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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 09 FEBRUARY 2017 VOL 43 NO 34

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 9th February, 2017

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

PRAYERS

(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)

THE HON. SPEAKER’S RULING

ALLEGED COMPTEMPT OF PARLIAMENT BY MR. ZVAMAIDA MURWIRA HERALD JOURNALIST

          On Thursday, 2nd February, 2017, Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga rose on a point of privilege alleging that Mr. Zvamaida Murwira, a reporter with The Herald had reported on her speech of the previous day in a manner that distorted her speech.  She also alleged that the reporting was also discriminatory in the manner it was reported when compared to those speeches of her male counterparts.  However, following consultations between myself, Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga and the reporter, the matter was resolved amicably following the pledge by the reporter to always follow ethical and professional reporting standards, as implored by the Hon. Speaker during the media briefing in Parliament.  The media had pledged to abide by the Speaker’s plea and in view of that commitment, that matter is now accordingly resolved and to that extent the contempt of Parliament charge does not arise.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. GUMBO):

Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that Orders of the Day Numbers 1 to 31 be stood over until Orders of the Day Numbers 32, 34 and 44 have been disposed of.

          Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT ON THE OPERATIONS OF AIR ZIMBABWE

Thirty-second Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development on the Operations of Air Zimbabwe

 

Question again proposed.

THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. GUMBO):  I would like to take this opportunity to respond to issues raised in the report by the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development resulting from an inquiry on the operations of Air Zimbabwe. 

1.0    The Committee undertook this inquiry following operational challenges being faced by the National Airline in an attempt to proffer possible solutions. 

2.0    The Ministry notes the observations made by the Committee and responds as follows:-

2.1    Air Zimbabwe’s Viability

Air Zimbabwe is currently operating at a loss but there is potential to turn around its fortunes.  It is critical to note that the aviation industry faces high operational costs and low margins. This scenario calls upon shareholders to continuously inject new capital into the business for sustenance and viability.  Air Zimbabwe thus has potential if the shareholder recapitalises the Airline.  The aviation industry supports tourism and international business by providing the world’s only rapid worldwide transport network.  The aviation industry is of strategic importance to national development through facilitating trade, tourism and regional integration.

A cross sectional analysis of the aviation industry has shown that most national airlines are not making profits and those that do so have thin profit margins, which do not match the underlying heavy capital investment.  However, it must be noted that most of the benefits of the aviation industry are in downstream industries.  It is worth noting that it is national airlines that have potential to continue to withhold these benefits.  As such, it is apparent that the aviation industry be viewed as a strategic sector and enabler of the economy; hence there is need for decisive State intervention on the national airline, Air Zimbabwe.

Air Zimbabwe’s debt stands at $323 million as at 31st December 2016.  Of encouragement is the fact that the debt is now increasing at a decreasing rate, hence there is light, going into the future.  Like any other national airline, Air Zimbabwe requires capital injection from Government.

The global trends on the continued existence of legacy airlines or national airlines shows that; governments continue to bail them out as they are considered to be strategic assets of national importance.  The following examples show how some governments have bailed out their national airlines to ensure their continued existence.

2.1.1 Ethiopian Airlines.

Whilst Ethiopian Airlines has declared profits over the past decade, the airline has benefited from State policies to keep operating costs down.  Ethiopian Airlines benefits from being able to borrow at very favourable rates due to its strategic national role.  The Ethiopian Government has adopted deliberate policies aimed at keeping down labour and financing costs.  The airline is also exempted from paying income tax by the Government.

2.1.2 South African Airways

South African Airways (SAA) is a key benefactor of State funding.  Despite having state of the art equipment and being a member of Star Alliance, SAA posted a US$200 million loss in 2014, up from the US$91 million loss incurred in 2013.  SAA received Government bailout amounting to ZAR30 billion (US$2.4 billion) by March 2015.  The Government of South Africa has noted the strategic importance of the national airline and thus continues to support it.

2.2    Audited financial Statements

The Ministry also notes with concern that the airline, Air Zimbabwe’s audited financial statements are behind schedule, with the last audited financial statements produced in 2009.  The Ministry has given Air Zimbabwe an ultimatum to have their financial reports updated by the end of this year.  The current Air Zimbabwe Board and management has undertaken to rectify the situation.  The following progress has been achieved to date: 

a)    Engaged BDO Accounting Firm;

b)   Management accounts now up to date;

c)    2010 accounts completed and await finalisation by auditors;

d)   Remaining accounts to be completed by end of 2017.

The current management has strengthened its internal Audit Department by engaging an Audit Manager and beefed up the audit section, which has been mandated to analyse the existing policies and come up with recommendations to avoid fraudulent activities.

2.3    Competitiveness of the Airline

Mr. Speaker Sir, in an endeavour to improve the airline’s competitiveness, the Ministry has appointed a substantive board, which was mandated to engage a substantive Chief Executive Officer for the airline.  The board is composed of personnel with various skills and experience from the public, private, tourism and aviation sectors to spearhead the turnaround of the Airline.  A wide consultative and vetting process was undertaken before the appointments.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I am pleased to report that after eight years, the Airline now has a substantive CEO and senior executive posts have been filled.  This has brought stability to the airline.  Management has been mandated to look into the cost structure of the airline.  In this regard, management is currently restructuring the organisation with a view to coming up with a lean structure, which will see the number of managers being drastically reduced.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell Hon. Members that when I gave the instruction to restructure Air Zimbabwe’s management structure, I had discovered that small as it is, with only about five aeroplanes, there were 28 Directors including the Acting CEO.  That is not commensurate with the size of Air Zimbabwe.  That is why we had to come up with a restructuring exercise because when you look at it, one plane is supposed to be supported by about 85 members.  This would mean that Air Zimbabwe, with five aeroplanes should have only 400 employees but they were around 800.  Of those, most of them were at managerial level.  If you have 28 Directors and a CEO, you can see what that means.  So, I want to thank the Committee because their observations were correct.

2.4    Remedies to Air Zimbabwe Wage Bill and Labour Disputes

Mr. Speaker Sir, as highlighted earlier, the number of managers is being right-sized and this will have a positive impact on the wage bill.  The board has been given a mandate to ensure that performance based contracts are in place and salaries are aligned to the Corporate Governance Framework.

The Ministry notes with concern that Air Zimbabwe is over - manned given its current operations and fleet size, hence the need to retrench excess personnel.  The retrenchment exercise that started in the year 2012, has been on-going though at a snail pace.  The exercise could not come to fruition due to limited resources.  Government is however pursuing various strategies to secure resources for the exercise.

3.  Air Zimbabwe Publicity and Public Relations

The Ministry has noted with concern the limited capacity in this department.  The board and management have been mandated to recruit competent personnel to run the section. 

4.  Air Zimbabwe Fleet

The airline is operating old equipment compared to its competitors.  This has greatly increased its operating costs and compromised on service quality and reliability, thereby rendering the Airline uncompetitive.  Air Zimbabwe’s current aircraft fleet status:

 

 

AIRCRAFT TYPE

AIRCRAFT REGISTRATION

DATE OF MANUFACTURE

AGE (YEARS)

ECONOMIC LIFE LIMIT (YEARS)

CURRENT STATUS OF AIRCRAFT

1.

B737 – 200 ADV

Z-WPA

NOV 1986

31

20

Serviceable

2.

B737 – 200 ADV

Z-WPB

MAY 1987

30

20

Unserviceable

3.

B737 – 200 ADV

Z-WPC

JUNE 1987

30

21

Unserviceable

4.

B767 – 200 ER

Z-WPE

NOV 1989

28

20

Serviceable

5.

B767 – 200 ER

Z-WPF

AUG 1990

27

20

Unserviceable

6.

A320

Z-WPM

JAN 1997

20

15

Serviceable

7.

A320

Z-WPN

JAN 2003

14

15

Unserviceable

8.

MA60

Z-WPJ

APR 2005

12

12

Unserviceable

9.

MA60

Z-WPK

APR 2005

12

12

Serviceable but is grounded

10

MA60

Z-WPL

DEC 2005

11

12

Unserviceable

         

          Mr. Speaker Sir, the airline, at the very least, requires aircraft suitable for domestic, regional and international routes at an estimated cost of US$770 million. This will involve procuring three small jets for the domestic market and an appropriate mix for other regional and international aircraft in line with the airline turn-around strategy.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, Government is in the process of acquiring a new fleet of the National Airline which suits local, regional and international market.  This will greatly improve adherence to schedules by the airline.

          5.  WAY FORWARD

          Air Zimbabwe is in urgent need of recapitalisation to start sustainable operations.  As already alluded to, it had a debt overhang of US$323 million as at 31st December, 2016.  Given the prevailing demands on the fiscus, it is not conceivable that at the present moment Government can inject the required capital into Air Zimbabwe, hence the need for engagement of a strategic partner.  Recapitalisation of the airline will enable it to contribute positively towards both tourism and economic growth.

          A strategic partnership increases scope for capacity development through acquisition of new fleet, skills transfer, marketing of trade and business opportunities for the country and boosts tourism potential.  Government has recently approved the engagement of a strategic partner for our National Airline.  The process has started in earnest and my Ministry is committed to the exercise.  Thank you.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Let me remind the Hon. Members that those who want to contribute must do so briefly because the mover of the motion has to wind up and the Hon. Minister cannot respond to other contributions. 

          HON. MLISWA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker. I would want to commend the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development for highlighting some of the challenges that Air Zimbabwe does face.  I think the Hon. Minister will agree that this is not the first time that we hear of such challenges with Air Zimbabwe.  Equally, it is not the first time that we hear of these challenges.  Before he was in office, Air Zimbabwe was actually capitalized.  So, the issue is that Government has tried to do as much as it can to try and capitalise Air Zimbabwe.  We have a situation where he is not the first Minister to have been there.  So, the question is, what were the other Ministers doing when we were having the number of directors he is talking about.  What guarantee do we have that the way forward that he is proposing will work?  We certainly and am glad  he realises that the current economic situation would not allow an injection of $320 million into Air Zimbabwe when equally we are looking at putting money into sectors that we think produce.  For example, you look at ZISCO Steel, they probably need $60m and what we will make from ZISCO Steel is more. What basically I am trying to say to the Minister is that there are certain projects that we must shelved until we get to a certain point and reinvest money into critical sectors of the economy like the production I am talking about in terms of ZISCO Steel that will generate more money for us to invest in Air Zimbabwe.

Air Zimbabwe must not be politicised. It is the national airline. If there is the only client that they have that pays them is His Excellency when he does charter, outside that there is nobody. They cannot compare with South African Airways and many other airlines. We do have airlines already in this country that are serving the very same destinations which Air Zimbabwe is serving at a better cost. Do we really need to invest in an airline? No, we do not need to invest in an airline. This is something that I thought the Minister would look at.

The aspect of investor confidence is key and that has to do with corporate governance at the end of the day. That is where the issue is. There is no corporate governance at Air Zimbabwe. Ministers who are  politicians at the helm of Government are directly involved. What guarantee do we have…

THE HON. SPEAKER: Order! Can you withdraw the statement “so-called politicians”?

HON. MLISWA: I will withdraw but I do not think I said so-called politicians. I said at the helm. I withdraw the word “so-called”.

You also have a situation where corporate governance touches on nepotism. Nepotism does not attract investment. It is not professional in its nature. How is he going to circumvent that to attract the investment that is much needed for an airline which is known to be thriving on nepotism? You have got strategic partners that want to come through but these strategic partners have always been there. I am aware of certain airline companies that have said listen, we will take on this route. He also proposed that Government will buy a new fleet. If these strategic partners are coming in, what are they coming in to do because certainly we have no money but Government is still suggesting that they are going to buy new airlines? So, what is the role of the strategic partners in this?

I know very well that Ethiopian Airlines have said they want to do the London route but Air Zimbabwe hangs on to that and yet they do not have a plane. He was talking about how dilapidated their planes are but they still hang on to the route. Why would you hang on to the route rather than allowing such a strategic partner to come in and do the route? These are some of the issues which I think strategic partners must come in and address.

To summarise, I think it is important that we deal with low hanging fruits. Air Zimbabwe is not a low hanging fruit. There are more entities in this country – agriculture for example, which I believe if fertilizer was made cheaper for the farmers and well planned, we would produce more. We would not spend a lot of money having to import. Air Zimbabwe can be set aside and the nation can still go ahead and we can deal with Air Zimbabwe at some other point. I thank you.

HON. DR. MASHAKADA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for this opportunity. I want to start by thanking the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Hon. Dr. Gumbo for his clear presentation and also thank him for the effort that he is doing to turnaround the transport portfolio.  Be that as it may, I wish to raise the following issues for his attention.

In my respectful and humble view, Air Zimbabwe is saddled by two basic problems which are at the core of the restructuring strategies that you might wish to adopt. The first problem is the problem of ownership and control. The second one is the problem of budgetary resources. Any solution that is going to be found around the problems bedeviling Air Zimbabwe has to address these two major issues.

We must disabuse ourselves of the notion that Air Zimbabwe needs a strategic partner. I do not think Air Zimbabwe at this stage needs a strategic partner. This airline, for the last 20 years has been recording operational losses. This airline has been recording operational losses because it has lost strategic routes which were profitable and also because it has not been receiving adequate budgetary support from the fiscus. You can understand that a $4bn economy has no capacity to invest in an airline business. In my view, it is not possible to get strategic partners because Government has to clean the balance sheet. The loss now stands at over $20m. When we were in the Inclusive Government, I am quite sure the loss was around $14m and I am not sure about the extent of the loss now. For a strategic partner to come in, Government has to take over the debt and clear the balance sheet so that it becomes profitable for that strategic partner to come. This has been an albatross around Air Zimbabwe, the question of the debt. That is why it is very difficult for the Minister to get a strategic partner.

What I recommend, is to take a brave step to open up, commercialise, privatise it, find new investors who can bring in the equipment, planes and take over all the routes that were operated by Air Zimbabwe. Government will then remain with a regulatory function to make sure that all things are done above board. This is not a new model. If you look at the Kenyan Airlines, today the Kenyan Airlines in Africa is second to Ethiopian Airlines. The magic is very simple, they partnered KLM, the Royal Dutch Airlines and allowed the airline to run commercially, professionally and viably. You do not have to burden yourself with appointing board of directors and this and that. Let it be done as a private entity.  That will improve operational efficiency because the problem with Government having to appoint board of directors is that once a Minister leaves that portfolio, a new Minister comes, tries to change the board and interferes in the operation of that airline. Whatever reforms or changes the previous Minister would have made would be reversed. I recommend to the Minister that, better explore the privatisation route, it is profitable and it does not bring headaches to Government because we do not have enough resources.

I know it is sentimental to say we have to fly the national flag but you can go round that like what the Ethiopian Airlines did. They have agreed that this airline will run independently and commercially but the brand that should be used is the brand of the country. It is possible that even when a new investor comes, we might insist for them to fly the national flag and use the brand of the country for national and sentimental reasons. I would also support that but Government has no business in the running of airlines. It is a professional and technical area where you need well resourced entrepreneurs who can run that viably.  The issue that I want to suggest Hon. Minister is the question of the presidential jet.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, order. I had said I have indulged you and your colleagues.  I need to respect you.  You can wind up but some of these good points should have come during the debate on the motion and I am sure that the Hon. Minister would have captured these bright ideas from Hon. Mliswa and yourself.  Just wind up.

          HON. DR. MASHAKADA:  I am indebted to you Hon. Speaker for this opportunity for me to wind up.  I was going to propose that maybe going forward as a country, we might need to study other models - how they treat their Head s of Stateand the implication that it has on the operation of the fleet as a whole.  In some countries, I think that they have dedicated small jets for Heads of State which are easy to run.  They are economic but they are also efficient and are fit for the purpose.  But in our case, we have not yet decided that the Head of State should have a dedicated jet.  So, that has implications on the fleet since the President has to be given one of those big planes and I think that also has an implication on the operational health of the airline.  The Minister might want to look at that model of having a dedicated efficient small jet for the Head of State and then allow all commercial planes to be deployed in the meantime to service all the routes that Zimbabwe has been servicing.  I thank you.

          THE HON. SPEAKER:  Hon. Maridadi just a minute.  It is not unusual for the Chair to ask for your indulgence.  May I call in the interest of gender, Hon. Zindi and then you can come after.

HON. ZINDI:  Thank you Hon. Speaker for having recognised me and from a gender parity position, I feel honoured.

          Hon. Speaker, I need to also make a contribution to this very important Statement that has been presented by the Minister before this august House.  In my observation, I want to categorically suggest that I think what the Hon. Minister has to go the route to commercialise that entity.  I am suggesting that on the basis that the Government is over-borrowed and we cannot continue to say the Government should inject more capital into Air Zimbabwe.  Mr. Speaker, yes it may have been said but I think basically, that is the route that I would personally want to recommend as well, in order for Air Zimbabwe to once again be a viable and commercial entity that can be recognised as back to the Air Zimbabwe that we used to know in the early eighties and nineties. 

I would not sit down without mentioning some of the things that have caused Air Zimbabwe to be in debt as it is.  It is mismanagement Hon. Speaker and I think that commercialisation will deal with that aspect because once we streamline our management, as the Hon. Minister has mentioned in terms of a top-heavy structure that we will deal with the issue.  In terms of commercialisation, we will deal with that issue of top-heavy structure as Hon. Mashakada has mentioned, if we go commercial by inviting those who can invest to inject capital into Air Zimbabwe.

          Hon. Speaker, it would be unfair if I do not mention the stream of corruption cases that have been aligned with Air Zimbabwe which have also contributed to it being in the state in which it is today.  For example, in 1987, there was the Fokker deal plane scandal which involved over $100 million.  I would not go into details of exactly what transpired but just to mention a stream of all the corrupt cases which contributed to state of Air Zimbabwe as it stands today.  For example, The Chronicle also reported the case of Air Zimbabwe bosses looting over US$11 million.  There is again another case of corruption involving Air Zimbabwe - $200 000, which the airline was being charged in a scandal which was to do with insurance. 

There is another case involving Air Zimbabwe which says, Air Zimbabwe bosses crush into suspension over some $5.2 million and the list is endless.  These cases of corruption Hon. Speaker are the cases just to mention a few.  The list being endless as it is, that corruption has contributed to the state where Air Zimbabwe is today.  Therefore, the only solution as Hon. Dr. Mashakada has said earlier on about the issue of ownership and control, we are having all these corrupt cases taking place because it is who is connected to the Minister responsible for the airline at that particular time.  And, does that Minister responsible really trace all these corrupt cases to its logical conclusion where we do see people being prosecuted for the misdemeanours that are happening at Air Zimbabwe.  The answer is no Hon. Speaker.  Therefore, this control and ownership, if we continue to inject money, that will never play any miracles if we do not address the issue, hence my strong recommendation that it has to be commercialised and find some investor who injects capital and will have control in terms of management and making sure that the rightful people have been recruited to take those very crucial positions in terms of decision making.

          Hon. Speaker, I have talked about the Government being over borrowed and for us to say Government with the economic quagmire that it is facing, we cannot afford again for Government to continue injecting some capital into Air Zimbabwe.  I also want to take on board the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Patrick Chinamasa who said in this House, that those parastatals which are not performing should be closed down.  But, in this case we are not saying Air Zimbabwe should be closed down.  We are making recommendations that it should actually be commercialised as a way to make it once again viable.  I thank you.

          HON. MARIDADI: Thank you Hon. Speaker.  I am unfortunately one of those who is going to try and close the stable door after the horse has bolted because I should have discussed earlier.  That as it may Mr. Speaker, the issue of commercialisation, is something that we should put thought into.  This is for the reason that commercialisation alone is not the panacea to profitability.  It must be linked to good management and a good business model.  It does not really matter what you do, competitiveness, profitability and sustainability of a business are a function of a business model.  Mr. Speaker Sir, a business model is a function of two major matrices, SWOT and your PESTEL, I will not dwell on that.

There are airlines today, which use a Government business model and are profitable. For example, Emirates, Qatar, British Airways (BA), Singapore and Scandinavia, they are all Government-linked and profit making.  What I would like to tell the Hon. Minister is that, throughout the world, there is no transport business which makes huge profit.  Transport is margin business, be it an airline, road transport like buses, lorries or emergency taxis and so on.  For as long as it is transport business, the profit is marginal meaning that it must be run efficiently.  How do you run it efficiently?  Government, especially that of Zimbabwe, has no record of running things efficiently.  Look at all the parastatals under the Government.  Of the 92 or so parastatals, not a single one of them is making a profit.

Mr. Speaker Sir, what has happened?  In 1980, 40% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was contributed by parastatals.  I am talking of Air Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation (ZBC), National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) and Cold Storage Commission (CSC).  Today, if we take $10 billion and inject it into Air Zimbabwe, I can guarantee you that next year, they will go to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development seeking bail out money.

The issue of old aeroplanes has nothing to do with management.  We can give Air Zimbabwe all the modern aeroplanes today and next year, those aeroplanes will not have been serviced or insured and they will be grounded.  Mr. Speaker, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of South African Airways, if she/he loses the Harare –Johannesburg route, she or he loses his/her job.  It is the second most lucrative route for South African Airways.  That is why they put six aeroplanes on that route every day.  They have a 0730 hours, 13:30 hourd and a 16:30 hourd flight on a daily basis because they are making a profit.  Air Zimbabwe, who are the owners of the route from Harare to Johannesburg do not have a single flight on that route.  What is going on? 

I spoke to one of the strategic managers for South African Airways and he said, if you want to sabotage the CEO just go and mess up Zimbabwe so that it bans South African Airways from plying on the Harare – Johannesburg route and the job is gone.  In addition to the six aeroplanes they put on the Zimbabwe Johannesburg route, they have put a direct flight from Harare to Durban and another from Harare to Cape Town and they are making a profit.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I flew to Johanesburg, South Africa with Hon. Paradza over the Christmas holiday and the flight was full.

THE HON. SPEAKER: Which one?

HON. MARIDADI: South African Airways.  It was full and there were people on standby.  The reason we used South African Airways is that, I personally inquired from Air Zimbabwe and I was told that they were not online and were going to come back to me during the course of the day to confirm if they had seats available.  That did not happen during the day.  I went back again the following day to make another inquiry and they did not come back to me.  For the reason that I wanted to travel on a particular day, I had no choice but to go with South African Airways.  On that particular day, a friend of mine also wanted to fly Johannesburg but could not do so because the flight did not take off.

What it tells me is that the aeroplane could not start the engine; the engine could not start – [Laughter.] – As if that is not bad enough Mr. Speaker, when you fly on South African Airways from Harare to Johannesburg, your departure tax is built into your ticket price.  However, when you fly Air Zimbabwe, you must pay your departure tax separately because it is supposed to go to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).   The CAA said if Air Zimbabwe bills the departure tax together with the airfare, they will not remit it.  What it means is that Civil Aviation Authority would rather do business with Qatar, Ethiopian Airlines or South African Airways than with Air Zimbabwe.  That means there is something fundamentally wrong with Air Zimbabwe.

Mr. Speaker Sir, South African Airlines has 63 aeroplanes.  In 2015, they had 72, which means they have sold of nine others.  The oldest of the nine which they sold was 16 years old.  The reason is that when it is above 15 years old, it is very expensive to operate.  Air Zimbabwe operates an aeroplane which is 30 years old, it is old, and that is ancient.  I have a friend of mine who is a pilot and he says today’s aeroplanes can be flown by any fool. All you need to do is to be able to take off and when you reach the flying altitude, you can sit back.  The aeroplane will maneuver itself and land itself.  However, with Air Zimbabwe, you hear the pilots practically calculating using pencils saying, I am 100 metres above the ground and so on – [Laughter.] – they will be talking all the way.  It is like they are at a beer drink all the way.

When you fly on the Ethiopian Airlines, the pilot will simply take off and just 25 seconds after takeoff, the bells ring and it means one can undo the safety belts and you can see the pilot coming from the cockpit to sit and have tea with passengers.  It will be on auto-pilot.  None of the aircraft at Air Zimbabwe can be on auto-pilot.  One day we flew from Harare to the Budget Seminar in Victoria Falls and all the way, there was a hissing sound coming from the door and one of the ladies said it was because the door could not be closed properly. However, the pressure in an aeroplane is pressurised and if there is outside air interfering with what is inside, it will go down.  Mr. Speaker Sir, what it means is that your Members of Parliament, about 120 of them could have gone down.  On the way back from Victoria Falls, I boarded a bus, I could not fly with Air Zimbabwe because I have a family to look after, I do not want to die – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

Mr. Speaker Sir, Hon. Mliswa spoke about money being injected into Air Zimbabwe.  In 2010, US$300 million was injected into Air Zimbabwe with 28 directors and 800 employees manning three aeroplanes.  That money went down the drain and it is now housed with this outfit called Zimbabwe Asset Management Company.  The reason why that debt was taken out of Air Zimbabwe is because Hon. Chinamasa was trying to clean the Air Zimbabwe Balance Sheet so that it could attract investors because you cannot attract investors if your balance sheet is in such shambles. 

However, if you look at Air Zimbabwe today, it is already in the red.  The business model of Air Zimbabwe Hon. Minister – I sympathise with you, you are such a good person.  However, the way you are tying to do it with Air Zimbabwe will not work until the second coming of Jesus.  Jesus will have to come for the second time or the third time, but Air Zimbabwe will remain unprofitable.

Now, here is my solution to Air Zimbabwe.  Mr. Speaker Sir, employ the right people – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – it does not really matter if the person is good looking, dresses well and it does not matter who they are related to.  They must have the qualifications of running an air line.  I do not know where this notion came from that if somebody is a trained pilot, they can run an airline, it does not follow.  You can be the best pilot in the world and fail to run an airline.  Mr. Speaker Sir, it is like somebody who was once a soccer star of the year – for example George Shaya was a soccer star of the year five times, but it does not make him a good coach. You can get someone like Charles Mhlauri who only played division two soccer but he took Zimbabwe to Tunisia form Africa Cup of Nations.  So, Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Minister must get good people to run Air Zimbabwe.  Commercialization, yes, but it is not the panacea.  The business model they are using at Air Zimbabwe is a 1976 Ian Smith business model; it does not work in 2017. We are now computerised.  There were no computers in 1976. 

          When you want to fly on South African Airways, all you need to do is go to your cell phone, make a booking on line, get an e-ticket and you walk to the airport.  You just tell them your name and you get a boarding pass.   However, Air Zimbabwe today, I can write a boarding pass at my house and go and board Air Zimbabwe – how do they know that this person has not booked with them when they are not on line.  I can actually sell counterfeit tickets for Air Zimbabwe, give people boarding passes and they can go and fly because Air Zimbabwe is not online.  A person can argue their case saying no, I got this ticket from your Harare office and they will fly because Air Zimbabwe is not online.  What happens at the Harare office is not known at the airport because the two are not interlinked. 

          Mr. Speaker, in today’s aviation, when you are flying Emirates, they will tell you that we have closed the aeroplane; you actually see the door of the aeroplane open, the pilots are chatting away but they will tell you that the door has been closed because on their computer, the door would have been closed in Qatar.  You go there and argue that but the door is open, they will tell you no, it is closed.  What they really mean is that all the people are on board, the luggage is also on board; all they are doing is wait for their time to taxi and take off.  This is the age of computers but Air Zimbabwe have to physically close the door, a woman will have to come and physically close the door then they will tell you that the door is closed and you actually see the pilots climbing into the aeroplane as if they are climbing a mountain.

          Hon. Minister, Zimbabwe has educated people who can come up with good documents.  I have always said this and I will repeat it.  The problem that we have in Zimbabwe is that people have a tendency of writing CV’s where they have seven degrees.  Seven degrees do not rum an institution, it is the skill Mr. Speaker.  Our Government must have a template of how people must present their CV’s and they must have a template of how people must be interviewed.

          Mr. Speaker, when you are employing somebody to run Air Zimbabwe, allow them to give you their qualifications in one sentence either they have LLB and you know what it means; I have an MBA we know what it means but the tendency is that I have a B.A from University of Zimbabwe then they list all the subjects they did on a whole page with another three pages of additional qualifications.  What you need to do when you interview people Hon. Minister is that tell us what your plan of turning around Air Zimbabwe is.  We do not want to see where you went to school, we do not want to know your classmates, we do not want to know whom you had dinner with, we do not even want to know whom you sleep with. That is your business, all what we want to know is how you are going to turn around this business.  When we interview you, we are saying – I have always said this and I will continue saying it.  We have people who are running parastatals that have failed to run their own homes.  A person who has failed to his run own home, a person who has failed to manage one woman at his house, how then do they manage 800 employees? 

          Mr. Speaker, we are saying that apart from your skills, tell us your personal life.  It has an implication on how you run our institution.  There are people today who are of no fixed aboard, they are given parastatals to run because he has three degrees and whatever else.  Hon. Minister, going forward, we need a proper business model for the airline and there are many of them.  Ethiopian Airlines, their business model is that wherever they are flying to and wherever they are flying from, you must pass through Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.  If you are flying from Mozambique to Kenya, you pass through Addis Ababa; it is now the hub of aviation in Africa.  Why can Zimbabwe not be a hub of aviation in this part of Africa, it can be done.

          Hon. Minister, please go through the CV’s of all the people that are employed at Air Zimbabwe.  Those that are related to us, please give them a package and let them go and employ people who can run that airline properly, effectively and efficiently.  Thank you.

          HON. NDUNA: Thank you for indulging me Mr. Speaker.  It gives me great pleasure now to wind up this motion.  In particular, I want to thank the speakers that have spoken after the Minister has presented and the acronym ‘TEAM’ together each achieves more.  I want to give recognition to the Committee that I had that brought this to the fore. In particular, we spoke so eloquently, vociferously and effectively about square plugs in round holes which led to the replacement of one Chairperson of the Board, Abdulman Eric Harid, who himself did not have energy to run that entity. 

          So, credited to your committee that have brought to the fore the issue of CV’s of board and management in one of its oral evidence session.

          I want to thank Hon. Temba Mliswa, Hon. Mashakada, Hon. Zindi and Hon. Maridadi who was the final nail in the coffin.  Over and above that, the Hon. Minister has been very frank, honest in the state of affairs.  He has not plucked out anything out of our recommendations and thrown it away.  He has brought it here and has eloquently and elaborately articulated himself. 

          Mr. Speaker Sir, what we as a Committee also wants to be adopted in the same vein is the issue of computerisation which cannot be over emphasized, has been well ventilated; the issue of the internet booking engine that is the IBE and the International Aviation Transport Industry.  The issue of engagement to IATA that has also been put also in our proposal to Hon. Chinamasa in terms of having US$3,5 million given to Minister of Transport so that we can be able, as Air Zimbabwe, to transport for other airlines passengers so that we can go further with what we have got.

          Mr. Speaker, I also want to say the safety record of Air Zimbabwe which is housed by the Minister of Transport, really cannot be over emphasised.  It is second to none in Africa and in the global community.  If we as a nation can build on that one, it is the only thing that the Ministry of Transport prides itself of.  The reason he has come here to give his responses is because he has stood shoulders above the rest on that safety record and we applaud him for that. I also want to thank him for saying to the House that there has already been a Cabinet Authority giving assent to the strategic partnership for Air Zimbabwe, in that triple ‘P’ is spoken about more than 17 times in ZIM ASSET and ‘tender’ word is only spoken about, only once.  So, he has come here to actually elaborately come and say, yes not that we have failed but we are going the partnership way.  He has spoken about some of the jets that are going to be bought for local and regional industry.  We now want to see that coming to fruition.

          We actually appreciate his sentiments on that.  Mr. Speaker Sir, I now call for the adoption of this report in its form and with the recommendations that have been put across.  I also want to thank you Mr. Speaker for giving us this response to the Committee’s report on Air Zimbabwe.

          Motion that this House takes note of the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development on the operations of Air Zimbabwe, put and adopted.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

          THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. GUMBO): Thank you Mr. Speaker.  Before I proceed, I would like to thank all the Hon. Members and say that all your contributions have been taken into consideration and I will do the best that I can.  Having said that, because of health problems and attendance to the hospital, can I move now that Hon. Minister Dube contributes before I do the last Order, which is Number 32.  Having said that, allow me to stand over Order of the Day Number 34 and allow Hon. Minister Tshinga Dube to contribute on Order Number 44.

          Motion and agreed to.

MOTION

PROVISION OF ASSISTANCE TO HEROES’ DEPENDANTS

          Fourty-fourth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the  criteria for conferment of heroes’ status on deserving Zimbabweans.

          Question again proposed.

          THE MINISTER OF WELFARE SERVICES FOR WAR VETERANS, WAR COLLABORATORS, FORMER POLITICAL DETAINEES AND RESTRICTESS (HON. T. J. DUBE): Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga moved a motion, calling upon Government through my Ministry to ensure:

(a)     The alignment of both the Heroes Act and National War Veterans’ Act in Section 23 of the Constitution.

(b)     Set objectives and more comprehensive criteria of the definition of hero vis-a-vis liberation war heroes and a national hero.

(c)     Review, through public consultations the current policy of confinement of heroes status and;

(d)     Ensure the dependence of war veterans of liberation struggle are treated fairly and with dignity in terms of benefits, legally due to them.

Mr. Speaker Sir, it should be noted that the Ministry was not in existence at the time when the Hon. Member put the motion.  The Ministry was only established on 15th April, 2015.  We want to thank you for drawing our attention to this motion which is older than us.  Perhaps my colleagues from Defence, should have responded at that time. 

Be that as it may, I now qualify to respond as Minister of War Veterans, War Collaborators, Ex-Political Detainees and Restrictees to the issues raised by the Hon. Member.  By way of background, the august House will be pleased to know that my Ministry administers the following Acts:

(i)                          War Veterans Act, Chapter 11:15

(ii)                       Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees Act,

Chapter 17:10

(iii)                    National Heroes Act, Chapter 10:16 and

(iv)                     War Victims Compensation Act, Chapter 11:16

Originally, as the title of the Ministry suggests, we had formed

focus on war veterans, ex-detainees and restrictees and war collaborators.    Within the Government’s programme of alignment of laws to the Constitution, our efforts as the Ministry since 2015 have been focused on repealing, in the  process of amalgamating the War Veterans’ Act and the Ex-Detainees’ Act into one.  We wanted to  amalgamate them into one Act called Veterans of the Liberation Struggle, Rights and Benefits Act, which also incorporates war collaborators.

          The process is well underway and is now before Cabinet, from where it will follow due process to come to Parliament.  All the issues relevant to war veterans in terms of the preamble Sections 3, 23 and 84 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, amendment 20:2013 are comprehensively addressed in the process.  Cabinet however, in its 39th meeting of 2016, held on Monday, 21st November, 2016 considered the proposed Bill and resolved to set an Inter-Ministerial Committee on the rights and benefits of the veterans of the liberation struggle, which will look comprehensively into all matters relevant to the alignment of laws.

          The Committee comprises of seven Ministers and it is co-chaired by two Vice Presidents and yet to convene its first meeting soon this month.  I want to assure you that should this due process which is underway fail to address any of the issues that were of concern to the Hon. Member, she will have an opportunity to raise those during the readings and debates when the matter comes to Parliament.

          Regarding the alignment of the National Heroes Act to the new Constitution, the Ministry was only assigned administration for that Act and War Victims Compensation Act in March 2016.  Stakeholder consultations are currently underway for a separate process to align these two Acts to the Constitution as well.  Part of this process, the august House will recall that His Excellency, the President met with widows and other categories of veterans of the liberation struggle on 19th November, 2016.  The President has further undertaken to meet widows to discuss more deeply issues specific to them.  This will be next Thursday, here in Harare. 

          I want to assure the Hon. Member and this august House that all the issues raised by the Hon Member are being raised and considered under on-going consultations.  Obviously, the draft Bill, will in due course come to Parliament.  If this comprehensive and exhaustive exercise by the Ministry happens to leave out anything of concern to the Hon. Member, there will always be room for her to motivate her views during the readings and debate of the envisaged draft Bill.  Mr. Speaker Sir, I trust that I have answered the queries raised and should there be anything to elaborate, I am available in this august House. 

By way of enlightening you even more, for now, when we talk of these groups, we are talking of about 34,000 war veterans who are registered and on pension, 6,000 ex-restrictees and detainees, 9,000 widows of the liberation war heroes, 20,000 non combat cadres – those who did not actually fight but did not have adequate training due to the fact that when they joined the war it was almost coming to an end.  However, we still have a serious problem in establishing the exact number of collaborators because we can only do that after we have carried out the vetting exercise which is still underway.  Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir.

          HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Let me thank the Minister for his elaborate response to the motion that I brought to this House.  Just a few issues around the response from the Hon. Minister, I think  I am quite pleased that you have embarked on a process of re-alignment and that we will have the Bill coming to the House.  I am hoping however that when that Bill comes to the House, yes, we will have a Portfolio Committee that will go and hold discussions at community level so that people can feed into the Bill, but I am also hoping that it will give an opportunity to the people of Zimbabwe to really deal with the issue around the liberation struggle in general. 

          I was listening to your numbers and those are the numbers that I also had.  What concerns me is that when we are talking about war veterans, we are not taking about a massive number but only 34,000 people that participated in the liberation struggle.  I do not think that should be a large number to deal with if we are clear about the things that we need to address for those people that participated in the struggle.  I am also concerned that we continuously have processes that are delaying the finalization of that process.  Thirty-six years after the liberation struggle, we should not be having a debate about what we should be doing with war veterans.  It is an indication of how we, as a nation, have failed to deal with one of our foundational issues and we cannot have a future unless we deal with those foundational issues.

          It is in order that we are going to have an elaborate process of going out and of dealing with the framework but what is it that the 34,000 want, if we just deal with those initially before we go to the vetting.  We are talking just about their health.  I do not believe that many of them have children that still need to be looked after as we speak because if I do my calculations, at least from the women’s point of view, the women who participated in the liberation struggle cannot be having babies at this time because if they went to war when they were 20, and 36 years later, they are now 56 years old.  So, for all intents and purposes, we are dealing with the individuals who participated in the liberation struggle.  What is it that these individuals need?  They need to be looked after in terms of their health and social set up because as we know, some of them have no homes.  Unfortunately, it is those that have not found themselves on the ladders of the political arena that have a problem. 

          If I go to Tsholotsho or Mt. Darwin and find the women or men that took part in the liberation struggle, they are the ones that are drinking beer at growth points.  They are the ones without cars or bicycles.  So, in my opinion, seriously as a nation, you cannot tell me that you are unable to put aside resources to allow these people to be looked after.  It is not too much because when you do a comparison with other countries that have war veterans – and there are veterans all over the world, but you know what they have done, they have given them respect. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] - Respect is not usually equated to monetary issues. 

Mr. Speaker, I am speaking about this particular House.  I said that when I made my presentation and I am going to say it again because the Hon. Minister was not in the House when I raised this.  I said, even in this House there should be a difference in terms of how we treat those that were part of the liberation struggle.  Just the respect that we accord them but I can count in terms of respect, those that have gone onto the ladders of being given positions in Government or in other spaces –

-         [HON. MLISWA: Inaudible interjection.] -

 

          THE HON SPEAKER:  Order, order Hon. Mliswa, when you were contributing, Hon fellow Members were not heckling but they were listening to you.  So, can you return the respect?  Please sit down.

          HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA:  I was saying, if we look around in this House, you cannot find those people being respected.  I have had to only find out how amazing these people are after travelling and sitting down, particularly with some of the women and hearing the kind of stories that they have.  I am however saddened because no one recognises that or sees that in these particular individuals.  Two weekends ago, my brother who is a war veteran was stopped by a policeman and spikes were thrown under his car when he had children in the car.  When I went there, I was so angry with the policemen but my brother did not say anything, though in normal circumstances he is a very vibrant person.  As I drove home, he just sat there quietly and I asked him why he did not say anything and he said to me, “I sat there and said to myself, I walked on foot to go to Botswana and walked from Botswana to Zambia and spent half of my life fighting for this country and this is how I get treated by a 22 year old.  Mr. Speaker, that is where I am coming from.  For me, it is the respect that we accord them.  It does not matter if a war veteran right now says something back to me.  I will accord them the respect that acknowledges that I am here because of them.  I think that is where we have missed as a country – [HON. MEMBERS:  Hear, hear.] –

          My point therefore as I wind up this motion is to say to the Minister, we are not asking more of the funds, we are asking more of the respect that you accord these individuals.  Even if it was just a small card that they do have so that at least if they get to a road block, they can show a card that says ‘War Veteran’ and they are respected in a particular way.  You do it for us as Members of Parliament.  It allows me at a certain stage to have particular respect that is accorded to me.  Why are we not doing it for war veterans?

          The second point Mr. Speaker is to do with issues around widows and I am glad he says His Excellency is going to be meeting with the widows.  I am hoping that in that conversation, we try and de-politicise the conversations about widows.  Widows of the war veterans have nothing to do with which political party they are now in – [HON. MEMBERS:  Hear, hear.] – The point is, they helped this man as he was in the struggle.  They participated in part on that struggle.  Let us acknowledge that in fact they probably were more traumatized.  I was not at war but I would assume that when you are at war you can see what is going on.  Daily she does not know whether this man is coming back.  She hears that people have been bombed and she does not know whether her man is there.  He comes back and probably has other kids that he has sired elsewhere.  She needs to embrace all that and continue to be the wife.  So, I am hoping that the conversation will transcend beyond the political issues.

          Having said that, I hope that you will allow us to speak to our war veterans.  I am prepared to stand and fight for their respect but there is one thing that I also would want them to do.  They will not be respected unless they respect themselves and they respect each other.  I said it in my presentation.  It does not help the war veterans to continuously be attacking each other and saying you were not in the war; you did not do as much.  We want to acknowledge them for the work that they did.  So, the more they attack each other, the more they make it difficult for other people that are out there to do it. 

          I am hoping that as we go forward, as they understand that those of us who did not participate acknowledge and respect them.  They will respect themselves and help us move forward – [HON. MEMBERS:  Hear, hear.] – Hon. Minister, I am happy that you said you are aligning the Act to the Constitution.  Now we are saying, veterans of the liberation struggle; we are acknowledging that everybody participated.  Of course, some were in the forefront and others were providing the chickens and whatever else that we gave. I hope that is also going to be considered.  Like I said, move away from monetary thinking. 

People went to war to facilitate the liberation of everybody else, to give us the decency to make a decision about who we want to govern us. So, we should not have a language that says because I went to war, I am the one who should continuously be in leadership.  That is not the language that we fought for – [HON. MEMBERS:  Hear, hear.] -  The language was to say and that is the language that we want to hear from our war veterans – a language that says, I went to war to make you Priscilla independent and democratic enough to be able to speak without fear or favour.  That is the language that we hear from our war veterans but I and others will be able to stand up and say war veterans need to be treated decently.  We need to make sure that we give them the respect and the dignity that should be accorded. 

On that point Mr. Speaker I would want to wind up this motion.  I move for the adoption of the motion that this House - 

          NOTING that Section 23 of the Zimbabwe Constitution provides for veterans of the struggle who are defined as;

(a)       those who fought in the war of liberation;

(b)      those who assisted the fighters in the war of liberation and those who were imprisoned, detained, or restricted for political reasons during the liberation struggle;

          CONCERNED that the current War Veterans Act defines a war veteran as one who underwent military training and participated consistently and persistently in the liberation struggle, between 1st January 1962 and 29th February 1980;

          FURTHER CONCERNED that in practice, hero status is recommended by the ZANU (PF) Politburo, and that the President is designated in the National Hero’s Act with the conferment of hero status;

          COGNISANT that the National Heroes Act sets largely restrictive criteria of a hero, as one who is well deserved on account of his outstanding, distinctive and distinguished service to Zimbabwe;

          SADDENED that though the National Heroes Act has a provision for the Heroes’ dependants’ welfare, however, many of them remain unassisted;

NOW THEREFORE, calls upon Government to;

a)    ensure the realignment of both the Heroes Act and the National War Veterans Acts with Section 23 of the Constitution;

b)   set objectives and more comprehensive criteria of the definition of a hero vis-a-vis a liberation war hero, liberation hero and a national hero;

c)    review, through public consultations,  the current policy of

conferment of Heroes status; and

d)   ensure that dependants of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle are treated fairly and with dignity in terms of the benefits legally due to them.

Motion put and adopted.

The Hon. Minister of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees having crossed the floor to embrace Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga.

         THE HON. SPEAKER:  Order, order.  I want to believe that was a warm gesture from a well-established known war veteran.  Thank you – [HON. MEMBERS:  Hear, hear.] - 

MOTION

FIRST REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT ON CAUSES OF ROAD CARNAGE

          34th Order read:  Adjourned debate on motion on the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development on causes of road carnage.

          Question again proposed.

          HON. DR. GUMBO: Introduction

Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to respond to issues raised in the report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development resulting from an inquiry into the causes of road carnage.  The report was presented to this august House in April 2014. I also wish to take this opportunity to respond to issues raised in the motion on the road accident that occurred along Harare-Nyamapanda road on 18th January, 2015. The motion was moved by Hon. Mubvumbi-Mawere on 25th February, 2015.

The Ministry has noted the issues raised in both the report of the Committee and the motion and wishes to respond as follows;

Lack of Road Shoulders

Mr. Speaker Sir, there is a huge backlog on shoulder surfacing of the national trunk road network as well as regravelling of primary and secondary heavily trafficked roads due to lack of funding. The dualisation of the national trunk road network is being done though at a slow pace due to financial constraints. Dualisation is being done on the following projects:

a)    Harare-Gweru road from Norton to the tollgate at a cost of $8.6m;

b)   Harare-Mutare road from Goromonzi turnoff to the tollgate at a cost of $6.3m;

c)    Chirundu-Beitbridge road to be done under (PPP)

Rural Road Network

Mr. Speaker Sir, the Ministry is alive to the huge backlog on the regravelling of the rural road network and upgrading some to surfaced standard. The programme has been hindered by insufficient funding. Mr. Speaker Sir, I am pleased to report that we have exceeded the ZIM ASSET target in grading which was set at 4 000km in five years. Cumulatively from 2013, we have graded in excess of 70 000km of rural roads which is a major milestone. I regret to say that as I speak to you there are no roads to talk about in the rural areas. They are all washed away and it is back to square one.

Lack of Perimeter Fences

Mr. Speaker Sir, my Ministry is aware of the contribution of stray animals to accidents on our roads due to the absence of perimeter fencing. The programme on fencing was started between Bulawayo and Plumtree but progressing at a slow place due to limited funding. A perimeter fence is being erected from Shangani to Bulawayo as a pilot project. Similar projects are to be undertaken annually. We have also launched an accelerated campaign against stray animals on our roads through community road safety programmes.

Mr. Speaker Sir, the Ministry through the Traffic Safety Council launched a programme on animal tagging and branding and again this has been progressing at a slow pace due to financial constraints

Dualisation of Trunk Roads and Cycle Tracks

Mr. Speaker Sir, both the report of the Committee and the motion refer to the need to construct cycle tracks and pedestrian crossings at road sections through cities and towns on the Beitbridge to Chirundu highway. Mr. Speaker Sir, construction on the Beitbridge-Harare road is scheduled to start soon with a view to dualising the highway. The designs will no doubt take care of the issues of cycle tracks and pedestrian crossings and thereby reducing accidents.

Signage and Carriage-way Markings

Mr. Speaker Sir, there is a huge backlog on carriageway markings and general signage on our roads. Regrettably, most road signs have been vandalised. We are acutely aware of the contribution this has had on accidents on our roads. The rehabilitation and replacement of road signage requires a huge budget but the Ministry is doing all it can within the limits of the resources that are available. I also appeal to all citizens to report any acts of vandalism as it not only costs the nation heavily financially, but in some cases through loss of lives or permanent disability.

New Highway Code

Mr. Speaker Sir, an upgraded Highway Code encompassing SADC signs is set to be launched on 30th March, 2017. I urge Members of Parliament and the public to familiarise themselves with the contents of the code.

Introduction of Road Safety Education into School Syllabi

Mr. Speaker Sir, a comprehensive road safety document has been submitted to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education’s Curriculum Development Unit (CDU) for consideration with a view to including road safety education into the school curriculum.

Road Safety Awareness Campaigns

Mr. Speaker Sir, the Ministry through the Zimbabwe Traffic Safety Council carries out continuous road safety awareness campaigns targeting, children in schools, Junior Parliament, chiefs, headmen, and village heads. The Traffic Safety Council also conducts training in defensive driving for both public service vehicles and private drivers all in a bid to reduce carnage on our roads.

Vehicle Inspection Department (VID)

Re-testing of PSV Drivers

The provisions of Article 6.10 of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology requires member states to issue Professional Driving Permit (Licence) or other documentation issued for professional drivers. The requirement of Professional Drivers Licence was introduced to facilitate trade and improve road safety among commercial traffic given the high mileage component of that type of traffic.

In the case of Zimbabwe, as a member of SADC, the professional drivers licence is issued after the retesting of public service vehicle drivers as provided under Statutory Instrument 168 of 2006. Some of the requirements of public service vehicle drivers include:

a)    Proof of continuous driving for five years prior to driving a public service vehicle;

b)   He or she is a holder of a defensive driving certificate issued by the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe;

c)    He or she has been examined by a Government Medical Officer and issued with a medical certificate.

The stated requirements assist in equipping the professional driver with competencies that enhance road safety as has been proven by the performance of PSV drivers since 2006. Other countries in the SADC region such as South Africa, issue a professional driving permit (PDP) to public service vehicle drivers in line with the SADC requirement which is equivalent to re-test in Zimbabwe.

The retests have seen a reduction in road carnage on public service vehicles, loss of valuable lives and property. In this context, the removal of re-testing of public service vehicle drivers will result in higher medical bills arising from increase in victims of road traffic accidents therefore, overburdening the fiscus.

Corruption

The Ministry has a zero tolerance policy to corruption in line with the aspiration of ZIM ASSET. In this context, we have implemented the following proactive strategies to curb corruption at the Vehicle Inspectorate Department (VID):

VID depots are grouped into 3 categories i.e. small, medium and big respectively for purposes of analyzing their performance. The strategy helps the Ministry to monitor performance per each deport and be able to identify the existence of wayward behaviour through daily, weekly and monthly returns and reports analysis. This strategy has demonstrated its effectiveness where 24 officers have so far been fired when it surfaced from the analysis on the return that corruption was taking place at 5 VID deports. These included Chiredzi which issued 199 driver’s licences to undeserving applicants. They were cancelled by the Ministry through the findings and recommendations by the relevant directorate.  The other four depots include VID Nyamapanda, VID Chinhoyi, VID Marondera and VID Kadoma that were found to have been issuing certificates of fitness to undeserving vehicles.  In all cases, disciplinary actions are taken as long as there is admissible proof.

          2. We have erected conspicuous notice boards at all VID depots informing members of the public to phone the toll-free supplied numbers if they have been asked for consideration or a bribe by VID officials or by anybody in order to pass a vehicle for a certificate of fitness to obtain a driver’s licence.  The calls go to other senior officials independent of the VID.  What we require is credible information not speculation.

          3.  In line with SADC harmonisation of standards for testing drivers, we have started constructing in all VID yards, SADC standard hill starts, 3-point-turn facilities, parallel parking facilities and reversing facilities.  This strategy enhances transparency and fairness by ensuring that 80% of the test is done in the yard in the full view of members of the public, therefore, reducing corruption tendencies.  Twenty percent of the road test is done in town where some senior officials carry out random quality control checks to minimise corrupt tendencies.

          4.  We will be introducing in the near future, a balling system currently on a pilot basis at VID Eastlea.  The system entails that learner drivers who would have come for a road test, pick a ball from a basket with an office number leading them to the examiner who will take them for the test.  This strategy is envisaged to counter pre-arranged corrupt choice of an examiner for the practical tests.

          5. The Vehicle Inspection Department carries out 24 hour vehicle check/blitz as a strategy to remove un-roadworthy vehicles from the road as well as carrying out due diligence on certificates of fitness that would have been issued by our officers.  The strategy also helps to nab and prosecute motorists who are found using fake driver’s licences.

          6. In line with advancement in the global village, VID as a learning organisation will in the near future move towards automation of its services which will help to reduce direct human interface, therefore, reducing corruption.

          7. We have introduced toll-free lines from the 6th of March, 2016 for members of the public to report corruption whenever they are asked for a bribe by any one, to obtain a driver’s licence or to pass a vehicle for a certificate of fitness.  The toll-free numbers are displayed on all VID vehicles, at VID depots notice boards and within the VID premises for the public to use them.

          8. The Department has a 3-year transfer policy which helps in mitigating against over-familiarisation of officers with members of the public.  Pursuant to the above policy, 46 VID inspectors were transferred from 23 countrywide depots on the 26th of August, 2016.  I want to thank you Mr. Speaker for the time that you have afforded me.

          HON. NDUNA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker.  Mr. Speaker, there being no other debate, I stand to wind up this motion on the report on road carnage.

          Once again I applaud the Minister for eloquently and elaborately putting the issues to bear in terms of responding to the recommendations of the Committee.  I want to also applaud the Committee for coming up with this report on road carnage, eradication and annihilation of road carnage completely.  I will reiterate that the Committee has Members in its team that is, together each achieves more that have experience in transport and management to the tune of about 50 to 60 years.  A lot of them that are in transport business are embedded in that Committee.

          That as it might be, the Minister has touched again right at the nerve of the causes of road carnage and chief amongst them; we have seen that it is collusion, corruption and nepotism.  He has also said how he is addressing such issues.  I want to also say, he is on point in terms of computerisation and integration where the driving schools, the VID, the RMT, the CVR and ZINARA who are the licencing port are all integrated and computerised with a view of making sure that all systems are speaking to each other elaborately. 

In our recommendations, there was also a recommendation of an establishment of a traffic court and we are hoping that he can now go to the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs together with his counterpart of that Ministry to go and see how they can establish a separate court that only deals with traffic offences because justice delayed is justice denied.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, a lot of Hon. Members who are here, I am quite sure that they have children but, I lost two of my children in a road accident.  I view that the other vehicle might not have been roadworthy, might not have been driven by somebody who has a licence, the other vehicle might have been driven by a phony, fake or a fraudster.  So as I stand here, I effectively debate on the issue, it really touches at the pith of my heart because I have lost a whole generation of children that I could be having today because of road carnage.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, I also want to applaud the Minister on the issue of the Traffic Safety Council who has started fencing Bulawayo to Harare highway.  It is well applaudable.  It was the recommendation of the Committee that all future projects have roadside fencing in the package.  So the Minister has elaborately spoken about that one, in particular that he mentions the Beitbridge-Chirundu highway that is now also going to have that package embedded in it.

          Mr. Speaker Sir, he has also touched on the signage on the road.  It is also an observation that, the reason why there is plundering and removal of road signage is because the material that is being used is common among rural communities and all road users, it is steel and they want to use it.  The Committee also observed that if there are other sources of material used other than steel, there will be longevity and subsistence of the signage.  In particular, if fiberglass is utilised for road signage, there will be no vandalism.  As we speak, VID is only being used for post-accident interrogation. 

As the Hon. Minister has alluded to, with integration and computerisation, it can also be utilised for pre-accident interrogation.  It is my fervent view that what he has brought to fore can remove in total, all the fraudsters as I have said, the ‘phonisters’ and ‘fakesters’ in the certificates of competence by computerising the VID.  As I have always said, computers do not ask for a bribe. Mr. Speaker Sir, there are about 96 000 certificates of competence that are being issued out each year fraudulently.  What the Government is not getting out of that is US$15 million annually.  If this money goes to road rehabilitation and also employ the Traffic Safety Council, this can go a long way.  So the Hon. Minister is on point.  In the other reports that are coming – because this report is as he has alluded to, from 2014.  In the reports that are coming, we have requested that 40% be allocated to local contractors starting with the Beitbridge – Chirundu Highway because we have said what obtained on the Plumtree – Mutare Highway should not occur again in any future projects.  That is going to make sure that money is circulating. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, as I wind up, I want to thank the Hon. Minister for dualising or requesting for finance to dualise further the Harare – Mutare Highway from Ruwa to the Tollgate and the Bulawayo – Harare Highway from Norton to the Tollgate.  It is highly applauded.  It is also recommended that the monies that are embedded in the US$32 million road maintenance fund be used as a springboard so that the road from Norton to Kadoma can be dualised.  Mr. Speaker Sir – [HON. ZINDI: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order please.

HON. NDUNA: Mr. Speaker Sir, once again I want to thank the Hon. Minister.  Even though the reports were presented before his appointment, he has taken his time to come here and bear the burden of elaborately, effectively and eloquently responding to them.  I therefore move that the motion on the First Report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development on causes of road carnage be adopted.

Motion put and agreed to.

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT (HON. DR. J.M. GUMBO), the House adjourned at Twenty One Minutes past Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 14th February, 2017.

 

National Assembly Hansard Vol. 43 NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 09 FEBRUARY 2017 VOL 43 NO 34