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Prime Minister Tsvangirai address to Parliament

The following is the full text of the speech delivered by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to the Parliament of Zimbabwe, on Tuesday 13 March 2012. He talks about voter registration, corruption, constitution, the police, Air Zimbabwe, electricity and Zanu PF’s refusal to implement key reforms among other things.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai addresses Parliament
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai addresses Parliament

By Morgan Tsvangirai

1. Introduction

Mr Speaker Sir, it is with great pleasure that I stand before this august House to appraise the people, through their elected representatives, of what is happening in Government. At the beginning of the year, I made it clear that gone are the days when government would operate as a secret cult movement.

As the Leader of Government Business in Parliament, and in the spirit of accountability and in order to enhance the oversight role of Parliament, I pledged to make a monthly Parliamentary statement in this august House.

It is also in line with this spirit of openness and accountability that the Prime Minister’s Question Time was introduced so that the public, through their elected representatives, would have an opportunity to gaze and peep into the work of government and to raise questions on pertinent issues affecting this great country.

Mr Speaker Sir, it is primarily because of my pledge that I stand before this House today to update you of the work of government.

2.0 The Government Work Programme

In 2010, the Government adopted the GWP as an implementation vehicle for all Government programmes.

In 2010, we recorded a 60 per cent success rate in terms of implementation of agreed critical path targets, which dropped to 40 per cent in 2011 due to limited fiscal space arising to the many funding requirements as this nation recovers.

In February, my Office hosted a GWP workshop where Ministries presented the critical path targets for 2012. These have now been adopted and Mr Speaker Sir, I table before you the GWP targets for 2012 as adopted by Government.

I want to say from the outset that this document is still work in progress because the relevant clusters have been asked to extract the key programmes or “Priorities of Priorities.”

This is because of the limited fiscal space and the realisation that Government will not have the required funds to attend to all the programmes identified by the ministries. Mr Speaker, I am laying this document before Parliament pending the completion of the identification of the “Priorities of Priorities” by Ministries.

I have told the Honorable Ministers that I will be evaluating their performance and making it public through this monthly report to Parliament.

Mr Speaker Sir, this is the last time I am making a monthly statement in this House without naming and shaming those Ministries that are either underperforming or have chosen to give scant attention to the implementation of agreed programmes and policies. This is not to embarrass anyone, but to enable Parliament to hold the executive to account.

Apart from the critical path targets contained in the document I have laid before you, government is grappling with important processes such as the census and the Constitution-making process, among other key programmes for the year.

The 2012 census is our first comprehensive population census since the time of hyperinflation. Visioning and planning for growth is made difficult in the absence of accurate and authoritative statistics about a nation and we hope that this exercise will be successful to enable government to plan using updated statistical data.

3.0 Parliament and the Executive

Mr Speaker Sir, I wish to applaud the work of this Parliament, particularly the work of Parliamentary Portfolio committees in diligently playing their oversight role. I am aware that some Ministers are not keen to come before the Portfolio Committees because of the thorough grilling they endure as elected representatives seek to find explanations from the executive.

This should be applauded and I hope you will consolidate your work in ensuring that those charged with spending taxpayers’ money are doing so with the interest of the people at heart.

Mr Speaker Sir, I am aware that some Ministers do not take this House seriously and have minimized their attendance especially when MPs want to ask them questions. I will play my part in ensuring that they attend. No one should take Parliament for granted because this is the people’s chamber. This is where the people we serve speak through their elected representatives.

I have said that fiscal space and liquidity challenges remain the greatest enemy of this government, but I urge Parliament to insist on delivery especially on those things of a legislative nature which do not cost money.

Mr Speaker Sir, as I said in my end of year speech, a significant number of Bills have not been pushed through and the Legislative agenda is lagging behind. The Government should expedite implementation of those things that do not require resources, particularly monetary resources.

4.0 Reforms

Mr Speaker Sir, I have said that we are lagging behind on reforms be they political, electoral or media. I am disappointed that there has been slow movement in this aspect, which non-movement has a bearing on key deliverables of this Government, mainly a free and fair election.

Mr Speaker Sir, the whole essence of the GPA, which I must emphasize is now part of the Constitution, is to make sure we implement reforms and create the right environment conducive to the holding of a free and fair election.

I want to say that non-implementation has largely been due to insincerity, downright arrogance and a lack of appreciation of the mission of this transitional Government and its general mandate.

I want to say that one of the most important reforms is in media. All I can say is that the respective Ministry is aware of the expectations, timeframes and the deadlines of the Principals and Cabinet.

I hope that when I make my report to Parliament next month, work would have begun in terms of implementing reforms in this sector.

4. 1. The Constitution-making Process

Mr Speaker Sir, you are aware that the Principals have taken an interest in this process to ensure that it is expedited so that we can begin to have an idea of when the other attendant processes such as the Second All-Stakeholders conference and the referendum can be held.

This is a key process and as Principals, we expect to be furnished with a draft so that we can meet with other related bodies such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to see how they fit into the process towards creating the necessary environment ahead of the next election.

I want to stress that as Government; we cannot fund and spend our energies and resources on a product that we are not keen to use.

We need a new Constitution.

While political parties may hold their opinions, as Government, we are prepared to see this process through as well as the other political and electoral reforms that are key in creating a conducive and peaceful environment in Zimbabwe.

Only yesterday, I was talking to the President about the peace prayers that the church has initiated in the provinces.

Both of us pledged to support this process and the President assured me that he will find time to attend these prayer meetings so that we all continue to speak publicly once again in the promotion of peace in the country.

I urge parliamentarians to call for these prayers in their constituencies where all people gather and pray for peace regardless of their political affiliations.

We also expect as Principals that the secretaries-general put in place mechanisms to ensure that the peace indaba that we convened last November cascades down to the lowermost structures of our respective political parties.

5.0 International Relations

Zimbabwe is trying to normalise its relations within the region, in Africa and beyond. Regionally, we are heartened by the fact that SADC continues to stand by us as we navigate this difficult transitional process.

This Government is in part a product of the region and the AU and we have good relations with our neighbours. Internationally, our re-engagement committee has begun a process for the resumption of dialogue between Zimbabwe and the European Union.

I am positive that these discussions will be fruitful and will result in improvement of relations. I also want to say that I was part of an investment promotion conference in South Africa hosted by the Ministry of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion.

I was humbled by the number of people who want to do business with us as a country. However, it was clear from the discussions with investors that our toxic politics and mixed messages from the same Government will remain a major impediment in efforts to bring and lure meaningful investment to Zimbabwe.

Mr Speaker Sir, we are sometimes our own worst enemy because of the mixed signals that emanate from within the executive. This is why I have instructed my Office to convene a meeting of all the concerned Ministers to sort out this issue.

Let me state quite clearly that as Government, we have no policy to nationalize any enterprises and this has been the position since 1980. I therefore urge members of this august house and those in the executive to correctly interpret the positions that have been adopted both in Cabinet and the Council of Ministers.

We can differ as political parties but on the essential aspects that affect future investment and job prospects for Zimbabweans, we must speak with one voice.

6.0. Corruption

Mr Speaker Sir, there have been several arrests mainly of MPs for alleged abuse of CDF funds. There is no Government policy to protect corrupt people and I urge the relevant agencies to ensure that justice is done and any corrupt person is arrested.

The Anti-Corruption Commission is an independent Commission and I hope that it will not be threatened and hindered from its work of exposing corruption and making sure that justice is done without favour and without bias.

Any corrupt person should face justice regardless of whether they are MPs or Ministers and we hope that there won’t be efforts to slow down the wheels of justice or to protect corrupt people from being exposed and arrested.

I also urge Parliament itself to come up with a mechanism that will enable it to hold its own members to account. These are public funds and Parliament as an institution should have a way of ensuring that these public funds are properly accounted for.

7.0 Other Government Issues

7.1. The Police

Mr Speaker Sir, Cabinet noted the reported abuse of people and the excessive roadblocks on our roads. We decided that the relevant Ministers look at these issues, including the issue of spot fines in relation to possible corruption.

As Government, we are not condoning the unroadworthy vehicles on the roads or the recklessness of both public and private transporters. Our view is that the law must be enforced within reasonable limits and without harassment of the citizens. I therefore expect the Co-Ministers of Home Affairs to address this issue and expeditiously report back to Cabinet.

7.2 Energy

The future supplies of fossil energy are not guaranteed and our experience is that they are subject to significant fluctuations in prices. As a nation, we must continue to explore alternative sources of liquid fuels to augment fossil fuel supplies.

1.       (1)     Green Fuel

Ethanol fuel is now available in the country but as Government we need to rationalise between the need for more fuel and the genuine concerns about this huge project.

To this end, soon after this presentation, I have called for a meeting of relevant Ministers and stakeholders so that we look at this important issue collectively and chart the best way forward.

(11) Electricity

While Government is trying to come up with solutions to the power shortages, ZESA will not be able to do much without the necessary funding. There is a vicious circle where if consumers do not pay up, ZESA cannot invest in new capital equipment and will remain unable to service its debts.

We have to get out of this vicious circle. As Government we call upon everyone to pay their bills, including Ministers and top officials that I have heard are not paying up. If one does not have the money, it is important to sit down with ZESA officials and come up with a payment plan.

Personally, I have had to pay a $5 000 bill at my residence in Strathaven. I paid and so should you!

7.3. Air Zimbabwe

Air Zimbabwe is down and we are looking at various ways to resuscitate the national airline. Government appreciates the inconvenience this is causing to the travelling public and to the country’s image especially at a time when we expect our tourism industry to be booming.

This means that a solution has to be found as quickly as possible. There are various options available and we will communicate the way forward once there is consensus.

7.4. Voter registration

It has come to my attention that a lot of people are being hindered from registering as voters. The responsible Ministry and related bodies should ensure that there are no unnecessary bottlenecks that make it difficult for people to register as voters.

8.0 Conclusion

Mr Speaker Sir, I hope that we will have not only a successful year, but a peaceful year despite our differences. The political environment and the election talk should not divert Government from its mandate to serve the people.

We are aware that several provinces might not have a good yield and the relevant ministries have already been directed to ensure that no Zimbabwean starves.

I also want to say that in relation to BEAM, health and food assistance, government might have no resources to feed everyone and all assistance should mainly target the under-privileged and the vulnerable.

The fact that an area has food shortages does not necessarily mean that everyone should receive free handouts, chemahara mushana. The relevant Ministers will ensure an early identification of areas of critical shortages and put in place appropriate measures.

And finally, Mr Speaker Sir, last Thursday was International Women’s Day. I wish to congratulate all the female legislators in this House and all the women of Zimbabwe for their self-less service to the people of Zimbabwe.

In most families, it is the women, our mothers, our sisters and our wives who toil to ensure food security, peace and stability in the home.

We must spare a thought and salute them.

I thank You.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai