9th ParliamentArticles

Spirit mediums demand recognition in the constitution:[Full Text]

Norton legislator Temba Mliswa says he was sent by some spirit mediums who were conducting some rituals in his constituency to tell Parliament that they also want to be recognised in the country’s constitution as is being done to war veterans.

Mliswa said the spirit mediums complained that only Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi are talked about in the constitution and they are left out and are therefore going to make life difficult for the country until they are afforded the same recognition.

The spirit mediums are said to have complained also that they are not being given cars which government is giving chiefs and yet they are the ones who give chiefs their powers.

The Norton legislators also revealed that the spirit mediums said they are not happy hence they allowed Cyclone Idai to ravage the country adding that if the situation continues there will problems.

Below is what Honourable Mliswa said in the National Assembly during debate on the supplementary budget

Honourable Temba Mliswa: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for affording me this opportunity. Mr. Speaker Sir, let me begin by talking about the economic problems of this country. The economic problems of this country emanate from a liquidity problem and I want to further explain so that this House can appreciate what I am talking about. Liquidity is like blood in somebody’s body and when your body does not have enough blood you become anaemic. When you become anaemic, it affects the lungs, liver and many organs of the body because there is no blood. So, the problem is liquidity. There is no cash in the country. There is no money in the country.

Second Mr. Speaker Sir, Zimbabwe is a country which is so rich but has no cash and let me explain this. You have Mr. White who has got shares in the Stock Exchange which are worth $20 million. They are in the form of cheques, they are in his pocket. You also have Mr. Brown who has $10 cash and you have a scenario where they both want to jump onto a tax and the tax driver requires $5. Mr. White has got $20 billion worth of cheques in his pocket and Mr. Brown has got $10 cash. Who will get that tax? Is it Mr. White with $20 billion cheques in his pocket or Mr. Brown with $10 in his pocket? It is Mr. Brown with $10 in his pocket because the tax is $5.

I want to further qualify this by saying, we talk about a deficit but then with that deficit you also talk about a surplus. Before you even factor in that deficit, how can you talk about a surplus?  You owe the bank $50 million and you are overdrawn.  Then you do not take the money to the bank but you keep telling people I have $20 million.  You owe $50 million which is overdrawn and you have $20 million which you have not taken to the bank because you know if it goes to the bank it will be $30 million.  But you then say you have a surplus because of the $20 million.  That is basically what this surplus is about without considering the money that is owed.  We are constantly sugar coating the deficit and because of that, the Minister with due respect had been given an opportunity to take cognisance of his predecessors who had problems and say clearly to the country that; I am taking this office on a background of so many things which were not a result of my doing but I will correct these things first before we move forward?

We talk about the IMF and when Dr Gono was still in the office we dealt with IMF and he paid them money but nothing happened.   Hon. Biti mentioned the IMF issue that we are constantly being played around with.  IMF said reforms – cut down the workers and cut down everything.  We are on a mission to do that but there is no money that comes in.  There are delegations that are coming into Zimbabwe all the time and when they finish their work they go to Victoria Falls and then they go.  How can you have one organisation giving you the same conditions yet they do not take into consideration the IMF money which was paid before. New money must be paid.  So, for as long as we are constantly voting for the budget in this House where first of all it is 1:1 and we all know that the budget that we passed was in US dollars and suddenly we then have a surplus.

Let me move to Vote No 2, which is the welfare of Parliamentarians.  I want to talk about what I know best.  We passed a budget but only 17% of what we passed has been given to Parliament.  So, he needs more money.  This is Parliament which is supposed to be one of the three arms of the State which is responsible for legislation, oversight and representation.  These issues must be dealt with and we must be seen to be working hard.  We have been accused of many things by so many people because of lack of understanding of our remuneration.   I said that it is about time that the people of Zimbabwe know how much a Member of Parliament is paid, his/her medical aid, the coupons that they get, is there money, fuel or no fuel.  We talk about staying in these hotels.

This Government is the most hypocritical government where it allows us to stay in hotels but it is not prepared to give us the money it pays to hotels to find ourselves somewhere to stay.  If we talk of austerity measures, we must move out of those hotels and be given an allowance a month of three thousand dollars for accommodation and food.  These Members would be having mortgages and houses as a result of that.  But this government is spending so much money staying in hotels but none of these Members want to stay in hotels.  If you calculate the amount of money you spend in hotels, a day is US$200.  The Meikles is paid in US dollars and he is paying in US dollars.  He is prepared to pay Meikles in US dollars.  I am not saying Meikles is bad because it is their line of doing business.  You now have a situation where US$200 per week is one thousand bond.  The next week another thousand and in a month that is four thousand dollars.  You can rent a one-bedroom apartment for $500 and spend $500 on food and the rest goes into other issues.

We have not been offered that as Members of Parliament.  We have a situation where those staying in hotels are spending $200 per day and those who are not staying in hotels are getting $60 which is equivalent to US$6.  So, what I am urging all Members of Parliament to do is to stay in hotels even if you stay in Harare because you will be getting US$6 per day.  What is the point?  He is talking about austerity measures and we are all telling him that here we do not want to stay in hotels but give us at least $3000 per month which is less by $1000.  We are helping him because we are not a Parliament which is selfish.  We are the first Parliament to offer the Government an avenue for austerity measures by saying the $4000 that you spend per month on us, give us $3000. Hon. Members, are you not prepared for that?

So, here people say to us the government expenditure has not decreased. The Ministers are still driving the VX that he is so bent on us not having.  They are driving Mercedes Benz and they are still travelling around the world.  What is the point of having those ambassadors in those countries?  What is the role of the Minister of Foreign Affairs?  The office of the Ambassador has an Economic Affairs person whose job is to lobby on behalf of the government any business.  So, they are there to do that.  The Minister at that point signs the paperwork and they go back.  The Minister of Foreign Affairs is there to move around with the President to do what they have to do.  But we have these embassies which are not working.

Let us talk about this Blue Book budget here.  We go to the Members of Parliament – we cannot continue to be treated like kids and to have issues.  We are denied this Blue Book because they think we are going to see what he is talking about.  We want to discuss this Bluebook before us, not any other Blue Book.  For him to tell us that he has the other 20% in the Blue Book, we do not know it.  We are discussing this one which is the reviewed book. The other Blue Book has no review because I know what he will say to the issues raised.  The officials are here whom you said are representing him. Do not take us back to the old Blue Book because it is nothing.  We want to talk about this one that he has revised.  You are the ones who came up with the interbank rate as Ministry of Finance but you apply it as and when you think you should.  You collect duty at the interbank rate but you pay people at your own rate that you want.  How can you be a government that cheats so openly?  Who brought the interbank rate?  It is not Members of Parliament but the Government. The only thing I am asking which is fair and square is, may everything be pro-rated to the interbank rate, that is it.  It is up to them where they are going to get the money.  We had 1:1 and people’s monies were stolen.

On RTGs, did we not have RTGs two years ago? So how can this one be so different from the other one?  Maybe I am mistaken but six months ago we had an RTGs multicurrency.  It was part of it.  So, why is it so different from this one?  It is because they play games with people’s nostro accounts.  When they want to raise foreign currency immediately they now come up with a different thing.  He talked about ‘like to like’. In what terms?  There has been so much inconsistency in the money policies.  There is no one, whoever put in this money for as long as there is inconsistency in the money policies – no one.  They will tell you, how can I put in US dollars because I do not know what else you will do.  They are even scared to put money even in bonds because they do not know what the next currency will be.

We are the only country that has destroyed every currency. We are only left with the pound.  Which currency have we not traded in this country?  The reason of going into multicurrency was to give us a leeway to recover.  When resources are being mined there is production.  There is no production happening and there are no resources.  The Minister of Mines and Mining Development – I do not know when he was last here.  His Ministry is critical in terms of the GDP.  It is the quickest way to make money as these are the lower hanging fruits.  The deals that have been signed by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development amount to $3.4 billion but this country cannot even take $10 million for ZESA yet we boasted on having investors who have signed a billion dollars.  Where are we going, are we stupid?  We cannot even get $10 million to pay for electricity.

You go to Vote 2 on the Constituency Development Fund, it is reviewed to 21 at interbank just that the officials cannot answer, I would have asked what is the rate at interbank so that they tell us.  He introduced interbank sitting right there.  You are the technocrats who are busy lying to the Minister too and he comes here.  What is it that you are advising the Minister?  What are these technocrats in the Ministry advising the Minister?  We have technocrats who do not know what they are doing Mr. Speaker Sir, all that they are good in doing is travelling with the Minister and get allowances.

We need to have a situation where the interbank is effected.   Talking about the Constituency Development Fund, it was US$50 000 for a term of five years.  That $50 000, if you multiply with this, it is now $11 000.

Acting Speaker:  Hon. Member, on a point of order please – you have no right to address them.

Honourable Temba Mliswa: I am not addressing them.  – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

Acting Speaker: Order, order, please.  Can I proceed, please?  Hon. Members, order please, order, please!  What I am saying is that the rules do not allow you to address anybody besides the Chair.  So, even if there was a Minister, there was no right to address the Minister.  Address the Chair!

Honourable Temba Mliswa: Mr. Speaker Sir, I am a professional and at no point would I address them.  I am talking about technocrats.  At no point, unless I am not allowed to use the word ‘technocrat’, then I withdraw.  They are technocrats who advise the Minister and I do not even know their names – I am just looking at them but you are following my eyes and not listening to what I am saying.

Acting Speaker: Hon. Member, that is my job to make sure that you address the Chair.  If you address anybody else, I will rule you out of order, please. Can you address me?

Honourable Temba Mliswa: Mr. Speaker Sir, I come to the CDF – it has now gone down. It has now gone down to $11 000 and all we are saying here on the Blue Book is that, can this figure be matched with the interbank rate – that is all.  We are asking the Minister to deal with a currency that he has and not that he does not have.  It is up to us and the suppliers to see what they will do with the interbank money.  That is not his problem, let him give us at interbank because we are buying everything at interbank.  So, we must equally be given that at interbank.

You have cars which are talked about – $81 million.  We did the Maths – at 9 it is US$25 000.  Stories have been mentioned; we started at $80, we passed a budget at $80 because we are stupid and because others are whipped and so forth, they take advantage of that and say no it is down.  There is a tendency of using the name of the President.  The President, if he wants anything to be changed in Parliament deals with the Speaker.  Let Ministers not use the name of the President where they want to advance their agendas.  Some of us are allowed to go and see the President and ask because anybody has access to them to verify.  He understands and respects this institution.  He has never interfered in this institution but you have people saying no, we have been told this by the President.  The Constitution is very clear.  If the President wants to communicate to Parliament, he will reduce it in black and white.  He will equally tell the Speaker.  The Members of ZANU PF of which you are at the caucus, you heard what the President said about the cars while you might not have been happy but he said once Parliament decides, it decides.  But then we hear the President having said this and that.  We want to stick to what we agreed in this budget.  That is all we want.

This $80 million must go at interbank.  Let us give these car companies money at interbank and it is up to them to look for the foreign currency.  This is all we are demanding at the end of the day.  This is not only for us but I talk about every Zimbabwean civil servant that their moneys must go to interbank.  You talk about a cushioning allowance – what is a cushioning allowance after seven months of not being paid and you are given a cushioning allowance for a week.  We want their salaries to go by the interbank.  That is all we are asking for –nothing less, nothing more – fair play because they introduced the interbank and said this is the currency of the day.  No head was put to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to choose the RTGS but he brought it up himself.

What are austerity measures?  Zimbabwe’s meaning of austerity measures means that you must suffer.  A good doctor is the one that heals a patient who is in the ICU.  I will repeat – a good doctor is the one that will cure a patient in ICU and not when they die.  Austerity measures in this country means that everyone must die.  All are in ICU – the civil servants, the war veterans, the Members of Parliament except the Executive which is not in ICU.  So austerity measures about buying drugs too to get these people to survive.  Obama did it in America when he had austerity measures on him, he pumped more money into industry and then industry started producing money and that money was used to revive everything.  Who says austerity measures means that you must punish?

You need to pump money into industry so that we get more money at the end of the day and those are also austerity measures but we cannot have a situation where we talk about austerity measures which are not working.  The TSP, Vision 2010 – does it not need to be reviewed?  We had ZIM ASSET, 10-Point plan and we now have TSP and we move quietly without review  What was the problem with ZIM ASSET?  No one ever sat down to see what the problem was but we all knew it was implementation.  It is a good model and the cake must grow big.  I was foolish in that I also decided not to get a car because I wanted Willowvale Motor Industry to do it in 2013.  Not that I do not want a car but I believed in ZIM ASSET because it was going to now get cars manufactured here.  I went to Willowvale Motor Industry to put an order and I never got the car.  I lost a car because I believed in ZIM ASSET.

Then we went to the 10-Point Plan, what came about it?  Now, we have the TSP and we are talking about us being on course for the 2030 Vision instead of the Minister saying …

….thank you Hon. Members, I am indebted to you, as such I will move the agenda so that your welfare is taken care of.  Mr. Speaker Sir, you talk about TSP 2030, are we on course in 2030?  We had Cyclone Idai and with like Cyclone Idai, it is an opportunity for you to say what we had budgeted for we can no longer meet because with had this accident; it was an opportune time.  Because of that, we have to move back.  We had a drought and if we have a drought again in 2019/2020 season, we are finished.

What am I saying?  Hon. Chinotimba mentioned the point that we sit on coupons and there is no fuel.  Hon. Chinotimba, that is better.  We want to talk about agriculture and there is no energy.  So lack of energy, the 18 ours we talk about, how much does that affect production?  The technocrats in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development have done nothing to advise the Minister that as a result of the power shortages, the economy comes down and there can never be a surplus.  The technocrats are misleading the Minister, they go to meetings noting down nothing.  How can we say that the economy will grow when we have got Cyclone Idai when we have a drought when we have 18 hours of no power?  The miners are not mining; gold production has gone down unless we are the only country which has some miracle whereby without electricity, we can still perform.  Just this weekend, if you followed, I was with some spirit mediums that had come to Norton to do some rituals there which I respect because if in Rome I do what the Romans do.

They asked for the Member of Parliament to come and I took a video and they said this country, as long as you do not respect us, you recognised war veterans in the Constitution but who fought the war with the war veterans?  You talk about Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi but you do not talk about us in your Constitution. They said tirikuvhara zvinhu – [Laughter.] – tirikuvhara zvinhu because the Constitution does not recognise spirit mediums but we talk about Mbuya Nehanda.  I have no answer and they said here is the Constitution, show us in the Constitution where it talks about spirit mediums.  You have won the struggle and you have forgotten about the role that we played.  You are being given Chiefs’ cars but who are the people who give the Chiefs their power?  So, there is any issue of tradition and culture.  You might laugh about it but this is the truth.  For as long as you are talking about graves of people that died that have not been exhumed and taken to where they should be buried; the spirits of the country are not happy, when they are not happy they say even this Cyclone Idai, we could have controlled it but we allowed it to come so that you learn.

They say now you want us to be reporting to you as Government, so it is an issue whether you believe it or not it is up to you.  They told me go and tell your colleagues that as long as the spirit mediums are not respected in the country, they will be problems.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to move to command agriculture.  Command agriculture being a noble cause that it is, I totally agree with Hon. Chinotimba that it means nothing.  The amount of foreign currency that will be spend without us having an answer to the rainfall pattern, we are wasting time.  The Minister did not talk about how much money we spend on cloud seeding..

Mr. Speaker Sir, on the situation where if we do not know the rainfall pattern, there is no point to do agriculture, we might as well use that money to import maize until we put the right systems.  Put irrigation and cloud seeding, there was no money for cloud seeding in the budget and there was no money to pay off electricity that we owe.  In summary, for as long as we do not have money for cloud seeding, let us forget about agriculture and put all the necessary frameworks in place and if we do not offset the electricity money that we owe, I did not see the Ministry of Energy getting any money to pay off that.  So, as a result, these are the fundamentals which must come first before the economy takes off.  I thank you very much, Mr. Speaker Sir, for giving me this opportunity.  I am hoping that the technocrats, wherever they are, they have listened and they will advise the Minister wisely.




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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is a male journalist in Zimbabwe and has been practising since September 2009. He used to the editor for The Business Connect (newspaper) in Harare, has his own news website Tourism Focus which is biased towards the tourism sector. Daniel is also working with Magamba Network on their project called Open Parliament where they do live coverage of Parliamentary activities on Twitter and Facebook. He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum, is a member of Zimbabwe Small Broadcasters Association and a board member of Digital Communication Network. He holds a Diploma in Communication and Journalism from the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), a certificate in Youth leadership training from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a certificate in Citizen Journalism from Magamba Network and is currently a first-year student at Zimbabwe Open University studying for a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Ethics and Organisational Leadership.

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