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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 29 NOVEMBER 2017 VOL 44 NO 22

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Wednesday, 29th November, 2017

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER

CIRCULATION OF CDF, OFFICER’S INSTRUCTIONS AND OPERATIONAL MODALITIES COPIES

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  I wish to inform the House that copies of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), the accounting officer’s instructions and the operational modalities have been circulated through the pigeonholes for your information – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Hon. Members, can we have order in the House.  Honestly, I do not want to send people outside and maybe you will call me names; but I am going to do it if you keep on doing what you are doing.  Hon. Mliswa!

Hon. Muderedzwa having read a notice of motion already on the Order Paper.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Hon. Muderedzwa, I am being advised that your motion is already on the Order Paper, motion number 7, on page 269.

HON. MUDEREDZWA:  Is it confirmed Madam Chair, that it is now ready for debate?

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order Hon. Members.

HON. MUDEREDZWA:  I have seen it Madam Speaker, but I was wondering whether it is there for the purpose of continuation of debate or restoration.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  I was asking for notices of motions Hon. Member.  That means we are talking of new notices of motions.  Can you take your seat please?

HON. MUDEREDZWA:  Okay, thank you – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Hon. Members, do not have your meetings there.  Hon. Mawere and Hon. – is it Kadoma or what? You are having a meeting there.  I do not want to send you out. 

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER

VISITORS IN THE SPEAKER’S GALLERY

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I have to acknowledge the presence in the Speaker’s Gallery students and teachers from Sacred Heart Primary School in Matabeleland South Province. You are most welcome [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] –

*HON. CHINOTIMBA: On a point of order Madam Speaker. Since we have a new President, I am aware that the Cabinet was dissolved but you are there to represent our Ministers. Our wish is that you take the request that we gave to you, that Members of Parliament should be treated like other Members of Parliament on diplomatic passports. Now that we have a new dispensation and you are also new,  my point is all these Members of Parliament that you see, myself included, we would want to do things that will make us the pride of the region. Everyone should marvel at the way we do things. We still want future Members of Parliament to be given diplomatic passports and that should start with us. The Acting Minister in charge of this matter should give us diplomatic passports. That is my request. I thank you.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Can we have order Hon. Members. Hon. Chinotimba, first and foremost, I am not new and you yourself are not new just because we have a new President. In response to your question, I still remember the Speaker of the National Assembly saying that, as the Standing Rules and Orders Committee, they made a request that all Hon. Members should have diplomatic passports. That is going to be our first request to the incoming Minister of Foreign Affairs. The passports are not issued by the Presiding Officer or anyone else. It is done by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This is what we are going to ask the substantive Minister of Foreign Affairs about our request as a Legislature.

HON. MLISWA: On a point of order. My point of order is on the welfare of Members of Parliament. You know that when we were in Victoria Falls with the then Minister of Finance Hon. Dr. Chombo, there were a lot of promises which were made infront of his Permanent Secretary. His Excellency, the President, Cde Mnangagwa met all the Permanent Secretaries yesterday and issued a statement that they must continue working. So, whatever he says cannot stop. We would want to know pertaining to our welfare what has happened because there not being a minister is not the issue. The Permanent Secretary is the Chief Executive Officer, so we want to know all the promises he made to us. When are they going to be implemented. It is only a matter of Parliament getting in touch with the Permanent Secretaries to see, first of all the duty free certificates for the cars, our allowances that were supposed to be given and so forth.

I am hoping that whatever has happened has not disturbed and  cannot disturb what is due to us because the Permanent Secretaries are there and are the Chief Executive Officers. I would like us to know what Parliament has done to pursue the promises that were made.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Even if everything was promised during the Pre Budget Seminar in Victoria Falls, it was not going to be done in a week or so. Even those Permanent Secretaries were still waiting to know whether they would remain in those ministries or not. It is up until yesterday when they were told that they are going to continue with their duties. Can we be patient enough for a week or so, but as Presiding Officers we are going to pursue whatever was promised.

HON. ZINDI: On a point of order. Madam Speaker, I am rising to request through you that we all as Members of Parliament, perhaps we could rise and say congratulations to His Excellency the President, Cde E. D. Mnangagwa. I thought perhaps you were going to do that yesterday. So, I noticed that it did not happen. I thought perhaps as Members of Parliament we could do that.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think we can bring in a proper motion which is tabled in the House where every Member will be accorded a chance to debate.

HON. ZINDI: I take note of that Madam Speaker, and I will move the motion.

HON. ADV.CHAMISA: Madam Speaker, I wish to draw your attention to Section 62 of the Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe in particular (1). Are you there Madam Speaker because I want to walk with you.  It reads as follows:-

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Member, you keep on talking and you are not even looking at the section which is being mentioned.

HON.  ADV. CHAMISA: Thank you Madam Speaker. “Every Zimbabwean citizen or permanent resident including juristic persons in the Zimbabwean media has the right of access to any information held by the State of by any institution or agency of Government at every level in so far as information is required in the interest of public accountability.  I draw your attention to this clause on behalf of other Members of Parliament in the context of the appointment of Cabinet. 

There has not been an official position from the Government and President of when this Cabinet is going to be announced.  This is running contrary to the interest of public accountability.  We are not saying we want him to appoint today or now, but there has to be a modicum and semblance of predictability and knowledge and information on the part of Members of Parliament, to say that there is going to be an appointment of Cabinet by such and such a time.  I know that some of the members, particularly those who are expecting to be members of Cabinet from the other side are not sleeping – [Laughter] – I can assure your Hon. Speaker Maam, I know that – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] –

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order.

          HON. ADV. CHAMISA: I know that some are sleeping with one eye open, some are jumping fires in the bundu there – [Laughter] – without clothing  - trying to make it possible for them in terms of enhancement of their chances but that is their own effort.  The key point is the constitutional infraction in terms of access and availability of information.  My point is that is it not possible of us as Parliament, to send a message to the Government in line with the Constitution - that may we be availed with when the Cabinet is going to be announced, possibly the dates and hours, but there has to be a timeframe within which Parliament is going to be given who is who in the Cabinet.

 This is so, because it is a requirement of the Constitution.  This is information within the State and information by the Government because right now we have come and it is most likely that we are going to postpone this session because without Ministers there is no way we are going to obviously continue going to continue with this programme.  So yes, there has to be clarity, I know that some may want to differ with this but this is a very clear position, it is a provision of the Constitution and clarity has to come from Government.  My plea which is the plea of Members of Parliament, is that let there be clarity in terms of when Government is going to be constituted for purpose of planning within the corridors of Parliament.  I thank you Hon. Speaker.

          Hon. Samukange having stood up [HON. MEMBERS: Gara pasi, she wants to make a ruling] –

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order Hon. Samukange.

          HON. SAMUKANGE:  I want to make a submission but you must hear me as well...

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Samukange – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] –

          HON. SAMUKANGE: She is about to make a wrong ruling.

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Can we have order Hon. Members.  Hon. Samukange, I think you wanted to help the Chair but I think that questions was referred to the Chair, I have to answer.  If you have your own point of order I will give you a chance to do that.

          Hon. Adv. Chamisa, your point of order is noted.  I think it is very important but, I think after you have said so and since we were expecting Ministers in the House, your message or the message from Parliament will be sent to the President so that we will be in a position to get a proper announcement of whatever is taking place.  Thank you very much.

MOTION

BUSINES OF THE HOUSE

          HON. RUNGANI: Madam Speaker Ma’am, I move that since we have no Ministers for questions and answers, we move to the Orders of the Day.  

          HON. MUKWANGWARIWA:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

SECOND REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

ON TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT ON THE INQUIRY INTO THE TURNAROUND STRATEGY FOR THE CENTRAL MECHANICAL EQUIPMENT DEPARTMENT

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

That this House takes note of the Second Report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development on the Inquiry into the Turnaround Strategy for the Central Mechanical Equipment Department.

          HON. MAONDERA: I second.

          HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.  This is the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development on the strategic planning of the Central Mechanical Equipment Department (CMED).   I will start with the introduction and then I will give the full report, including the other parts to Hansard for publication

1. Introduction

1.1    The Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development conducted an inquiry into the turnaround strategy for the Central Mechanical and Equipment Department (CMED). The enquiry was motivated by the realisation that most state owned enterprises in general and CMED in particular, which were created to be self- financing cash cows for Government under the Commercialisation Act of 2000, were dismally failing in this regard. As a result, instead of assisting the Government in raising revenue and delivering quality service, they were repeatedly turning to Government for bailouts and thus becoming heavy liabilities on the fiscus while service delivery continued to plummet to an all- time low.

1.2    For CMED in particular, the Committee was even more concerned with the inordinate delay in the conclusion of the botched fuel deal which had cost both the organization and the country a staggering USD 2.7 million in taxpayers’ funds. The fact that such a serious case had taken over 3 years to finalise was a matter of grave concern for the Committee. In addition, the Committee noted that CMED was failing to effectively perform its mandate of providing transport and equipment hire services, procurement of vehicles on behalf of Government and fuel supply to Government. The Committee thus sought to establish how the Board and Management planned to revitalise CMED going forward through its strategic plan.

2.0    Submissions by the Board: Current State of CMED

          The Committee received the following submissions on the current state of CMED from the Board Members and Senior Management of CMED.

2.1         The Fuel Business Unit

·       The Fuel Business Unit was still to recover the USD 2.7million lost in the botched fuel deal. The matter was still before the courts.

·       21 service stations had been re-opened and were operational. However, the entity was finding it difficult to supply fuel consistently due to the prevailing economic challenges. This had resulted in most government departments withdrawing from CMED in terms of fuel procurement, especially in the face of stiff competition from other private suppliers such as Puma, Total and Engen.

·       Attracting private partnerships in fuel importation was also proving difficult due to the prevailing cash constraints. Foreign investors were keen to invest in CMED but were being held back by uncertainty over whether they would be able to access their money from Zimbabwe.

2.2         Transport and Equipment Hire Unit

·       CMED was owed over USD 24 million by Government through its various user Ministries.

·       CMED was still owed USD 768 000 by ZEC for vehicles procured for use during the 2013 harmonised elections.

HON. MUDARIKWA: Point of order Hon. Speaker.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is the point of order?

HON. MUDARIKWA: Thank you Madam Speaker.  I think something must be done.  This is a very important report but it is not there in our pigeon holes, it is there on his ipad.  Can it be posted to our e-mail addresses because yesterday the same thing happened.  How then do we debate when we are not informed?

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think usually after tabling the report it is circulated in the pigeon holes.  You should have downloaded it.

HON. MUDARIKWA: I checked, there is nothing.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think you can get it on the Parliament website.

HON. MUDARIKWA: It is not there on the Parliament website, I have my tablet here.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: It is alright, we are going to talk to the Chairperson so that it is circulated as soon as possible.

1.    HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker Ma’am.  During the 2013 harmonised elections, ZEC procured CMED vehicles worth US$768 000 and to date, that money has still not been paid.  Thirdly, the department owned road construction equipment amongst them bulldozers.  However, most of the equipment is rudimental, archaic, antiquated and obsolete and requires urgent replacement. 

2.3         EasyGo Car Hire and Driver Training Unit

·       EasyGo has established itself in the driver training business and attained ISO certification in 2014.

·       The Unit operates a fleet of 98 driver training vehicles comprising of 2 buses, 22 lorries and 74 light vehicles and also has a private hire arm that provides transport logistics for all major government programmes and conferences.

·       The Committee was informed that this unit was performing very well.

2.4         CMED Workshops

·       CMED has workshops throughout the country where reconditioning of engines and repairs to vehicles are done. 

·       The workshops require urgent refurbishment and retooling if CMED is to continue delivering on its mandate.

3.0         Key Strategies to Improve Operational and Financial Performances

In order to enable CMED to effectively achieve its mandate in 2017 and beyond, which is about to come to an end Madam Speaker Ma’am; your report has far been overtaken by events and time. The following strategic initiatives would be undertaken:

3.1.    Actively pursue public- private partnerships in the importation of 20 million litres of fuel in order to ensure that the 21 service stations are fully operational. The long-term objective was to open fully operational service stations throughout the country.

          Hon. Maondera having been speaking to Hon. Chamisa

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Maondera.  If you want to talk to Hon. Chamisa, come close to him.

          HON. NDUNA:

3.2.     Engaging the RBZ and the Ministry of Finance to assure potential investors of a hassle- free return on investment.

3.3.    Actively pursuing the recovery of the US$ 2.7 million that was lost through a botched fuel deal through legal channels and regaining confidence in the organisation by ensuring that anyone found guilty is brought to book without fear or favour immediately, because justice delayed is justice denied.

3.4.     Continued engagement with Government over payment of the USD 24 million debt, including set- offs against CMED’s tax obligations.

3.5.     Recovering outstanding debts through a vigorous debt collection exercise by 31 December, 2017.

3.6.     Insisting on advance payment for repairs and servicing of motor vehicles, in particular, Government vehicles and road construction services in order to generate revenue for CMED

3.7. Mobilising funds for recapitalisation of vehicles and equipment through mortgage loans by the end of 2017.

3.8. Streamlining the organisation in line with the current operating environment.

3.9. Enhancing the corporate governance index through openness and transparency.

4.0       Committee’s Observations

4.1         The Committee observed, with satisfaction, that despite being owed huge amounts of money by Government, the current board has proactively resolved to pursue other revenue generating initiatives such as vehicle service and repairs of private organisations’ vehicles instead of just Government institutions, cars and equipment hire.

4.2           The engagement of the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance needed to be expedited if CMED was to guarantee safe investment and policy consistency to foreign investors who are desirous to partner the organization in fuel importation.

4.3           The Committee also noted with concern that the matter of the botched fuel deal was taking too long to conclude. In addition, the fact that some of the officials involved in the fuel scam were still very much an integral part of the company’s structures did not augur well for the integrity and credibility of the organisation and was likely to put off potential investors.

4.4           While the Committee acknowledged the prevailing budgetary constraints, the payment of the debt owed to CMED by Government using the set-offs meant that no cash was accruing to CMED to fund strategic operational issues. 

5.0     Recommendations

5.1    The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development must be urgently engaged before the end of June 2017, to guarantee protection of investors willing to partner CMED in fuel importation.   I say this because your report was supposed to have been tabled way before June 2017.  However, it is thought that it should be done almost immediately, expeditiously – that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development be engaged in order that they ameliorate the issues that currently bedevil the economic development of CMED and Government in general.

5.2           Government must, as much as is possible and within the limits of the prevailing resource constraints, stagger payments of the debt to CMED per quarter to ensure that the organisation is liquid enough to fund critical operations.

5.3           The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development must grant CMED a stake, like other indigenous companies, in major infrastructural development projects such as the dualisation of the Beitbridge- Chirundu highway.

5.4           The Committee reiterates its clarion call for the ‘Fuelgate Scandal’ to be urgently concluded and for the culprits to be brought to book. It would have been prudent for all those fingered in the matter to be suspended from duty pending finalisation of the case. 

5.5           In view of the competitive nature of the fuel industry, CMED must benchmark itself against private suppliers such as Puma and Total and adopt best practices from the same if their operations are to be sustainable.

5.6           As a commercial entity, CMED must actively pursue strategic alliances with successful players in the industry if it is to remain viable by end of September 2017.

5.7           The employment contracts of CMED top official must not be open ended, it should be limited at most to five years and must be renewed based on performance.

5.8           The ZEC Electoral body who are responsible for conducting elections in 2018, should expeditiously liquidate their $768 000  debt with CMED in order to open further lines of assistance from CMED.

5.9           A Forensic audit is required on fuel business unit before any funds to the tune of USD24 million can be injected into the unit.

5.10     Modernize and computerise the equipment in the CMED workshops in order to address the issue of rudimental and antiquated pieces of machinery by end of December 2017.    

5.0 Conclusion

5.1    The Committee remains convinced that the CMED provides a viable means of consistent revenue generation to the government and people of Zimbabwe. The proactive initiatives taken by the organisation in a bid to remain viable such as Easy Go car hire and driving school, have proven to be strategic masterstrokes which must be applauded. However, the Committee remains unconvinced that sufficient structural and organisational controls have been put in place to prevent the recurrence of revenue leakages exemplified by the yet to be concluded fuel scam. These internal controls need to be urgently instituted if the current leadership is to succeed in increasing the corporate governance index as envisaged in their strategic plan and successfully attracting both local and foreign investors.  I thank you Madam Speaker ma’am and I table this strategic report.

          HON. ENG. MUDZURI:  Thank you Madam Speaker ma’am.  I rise to second the report by the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development.  It is unfortunate that we are making this debate in the Minister’s absence who should take note of the report and probably be able to implement the recommendations that have been given forthwith.

          From what was said by the Committee Chairperson, it is clear that the CMED is a necessary section of Government that should be doing its mandate of repairing cars for Government.  It has had several anomalies where some of the money has not been paid and that money is outstanding to CMED.  We hope that Government takes expeditious steps to pay CMED to ensure that it operates efficiently and ensure that all its operations are above board.  However, it is important to note that it has taken more than three years to – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  You may proceed Hon. Member – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Yes, this is what happens every day.

          HON. ENG. MUDZURI:  Thank you Madam Speaker ma’am...

          THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Order, order Hon. Members, may we please listen to the debate?

          HON. ENG. MUDZURI:  Thank you Madam Speaker ma’am.  I think that I cannot even hear myself from the noise, so I am asking you to put your House in order.

          The time that has been spent by CMED and Government to resolve the almost $3 million fuel deal that ended up  with money going into individuals pockets has never been resolved and it is a worry to our Committee that, why is Government not pushing for the resolution of that $3 million deal and probably ensure that all the culprits who have been found as being the cooperative entities in stealing the money are removed from Government.  We are looking up to Government to ensure that they clear that anomaly.  We have had people being thrown out of office for having given evidence to this Committee and I do not remember the situation being resolved where certain members or an individual who gave the Committee most of the evidence having been removed from office.  I think it is not fair for Parliament to keep quiet when a member who comes to give evidence to Parliament is not protected.  I want to appeal to my Chairman to ensure that we ask the Speaker of Parliament to look into this issue where one member has been sacked for giving evidence.  This also helps Parliament to ensure that all the people who come from outside to give evidence in Parliament are sure that they are protected by Parliament. 

Without much ado, I propose that we take all the recommendations from our Committee and the Minister makes sure that he delivers on these recommendations and ensures that CMED works as efficiently as expected, especially with the new Government that is coming.  I thank you.

          HON. GABBUZA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker.  I just want to add my voice in support of the report but particularly, I want to look at the recommendations put forward by the Committee. 

          Mr. Speaker, CMED is a private company and being a private company, if you look at the Committee’s recommendations clearly, the problems of CMED boarder on mismanagement by management and Government on the parastatal, abuse of the parastatal by Government.  If you look at the various recommendations, literally the Committee is saying, we would rather manage CMED because the managers are failing.  How do you tell the accountant that you must be able to collect money in advance instead of repairing vehicles then you are paid later?  That is purely an administrative issue which CMED must be able to make recommendations and come up with money, but if they have to wait for the Committee Chairperson to recognise that some of the things are purely moving the company into loss, it means there is no management at CMED. 

          When you look at the way Government abuses CMED, there is no way CMED can make money.  Ministers service their vehicles and do not pay; Ministers hire buses for political rallies through the small fleet that CMED runs and nobody pays, Government gets pays and abuses the fuels yet Ministers are given coupons to redeem to CMED but they do not redeem; they just use the fuel and get away.  I think in summary, it is either we have CMED as a private company and have Government to back off, then that company must compete with all other companies.  It is not the Committee’s business to go and make recommendations about administration but clearly, they had to do it because there is no administration system in place.  I think Mr. Speaker; it is  either that we make a bold decision since there is a new Government in place or  CMED should be disbanded because it is serving no purpose at all other than assisting some people to abuse the system within the CMED.

          CMED is supposed to be a private company, there are private players.  Ordinary people can take their vehicles to be repaired at CMED and charged economic rates.  If they do private jobs then the money goes into their pockets.  Why should we have an entity which is supposed to assist Government but assisting management and special members?

          CMED is supposed to be assisting Government but it is assisting individuals within Government and individuals outside Government who have nothing to do with State duties.  Now, CMED has a branch which runs the driving schools but if you look at the rates that they are charging – an ordinary driving lesson on the street or any other private company is about $5 per 30 minutes yet CMED would charge about $3 per 30 minutes.  When you are buying the fuel at the same market for the same suppliers and you charge those ridiculous rates, there is no way you can make profit at all.

          Now, there is the loss control within CMED.  Why should it take Parliament to recommend for the chasing up of debts yet there is a Loss Control department within CMED which must be chasing out debtors day in and day out.  So, Mr. Speaker, I think issues about CMED, it is one good entity where it is just providing a feeding trough for various well connected people within Government and outside Government.  

          I think this is a report that we must support.  If possible, let us put all other parastatals together with CMED and have a thorough investigation of what needs to be done because they are just an unnecessary burden to the tax payers.

          HON. MUDARIKWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker.  I would like to basically deal with the issue of fuel first.  Our problem as a country is that we have too many parastatals. How can we have a Government department running 20 service stations and we say this is a parastatal and then there is also another Government department called Petro Trade which is also involved in the selling of fuel.  Why can we not have Petro Trade and CMED establish one unit?  At least they will get a fair share of the market rather than having Petrol Trade standing there and CMED is there with its 20 service stations?

          Mr. Speaker Sir, the issue of $2, 7 million which have been mentioned, that thing has gone for years. It is now more than three years; people are talking about that money. Technically, if you owe somebody for more than three years, the money is prescribed.  Once you exceed three years, you cannot claim the money.  So, why should we waste time talking about this $2, 7 million; it is no longer there.  The people who committed the crimes are there and walking freely in the streets of Harare.  Now, if you want to take legal action to recover the money, they will just tell you the money is prescribed because it is now over three years.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, the issue of fuel, there is too much smuggling of fuel in this country and we have to look at it as Parliament to see how we can stop it.  If you go to Mutare, you get fuel being sold at less than a dollar per litre because it is smuggled across the border from Mozambique.  The other day I went to Mutare, they were selling diesel at 50 cents a litre because they just wanted to recover money to go and buy diesel in Mozambique.  

          I am glad that Hon. Members raised this at the Budget consultations in Victoria Falls - why is it that our fuel is too expensive?  If the price was good, nobody would want to go and buy smuggled fuel.  Our fuel is very expensive.  Comparing the distances between Beira to Harare, Beira to Lusaka and to Lubumbashi, you find there is cheaper fuel in Lubumbashi which is over 700km away yet we are only 300 km from Beira.  Our fuel is still very expensive. 

          The idea of raising money using fuel is wrong because then, every businessman will end up adding the costs and the viability of the mining sector, of the farmers the transport industry is affected because of the cost of fuel.  I can see Hon. Mupfumi is smiling because he is one of the people in the transport business.

          Finally, CMED’s issue of maintaining Government vehicles, they have top of the range motor mechanics.   They need to import modern diagnosis machine where you just plug in and it will tell you the problem is there.  They now need the support of the Reserve Bank to import that modern equipment.

          The issue of driving school is very good because there is now an improvement on our roads.  At one time Government was number one leading in accidents.  However, this time around there is an improvement.  So, the CMED must continue with the driving school.  The vehicle hire - they have got the most efficient vehicle hire and they must continue with that issue.

          The CMED buses are also very efficient when hired.  So, it is an area which our Government must support.  Reserve Bank must give them all the support so that they manage an area they know, not to the extent they have gone of service stations.

          CMED must also decentralise.  We need them in our provincial areas with full equipment.  There are some workers who were retrenched in CMED.  It is important that those workers are given their terminal benefits and they continue assisting other transporters in maintaining their vehicles.  I thank you.

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER

VISITORS IN THE SPEAKER’S GALLERY

          THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MUTOMBA): I have to acknowledge the presence in the Speakers Gallery, students and teachers from Coghlan Primary School in Bulawayo Province –[HON. MEMBERS:  Hear, hear.] – You are most welcome.  I thank you.

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

          HON. MUKWANGWARIWA: I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Thursday, 30th November, 2017.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON WOMEN           AFFAIRS, GENDER AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ON THE WOMEN DEVELOPMENT FUND (WDF) PROJECTS

          HON. NYAMUPINGA:  I move the motion standing in my name that this House takes note of the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development on the Women Development Fund (WDF) projects.

HON. CHIRISA:  I second.

HON. NYAMUPINGA:

1.0    INTRODUCTION

The Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, since 2010, has been disbursing loans earmarked for women projects in all provinces of the country.  In line with its oversight function, the Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, conducted provincial  field visits to verify the existence and viability of the projects funded by the Women Development Fund (WDF). The visits were conducted from 7 to 11 May 2017.This report provides the Committees' major observations, submissions, findings, conclusions and recommendations.

2.0    OBJECTIVES OF THE VISITS

During the inquiry, the Committee was guided by the following objectives:

·       To verify the existence of the projects funded by the WDF since 2010;

·       To assess the viability of the projects, their impact on beneficiaries' livelihoods, and challenges being experienced in running the projects; and

·       To find out the loan repayment status from the beneficiary groups, and challenges being experienced by both the Ministry and the women groups.

 

3.0    METHODOLOGY

The Committee held meetings with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development and reference was made to the Women Development Fund. On 19 July 2016, the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development submitted its First and Second Quarter Budget Performance reports. On 22 February 2017, the ministry made another presentation to the Committee on other initiatives they had put in place for women empowerment over and above the WDF such as the establishment of Mambokadzi, a private company for women. To gather information on the state of the projects, the Committee visited six provinces. The following provinces, districts and women projects were visited: Midlands, Gweru District (Tsungai Group – bee keeping; Splash Touch Group – horticulture; Zvinoita chete group – sewing; EC Headmaster Group – produces hats); Bulawayo Metropolitan Province (Mzilikazi District -  Passionate Alms of Children ECD); Matebeleland North Province, (Umguza District -Tshiya So Group – General Dealer); Matabeleland South Province (Umguza District – Nyamas Group – Poultry); Masvingo Province (Mwanyisa Dorothy-Peanut Butter Production); Manicaland Province (Chimanimani District – Safari Group – uniform and garment making; Mutare District -Great Ladies Group – Timber Production; Anenyasha Women's Diamond – Tying and Dying); Mashonaland East Province (Marondera District -Sunrise Group – Rabbit Production; Little Angels – ECD). 

4.0    BACKGROUND

Gender equality and the economic empowerment of women are crucial components of sustainable and socially equitable development. Development of a revolving fund for women has always been at the core of women economic empowerment programmes. Even the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) which was established in 1976 in conjunction with the United Nations Decade for Women (1976 – 85), was aimed at giving financial and technical assistance in critical areas, including reducing women’s poverty. Affirmative actions, such as gender budgeting initiatives and women development fund, are critical in promoting women economic empowerment and financial inclusion. WDF, among other things, increases women’s access to economic resources, job opportunities, financial services, property and other productive assets.

The National Gender Policy (2013 – 2017) stipulates that Zimbabwe recognises that economic growth programmes should target women. As such, the economic empowerment of women has become a key priority for the Government of Zimbabwe to achieve sustainable economic growth. Further to that, the policy stresses that notable progress towards women’s economic empowerment include among others, establishment of a Women’s Fund, launched in 2010, and supported by Treasury . Although the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development’s budget allocation has been always less than 1% of the National Budget, the ministry has made attempts to empower women.  It has disbursed more than US$2 million of funds to women group projects in the ten provinces: US$ 245 000 was disbursed in 2013; US$350 000 in 2014; and US$300 000 was allocated but not disbursed in 2016. In 2017 the Treasury allocated US$ 600 000 to the revolving fund under WDF and has not been released.

Micro-finance, including micro-credits, which women development fund facility provides, is considered an instrument that promotes effective women empowerment. Experience, according to UNDP, however, has shown that giving women micro-finance credits is not a silver bullet. Whilst it can stabilise livelihoods, broaden choices, provide start-up funds for productive investment, help poor people send children to school, it can also lead to indebtedness and increased exclusion, unless programmes are well-designed. Providing supplementary services, such as training, working through groups rather than individuals, or alongside other investments, has been shown to increase women’s direct control over resource.   To graduate women’s income-generating activities from survival level into strong and viable businesses, women need access to the full range of credit, banking and financial services and facilities, essential to fully develop their productive assets.

5.0                   FINDINGS OF THE COMMITTEE

5.1                   The State of Women Development Fund (WDF) (2010 to 2017).

Your Committee, was pleased to note that despite receiving less than 1% of national budget annually, the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community development has disbursed funds to various women group projects under the WDF facility as highlighted below.

PROVINCE

NUMBER OF PROJECTS

YEAR

AMOUNT

($)

Midlands

46

2010

52 600

 

54

2012

100 600

 

56

2013

  87 400

 

53

2014

   61 000

Masvingo

42

2010

    58 100

 

48

2012

110 700

 

51

2013

   62 000

 

38

2014

 39 447.09

 

8

2015

7 707.45

Mat North

45

2010

  56 890

 

31

2012

   87 787

 

29

2013

   51 500

 

45

2014

   81 117

 

Your Committee is however concerned that there were many women groups that applied and qualified to get funding but could not get the loan due to funds shortages. The Committee also observed cases of poor or inequitable distribution of the available funds. A case in point is in Masvingo province where one group into mining project, got funding to the tune of US$12 000.  The project was no longer viable and they were failing to repay loan. The amount, if fairly distributed could have benefited many deserving groups rather than one group.

In addition, the Committee was concerned that WDF provision and disbursement was rather little and erratic, respectively. The Committee was informed that for 2016 the fund was allocated (US$300 000) but not released by the Treasury. As of February 2017 the US$600 000 earmarked for the revolving fund had not been disbursed as well.  This left many women groups, especially those in rural areas without access to credit facilities.

5.2                   Women Development Fund Awareness and Information Dissemination

Your Committee was concerned about the methodologies used by the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development to disseminate information about the WDF facility to women. The Committee was informed that the Ministry uses its Ward Development Coordinators, yet there is critical shortage of these officers on the ground. The Committee was further informed that the Ministry also makes use of public meetings and gatherings, such as the 16 Days of Activism, to announce information about the WDF availability and disbursement. The Committee is of the opinion that the medium of communication used to communicate WDF facility to women cannot fully reach out to the majority of deserving women in both rural and urban areas. This was confirmed during fact finding public meetings in Bulawayo Metropolitan Province, Nkulumane Township and Manicaland Province in the city of Mutare.

In both provinces, women expressed ignorance and lack of information about the WDF in terms of where to get information and where to submit their applications for the loans. It is the view of the Committee that the state of WDF communication has been and will continue to benefit the few well connected groups of women while the majority marginalized women will continue to be excluded from benefiting from the fund. This is totally against the letter and spirit of the National Gender Policy (2013 – 2017) recognition of the need for broad inclusion of women and participation of women in the economy - the Womenomics.

5.3   Women Development Fund Beneficiary Selection Criteria and Transparency

The Committee made the observation that the processing and selection of WDF beneficiaries lack basic principles of openness and transparency. The submissions made to the Committee by the Ministry officials was that the selection of WDF beneficiaries involve the following: (i) Ward Development Coordinators; (ii) the Ward Loans Committee (WLC); (iii) District Loans Committee; (iv) Loans Technical Committee ; (v)  representatives from different sections of the community. However, submissions made to the Committee in Bulawayo Metropolitan Province; Masvingo Province; Manicaland Province in Mutare; and Mashonaland East in Marondera indicated that all the processing is done at the Head Office without involving local ward coordinators of women representatives. In Masvingo, at Rodger Howman Training Center, the Committe was informed that the provincial office was directed to recommend specific group of women which was later to be awarded a loan of US$12 000 - a loan which they are now failing to repay.

In Mashonaland East Province, Marondera town, Government Complex, the Committee was informed that there were women groups which were approved and given WDF loans at the Head Office in Harare without making applications through ward coordinators. In Matebeleland South Province, Matobo District, the Committee was informed that even the ministry officials, were not immediately aware of who is selected by the Head Office, until Post Office communicates with the members of the selected group.  In fact, the Committee was informed that there were cases, in Matobo District, in which groups fail to collect loans given to them, as Post Office fails to contact them due to communication challenges in the district. At the same time, the Ministry officials could not assist since they also did not have information. The view of the Committee is that the selection process is too opaque, centralized and dominated by the Head Office, and also excludes both representatives of women at local levels as well as the ward coordinators.

5.4   Women Development Fund Projects Viability

The basis on which WDF beneficiaries selection criteria remains very unclear to the Committee considering the high number of projects that were found to be non-viable and non-functional for one reason or the other. A list of projects given to the Committee in  Mashonaland East Province; Bulawayo Metropolitan for Mbizo District, Reigate District, and Khami District; as well as for Mutare District in Manicaland Province, reflected that most projects were no longer functional. Most of these projects were also failing to pay back the loans. The reasons highlighted in the Ministry documents as the cause of the collapse of the groups include but not limited to the following: group members after getting the loan share the fund and separate; internal squabbles and disintegration of the group; the project proved non-viable due to lack of competence of members and market related challenges; passing on of members or getting out of the country.

It is the view of the Committee that the Ministry does not carry out adequate project proposal vetting before beneficiary selection and WDF disbursement. As a result, a lot of beneficiaries whose project proposals do not qualify to be given loan end up getting the funds. In fact, it appeared apparent to the Committee that groups are just formed for the purpose of getting funds and nothing is pursued after getting the cash. This unfortunate scenario seems to go unchecked due to gross inadequate or complete lack of project monitoring and evaluation by the Ministry.

5.5    WDF Repayment Status

The Committee was further dismayed that the WDF repayment status in most provinces is critically low, except in Masvingo and Midlands Province. Documents submitted to the Committee as well as submissions made during the fact finding exercise reveal the following WDF repayment rate in the following provinces: Masvingo 80%; Midlands Province 60%;  Mashonaland East was 45%; Matebeleland North 29%; and Matebeland South Province 24%. The Committee was further concerned that the Ministry was not doing enough to recover the loan from the women groups, except receiving payment plan and rescheduling of the repayment plans as reported to the Committee in Chimanimani and Marondera districts.

In Chimanimani, the Committee was informed by one group that it was no longer able to repay its loan, because it was also owed US$8 000-00 by Wattle Company, which had also folded up its operations. It is the concern of the Committee that the Ministry is not fully engaging the Wattle Company to assist the women project to recover this huge amount it is owed by the company.

5.6    Ministry Capacity to Monitor and Evaluate Women Projects

Your Committee observed that the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development is severely incapacitated to effectively monitor women’s projects at grass roots level by the shortage of ward development coordinators’. In Manicaland, Mutare, the Committee was informed that regulations were that Ward Coordinators should visit WDF projects monthly, and the District and Provincial Development Officers should visit the projects quarterly. However, the Committee was further informed that this was not feasible due to shortage of personnel. Mutare with 55 districts had only 34 ward development coordinators and reported that it had been advised to downsize to 29. The Committee was informed that Umguza District, with 19 wards had not even one ward development coordinator until April 2017 when it was given 5 officers transferred from Bulawayo Metropolitan Province. The Committee was further told that the number of Ward Development Coordinators is being reduced in most districts as part and parcel of the rationalization process currently going on in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development.

5.7    Availability of Transport for Monitoring and Evaluation

All the provinces and districts visited by the Committee, it was reported that there were no vehicles or cycles for WDF projects. In Umguza District, Matebeleland South, the Committee was told that the district relies for its mobility on one vehicle from the Public Service Commission. In fact, in most if not all projects visited, the Committee had to use its on vehicle to transport both Ministry officials and project members.   The Committee is of the view that with the shortage of Ward Development Coordinators being experienced, and the total lack of vehicles for the project, the Ministry does not have the capacity to fully monitor its projects. This means that the WDF is likely to continue to be abused until measures are put in place to rectify the anomaly.

 

5.8    WDF Interest Rates

The Committee observed that most projects were struggling with the interests that were charged on the loans that they borrowed.  The Committee was informed by Peoples Own Savings Bank (P.O.S.B) authorities which administers the fund on behalf of the Ministry, that the interest rate charged on WDF loan is 10% per annum. However, the Committee noted with dismay that a considerable number of projects failing to repay loans now owe the Ministry more than the funds that they were originally given. This is against the duplum rule which is a common law rule that provides that arrear interest ceases to accrue once the sum of the unpaid (accrued) interest equals the amount of capital outstanding at the time (and not the amount of capital originally advanced). "In duplum" directly translates to "double the amount". The Committee was again worried about the level of poor record keeping and communication pertaining loan repayments. This was reflected by the differences between records on outstanding balances as reported by Ministry officials, and the payment receipts held by project members. The Committee was further concerned about many cases of project accounts which continue to accrue interests when the repayment of the loan has been finalised.

6.0    CONCLUSION

In view of the evidence that your Committee gathered the following were the major conclusions made. Firstly, the Ministry's information dissemination does not reach out the majority of women in both rural and urban centres. As a result, the WDF will continue to benefit only the few well connected groups of women, who are already empowered in their own right, while the majority marginalized women will remain excluded from the fund. Second, the processing and selection of WDF beneficiaries is too centralized and opaque as it seems to exclude key stakeholders listed in the procedure, which are: Ward Loans Committee (WLC) which should include special groups; District Loans Committee (DLC); and the Provincial Loans Committee (PLC). Third, considering that most WDF are reported non-functional, and that their repayment status is critically low in some provinces, compounded by shortages personnel and vehicles, the fund is most likely to fail to produce any meaningful impact on the livelihoods of women in communities.

However, your Committee was pleased to note that despite receiving less than 1% of national budget, the Ministry, since 2010 has made effort to disburse loans worth more than US$ 2 million under the WDF. Be that as it may, the conclusion of the Committee was that the fund is still very little and thin on the ground, since a lot of women projects did not get a chance to get funding since 2010.

7.0         COMMITTEE OBSERVATIONS

1.    The Committee noted that there is critical shortage of Ward Development Coordinators.

2.    That the processing and selection of WDF beneficiaries lacked basic principles of openness and transparency.

3.    That the WDF beneficiary selection process is too opaque, centralized and dominated by the Head Office.

4.    That the Ministry does not carry out adequate project proposal vetting before beneficiary selection and WDF disbursement resulting in undeserving applicants qualifying.

5.    That the Ministry does not have capacity to fully monitor its projects.

6.    That there is poor record keeping and communication pertaining to loan repayments.

8.0         RECOMMENDATIONS

1)   That the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development should overhaul its WDF communication and information delivery strategy to ensure that all communities get full information about the loan availability and how and where to make their applications for loans. Ward Development Coordinators should be visible on the ground and effectively deliver information on WDF to all women in all communities in a non-partisan manner. Ward Development Coordinators should have adequate and accurate information about WDF application, processing, and selection of approved projects proposals, to avoid non-collection of loans by selected women groups due to lack of information by September 2017.

2)   That the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development with immediate effect should improve the openness and transparency in the selection of WDF beneficiaries through strictly adherence to its procedure of selection criteria which fully involves the participation of the following stakeholders: Ward Loans Committee (WLC) which should include special groups; District Loans Committee (DLC); and the Provincial Loans Committee (PLC).

3)   That the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development should with immediate effect stop disbursing funds under WDF and immediately carry out an audit and evaluation of all projects funded under WDF since 2010 to ascertain their viability status. WDF is a revolving fund, it is critical that the Ministry ensures that all the projects owing it should be made to make their payments urgently. This will enable other groups, which have been waiting for financial assistance, to benefit from the same fund.

4)   That the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development and P.O.S.B authorities should enforce the duplum rule while at the same time meet and review the interests that are charged WDF beneficiaries before disbursement of funds for 2017. Given that the aim of the WDF, which is a government facility, is to empower the economically marginalized women in communities, the interest rates should be revised downwards and should immediately seize on completion of loan repayment. This will give the Ministry guarantee that the WDF facility will not end up taking more from the marginalized women it is supposed to empower.

5)   That the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development should urgently boost its resources allocation towards the WDF, especially increased provisions of personnel (ward development coordinators) and vehicles, among other things. This will go a long way in ensuring that the projects are properly monitored and evaluated, make these projects succeed, ensure the loans are repaid, and so more and more women groups will benefit in the medium to long term.

6)   To graduate WDF projects from survival level into strong and viable businesses, the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development and P.O.S.B should jointly provide full range of financial services and facilities, including training and capacity building of project members, essential to fully develop their competences and project productive assets by December 2017.  I thank you.

          HON. CHIRISA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I just want to debate on the report on Women Development Fund managed by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development.  Women represent plus or minus 70% of the world’s poor and this is due to unequal access to economic opportunities.   There is a link between poverty alleviation and the development of a country. 

          Although economic progress can improve the status of women, it is also true that a country cannot sustainably develop if its women are left behind.  Focusing on women in the provision of credit assistance can achieve more economic growth than gender neutral policies. Investing in women and girls in their education, health and access to assets and jobs has a multiplier effect on productivity, efficiency and sustained economic growth. 

          Mr. Speaker Sir, the commitment by the Government to empower women and end gender inequalities is explicit in Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal Number 5 (formerly MDG 3).   The gender dimension of poverty focuses on the dilemma of women, their numerous roles as women and their role in dealing with poverty.  In many developing countries, Zimbabwe included, women are discriminated upon in terms of their access to capital means of production; basic needs support, employment opportunities and access to credit facilities.

          In Zimbabwe, like in many developing countries, empowering women through micro-credit finance is viewed as a means of reducing women’s poverty, empowering them, reducing their vulnerability and improving their well-being especially in the rural areas.  The MWAGCD has two major programmes under the Women Empowerment Project and these are the Women Micro Finance and the Women Development Bank (WDF).  Women and girls constitute plus or minus 52% of the country’s population, and their poverty level is worse than that of men as clear gender disparities in education, employing opportunities and decision-making power exist.  Women are the poorest of the poor since poverty war first recognised.

          The Government of Zimbabwe, through the Ministry of WAGCD set up a Women Development Fund.  This fund was set up to assist women who were already entrepreneurs and those who wanted to start income generating projects.   The objective of the fund has been highlighted by my Chairperson and this is to empower and capacitate disadvantaged women by providing collateral free loans.

          The provision of such credit schemes by the Government of Zimbabwe is in line with the global practice.  There are many examples of micro credit finance globally, however, the most prominent ones include; Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, discussion of micro credit schemes borrows much from the success of the Grameen Bank and the success of the same bank which is based in Bangladesh.

          This model has been replicated not only in Bangladesh, but in many countries across the globe including Zimbabwe.  However, the major handicap with WDF is that the amount of money given is small and that it was employed in isolation hence the need to have complementary initiatives such as capacity building and market networking among others. 

          My Chairperson has alluded to the amount that was given to the Ministry between January and April – about US$200 000 and we do not know as a Committee whether this amount was disbursed or it was just an amount on paper.  If you look at our country, the 10 provinces and the amount that was allocated to Women Development Fund, it is just a drop in the ocean.

Micro credit schemes come as a reaction strategy to the failure by many development intervention strategies to include women in planning and implementation.  The aim of this approach is to enable women to earn direct income thereby giving them a voice in the community and enabling them to participate in the public sphere and in decision making processes.  The micro financing is an attempt to improve access to small deposits and loans for poor households especially women neglected by the banks and other formal financial institutions.

The problem, Mr. Speaker Sir, is that WDF allocation is just a mockery to the women of Zimbabwe.  While the micro credit scheme has become one of the recognised tools of addressing women’s poverty in Zimbabwe, its successes hinges on the following:- 

·       There is need to increase the allocation of the fund by the Treasury.  

·       There is also need to make sure of the viability of the project that women are embarking on. 

·       There is also need to increase on the amount of loans for meaningful projects to happen.

·       There is need for capacity building in project planning and management and also marketing skills training for beneficiaries.  Some of the beneficiaries were given the loans before any training was done and this resulted in these projects failing.

·       The repayment of loans by beneficiaries as this is also a revolving fund.

When the women repay the loans, the money is supposed to be passed on to the next group of women but this is not happening because the repayment is done haphazardly or it is not done at all.

The challenges that this fund is facing is that the women who are given the small amounts are then coming across expensive inputs and equipment to run their projects.  The small amounts given to beneficiaries not enough and they end up diverting those funds to other activities even buying basic needs in the home. There is lack of training to run and manage projects.  In some cases where they use electricity, there is shortage of electricity and in the urban areas, there is also problems of water because there are water cuts by the city councils without informing the women.

          The other challenge is the distance to market and the transport costs involved.  The losses due to competition with other marketers and also the sustainability of projects due to the challenges that I have raised above.  This also affects the loan repayments.  There is also pressure to the recipients resulting in added social costs causing the poor women to be indebted rather than helping them out of poverty.  The project also has even driven the poor women to take loans from local shark money lenders just to be able to pay back the micro-finance loans.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, in conclusion, I would like to say assessing the effectiveness of the Women Development Fund and in the empowerment of women and the alleviation of poverty, in some cases it caused the poor women to be indebted rather than helping them out of poverty.  Some beneficiaries are failing to repay the fund due to lack of profit and savings from the income generating projects and in some instances, it has even driven the poor women to take loans and borrowing from other local loan lenders and local shark money lenders just to be able to pay back the micro-finance loans and to repay the Woman Development Fund.

          The Ward Coordinators from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs were of the view that most groups failed to repay the loans because the money was too much to repay since some groups dissolved as soon as the projects experienced problems.  

It can be concluded that WDF is less effective in empowering women and there are changes that need to be effected to improve its impacts.  One such is to train people on how to run businesses.   I think the Ministry should not do things haphazardly; they should sit down, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate.  I thank you.

          HON. MANGAMI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, may I also thank the Committee on coming up with this brilliant report on their findings on the enquiry on the use of the monies allocated to womens groups.

          May I first of all look at the importance of giving women money with low interest rates?  The women’s projects are very small such that if the interest is high, they will definitely fail to repay, so it is important that for those small projects, low interest rates are charged to women in order for them to be successful.  The idea that is coming up with our micro-finances and all those who are lending money to women, the group lending idea, whilst it is good for the lenders, it is very bad for women because monitoring each other is every difficult hence it becomes difficult for them to repay the loans.  Whenever they make such group lendings, it is better that each person, since the project will be different – that one gets her own monies that are specifically to yourself, rather than monitoring other women which is a very difficult scenario.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, apart from these monies that are being given to women through the current WDF that has given money to women, banks are also supposed to give loans to women with very low interest rates.  In reference to the latest Act that was passed through this Parliament, the Act on Movable Property Security Interest Bill.  It is not assisting women much because properties that women have are not registered under their names.  Hence it cannot be used as collateral to secure loans – so I think money coming from Government should largely be given to women and then conditions should be loosened so that each project for the different types of groups of women is allocated some funds.

          Then let us look at the actual projects that some of these women are being given i.e. the peanut butter project for example.  Where the peanut butter costs a dollar or five Rand and one is expected to make miracles within a short period of time.  It is important that they are given a grace period in order for them to accumulate profit rather than having just two months before one is asked to repay – where will one have got the profit to pay back?  As a result, it is merely planning to fail, they are being made to plan to fail.  Why is it not that they are given adequate time for them to realise profit before paying back because their projects are very small.  Then we also have the issue of those who would want to venture into business for the first time.  They are asked to satisfy the bank that they are able, they are left with very little option rather than to sit back and say we are not able.  So I think that there must be a different strategy when we are looking to the women groups.  They are already disadvantaged in an environment where their male counterparts have been accumulating then these women are now in the same group and are expected to behave in the same way.  So, it is important that these women are treated differently.

          Later on when these people fail to pay, they are asked to pay back even for those who were able to pay within the group.  I feel Mr. Speaker Sir, by so doing we are disempowering those who might prosper in terms of the profits that they might have accumulated.

          In conclusion, I have two suggestions that can be made to improve womens groups, especially when they get bank loans.  Currently, we have two ministries, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development is not being given much for on-lending.  We are very much aware that SMEDCO as part of Government can give cheap money to women but is not capacitated to do so.  As a result, there is not much money left for women and in order for Government to improve on the funding, it must be monitored.  Currently, we have got this $90 million that came through the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development.

          Again all the takings that women are making, very little progress has been made.  More information should be availed through all those Government ministries such that when the information is given, women are able to access and make use of such information.  Currently, it is expected that they will listen from the radios mostly and read newspapers which is a privilege of the few who reside in urban areas.  At home, newspapers do not get there very easily and as a result there is not much information concerning funds that are being given to women.  So I appeal to Government to look at women within the rural areas who have been disadvantaged and are not even getting some of these monies so that they can also access this money when they are informed.  I thank you.

          HON. RUNGANI:  Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

          HON. MPARIWA:  I second.

          Motion put and agreed to.

          Debate to resume: Thursday, 30th November, 2017.

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

 

 

 

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