but it has been turned to be like that. 

Future roads agreements must take into account that our engineers – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – In Zimbabwe it is so interesting when we have got these agreements, you get Government officials, lawyers and the Office of the Attorney General involved everywhere. The moment we come to the operation, there is no Zimbabwe, they are all foreigners working.  Why can we not have an agreement that also protects our engineers to be on the ground?

The other thing which we need to look at Mr. Speaker Sir is the procurement. Anywhere in the whole world, if you want to buy anything related to rail, it is India.  For example, locomotive batteries, here they are 700% more than what they cost in India.  There is a Belgian company that buys spare parts from America, sells them to the National Railways at a markup of 1000%.  So, how do they make a profit? 

Hon. Chimanikire and Hon. Nduna have highlighted critical issues, but as Parliament, we also need to look at how we get involved as Parliament.  All contracts have been signed, sealed and everything.  Those contracts must come here to Parliament for approval.  We are always behind to say, this thing went wrong, we are not consulted in the process of contracting and when there is a problem, people then say go to Parliament.

The issue of scrap metal which has been mentioned, I do not agree to it because our wagons – I looked at them when they were being scraped in Seke Road where my offices are.  They were up-to-date, the management were just looking for a place where they could make money so they chose the scrap metal dealers.  How do you make $2.5 million in selling scrap, which scrap?  In any business organisation, your total income on the services you provide is US$3.5 million, your total income on scrap metal is US$2.5 million, so you are no longer a railway line, you are a scrap metal dealer.  If there is to be scrap metal to be sold, it must be sold by a different entity altogether. 

In the Soviet Union, we were there, when they unbundled, there was a guy known as Yukos who was given free of charge, oil wells he was asked to take over.  Abromavich was given all Government houses.  The other guy was given all companies that were involved in the manufacturing of arms.  The first thing that happened, the following day, Government started receiving income, Pay As You Earn (PAYE), these guys started paying VAT.  Now, Railways does not pay VAT or PAYE, so, Government has a disadvantage with all parastatals.  They borrow US$400 million and they do not pay back and at the end of the year they come to Government to say, ‘we made a loss of US$400 million.  The Government says ‘thank you very much,’ they take the loan and put it as Government loan.  When it is a Government loan, it means my grandmother in the rural areas is affected by that loan by somebody who made a loss knowing that they were making a loss. 

We cannot allow parastatals for the sake of being parastatals.  Our parastatals are no longer parastatals but they are now parasites, they are destroying the economy of this country.  We must be very careful in whatever we do when we are dealing with these parastatals.  The last thing also is that they mentioned the age of some of the locomotives, they are more than 55 years old.  What it means is that, we are using an outdated technology – number one, the amount of fuel they use, per litre the distance is very small because the equipment is old, and it is outdated. 

We must move with the times.  There are no spare parts, they go to the workshop to try and manufacture the spare parts.  In Mozambique at one time, CFN Mozambique, called Indians to bring everything fast.  What we want in the railways is not only the railways, we need our farmers and miners and everybody else to have affordable transport, lower than the road, many industries are going to come up if we start looking at things at such things with a holistic approach.  I thank you.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER:  Order please.  In reference to the concerns of Hon. Adv. Chamisa, our Constitution on Section 140 (3), the President may attend Parliament to answer questions on any issue as may be provided in the Standing Orders.  You are correct but bear with the President with what he is going through now.  He is busy trying to make up his Cabinet.  It may be difficult for him but we will still liaise with him and see if he can spare his time.

HON. SANSOLE:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  The report is still not available in the pigeonholes but from the presentation by the Chairman, I would want to touch on some of the recommendations that have been made.  I have found some positives in the recommendations and I have found some of them not to make any business sense.  The issue of signals is vital because we have had accidents that have happened on the railways like the Dipamombe accident because of lack of signals and lives have been lost.  So, we cannot operate a railway system without signals.

The second issue of the track maintenance – In the 1980s, there used to be a company called EC Learning that was doing mechanised track maintenance of the railways and it is not happening anymore.  That is the reason why you have 206 km of rail under speed restrictions because you cannot have a rail line without carrying out any maintenance and expect the trains to run at normal speeds. 

The third issue is to do with the salary arrears that are at $90 million.  If you compare this with the projected revenue for 2017, the projected revenue is $87 million and you have outstanding salaries of $90 million plus.  Therefore, it means that the projected revenue for this year is not sufficient to clear the outstanding salary arrears and that is not a sustainable position. 

There is the issue of the proposed ban on transportation by road, I do not think this is a viable proposition.  In my view, the railways must compete with the road transport and if they are cheap and efficient, people will go for railways.  To ban the competition is not advisable, it is just the same as SI 64 that restricted importation of goods to protect local industry but that did not produce the desired results.  I think I would go for the recommendation where they are talking about streamlining their prices; looking at their pricing system so that they run more competitively.  It is better to provide an efficient service at an affordable price than to ban the competition.  Therefore, I think railways should operate alongside transport operators so that people can choose between the two modes of transport. 

HON. RUNGANI:  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. MUDZURI:  I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 29th November, 2017.

On the motion HON. RUNGANI, seconded by HON. ENG. MUDZURI, the House adjourned at Four o’clock p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 29 November 2017 09:57
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National Assembly Hansard NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 28 NOVEMBER 2018 VOL 44 NO 21