Tuesday, 21st June, 2022

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     Tuesday, 21st June, 2022

The House met at 1430 hours

[MADAM SPEAKER in the Chair]

NATIONAL ANTHEM

PRAYER

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ANNOUNCEMENT BY MADAM SPEAKER

HON. MEMBERS’ VIRTUAL PARTICIPATION IN HOUSE PROCEEDINGS FROM DESIGNATED PLACES

Madam Speaker: Hon. Members, I wish to remind the House that at its meeting held on 28th May, 2020, the House Business Committee resolved, among other things, that the sittings of the House be held using a hybrid system. That is to say, some hon. Members of Parliament sit physically in the Chamber, while others participate virtually from the designated rooms, here, at Main Parliament Buildings.

It has been observed that some hon. Members participating virtually in the proceedings are doing so in contravention of the resolution of the House Business Committee. In this regard, I wish to urge all hon. Members who participate virtually from outside the Main Parliament Buildings to ensure that they do so from the designated rooms. This will enable the House to conduct voting on a division smoothly, especially when the vote is required to be taken manually.

To this effect, all affected hon. Members should start participating from designated rooms effective Tuesday, 28th June, 2022. Any hon. Member participating in contravention of the resolution will be logged out and deemed, for all intents and purposes, to be absent from the sitting.

I thank you.

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RULINGS BY MADAM SPEAKER

POINT OF ORDER RAISED BY MR D. MUNG’ANDU, HON. MEMBER FOR CHAMA SOUTH, ON THE MINISTER OF INFRASTRUCTURE, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, HON. C. MILUPI, REGARDING THE SESHEKE/IMUSHO ROAD CONTRACT

Madam Speaker: Hon. Members will recall that on Tuesday, 7th June, 2022, when the House was considering Question for Oral Answer No. 314 and Hon. C. Milupi, Minister of Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, had just finished responding to a follow-up question, Mr D. Mung’andu, hon. Member of Parliament for Chama South Constituency, raised a point of order.

In the point of order, Mr D. Mung’andu, MP, alleged that Hon. C. Milupi, MP, had breached Standing Order 65, which requires hon. Members to ensure the information they bring before the House is factual and verifiable. He stated that Hon. C. Milupi, MP, had misled the House regarding the reason for the cancellation of the contract for the construction of the Sesheke/Imusho Road.

He explained that, in response to his follow-up question on the matter, the hon. Minister denied that the contract was cancelled due to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) advising the Government to stop contracting debt. He alleged that the statement by the hon. Minister was untrue because the hon. Minister and other hon. Ministers before him had attributed the cancellation of the contract to advice from the IMF that the country should not contract further debt.

In her immediate response, the Hon. Madam First Deputy Speaker reserved her ruling to enable her to collect more details on the matter and review the hon. Minister’s statement.

My office has since reviewed the relevant verbatim record. Of particular relevance is Hon. C. Milupi, MP’s, response to Question No. 314 on the Order Paper regarding when construction of the Sesheke/Imusho Road would commence. He stated, inter-alia, as follows:

“Madam, the construction of the Sesheke/Imusho Road will commence once financial closure is attained between the contractor and the Ministry of Finance and National Planning. The delay in the commencement of the project was caused by failure by the contractor to attain financial closure.

Madam Speaker, the answers I give here are indicative of the situation as it exists. For the benefit of the Member of Parliament, I will give a bit of background. The Sesheke/Imusho Road was scheduled to be constructed as part of the National Feeder Roads Phase III Contract, which was earmarked for execution using the CFI mode of financing.

Under the Contractor Facilitated Initiative (CFI) mode of contracting, the contractor facilitates the finances for the project and the works only commence upon financial closure being attained between the financier and the Ministry of Finance and National Planning.

Madam Speaker, it looks like this is not proceeding for two reasons: the contractor has failed to find this finance and being aware of the current situation, even if now the contractor was to find this finance, the Government, at the moment, has no appetite for further contraction or for contraction of further loans because of the indebtedness in which the country finds itself.”

Following the hon. Minister’s response, Mr D. Mung’andu, MP, asked whether the hon. Minister could lay on the Table of the House a list of projects that were discontinued due to the IMF’s advice to the Government not to borrow further.

In response, Hon. C. Milupi, MP, stated that he had not mentioned the IMF in his response.  He then reiterated that the project would be based on contractor facilitated finance. It is this response by the hon. Minister that prompted Mr D. Mung’andu, MP’s, point of order.

Hon. Members, the verbatim record clearly shows that the hon. Minister attributed the delay in the commencement of works on the road to the inability by the contractor to secure the finances required under the CFI model. Mr D. Mung’andu, MP, on the other hand, insisted that the hon. Minister once informed him that the project was discontinued due to advice from the IMF. He, however, did not lay any evidence on the Table to support this assertion. He, himself, therefore, ran the risk of misleading the House and the public and breaching Standing Order 65.

Hon. Members, in the absence of evidence that the hon. Minister had once informed Mr D. Mung’andu, MP, that works on the Sesheke/Imusho Road were discontinued due to advice from the IMF, I find it difficult to conclude that the hon. Minister misled the House. In fact, to the contrary, the hon. Minister was consistent in attributing the delay to the failure by the contractor to secure finances for the project. I, therefore, find that the hon. Minister was not out of order.

I thank you.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

POINT OF ORDER RAISED BY MR R. K. CHITOTELA, HON. MEMBER FOR PAMBASHE, ON HER HONOUR THE VICE-PRESIDENT, MRS W. K. MUTALE NALUMAMNGO, REGARDING THE DIRECT INPUT SUPPORT PROGRAMME

Madam Speaker: Hon. Members, will recall that on Friday, 10th June, 2022, when the House was considering the ministerial statement by Hon. M. E. Mposha, hon. Minister of Water Development and Sanitation, Mr R. K. Chitotela, hon. Member of Parliament for Pambashe Constituency raised a point of order against Her Honour the Vice-President, Mrs W. K. Mutale Nalumango, MP. The point of order was based on Her Honour the Vice-President’s response to a question, on agriculture, by Mr M. Jamba, hon. Member of Parliament for Mwembezhi Constituency, during Her Honour the Vice-President’s Question Time.

Mr R. K. Chitotela, MP, alleged that, in her response to the question, Her Honour the Vice-President stated that the Government would continue with the Direct Input Support Programme in (DISP) 2022. According to Mr R. K. Chitotela, MP, that statement by Her Honour the Vice-President contradicted the Government’s policy as contained on page 12 of the 2022 Budget Address delivered on Friday, 29th October, 2021, by the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning.

Mr R. K. Chitotela proceeded to quote an excerpt of the 2022 Budget Address, which said that several challenges had been encountered with the DISP and the Electronic-Voucher System (e-Voucher). It further said that, as a result, the Government had decided to implement a new comprehensive agriculture support programme commencing in the 2022/2023 Farming Season.

In her immediate response, the Hon. Madam First Deputy Speaker reserved her ruling to have recourse to the Hansard.

Hon. Members, my office reviewed the relevant verbatim record for Friday, 10th June, 2022. The review revealed that when responding to a question by Mr M. Jamba, MP, on the availability of fertiliser during the 2022/2023 Farming Season, Her Honour the Vice-President stated that the Government would continue with the DISP. Further, a perusal of the 2022 Budget Address confirmed that the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning had indicated that the Government would implement a new comprehensive agriculture support programme commencing 2022/2023 Farming Season.

Hon. Members, although the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning indicated in the 2022 Budget Address that the DISP had a number of challenges, he did not categorically state that the programme would be done away with. Therefore, in order to have clarity on this matter, I direct the hon. Minister of Agriculture to render a ministerial statement on this issue to the House on Tuesday, 28th June, 2022.

I thank you.

POINT OF ORDER RAISED BY MR R. K. CHITOTELA, HON. MEMBER FOR PAMBASHE, ON THE MINISTER OF INFRASTRUCTURE, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, HON. C. MILUPI, REGARDING THE NDOLA/LUSAKA DUAL CARRIAGEWAY CONSTRUCTION

Madam Speaker: Hon. Members will recall that on Tuesday, 7th June, 2022, when the House was considering Question for Oral Answer No. 315 on the Order Paper, and Hon. C. Milupi, MP, hon. Minister of Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development was on the Floor, Mr R. K. Chitotela, hon. Member of Parliament for Pambashe Constituency raised a point of order against Hon. C. Milupi, MP.

Hon. Members, in the point of order, Mr R. K. Chitotela, MP, alleged that Hon. C. Milupi, MP, had breached Standing Order 65 by informing the House that the Ndola/Lusaka Carriageway would be constructed using the public-private partnership (PPP) model. He explained that that was because the Public Private Partnership Act No. 14 of 2009 required a feasibility study to be undertaken before an invitation to tender a project could be made. He added that the feasibility study should not be more than three years old. Mr R. K. Chitotela, MP, said that he had not seen an advertisement for a feasibility study for the Lusaka/Ndola Dual Carriageway.

Further, Mr R. K. Chitotela, MP, stated that the Public Finance Management Act No. 1 of 2018 and the Public Private Partnership Act were contradictory. That was because the former empowered the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning to commit the country to debt, while the latter, empowered the contracting authority to sign on behalf of the Government.

In her immediate response, the Hon. Madam First Deputy Speaker reserved her ruling in order to obtain more information on the matter. Hon. Members, I have since studied the matter and now render my ruling.

Hon. Members, I have considered Mr R. K. Chitotela, MP’s, point of order and note that he did not lay any evidence on the Table to substantiate his assertion that:

     (a)   the hon. Minister had not conducted a feasibility study prior to commencing the process of advertising for

          a concessioner for the Lusaka/Ndola Dual Carriageway; and

    (b)   the Public Finance Management Act No. 1 of 2018 and the Public Private Partnership Act were

          contradictory.

 In the absence of such evidence, I am constrained to find that by saying that the Ndola/Lusaka Carriageway would be constructed using the PPP model, Hon. C. Milupi, MP, had misled the House and as a consequence, breached Standing Order 65. The hon. Minister was, therefore, not out of order.

I thank you.

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MATTER OF URGENT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE

Mr Mumba (Kantanshi): On a matter of urgent public importance, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker: A matter of urgent public importance is raised.

Mr Mumba: Madam Speaker, I am raising this matter of urgent public importance on the hon. Minister of Transport and Logistics.

Madam Speaker, it has become evident that through the issuance of a statement yesterday, by the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) that from 1st July, the services being rendered by Ulendo and Yango would most likely end because of the Road Traffic Act. Ulendo and Yango are mobile applications that are assisting our people by providing transport services and to some extent, even delivery of various products to our homes, including food when we order from restaurants.

Madam, you will agree with me that these two products have come as a direct innovation of young people and a direct response to a growing economy, as we have witnessed in other countries nearest to us like South Africa, Botswana and abroad, where you are required to have an app if you are going to request for transport services. In those countries, taxis continue to exist.

Further to this, Madam Speaker, we have also seen that out of these two products, many Zambians here in Lusaka, and most of them youths who are unemployed due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation, lost jobs and have taken advantage of these apps by subscribing to them. They are obviously providing transport services and in the process providing for their homes and families.

Madam Speaker, this is one of the contributors to the economic growth and innovation that this Government has always premised its promises on. This Government promised that one of the areas in which it will support employment would be through technological innovations. Is the hon. Minister of Transport and Logistics in order to remain quite about this matter, which has a lot of economic implications that I do not want to start highlighting? I seek your very serious guidance on this matter.

Madam Speaker: Whereas the matter that the hon. Member for Kantanshi has raised is important, especially to the performance of the economy and for the young people that have come up with these applications and the service rendered is very helpful to the people of Zambia, it does not qualify to be raised under Standing Order 134 and it does not meet the criterion under Standing Order 135. The hon. Member is advised to put in an appropriate question, which will be addressed to the hon. Minister of Transport and Logistics, so that the hon. Minister may be able to address that question. I emphasise that the matter is important. However, it does not meet the criterion under Standing Order 134.

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MINISTERIAL STATEMENT

STATUS OF HUNTING CONCESSION AGREEMENTS

The Minister of Tourism (Mr Sikumba): Madam Speaker, allow me to deliver my ministerial statement without the mask on.

Madam Speaker: The hon. Minister can do that, but we have had an escalation in the number of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. So, we risk being exposed, but you can excise your discretion, at least you are far from us, when you get back to your seat, you can put the mask back on.

The hon. Minister put his mask back on.

Madam Speaker, I am grateful for granting my ministry the opportunity to clarify on the status of the hunting concession agreements through a ministerial statement.

The ministerial statement is as a result of a point of order raised by Lumezi Member of Parliament, Hon. Munir Zulu, MP, who wanted to find out the status of the purported cancelled hunting concessions by the Government through the Ministry of Tourism.

Madam Speaker, the Ministry of Tourism and Arts then, through a tender; MTA/SP/001/20, advertised in the Zambia Daily Mail on 13th November, 2020 for the granting of safari and photographic tourism concession in nineteen hunting blocks in various Game Management Areas (GMAs). The bids closed on 30th December, 2020 and on 9th March, 2021, the ministry announced, by public notice, the best valuated bidders.

Madam Speaker, out of the nineteen hunting blocks tendered, ten prime hunting blocks were tendered and all were successfully bid for, except one where the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) ordered a re-evaluation and the remaining nine were either under-stocked or depleted. None was bid for, except Upper Luano, which was under contestation and the matter is still in court. The successful bidders were invited for negotiations between 7th and 14th April, 2021 after which parties signed the negotiation minutes.

On 13th April, 2021, the parties to the hunting concession agreement; the successful bidders, the concerned Community Resource Boards (CRBs) and chiefs were invited to the Department Of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) offices in Chilanga to sign the negotiation minutes.

Madam Speaker, it is important to note that the invitation letters sent out to the successful bidders, did not in any way constitute an invitation to sign a contract, but simply a bid acceptance and invitation to negotiations.

Further, it must be noted that at receiving the invitation letters, it was clearly marked on stating that the notice does not constitute an award of a contract to the bidder mentioned above. Bid acceptance and contract placement shall be in accordance with part ten of the public procurement regulations.

Madam speaker, from the foregoing, I would like to state that the New Dawn Government has not cancelled any legally signed hunting concession agreements with any hunting outfitter. I will repeat that. From the foregoing, I would like to state that the New Dawn Government has not cancelled any legally signed hunting concession agreements with any hunting outfitter. The House may wish to note that 17th August, 2021, was a date set for the signing of the hunting concession agreements at the Ministry of Tourism’s headquarters. This was just days after the announcement of the results of the 12th August, 2021 general elections, which ushered in the New Dawn Government under the leadership of His Excellency, President Hakainde Hichilema.

Madam Speaker, the ministry proposed and agreed to defer the signing ceremony of the hunting concession agreements to give the New Dawn Administration sufficient time to review the process that followed before the parties could finally append their signatures on the hunting concession agreements. As such, no bidder paid the prescribed concession fees to the Government for the applied hunting blocks.

Madam, taking cognisance that the procurement process and or tender was initiated and guided by the provision of the Public Procurement Act No. 8 of 2021, and that all undertakings regarding the procurement process are subject to the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, a Ministerial Procurement Committee (MPC) was called upon on 29th April, 2022. The MPC meeting unanimously resolved to cancel the tendering process citing Section 69 of the Public Procurement Act No. 8 of 2020, which provides to the effect that:

“ (1) A procuring entity may, at any time, prior to notification of contract award, terminate or cancel procurement proceedings without entering into a contract if—

         (a)     the subject procurement is overtaken by—

                 (i)      operation of law; or

                (ii)      substantial technological change;

        (b)     the procurement need has ceased to exist or changed significantly;

        (c)      funding is not sufficient for the procurement;

        (d)     there is a significant change in the required technical details, bidding conditions, conditions of

                 contract or otherdetails, such that the recommencement of procurement proceedings is necessary;

        (e)      there is evidence of collusion among bidders;

        (f)     it is otherwise in the public interest;

        (g)    there is evidence of corrupt practices by an office holderor any other person involved in the

                procurement;

        (h)   bids were not received;

         (i)    there is evidence that prices of the bids are above market prices;

         (j)    material governance issues are detected;

        (k)   all evaluated bids are non-responsive; or

         (l)   there is an incidence of force majeure.

 

(2) A procuring entity that terminates or cancels procurement proceedings under this section shall, within fourteen days from the date of the termination or cancellation —

        (a)     submit to the Authority, a written report on the termination or cancellation stating the reasons for the

                  termination or cancellation; and

       (b)     notify, in writing, the person that submitted bids of the reasons for the termination or cancellation.

Madam Speaker, the MPC went ahead to notify the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) and the bidders in line on 4th May, 2022, respectively within the rules and regulations of the Zambia Public Procurement Authority Act No. 8 of 2020.

Madam, the New Dawn Government was elected on a ticket of change in the August 2021 election. His Excellency Mr Hakainde Hichilema, President of the Republic of Zambia, has on many occasions pronounced the need for locals to participate in many of the business facets via joint ventures, be it local or foreign. The safari hunting business is one such lucrative business that requires participation from all entrepreneurial Zambians. The hasty signing of these hunting concession agreements by our previous Government would have meant the exclusion of many eligible Zambians from participating in this hunting business.

Madam Speaker, Zambia has twenty national parks and thirty-sixGame Management Areas (GMAs). In the thirty-six GMAs, the ministry allocated twenty-nine safari hunting blocks between 2014 and 2020. You may wish to note that hunting is only permitted in designated GMAs and not in national parks.

Madam, further, six of the twenty-nine hunting concessions have expired. Four expired in March, 2022, one in April, 2022 and the other one in May, 2022. In addition, the hunting concession agreement in Nkala Hunting Block was terminated on 22nd June, 2022 upon notice to terminate by the operator.

Madam Speaker, the remainder of the twenty-two commenced hunting at the opening of the hunting season on 1st May, 2022, contrary to media reports suggesting that there is no hunting taking place in Zambia. I will lay on the Table a list of all those hunting blocks which are operational as of 1st May, 2022.

Madam, the House may wish to note that two of the twenty-two active hunting block concessions are domiciled in Lumezi Constituency. The House may also wish to note that there are three hunting blocks in Lumezi Constituency of which only Mwanya Hunting Block expired and is earmarked for retender.

Madam Speaker, to expedite the processes of retendering, the Ministry of Tourism has finalised the new bid document for the retender of hunting blocks in a phased-out approach. Priority will be given to the concessions that expired on 31st December, 2021. We encourage all the outfitters that bid for tender MTA/SP/001/20 to also retender as well.

Madam, as I conclude, may it be known that the hunting concession agreements have traditionally been a seven-year tenure for prime hunting blocks as opposed to the ten-year tenure that the previous regime had proposed in the cancelled tender process.

Madam Speaker, as I retreat to my seat, I wish to humbly request that hon. Members of Parliament and Community Resource Boards (CRBs) in the affected areas support and work with the Government in its endeavour to uplift the livelihoods of the communities. Making media statements that suggest that the Government is neglecting its own people and encouraging poaching must not be encouraged as the Government is committed to developing Zambia in an all-inclusive manner. This is over and above the allocation of the K25.7 million Constituency Development Fund (CDF) in those constituencies, including Lumezi.

Madam, finally, the Ministry of Tourism, through the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, will be recruiting wildlife police officers later in the year to beef up law enforcement. Do look out for the advert. I further wish to invite hon. Members of Parliament and, indeed, the general public living in the GMAs to volunteer as honorary wildlife police officers so that we embark on vigorous law enforcement.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Madam Speaker: Hon. Members, you are now free to ask questions on points of clarification on the ministerial statement given by the hon. Minister of Tourism.

Mr Mundubile (Mporokoso): Madam Speaker, in his statement, the hon. Minister made reference to his Government’s policy to afford Zambians to participate in most of these economic sectors, including hunting concessions. I am glad to inform him that we are happy with that statement because that is our position as Members on your left.

Madam, in the earlier advert that led to the bids that we later cancelled, was there anything that excluded the participation of locals? I hope he gets it because he initially mentioned that if the successful bidders had gone ahead to sign, it was going to exclude many Zambians. So, the question is, in the earlier advert, were Zambians excluded from participating in those bids?

Mr Sikumba: Madam Speaker, I did mention in my statement that before signing the agreements, the Ministry of Tourism proposed that it looks at the whole process of what went through the tender process. As such, we got a few of our colleagues, the Zambians, obviously, who were coming through to the ministry, to suggest that the requirements that were required, which were put in place in the bid document, were excluding many of our Zambians. So, that is why we felt it was necessary to review the tender process and the bid documents itself, not explicitly saying that the entire document in itself was excluding Zambians. However, we felt that many Zambians could not participate in the tender process because of the vigorous processes that were put in the bid document.

Madam Speaker, I thank you.

Madam Speaker: Since the matter was raised by the hon. Member for Lumezi, I will give him an opportunity to ask a question.

Mr Munir Zulu (Lumezi): Thank you so much, kind Madam Speaker. I thank the kind hon. Minister for his response and I am glad that he mentioned Chief Mwanya’s area in Lumezi.

Madam Speaker, the hon. Minister may be aware that in 2012, the hon. Minister of Tourism then, under the Patriotic Front (PF) had cancelled the concessions. That cancellation saw the depletion of wildlife areas such as Bilili and Namwala South. We saw an increase in encroachments in these Game Management Areas (GMAs).

Madam Speaker, with the vast experience of the hon. Minister in the tourism sector and not politics, – the Attorney-General wrote a letter on the 5th January, 2022, advising the Head of State, His Excellency the President, Mr Hakainde Hichilema not to go ahead and cancel the concessions. The hon. Minister, in his statement, has avoided bringing in the Attorney-General’s letter. Why is that so?

Mr Sikumba: Madam Speaker, the hon. Member for Lumezi has talked about the Attorney-General’s letter, a letter which I have not had sight of as it was not addressed to me. Secondly, the ministry has not received any such correspondence relating to cancelling of the concessions and the advice.

Madam Speaker, I thank you.

Mr Jamba (Mwembezhi): Madam Speaker, the hon. Minister may wish to note that when he is talking about Zambians, it seems there is only a certain kind of Zambians who are so much in these concessions. We do not understand why that is so.

Madam Speaker, the hon. Minister is ever talking about nineteen concessions being advertised. However, in his statement, he stated that there are twenty-nine concessions. So, out of that twenty–nine, why is the hon. Minister only talking about the nineteen? What is happening to the other ten? Were they not advertised or tendered? What is the whole thing behind the other concessions?

Mr Sikumba: Madam Speaker, those are some of the red flags that we found when we were doing the audit of the previous concessions that were advertised. We actually did find out within my ministry that there are certain hunting blocks, which for some unknown reason, were awarded administratively. Administratively, simply means that they did not go through the Wildlife Licensing Committee. I must make mention or probably even declare, that at the time this tendering process was happening, I, the hon. Minister of Tourism now, was one of the members of the licensing committee and upon realisation that I was a staunch United Party for National Development (UPND) member, the previous Government chucked me out of the licensing committee and obviously, those are some of the issues that really rendered us to make sure that we have a full audit of what is happening within the process of the tender.

Madam Speaker, I thank you.

Mr Kapyanga (Mpika): Madam Speaker, I thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to ask the hon. Minister of Tourism a question. I also the hon. Minister for the ministerial statement.

Madam Speaker, I come from a constituency in Mpika, where we are affected by this cancellation, which the hon. Minister has said is not a cancellation, I believe. However, I was expecting, first and foremost, the hon. Minister to own up and state that, indeed, it is a cancellation because here, we have been told before that this Government does not work in silos. How could written advice regarding an issue under the Ministry of Tourism go to the President and the hon. Minister is not aware?

Madam Speaker, the hon. Minister is very much aware of the written advice from the Attorney-General regarding the cancellation. In his advice, he cited Section 69 of the Public Procurement Act No. 8 of 2020 as the reason the Government could not proceed with the cancellation.

Madam Speaker, how can we now trust the hon. Minister after making this kind of u-turn on the Floor of the House?

Mr Sikumba: Madam Speaker, I will repeat myself. The Government has not cancelled any legally signed concession agreements. That is all. We have not cancelled anything. The only thing that we have done is cancelling the tendering process of the hunting concession which was floated in 2020.

Madam Speaker, I thank you.

Mr Menyani Zulu (Nyimba): Madam Speaker, I, sometimes wonder because if this was the black mountain in Kitwe, the entire Executive would have given us a statement.

Madam Speaker, the hon. Minister, is a very good colleague. I have a problem with this situation because I do not know how to ask a question when the most important answer in a statement we waited for has not been given. I am happy that he has said those legally signed contracts.

Madam Speaker, can the hon. Minster tell us what he was supposed to have told us three months ago and he kept it to himself. Can the hon. Minister tell us which contracts are legal and the ones which are illegally signed? He must tell us which ones are illegally signed because to some of us, this is our own black mountain. People are so expectant now that they will have something to put in their pockets, but now, we must tell them that this will not happen.

Madam Speaker, there are so many game ranches in Nyimba Constituency. So, I would like the hon. Minister to tell me which ones were illegally and legally given.

Mr Sikumba: Madam Speaker, I am not sure I was talking about legally and illegally. In any case, I want to put this matter to rest, in a shortest possible way.

Madam Speaker, currently, and I repeat, we have seven hunting blocks, which expired and those are the ones we are going to have as priority when the new bid document come. I will read them out.

Madam, we have Nyampala, Chikwa, Lower Lupande, Chifunda, Mwanya, and Luawata. Those expired. Any other hunting block across the country is active and hunting is currently going on. Each of these hunting blocks have various concession anniversary dates. As such, they expire on totally different dates. I will give you an example of the ones I have just mentioned. One example is Chanjuzi and it is expiring on 4th November. Once it expires, we will retender. Obviously, with our procurement process, we do realise that we have to tender most of these expiring hunting block concessions well in advance so that if we have any new entrants, they are able to find time to mobilise.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

Mrs Sabao (Chikankata): Madam Speaker, what is the policy of the New Dawn Government regarding natural resources, in particular, hunting concessions?

Mr Sikumba: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I hope I got the question correctly. If it is an issue of the Community Resource Board (CRB) policy – Is it what it is?

Madam Speaker: The New Dawn Administration’s policy regarding concessions. That is what the question is.

Mr Sikumba: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I think our policy, like I mentioned in my statement, –

Interruptions

Mr Sikumba: What I actually mentioned, Madam Speaker, in my statement was very clear. We are looking at all-inclusive involvement in the sharing of our natural resources. The idea behind it is that what we have endowed as Zambians is our world flora and fauna. What we are potentially looking at as the UPND Government is the sustainable use of our wildlife. Sustainable simply means, and this is in our policy, that the local communities which have given up enough of their land so that it becomes a protected area, are serviced first. The moment the communities are taken care of, we will be able to see our habit, be it forestry or wildlife, mushroom and then we will get the much deserved resources out of that.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

Mr Mushanga (Bwacha): Madam Speaker, in his statement, as he was almost concluding, the hon. Minister indicated that the ministry will recruit wildlife officers later this year. May he be specific on when the recruitment will start, unlike only stating “later this year”?

Mr Sikumba: Madam Speaker, yes, indeed, the Ministry of Tourism will be recruiting wildlife police officers within the year, and if my memory serves me right, Madam Speaker, Treasury authority was sought. I believe that will kick in between August and September of the year 2022.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

Mr Mung’andu (Chama South): Madam Speaker, it is our understanding that when a Government starts a programme, even successive Governments should continue with the programme. That is how a nation can develop, not where we attach things to politics. I think we will not go anywhere.

My question is: did the tender process not go through the stages which are legally binding, that is, ministerial committee sitting, tender committee sitting? Were all Community Resource Boards (CRBs) not called to Lusaka to negotiate and eventually the tenders were awarded? Were the tenders awarded for these hunting blocks? Were the tenders awarded? I want to know if the tenders were awarded to successful bidders. If they were awarded and you cancelled them, is that not cancellation of legally binding tenders?

Interruptions

Mr Mung’andu: Madam Speaker, clearly the hon. Minister of Justice is there interfering. We are asking the hon. Minister of Tourism here, not the hon. Minister of Justice –

Madam Speaker: Order!

Hon. Member, just ask your point of clarification. We are running out of time –

Mr Mung’andu: No. It is important, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker: What is your point of clarification?

Mr Mung’andu: My question is: were the tenders not awarded to successful bidders? We want to know that, if they were not awarded.

Mr Sikumba: Madam Speaker, thank you very much. Hon. Member of Parliament for Chama South, I think on page 2 of my ministerial statement, it was very clear. Fortunately, I even have it in bold, and I will read it for you again. Please have a notebook and pen nearby so that you write it down as well.

“Further, it must be noted that at receiving the invitation letters, it was clearly marked on stating that ‘The notice does not constitute an award of a contract to the bidder mentioned above. Bid acceptance and contract placement shall be in accordance with Part X of the public procurement regulations.’”

So, the answer to your question is no.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker: Thank you. We have run out of time. We go to the next item.

MEASURES BEING TAKEN TO CONTROL MEASLES OUTBREAK IN MUSHINDAMO DISTRICT

The Minister of Health (Mrs Masebo): Madam Speaker, –

Interruptions

Madam Speaker: Order hon. Members!

Can we listen? I do not know, if you have an issue, you can raise it before we go to the statement. Hon. Member for Chama South, do you have an issue?

Mr Mung’andu: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Yes, indeed, I have an issue.

I have noticed that, we are being timed when asking follow up questions. There are many people who are genuinely affected by the cancellation of these hunting concessions, Madam Speaker. We are motivated not to fight the Government, but the people on the ground, the CRBs, the chiefs, are the ones who are appealing to us as their representatives, to speak on their behalf. However, we are seeing timing of the proceedings of this august House, which we hon. Members have never accepted, and that is not in the Standing Orders. This House operates on Standing Orders.

So this is the reason we are consulting here. Did we agree to the timing on the follow up questions as a House, or did the House adopt through the Standing Orders, the timing of the follow up questions to the hon. Ministers? Before we are rendered a House that is not worth to be called a House – We are here to provide checks and balances to the Executive.

Madam Speaker: Are you done, hon. Member?

Mr Mung’andu: This is the reason we are conversing here, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker: Thank you. Hon. Member – Maybe, the hon. Minister can resume her seat.

Mrs Masebo resumed her seat.

Madam Speaker: Hon. Members, this House is guided by the Standing Orders, the same Standing Orders that we formulated for ourselves. I have, on several occasions, advised hon. Members to familiarise themselves with the Standing Orders. It is not correct for the hon. Member for Chama South to state that the Standing Orders do not provide for timing of ministerial statements. The correct position is that Standing Order No. 129(5) clearly states what happens when the House is considering a ministerial statement. Standing Order No. 129 reads:

“129. Presentation of Ministerial Statements”

I will refer you direct to 129(5)

“(5) the period for presenting and considering a ministerial statement shall not exceed thirty minutes unless otherwise determined by the Speaker.”

Those are the provisions in the Standing Orders. We have not amended the Standing Orders and we have business on the order paper which we need to conclude. There are two ministerial statements and two reports to consider and adopt. Looking at time, if we spend too much time on one ministerial statement, we will not be able to go through the order paper and that is why the ministerial statements are being timed. I hope you will familiarise yourselves, hon. Members, with the Standing Orders so that when you raise points of order, you are well guided, first of all, by the standing orders themselves. I will call upon the hon. Minister to make the statement.

MEASURES BEING TAKEN TO CONTROL MEASLES OUTBREAK IN MUSHINDAMO DISTRICT

The Minister of Health (Ms Masebo): Madam Speaker, I want to start by thanking you once again for the opportunity to update this august House and the nation at large on the measles outbreak in Mushindamo District of the North-Western Province.

Madam Speaker, following a matter of Urgent Public Importance raised by Mr Alex Katakwe, hon. Member of Parliament for Solwezi East Parliamentary Constituency, on the outbreak of measles in Mushindamo District, who wanted to know what measures were being taken by the Ministry of Health to control the outbreak, a follow up was made on that matter and the update to the House is as follows:

For the House to have a clear picture of the situation, may I start by informing it that Mushindamo District is one of the eleven districts of the North-Western Province. It borders Solwezi, Kasempa and the Copperbelt internally and also has an international border post at Kipushi with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Kipushi is about 135 km from the provincial health office and 205 km from Mushindamo district health office. The border of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is porous and both Zambians and Congolese freely cross over from one side to the other. Kipushi border post has many people crossing between the two countries, especially during the open market days on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In this regard, Mushindamo District is one of the hot spots districts for measles outbreaks and is epidemic prone to other diseases in general.

Madam Speaker, in the last few years, Mushindamo District has been on record for reporting measles outbreaks and nearly around the same areas, that is, Mushindamo Health Centre Mututubanya Health Post and Kipushi Health Post catchment areas. Last year in November, for example, the district had a measles outbreak in Mututubanya Health Post catchment area were we had nine people testing positive out of twelve samples that were collected showing a positivity of 75 per cent. In March, 2022, the district, again, recorded another measles outbreak where three out of four cases were positive. Out of the three samples that came out positive, one was positive for both measles and rubella.

Madam Speaker, the current outbreak of measles in Mushindamo District is somewhat linked to the outbreak that started in March 2022. In April, 2022, four samples were collected from Mushindamo Health Centre catchment area in particular, and from Kashiba community near the border with the DRC. These were taken to the lab and this time, one sample tested positive to measles. The alert in the current outbreak was also from Kashiba community under Mushindamo Health Centre. This time around, on 9th May, 2022, seven samples were taken to the lab. Of the seven, two were not tested, five were tested and three of the five tested positive to measles only and none tested positive to rubella.

Madam Speaker, a clinical case of measles was defined as a generalised characteristic rash lasting three or more days, fever and at least one of the following: either a cough or a flue like symptom and what is known as conjunctivitis or red eyes. With the current alerts coming from Kashiba, a combined rapid response team lead by the provincial clinical care specialist comprising officers from the provincial health office and Mushindamo District Health Office and Mushindamo Rural Health Centre visited the site to investigate the rumour of forty suspected measles deaths in the community of Kashiba and surrounding areas. The team was joined and given technical support by the national rapid response team based at the Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI). The rapid response team aimed to achieve the following:

    (a)   to alert investigations; door to door;

    (b)   health promotion and education on preventive measures;

    (c)   contact tracing and monitoring of the contacts;

    (d)   risk assessment and mapping of the nearby communities;

    (e)   active search case in the two affected communities;

    (f)   collection of samples of other suspected cases;

    (g)   meeting the standard case definition of suspected measles;

    (h)  meeting with community volunteers to teach them on basics for clinical case definition of measles; and

    (i)   in Kashiba community where measles was reported earlier in March, there was one case that was

         suspected and the sample was collected from there. Two samples were also collected from Yowela which

         is 12km from Mushindamo Rural Health Centre a long Kipushi Boarder Road and another four samples

        were collected from Kafulubunga community along Mushindamo/Kilumba Road.

Madam Speaker, the findings of the investigations which were undertaken on Saturday, 4th June, 2022, were as follows:

       (a)     there was no evidence of forty suspected measles deaths in the area. The source of this rumour was

                a community leader trying to advocate for the opening of the incomplete Kashiba Rural Health Centre.

                The said structure only has the out-patient building completed without any other supporting

                infrastructure such as water toilet among other major structures. He was, however, engaged and he

                committed to stopping issuing false alarms;

        (b)    there were three deaths from the measles; one was a confirmed measles death were as two were

                classified as probable measles deaths;

        (c)    the community also reported two deaths that happened from the Congolese side but these were      

               buried on the Zambia side making a total of five deaths;

        (d)   in Kiziba, there was only child who had clinical features of measles and specimen was collected for

               immunological studies;

        (e)   there were three communities around Mushindamo Rural Health Centre with multiple cases meeting

               the clinical criterion for measles. These were in Mushindamo Rural Health Centre neighbourhood,

               Kaulabunga neighbourhood which is 5 km towards Solwezi and Yowela neighbourhood which is some

              12 km towards Kipushi Border Post;

         (f)   it was very difficult to verify vaccination status as most children had no under-five cards;

         (g)  some of the children were frequently taken across the border making them miss public health

               interventions on the Zambian side;

        (h)   the community based volunteers did not know their respective catchment populations, and therefore, it

              was difficult for them to account for every child and to quantify the needs;

        (i)   a total of thirty-one samples were tested at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) laboratory on

              Monday, 6th June, 2022. Fourteen tested positive for measles and two for rubella;

        (j)   the rest of the samples were not in good quality by the time they reached the laboratory and therefore,

              could not be analysed; and

        (k)  another fifteen samples have been collected and tests are yet to be conducted. The samples will also

              be subjected to genomic sequencing.

Madam Speaker, the team had earlier on conducted a localised supplementary immunisation activity in Kashiba and this halted the spread of the disease there. Planning for primary health care activities has been a challenge considering that most supporting organisations prefer Zambia Statistics Agency rather than the headcounts.

This status then, undermines under-five interventions in Mushindamo, the province and the country at large. Furthermore, Mushindamo Rural Health Centre catchment area is also very vast and without adequate outreach services due to limited resources. Among the positive outcomes of the exercise, community based volunteers were oriented in event based surveillance and made to be more proactive, a fund has been established under the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) for completion of Kashiba. Partners and other stakeholders were engaged and under-five cards were printed.

Madam Speaker, results for the samples which were submitted on 6th June, 2022, were received on 20thJune, 2022. Fourteen out of thirty one samples were positive for measles and two also tested positive for rubella. This means we have a dual outbreak of measles and rubella, hence the current available measles/rubella vaccine that we use in routine immunisation is appropriate.

The target populations for the vaccination campaign are children between six months to 15 years who are also in the ages of those who have been infected. So far, out of a target population estimated at 16,010, a total of 14,739 have been vaccinated giving 92 per cent coverage. I am happy to report that as of 20th June, 2022, no new cases were recorded in Mushindamo.

Madam Speaker, as I conclude, may I urge hon. Members of this august House to urge their communities to be taking the children for vaccinations so that we can avoid waiting for outbreaks like the one in Mushindamo to happen before mothers take their children for vaccination. As of yesterday, 20th June, 2022, up to 25th June, 2022, we are again as Government through the Ministry of Health vaccinating our children. I wish to use this opportunity to appeal once more to the parents out there to please take their children for vaccination because this is an opportunity as more centres are opened specifically to help our children get vaccinated.

Madam Speaker, it is worth noting that apart from vaccinating children, we want to use this opportunity to also administer other vaccinations like the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination. We also want to do testing for Tuberculosis (TB), Human Immuno Virus (HIV) apart from the usual Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination. So, once again, hon. Members of Parliament, I urge you to get your officers in your constituency offices to inform all councilors to inform members of their communities and wards to take their children for vaccination.

Madam Speaker, I thank you.

Madam Speaker: Hon. Members, you are now free to ask questions on points of clarification on the ministerial statement given by the hon. Minister.

Mr Kambita (Zambezi East): Madam Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to ask the hon. Minister  of Health a follow up question.

Madam Speaker, allow me to preface my question with the following: Mushindamo District is a district that was born from Solwezi District, an area which is very well known to me. In the olden days in the Ministry of Health, we used to have what was called the Health Management Information System (HMIS), which system was keeping important data about catchment populations and activities related to health of a catchment area. We also had systems of inspection which were called performance assessments on a quarterly basis where various technocrats such as Environmental Health Technologists, Clinicians and Clinical Care Specialists would go in a team to assess the health situation in an area and that contributed to wide coverage in terms of vaccinations.

Madam Speaker, I would like to know from the hon. Minister if those important systems are still in existence or probably in between here when our hon. Colleagues on you right hand side could have lost that important way of doing things in the health sector such that it has lowered the coverage of children immunised. I want to know what the status is because the lower the coverage, the more susceptible the children are to epidemics like measles.

Mr Kampyongo: On appoint of order, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker: Order!

Before I call on the hon. Minister of Health to answer, there is a point order indicated by the hon. Member of Parliament for Shiwang’andu.

Mr Kampyongo: Madam Speaker, thank for this opportunity. Actually, it is a procedural point of order.

Madam Speaker, if I recall very well, the hon. Minister of Tourism was directed to issue a consolidated ministerial statement following subsequent points of order that were raised other than the one concerning the hunting concessions. I do recall that the hon. Member for Katombola raised a matter related to animal/human conflict. He indicated that there were attacks on humans There must have been another point of order and the hon. Madam First Deputy Speaker, sitting in your Chair, did combine those points of order and directed that the hon. Minister issues a consolidated statement on those matters in addition to the ones that he spoke to this afternoon. Was he, therefore, in order to ignore those directives which were given by your Chair and only selected one matter out of those matters that were raised? I seek your serious guidance, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker: I should have made the announcement myself to say that the two statements will be issued separately because of the issue of time. This is because the hon. Minister was also going to issue a statement. If we had considered all the issues, we would not have had sufficient time to debate the matters or ask questions on points of clarification. It was, therefore, decided that the hon. Minister of Tourism will come back again with another ministerial statement – I just cannot remember on what date – on the animal/human conflict. So, the hon. Minister is still coming back. We have not forgotten about that issue. I should have clarified when we started.

Mr Chitotela: On a point of order, Madam.

Madam Speaker: A point of order is raised.

Mr Chitotela: Madam Speaker, I am raising a point of order pursuant to Standing Order 65. It is usually not in order for me to challenge my successor, but the Standing Orders compel all of us to be factual and truthful. The hon. Minister of Tourism responded to a follow-up question by the hon. Member for Chama South on whether contracts were awarded according to the Zambia Wildlife Act or not. The hon. Minister was a member of the Wildlife Licensing Committee, which has the responsibility to award contracts. It is the Wildlife Licensing Committee that sat and awarded contracts. Therefore, is the hon. Minister in order to come to the House and issue a statement and mislead the whole House and nation that contracts were not awarded when the Wildlife Licensing Committee, which he was party to, awarded contracts to bidders?

I seek your serious ruling, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker: Hon. Member for Pambashe, you are coming through the back door trying to sneak in a question because that matter that you are raising as a point of order is definitely not a point of order. You are trying to ask the hon. Minister of Tourism a point of clarification, but that session has already closed. In any event, the content of a ministerial statement is determined by the ministry itself. So, hon. Members cannot insist or ask questions why certain information is not in the ministerial statement. Hon. Members should merely ask questions based on the statement given and not outside the statement. Therefore, the hon. Minister is in order.

Hon. Minister of Health, I hope you still remember the question.

Mrs Masebo: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Member for the follow up question. All I can say is that systems have always been there but over years or past years we noticed that a number of these functions which were performed at the districts started going to the centre. We saw decentralisation becoming centralisation system. That is how, in the process, some of the good community programmes to prevent disease and improve immunisation, started going down. It is for that reason that the New Dawn Government has decided to pursue the Decentralisation Policy. One of the areas is primary health care, which we intend to take back to the local Government through councils so that some of these issues or programmes like the distribution of mosquito nets, spraying of mosquitoes and of course, immunisation through various vaccination programmes, those are things really, if we are to get better results, that have to be done at district level and not as the case has been. So, to an extent, I want to agree with the question, but just to confirm that we are going towards ensuring that those good ways of the past are rekindled through the implementation of the Decentralisation Policy.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker: Since this matter was raised by the hon. Member for Solwezi East, I will also give him an opportunity to ask a question.

Mr Katakwe (Solwezi East): Madam Speaker, I thank you for according the people of Solwezi East, in particular, Mushindamo District, to make a follow up question. I am so grateful to the hon. Minister that measures are being put in place to address the outbreak of measles in my district. Now, I am also glad that the hon. Minster has acknowledged the vastness of our rural health area and the challenges like transport and manpower.

Madam Speaker, allow me to, not really interrogate, but find out from the hon. Minister what long term measures the Government has to make sure that such outbreaks do not occur, especially that our children are being taken to the other side of the border, that is in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to seek health services. Quiet often, some children are even born on the other side, which becomes quite difficult to have them registered as Zambians. We also notice that at the border, we do not have a clinic, hence our children catching measles and other diseases from the DRC side. What long term measures is the Government putting in place to make sure that these challenges of transport and lack of manpower are actually mitigated in Mushindamo District?

Mrs Masebo: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Member for his follow up questions regarding what the Government is doing to address various issues. I see that he has brought in issues of transport, low staffing levels and my response, rather, our response as a ministry to that follow up question will be as follows:

Madam, as stated, one way that we are looking at is to construct clinics in the catchment areas to improve access. The other thing we are looking at is to improve access to other services as well as to limit the cross border interactions from the Zambian side to the other side, which is the DRC. Further, we are looking at tightening border controls in the area so that there is some form of control around the border because at the moment, it is like we are just one country and there is a problem there. Furthermore, there is intensification of vaccination programmes so that the herd immunity is attained, which means there will be adequate coverage to avoid outbreaks.

Madam Speaker, regarding infrastructure, it will be worth noting that we do have a mini hospital in an area called Kasepa. Currently, the Government is looking at deploying more staff at the mini hospital. In the ongoing recruitment of health workers, we will send extra staff to the mini hospital. However, allow me to mention that the district has, – apart from Kasepa Mini Hospital, which is located about 210 km from the measles hotspots; obviously, you see that it is like there are districts within a district. So, we have taken note of the fact that the area is very vast and wide and that there are issues of transport. So, in terms of transport, the mini hospital already has a medium life support ambulance. In addition, the district health office has one more functional but old ambulance that needs replacement. We have taken note of these outbreaks and we have prioritised this district as one of the districts that will be receiving special extra attention from the Government.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

Mr Mumba (Kantanshi): Madam Speaker, let me also join other hon. Members of Parliament to thank the hon. Minister for her statement. However, I would have thought that she would have also added monkey pox. Let me just try and draw her attention to the special treatment she will give to Mushindamo, which is bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia. My Constituency has a huge border at the Mokambo border post which is also at risk just like Mushindamo. My main interest is on surveillance. How would the hon. Minister rate the surveillance in these borders with the DRC where it seems most of these diseases are coming from. Although the hon. Minister did not talk about monkey pox, I know she has issued a statement about it or around it. There are two cases already that have been mentioned by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Could the hon. Minister assure us on the surveillance regarding the measles outbreak like in Mushindamo?

Mrs Masebo: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Member for that very important follow up question. By being land-linked, Zambia, generally, shares borders with a number of countries and we notice that it is mainly in these border areas that we are getting various diseases which are crossing over. One of the issues that was discussed at the last World Health Organisation (WHO) General Assembly in Geneva was precisely this matter and some action strategies have been developed, which Zambia has gladly adopted. We will be interacting with various hon. Ministers of Health in these specific borders, so that we work hard together to ensure that diseases are controlled and the issue of surveillance is also improved upon. Speaking for Zambia in particular, we are looking at ensuring that we start looking at putting up health posts in a number of these posts so that there is control and prevention. Some of the activities which are happening in the mainland can be happening along those borders because it is in our interest as a country to vaccinate, not only people on the Zambian side, but all those who are along the borders. However, this has to be done in collaboration with the member states that are sharing borders with Zambia.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker: We want to listen to others also. So, hon. Member for Bwacha, forgive me, but I would like to give the Floor to the hon. Member for Lupososhi.

Mr E. Musonda (Lupososhi): Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister for her comprehensive ministerial statement. My question has partly been touched, but I will still go ahead to ask the hon. Minister about the samples that were taken. Of the blood samples that were taken, may I know how many of those were from the Congolese and Zambians? The hon. Minister mentioned that we share a very porous border post. People cross in and out of the two countries respectively at any time and the Congolese also access our health services and some of them live in Zambia. Did the hon. Minister bother to ascertain whether the blood samples that were taken were all for Zambians or they also included our brothers from across the country?

Mrs Masebo: Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. Member for that follow up question. I will not be able to specify exactly who the actual owners of the samples were. I just took it that these are samples taken from the Zambian side, but you recall Madam Speaker in the statement, I did indicate when it came to deaths that were recorded, two or three of those deaths that were said to be part of the five, two were from across. So, there was a Congolese national who died but was buried in Zambia. Like I indicated, when you are in these border areas, you will not even know who is a Zambian and who is not a Zambian. However, we are taking note of those important questions so that we can be very specific in our answers next time.

I thank you, Madam.

_______

MOTIONS

REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON YOUTH, SPORT AND CHILD MATTERS

Mr Sing’ombe (Dundumwezi): Madam Speaker, I beg to move that this House do adopt the report of the Committee on Youth, Sport and Child Matters for the First Session of the Thirteenth National Assembly laid on the Table of the House on Tuesday, 7th June, 2022.

Madam Speaker: Is the Motion Seconded?

Ms Halwiindi (Kabwe Central): Madam Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.

Mr Sing’ombe: Madam Speaker, in accordance with Standing Orders No.198, your Committee considered one topical issue, namely the management of child care facilities in Zambia. Considering that hon. Members have read the report, allow me to comment on some of the key findings from your Committee’s engagements with various stakeholders on the topical issue.

Madam Speaker, one key finding was that funding by the Government to the majority of child care facilities in Zambia was inconsistent and inadequate. Your Committee learnt from one of the proprietors of child care facilities in Lusaka that in 2021, she received a grant of K4000 from the Government after a period of ten years from the last grant. This made the running of the child care facility very difficult. In light of the above, your Committee strongly urges the Government through the Ministry of Community Development of Social Services to consider increasing the amount of the grants to the child care facilities as well as ensuring that the grants are given regularly and at predictable intervals in order to ease the financial burden in the child care facilities.

Madam Speaker, another finding of concern to your Committee is that in most of the child care facilities visited by the Committee, especially on the Copperbelt and the North-Western provinces was that most of the children in the facilities have no committal orders from the courts to grant custodial rights of the children to the facilities.

Madam Speaker, in order to encourage the Department of Social Welfare to acquire committal orders for children, the Judiciary in Kitwe has waived the fees payable to the courts before committal orders are issued in respect of the children admitted to child care facilities. In light of the above, your Committee urges the Government, as a matter of urgency, to consider waiving committal order fees payable to the courts throughout the country as was the case in Kitwe. Waiving of the fees will encourage the Department of Social Welfare to obtain committal orders both for children already in the facilities and those yet to be admitted.

Madam Speaker, your Committee further notes that some childcare facilities in Zambia are operating in breach of the minimum standards of care for childcare facilities. A case in point is a childcare facility in the North-Western Province, where the proprietor hardly understood the minimum standards of care for child care facilities. In this vein, your Committee recommends that the Government, through the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services, should conduct regular inspections in child care facilities and close down facilities operating in breach of the minimum standards of care.

Furthermore, Madam Speaker, another finding of your Committee is that proprietors of child care facilities, like Solwezi Cheshire Homes in Solwezi, caring for disabled children, face a challenge in finding material used for making artificial limbs for the disabled children as it is not readily available.

In view of this, your Committee urges the Government to urgently put in place measures that will ensure that the material used to make artificial limbs for children in child care facilities is easily accessible.

Madam Speaker, in conclusion, allow me to place on record, the gratitude of your Committee to all the stakeholders who tendered both written and oral submissions. Your Committee also wishes to thank you. Madam, for your guidance and the Clerk of The National Assembly and staff for the support services rendered to it throughout its deliberations.

Madam Speaker, I beg to move.

Madam Speaker: Does the seconder wish to speak now or later?

Ms Halwiindi: Now, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker, I rise to second the Motion moved by our Chairperson, Hon Edgar Sing’ombe that the House do adopt the Report of the Committee on Youth, Sport and Child Matters for the First Session of The Thirteenth National Assembly, laid on the Table of the House on Wednesday, 7th June, 2022.

Madam Speaker, I am confident that hon. Members read your Committee's report and that they have listened to the Motion as the Chairperson moved it. Therefore, allow me to highlight four points as considered by your Committee on Youth, Sport and Child Matters.

Madam Speaker, as your Committee went on tour, especially on the Copperbelt Province and the North-Western Province, it discovered that most of the children in child care facilities had no committal orders granted by the court to give custodial rights to the child care facilities. This is a concern to your Committee because without committal orders, it is very difficult to account for our children in child care facilities.

For that reason, Madam Speaker, your Committee urges the Government to make sure that all the children committed to child care facilities are granted committal orders before they are admitted to child care facilities.

Madam Speaker, allow me also to highlight one issue that your Committee discovered during the local tour. Most child care facilities are being supported by external donors. This is a concern to your Committee because it poses a danger to the operations of child care facilities should external donors withdrew their support. For that reason, your Committee urges the Government to consider increasing funding to child care facilities as well as sensitising local citizens and organisations on the need to support child care facilities.

Madam Speaker, one other issue that was of major concern to your Committee was that most child care facilities throughout the country are faced with the challenge of the high cost of electricity, hence resorting to the use of charcoal. In view of this challenge, your Committee urges the Government to put up a long-lasting solution to support child care facilities to ease their burden in terms of the high cost of electricity bills.

Furthermore, Madam Speaker, also of major concern to your Committee is the Child Code Bill, which has been in draft form for a long time. This is the Bill which harmonises or brings together all the laws that speak to the protection of child care in Zambia. This includes children in child care facilities. This is the Bill which is also going to harmonise the definition of a "child'. Therefore, your Committee urges the Government to make sure that as a matter of urgency, it finalises and brings the Child Code Bill to this Parliament to make sure that it is passed into law.

Madam Speaker, I urge all hon. Members to support this report, which is very important to our country. Indeed, as your Committee Members went round, they were touched by some of the things they learnt and had to dip their hands into their pockets to support some child care facilities. So, I urge hon. Members to support this Committee’s report.

Finally, allow me to thank the Chairperson and all the Committee Members who debated and supported this Committee. I thank them once more for going an extra mile in supporting these facilities as they went around the country. This is the wake-up call to all of us to make sure that we support child care facilities because our children are really in need.

Madam Speaker, with those few points, I beg to second the Motion.

Mr Kafwaya (Lunte): Madam Speaker, thank you very much for according me this opportunity to make a contribution to this debate in support of the adoption of this report. Firstly, I thank my hon. Colleague, Hon. Edgar Sing’ombe, for moving this Motion and my hon. Colleague, the Member of Parliament for Kabwe Central for seconding the Motion.

Madam Speaker, the importance of your Committee’s reports, and this one in particular, cannot be over emphasised because it speaks to the future of our country. The young people are the future of our country. As a matter of fact, in Bemba we say, imiti ikula e mpanga meaning exactly that. Therefore, any discourse around children is important and should be taken seriously by every well-meaning citizen.

Madam Speaker, on page 20 of your Committee’s report, under paragraph 6.5.6, your Committee recommends the reintegration of children into families. That is to say, the children who may be in these care facilities need to be reintegrated. That is a recommendation of your Committee, and this is where I have drawn my thoughts.

Madam, for your families around the country to be able to execute their sympathy and love for these children, they need to have some level of family economy. There has to be some economy within the families so that their kinship may be exercised. So, because of that, it is important that I urge the Executive to make sure it is in the forefront of creating this family economy and expanding the capacity of families to integrate children. In the absence of that economy, we will end up in a situation in which our children continue to stay in these care facilities as has been established in your Committee’s report.

Madam Speaker, unfortunately, some of the actions which we have observed –

Mr Mung’andu rose and stood in the aisle.

Madam Speaker: Order!

Hon. Member for Chama South, are you standing, sitting down or going out? The hon. Member for Lunte is on the Floor.I can only have one hon. Member standing at a time.

Mr Mung’andu left the Assembly Chamber.

Mr Kafwaya: Madam Speaker, I was just saying that we need family economies to be stimulated by the Government, but some of the actions that we have seen in the recent past do not speak to expanding family economies. In fact, they speak to contracting family economies. For example, the suspension of the debt swap is one action which has taken away disposable income from civil servants meaning that their empathy towards children cannot be executed properly.

Madam, it is my recommendation that our Government should not behave like foreign investors who are only patriotic to profit or wealth maximisation. Our Government must prefer local families. When they give contracts, these contracts should be to the locals so that they can have an economy in their pocket to be able to attract these children who require their love.

Madam Speaker, failure to create jobs, and, in some cases, constraining already existing businesses from expanding opportunities by deliberately failing to pay local contractors is one way of being unpatriotic in the sense that the economies of local families are affected and, in the end, this affects these children that your Committee report is referring to.

Madam, I would recommend that the Government focuses more on families, particularly families of poor people, and take actions which are going to make sure that these families can expand their capacity to integrate these very vulnerable children who are currently sitting in caregiver facilities.

Madam Speaker, with those few remarks, I support your Committee’s report.

I thank you, Madam.

Mr Wamunyima (Nalolo): Madam Speaker, I am delighted to add my voice to debate on this report. May I thank the able hon. Member of Parliament for Dundumwezi, Hon. Sing’ombe, for moving a Motion to support the adoption of this report.

Madam Speaker, this report for me, is one of the most important reports because the Committee on Youth, Sport and Child Affairs looks critically at issues that affect over 60 per cent of the Zambian population today.

Madam, I draw your attention to pages 28 to 30 of the report where your Committee talks about the need for the Child Code Bill. As you read through those pages, you look at the escalation of child marriages. As you may know, Zambia practices a dual legal system. So, there is no clear definition of a child today. When you go to Article 266 of the Constitution, you will see that a child is any person below eighteen years of age. When you go to the Marriage Act, under Statutory Law, it talks about marriage starting at the age of twenty-one and when it comes to traditional marriages in our rural constituencies, age is not a factor. As long as parents give consent and that particular child, especially the girl child, has reached puberty, our girls and the children of this country are still being married off.

Madam Speaker, as your Committee reports, never has it been so urgent in this country as it is now that we must have a Child Code Bill which harmonises the definition of a child. When you go to the Juveniles Act, it talks of nineteen years of age, so, there is no clear legal framework managing the definition of a child and that is why up to now, it is very difficult to stop these child marriages.

Madam, I also bring to your attention page 29 of the report which talks about the Youth Development Fund. I am concerned with the response of the Executive in that report where it states that the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Arts has set guidelines and committees to facilitate the execution of the Youth Development Fund.

Madam Speaker, earlier, there was a proposal by the previous Committee to move the Youth Development Fund to the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC). My concern is based on the fact that in the last Government, we had this Youth Development Fund being accessed by people born in 1967. We had this Youth Development Fund being accessed by people who are not youths. So, in supporting this report, I would like to urge the Executive to relook at having the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Arts being the executor of this fund. There needs to be some sort of separation because when you look at the report, you will see that there has not been any success story of access to youth funds. This fund is never accessed by the deserving beneficiaries. So, it is important that the Executive relooks at its answer in saying it is formulating guidelines under the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Arts because it is on record that in the previous Government, people born in 1967, 1970 and some groups called Copperbelt Clergy accessed these funds. So, this is a fundamental concern for me.

Madam, I then look at page 33 of the report where your Committee talks about the National Youth Development Council Act which has existed for over thirty-five years without amendment. This is an Act that provides for the legal and regulatory framework of youth entities. This explains why youths in this country have for over thirty-five years been short-changed by Governments because the law that should help youth entities to have proper engagements with the Government is so archaic. It is a law from 25 years ago.

Madam Speaker, I support the recommendation in this report. I do remember that on 30th May, we were acquainted with a separate petition by one of the youth citizens by the name of Ruth Kangwa to propose that this Act be repealed. I take notice in the report that the Executive says it received the report from the Zambia Law Development Commission; the Amendment Bill. Further, it said the consultative process had been exhausted and that the same had been submitted to the Ministry of Justice.

Madam Speaker, my question is: which consultative process was this? I have not heard of any consultative process to amend the National Youth Development Council (NYDC). So, I think as hon. Members of the Executive debate, they must acquaint us with how this consultation was done. This is because if a law that governs youths is being amended, the same stakeholders who are within that NYDC bracket, a bracket I fall under myself, must be consulted.

Madam Speaker, this is something that is very important to this group of people, which group makes up over 60 per cent of the population. Time has come for the New Dawn Government through this report, to change the narratives on youths.

Madam Speaker, the true definition of a youth, according to Article 266 of the Constitution of Zambia is someone below the age of thirty–five, and these should be the beneficiaries of youth development projects. This thing of saying youthful is not helping. The Constitution defines youth as someone who is below the age of thirty-five.

Madam, I commend your Committee for bringing out these underlying issues clearly because without any law or Act, which is recent and adjusts to the modern requirements of the modern youth, we cannot, as youths, demand to be part of the development agenda.

Madam Speaker, with these few remarks, I support the Motion to adopt this report.

I thank you, Madam.

Mr Fube: On a point of order, Madam.

Madam Speaker: A point of order is raised.

Mr Fube: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order pursuant to Standing Order 65 and not to waste your time, I can quote another Article. Is the hon. Member of Parliament who has just been debating in order to bring in information that has not been verified? For instance, he talked about people who were born in 1967 and many others accessing the youth fund when there is no documented research to that effect or which speaks to that, especially through the Government ministries.

Madam Speaker, another factor is that the hon. Member who was debating brought in an issue that is before your House, but has not been debated yet. There is a petition by a member of the public by the name of Ruth, who petitioned on the issue of Cap. 144. That issue has not been brought to Parliament for debate, but the hon. Member of Parliament was allowed to talk about it. Was he in order?

I seek your serious ruling, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker: The hon. Member was not in order to speak about a petition that is pending consideration before this honourable House. Regarding the other issues, the hon. Member was giving his opinion.

Mr Kang’ombe (Kamfinsa): Madam Speaker, I thank you and I thank the Chairperson for your Committee and the Committee itself, for providing us with a lot to detail on the work it did regarding child care facilities.

Madam Speaker, I, however, note that the report has not interrogated a very important aspect to the issue; why we have child care facilities in the first place. It is important that even as we look at the recommendations that have been provided, we perhaps need to reflect why we have child care facilities in Zambia. At what stage did we suddenly have facilities that have to care for children who are either homeless or have been abandoned by respective guardians?

Madam Speaker, so, my first observation regarding legislation is: do we have adequate legislation to deal with the problem at hand? Based on the report that has been given, we appear to have sufficient legislation to deal with the problem at hand.

Secondly, do we have adequate policy frameworks to deal with the problem? Again, fairly, it looks like we have policies that have been put in place.

Madam Speaker, thirdly, which brings me to my contribution, is the issue of funding to these child care facilities. I know from the report, your Committee’s recommendations state that we need to upscale funding. It actually gives us figures of how much was provided in 2019/2020 and late last year. However, I my concern is on what is contained on page 9 of your Committee’s report where there is a recommendation that we must use the social cash transfer to support families.

Madam Speaker, I will give a scenario. We tried this option in Kitwe, where we got the business community to support some of these child care facilities. Mattresses were procured, beds were provided and food was donated. It only took a month or two, and the children who were being cared for decided to go back to their respective homes, where they have guardians. Most of these children who are provided for actually do have homes where they come from. So, out of that experience, my personal submission to your Committee is that we need to provide serious economic activities to be undertaken by the families where these children are coming from.

Madam Speaker, I tend to agree with the school of thought that we need to create a different fund for this and not the social cash transfer fund. This is because if you look at the amount of money that is allocated towards the social cash transfer, you will see that it is close to K400 every two months. It may not be adequate to support those families where these children are coming from. No matter how much funding we put into these child care facilities, for as long as the homes where these children are coming from and the guardian who are supposed to care for these children are not involved in any economic activities, even the purpose for which these child care facilities are being created will not be achieved. Furthermore, I want to echo your Committee’s recommendation that a special fund be created to support those families that have been identified. I say so because there is no child who does not have a guardian, a parent or a relative. What we must do as a country, is to allocate resources maybe, in the 2023 National Budget, it may be in the Supplementary Budget, but clearly the families that are looking after these children who are going to child care facilities need to be provided with resources. I do not agree that the social cash transfer provides that solution.

So, I wish to recommend, as I support this Motion, that further to the proposals that have been identified, we create a special fund that will allow for parents who care for these children to be supported economically. We are discussing a socio-economic issue and I believe funding should not just be restricted to the child care facilities, but it should be provided to families so that we not have children going back to respective places.

Madam Speaker, I thank you.

Madam Speaker: Order!

Business was suspended from 1640 hours until 1700hours.

[MADAM SPEAKER in the Chair]

Mr Simumba (Nakonde): Thank you very much, Madam Speaker, for giving the people of Nakonde an opportunity to contribute to debate on this very important report of the Committee on Youth, Sport and Child Matters.

Madam Speaker, let me state from the onset that I support the report, of course, with one or two concerns. Reading the report, or from the interaction that the Committee had, it is clear that there is some legal framework which is in place to manage child day care centres. Let me give credit to the Patriotic Front (PF) because before it came into power –

Hon. Government Member: Question!

Mr Simumba: Hear, hear!

Before it came into power, Madam Speaker, you may recall that there was no early childhood education. It is the PF which managed to introduce that. We should give credit where it is due.

Madam Speaker, there are a number of gaps and many things that the report has indicated, especially where inspection of the day care facilities is concerned. I will refer you to page 5, paragraph 6.3.2:

“The Registration Process of Child Care Facilities and Their Regulation in Zambia. Stakeholders submitted that before any person could open a child care facility in Zambia, a needs assessment had to be carried out by the institution ...”

Madam Speaker, now, you will find that there are some facilities that have never been inspected by the officers. I do not know if we have got those officers, or maybe it is because of lack of transport. These are some of the challenges that we need to curb.

Madam Speaker, the other challenge that I want to put across is that we do not have the school curriculum for these child care facilities. You will find that there is no approved curriculum from the Government, hence child day care facilities have their own curricula. As you may be aware, developing a child should be integral, which includes mental, social, spiritual and physical aspects. However, in some centres, Madam Speaker, you will find that children are just there playing. Others are sleeping. At the end of the month, you will find that teachers will commend your child for being intelligent, yet he/she was just sleeping. When somebody just jumps, the teacher will commend that child and say he/she is intelligent or clever. So, we need to have a facility that should have a school curriculum the way we have the school curriculum for primary and secondary schools.

Madam Speaker, as I conclude, I wish to submit that the Government should come up with a structural school curriculum and ensure that those people who have child day care centres follow it so that everything should be programmed. I submit and support the report.

Madam Speaker, I thank you,

Mr Mutelo: On a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker: The hon. Member for Mitete has a point of order. What is the point of order, hon. Member for Mitete?

Mr Mutelo was inaudible.

Madam Speaker: As they are trying to locate him, the hon. Deputy Government Whip may take the Floor.

Ms Kasune (Keembe): Thank you, Madam Speaker, for this opportunity to add my voice to the report that has been rendered in the House. The greatest thanks go to the Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Edgar Sing’ombe as well as the seconder, Hon. Chrizoster Phiri of Kabwe.

Madam Speaker, this report of yours is very critical and important to the wellbeing of all Zambians. I say so because any country that cares about the welfare of its children cares about the continuation of the many generations to come. I cannot remember who exactly, but one of the secretary-generals said that show me who the young people are and how they are taken care of then I will tell you what kind of a nation you have.

Madam Speaker, from the onset, I want to say that much of the progress that needs to happen that has been communicated by His Excellency Hon. Hakainde Hichilema, the President of the Republic of Zambia, can only come to fruition especially if we look into bringing the Child Code Bill to the House. This is very critical.

Madam Speaker, I think the hon. Member of Parliament for Nalolo did allude to some of the inconsistencies that we have in our current law, especially as it relates to defining who a child is. I will not repeat myself because many of the points have already been alluded to by the hon. Member, but I want to add, Madam Speaker, that indeed, without bringing the Child Code Bill to the House to be passed, which Bill is long overdue, we will continue to cry of the many defilement cases in these country and we will continue to cry about the many cases of child abuse and child-based violence in this country, because at the end of the day, the definition of who a child is, is not in harmony.

Therefore, in supporting the Motion or the report of your Committee, I want to emphasise the urgency of bringing the Child Code Bill to see the light of day not only in this House but indeed to become law as it will help us go a long way. You can imagine, Madam Speaker, that as long as a child is sixteen years of age, and there is consent by the parents or guardians, that child, through our customary law in Zambia today as we speak, can get married. So, because of this, even though we have the Executive drive and the political will, as long as we do not look into the Child Code Bill, we will be hitting a snag. This is why it is so important that the recommendation in your report, Madam Speaker, is actually implemented.

 

Madam Speaker, the second point I want to make is about the process of acquiring committal orders. Your Committee’s report clearly articulates the fact that in last ten years, there has only been one case of child trafficking. It is most likely there is no proper reporting of these cases. In addition, the process of acquiring committal orders is forever lagging behind. Indeed, there are no committal orders to be worked on, hence there is no prosecution, and later on knowing what is going on with our children. We know very well that the world has changed and our children are at risk in so many child trafficking deals that go on. Not too long ago, just this year, I was called in Keembe Constituency bordering Katuba where a concerned parent saw children walking with somebody who looked like a stranger saying that they had been called to a function at an orphanage. Since they were starving, they were going there so that they could have shelter. After investigating that case, it came to be found out that that was no orphanage they were going to from Katuba to Keembe. In actuality, this man would have abducted those children. Fortunately, we worked quickly and the issue was sorted out. Why do we have all these lacunae? It is because somehow, we have not invested much into the wellbeing of our children.

Madam Speaker, a colleague of mine talked about what the Patriotic Front (PF) Government did regarding children. I rarely want to go the line of being political but it is in this country during the previous where we found that many of our child welfare services were not funded. So, there is no point for us to say the former Government did better when in actuality we have a responsibility and time to put things in place to ensure these institutions get the right funding, so that the welfare of children who are our leaders, not for tomorrow, but today, is looked into.

Madam Speaker, in many of these places, you find that the funding is erratic, which results in lack of sufficient staff. So, anything related to children is very critical and it is in that regard that I urge that funding is looked into urgently.

Lastly, Madam Speaker, in the interest of time, it is also important that the safe homes and the one stop centres are dotted around the whole country. What is happening right now is that districts like Chibombo, for example, only have one centre. So, even when abuses happen and they are well reported, away from the lack of transport and reporting channels that the officers need, you find that the children are usually forced to go back to their homes where they are not safe. So, in the first place, the children, guardians and the community begin to ask why we are even reporting the cases when at the end of the day, the perpetrator gets away with murder, for lack of a better term. As the saying goes, they are still going to end up in homes where it is unsafe. It is important, therefore, to have the political will that His Excellency the President, Hakainde Hichilema has already shown us. We have to make sure that the policies, funding and staff where child welfare programmes are conducted are put in place because the will is there. It is an opportune time for all of us as hon. Members of Parliament to look at the plight of our children and, indeed, see the light of day for the Child Code Bill so that a child is defined in the right manner and the protection which children deserve is given so that this country develops as it should.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

The Minister of Community Development and Social Services (Mrs Mwamba): Madam Speaker, I would like to start by commending the Committee on Youth Sport and Child Matters for this very elaborate presentation of the report before this House. The report has identified important issues pertaining to the management of child care facilities in Zambia with the ultimate aim of making them more responsive to the needs of our children.

Madam Speaker, the observations and recommendations highlighted in the report cover a number of areas, which will be responded to by the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services in detail through an action-taken report. However, I would like to comment on a few outstanding ones.

Madam Speaker, the first one relates to good, poor and erratic funding of child care facilities. Your Committee recommends that the Government should establish a well defined mechanism that will cure the erratic, and is some cases non release and all provisions of grants by the Government to some child care facilities.

Madam Speaker, the ministry has taken note of the recommendations of your Committee to establish mechanisms that will address issues of funding. I wish to inform this House that funding for the year 2022 has been released and increased to K730,000 from K597,992 in 202. Further, there has been timely release of these funds from January to date.

Madam Speaker, the second issue that I want to comment on from the report is the compliance to the minimum standards of care. The recommendations of your Committee is that the Government should ensure that inspections to the child care facilities by the Department of Social Warfare are enhanced so as to ensure compliance to the minimum standards of care by the child care facilities.

Madam, Speaker, the ministry has, this year, scaled up inspections of child care facilities. This will further be enhanced with the recent decision by the Government to transfer staff under Chiefs Affairs to the Department of Social Welfare as it will result in improved staffing levels to conduct inspections. In addition, the House may also wish to note that the Government enacted the Social Workers Association of Zambia Bill into law in the last sitting of Parliament and this will facilitate full enforcement of the minimum standards of care. It will also speak to the Committee’s recommendations that the Government ensures that all care givers in child care facilities have the minimum qualifications so as to safeguard the best interests of the children in their custody.

Madam Speaker, the third issue that I would like to flag out from the report is on the strengthening of the National Social Protection Policy. The recommendation of your Committee is that the Government should effectively promote policies and programmes aimed at reducing the lifelong consequences of poverty and exclusion.

Madam Speaker, in this regard, I wish to inform the House that the ministry has begun preparations to revise the 2014 National Social Protection Policy with a view to incorporate emerging issues and enhance programming aimed at addressing poverty and vulnerability in the country.

Madam Speaker, in conclusion, your Committee has raised concern on the delay of the enactment of the Child Code Bill into law. In this regard, your Committee has urged the Government to urgently enact the Child Code Bill into law as it contains a number of good provisions that are aimed at improving the welfare of children including those in child care facilities.

Madam Speaker, the House may wish note and also take note that internal legislative processes for the Bill have been concluded and the Bill will be tabled before Parliament during the current sitting.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

The Minister of Youth, Sport and Arts (Mr Nkandu): Madam Speaker, first and foremost,  I would like to thank you most sincerely for giving me this opportunity to make a statement and I believe through you to this august House and, indeed, to the whole nation on the Report of the Committee on Youth, Sport and Child Matters.

Madam Speaker, first and foremost, I would like to commend your Committee and, indeed, the mover and the seconder of the Motion for their detailed and insightful report on issues pertaining to children and the youth. I have no doubt in my mind that the report reflects issues, which once acted upon, will contribute immensely to the betterment of the livelihood of children and the youths.

Madam Speaker, allow me to speak to the key issue raised in the report as follows:

Implementation of the Youth Development Fund in Zambia

Madam Speaker, the recommendation from your Committee is that management of the Youth Development Fund (YDF) be moved to the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC). However, I wish to convey that the ministry has successfully implemented the youth empowerment programmes, especially the multi-sectoral youth empowerment programme. This has been attributed to the measures which have been put in place to ensure effective and efficient implementation and one of them is the monitoring and evaluating activities that we have undertaken. The ministry has been going round visiting beneficiaries of the youth empowerment programmes to interact with them and I am happy so far to announce that my ministry has made strides in receiving payments from the beneficiaries.

Madam Speaker, I also wish to reiterate that my ministry attaches great importance to improving the livelihood of young people in the country and therefore, the ministry has designed programmes and activities that promote youth development and empowerment. To this end, this august House may wish to note that my ministry has continued to implement the multi-sectoral Youth Empowerment Programme and it is our desire as the New Dawn Administration to ensure that more youths benefit from this programme.

Further, Madam Speaker, allow me to make mention that as a New Dawn Administration, our approach to implementing the Youth Empowerment Programme is anchored on non-discrimination which was observed by the hon. Member for Nalolo.

Madam Speaker, what was said was very true. There was discrimination in the way funds for these empowerment programmes were disbursed and it is also true that some of the people that are not in the bracket of between the ages of 18 years to 35 years got empowerment. This is an issue that we are grappling with and we have now started removing those and we have removed those that are above the age of 35. So, the hon. Member for Nalolo was on firm ground when he said some people who did not deserve to be given these empowerment funds were given.

 

Madam Speaker, as I said earlier, we will not discriminate because we believe that each and every Zambian youth deserves to benefit from the programme. This is evidenced by the current approach of engaging offices of hon. Members of Parliament in our constituencies countrywide. I will give a practical example. We were launching the National Health Scheme in Lusaka Province and we invited all hon. Members of Parliament from every political party to be part of the launch. This was done so that their members could benefit from those grants. This approach promotes unity and togetherness in the country and as such, it leads to national development.

Madam Speaker, as you are aware, the Government attaches great importance to issues of youth development. In this regard, the ministry has made strides to the review process of the National Youth Development Council Act Chapter 144 of the Laws of Zambia. Further, in consultation with key stakeholders, a Cabinet Memorandum has been drafted and awaits Cabinet approval.

As I conclude my debate, I urge this august House to adopt the Report of the Committee on Youth, Sport and Child Development. I wish to also comment on child matters. As some of our hon. Members here solicited that the Patriotic Front (PF) be given credit, they need to give more and more credit to the New Dawn Administration because for us, we have been supporting families and also supporting families remains a priority to the New Dawn Administration as evidenced by the increment of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) because in CDF, we have grants there. Further, the Social Cash Transfer has also been increased. So, that definitely supports families.

Mr Kampyongo: On a point of order, Madam Speaker

Mr Nkandu:  Madam Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity.

I beg to move.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Madam Speaker: Hon. Member for Shiwang’andu, did you want to say something?

Mr Kampyongo: Madam Speaker, I just wanted to raise a point of order when the hon. Minister started digressing from the report knowing that the issues of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) are under the ministry for the hon. Minister sitting next to him and so, it is not even in the report. So, I wanted to make it clear to the hon. Minister to stick to the report on the Floor.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker: I think the hon. Minister was responding to the hon. Member for Nakonde but the hon. Member for Shiwang’andu was not in the House at that time. That is on a lighter note.

Laughter

Mr Sing’ombe: Madam Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity again.

Madam, I would like to thank all hon. Members who have debated; the hon. Members for Lunte, Nalolo, Kamfinsa and Nakonde. I would also like to thank the Deputy Government Chief Whip and the two hon. Ministers who have acknowledged your Committee’s report.

Madam Speaker, I thank you.

Question put and agreed to.

REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Mr Mutinta (Itezhi-Tezhi): Madam Speaker, I beg to move that this House do adopt the Report of the Committee on the Education, Science and Technology for the First Session of the Thirteenth National Assembly laid on the Table of the House on Wednesday, 8th June, 2022.

Madam Speaker: Is the Motion seconded?

Ms Mwamba (Kasama Central): Madam Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.

Mr Mutinta: Madam Speaker, in accordance with its terms of reference as set out in the National Assembly Standing Orders, your Committee considered one topical issue, namely the Review of the Implementation of Zambia’s School Re-Entry Policy.

Madam Speaker, your Committee also considered the Action-Taken-Report on its report for the Fifth Session of the Twelfth National Assembly. During its study, your Committee interacted with several stakeholders who tendered both written and oral submissions before it. I have no doubt that hon. Members here have taken time to read your Committee’s report. Allow me, therefore, to only highlight a few critical findings of your Committee.

Madam Speaker, the Zambia School Re-Entry Policy was launched in 1997, that is barely twenty-one years ago. The policy provided for girls who drop out of school due to pregnancy to be re-admitted into school after giving birth. This policy is grounded on the outcomes of the Beijing Conference of 1995, where the women’s movement drew up its priorities and action plan. Among other priorities was the demand that girls who drop out go school due to pregnancy should be re-admitted in order for them to be able to continue pursuing their educational dreams.

Madam Speaker, it a well known fact that the benefits of education in improving the overall quality of life multiply when there is increased participation of girls and women. The School Re-Entry Policy, therefore, is a very important initiative for this country.

Madam Speaker, since 1997, the Zambian Government has been allowing girls who fall pregnant to take leave and then continue with their education after delivery. Despite this policy being in place, it is shocking that an increasing number of girls do not return to school after giving birth.

Madam Speaker, the annual statistics from the Ministry of Education Statistical Bulletin of 2017 show that pregnancies among school girls have remained a challenge in the education system both at primary and secondary levels in this country. Further, data from the Zambia Demographic Health Survey of 2014 shows that each year, approximately 30 per cent of our girls drop out of school due to pregnancies. These are worrisome statistics which require necessary attention by this House.

Madam, let me now touch on some of the specific challenges as observed by the Committee in the course of its work.

Madam Speaker, the first thorny issue is the absence of a Statutory Instrument (SI) to support the implementation of the School Re-Entry Policy. Your Committee is greatly concerned and worried that the provision contained in Section 25 of the Education Act No. 23 of 2011 is not supported by the issuance of a Statutory Instrument as required under Section 25 (3).

Madam Speaker, given this challenge, your Committee strongly recommends that the Government, specifically the hon. Minister of Education, should issue a Statutory Instrument that will support the implementation of the School Re-Entry Policy.

Madam Speaker, another issue is the low number of girls getting re-admitted in schools compared to the high number of girls who are dropping out of school due to pregnancies. There are many reasons these girls avoid getting back to school. These reasons include lack of financial and material support, stigmatisation by fellow learners and teachers, and family pressure to marry off the girls, especially in rural areas like Itezhi-Tezhi.

Madam Speaker, your Committee strongly urges the Government to take concrete steps to address all the issues that are hindering girls from getting back to school after giving birth. The Government should ensure that the number of girls returning to school is increased.

Madam Speaker, your Committee is also greatly concerned that there is very little information about the School Re-Entry Policy among the learners and other hon. Members of Parliament. I am sure that includes even hon. Members of Parliament who are here. Inadequate awareness among citizens has negatively impacted the effective implementation of this policy. Your Committee, therefore, strongly implores the Government to undertake robust sensitisation and awareness programmes on the School Re-Entry Policy. These sensitisation programmes should be conducted at both national and local levels through radio and television programmes, as well as through physical meetings with various stakeholders.

Madam Speaker, your Committee also observes with great concern, that most school managers lack the understanding of the School Re-Entry Policy and its implementation. Your Committee is concerned that the failure by school managers and teachers to adequately understand the policy has contributed to its ineffective implementation. In this regard, your Committee strongly urges the Government to take drastic measures to ensure that all teachers are re-oriented on the implementation of the School Re-Entry Policy. This should be attended to as a matter of urgency.

Madam Speaker, I urge the Executive to study and implement the recommendations contained in your Committee’s report for the benefit of this country. Let me also appeal to all hon. Members of this House to support the report of this Committee.

Madam Speaker, I wish to conclude by thanking all the stakeholders who appeared before your Committee. Lastly, let me thank you and the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly for the guidance and support rendered to your Committee throughout the session.

Madam Speaker, I beg to move.

Madam Speaker: Does the seconder wish to speak now or later?

Ms Mwamba: Now, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker, in seconding this Motion, allow me to make a few comments. During our tour of duty, it was noted that there were not enough trained staff to offer guidance and counseling services. Teachers, who also had other subjects to teach, offered most of the guidance and counseling services. Hence, it was considered to not be very important. So, we urge the Government to ensure that guidance and counseling services be given priority in schools and treated as a subject on its own so that learners can get full counseling and guidance.

Madam Speaker, we noted that most faith-based schools do not adhere to the Re-entry Policy for girl children who fall pregnant. Therefore, there is a need for the Government to reach a common ground so that faith-based schools as well as government schools can start permitting children who drop out of school to be re-admitted.

Madam Speaker, the re-entry case management system in schools is not being followed. When learners drop out of school due to pregnancy, there is no follow up from the schools or the district offices to check on them and encourage them to go back to school.

Madam Speaker, comprehensive sexuality education in schools is not fully implemented. In the world that we are living in now, issues of sexuality are found on social media and television. However, schools are not giving this issue full attention. The Government needs to consider heightening sexual education in all schools so that all learners are given advice on how to go about certain life issues.

Madam Speaker, there is also a need for the Government to look into the expiry of examination numbers. When a learner falls pregnant, the examination number will eventually lapse and that particular learner cannot sit for examinations. The learner will then have to repeat, which is very discouraging to most learners upon re-entry. So, we want to encourage that those who are affected can also have a waiver to reverse the examination number and the expiry date for the various learners.

Madam Speaker, in line with the same, the General Certificate of Examination (GCE) is also a bit stiff for most of the drop-outs. It will be important for the Government to have a deliberate policy to exempt the affected girls. Most girl children are very affected in that after having a child, they cannot return to school because they have no one to look after that child since their parents are also busy. The Re-entry Policy is very important and we need to look into it. We, therefore, call upon all the stakeholders to consider that a girl child needs that education. Yes, falling pregnant may be a mistake and we are not encouraging that. However, what we are urging is that every girl child should be permitted to go back to school because every person has human rights and so, they should be encouraged to go forward in life.

Madam Speaker, I will end with an old African proverb which says: “If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation”.

Madam Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.

I thank you, Madam.

Mr Daka (Msanzala): Madam Speaker, I thank the mover of the Motion, Hon. Twaambo and the seconder.

Madam Speaker, I would like to echo one or two issues which your Committee has raised. The first is on the safe houses for girls who go back to school with their children. These houses would enable the girls to interact with their children as they learn. So, we also urge the Government to put in place such measures so that children and their mothers are in one safe place.

Madam Speaker, the other thing I want to echo is the inadequacy of staff. It is true that many teachers who do these jobs are just doing it as part-time. However, if a portfolio can be provided for them through the Ministry of Education, that would really motivate our teachers and they would perform their duties better because they will have chance to interact and mingle with fellow teachers and learners themselves. This is because guidance teachers are not only there to guide learners, but also need to guide their fellow teachers.

Madam Speaker, the other point I want to comment on is on free education. It is true that there is a problem, more especially where our girl child goes back to school. In some instances, you find that examination numbers expire. The expiration of examination numbers affects our learners because they need to go and pay some more money for them to be readmitted for GCE, which disadvantages our girl child. So, we would like the Government to look into those issues so as heighten education for the girl child.

Madam Speaker, with these few remarks, I support the report.

I thank you, Madam.

Mr Fube (Chilubi): Madam Speaker, I want to address myself to the issues of the Re-entry Policy, specifically those that have been underlined on pages 4 and 15 of your Committee’s report.

Madam Speaker, on page 4, there are issues to do with Public Welfare Assistance Scheme (PWAS), the Keeping Girls in School (KGS), and the Girls Education Women Empowerment and Livelihood (GEWEL) which are part of the initiatives that were undertaken to have our girls in school.

Madam Speaker, in view of playing a bit of the devil’s advocate, we are actually mopping water from a leaking tap instead of repairing it. Why do I say so? Let me address myself to point X on page 14 of the report, which talks about lack of emphasis on comprehensive sexuality education programmes in schools. They say prevention is better than cure. Many are the times when we have targeted offshoots to the problem; neglecting the main problem. In 2014, the Government produced a curriculum on comprehensive sexual reproductive education. This programme, which targets learners from Grades 5 to 12 includes among other things, an array of different options that school girls and boys are supposed to get involved in. This means that issues of child pregnancies, child abortions and many other factors could be prevented through that route, but that is a route that we seem to have neglected as a nation.

Madam, as we speak, children do not have access to obstetric procedures, therapeutic and emergency services, health information, participation in research, contraceptive services, voluntary male medical circumcision and issues of HIV testing and antiretroviral therapy as a package that should be included in the comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education.

Madam Speaker, I am emphasising this point because I believe that the many pseudo-boarding houses that are all over the place covering the age group that I can loosely refer to as children, which is zero to eighteen, who, in this case, are in either primary or secondary school – you find that in the rural areas, due to distances the children have to cover to access education, especially secondary education, young people just go into makeshift structures which serve as their accommodation and makes them vulnerable to pregnancies. This, further, summons the consciences of the nation, especially when it comes to positioning guidance teachers in school on what issues they should address and cater for the pupils.

Madam, are we having child-friendly corners specifically to do with the issue of sexuality, which we ignore? Many are times when these issues of comprehensive sexual education come up, we find that we present a holier-than-thou attitude that talks about traditional values and our Christian values. I cannot run away from the fact that we are Christians, but the existence of human sexuality is a reality too.

Madam Speaker, that being the case, I would like to speak to the spirit of the National Child Policy which, among other things, talks about a child growing up in a safe and supportive environment. This means that this child has to be free from violence, abuse and negligence.

Madam Speaker, what is currently happening is that we are exposing children to violence, be it sexual, physical, emotional or many other types of violence that we may talk about. We also expose children to different forms of abuse and neglect.

Madam, having said that, my appeal is that when we are talking about the Re-entry Policy, we should address the post-pregnancy period which is critical for the girl child, especially when we do not have a male in the picture who is suffering and going through the same. The girl child is tormented and given an environment and the veil of a mother. Sometimes, the guidance teacher does not come in to cushion the pressures that the girl child has. Before this girl child is exposed to a classroom, she has got her own classroom in the mind, which disturbs her. For that matter, this can only be solved by addressing issues surrounding comprehensive sexuality and reproductive health. As I indicated earlier on, prevention is better than cure. We will not be having unsafe abortions among our children and the number will possibly reduce.

Madam Speaker, as we speak, we have not prioritised the financing of reproductive and maternal health in our national Budget because we are told that 90 per cent of financing, especially under the Integrated Family Planning Scale-Up Plan of Zambia, is done by the donors. That amounts to putting the lives of our children in other people’s hands. It is important that we bring this in the mainstream Budget of our own country and venture into serious sex education in schools as a preventative measure because we are trying to mop water from a leaking tap instead of repairing it.

Madam, by and large, I would like to submit that the way to go is comprehensive sexuality education as a measure because all these measures where we have tried to keep the girl child in school have failed us. Let us try that measure which we are all scared of and see whether it is going to tick. In any case, those who are addressing values should know that comprehensive sex education also includes the issue of values, which are both Christian and traditional.

I submit, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker: Thank you hon. Member for using your time to the fullest.

Laughter

Mr Lubozha (Chifubu): Madam Speaker, thank you for giving the people of Chifubu –

Madam Speaker: Order!

Are you a member of the Committee?

Mr Lubozha: Yes.

Madam Speaker: We want to give chance to the others who are not members. Sorry honourable. Since you are a member of the Committee, we want to give the other hon. Members who are not members to debate since we do not have enough time.

Mr Lubozha: I will be brief, Madam.

Laughter

Madam Speaker: No, hon. Member, I think let us be fair to the others.

Ms Phiri (Milanzi): Madam Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to add my voice to the debate on your Committee’s Report on Education, Science and Technology. From the onset, I would like to say that I agree with what is contained in your Committee’s report and I support it. I will go straight to the observations and recommendations of the report.

Madam, I wish to draw your attention to page 11 of the report. One of the observations that your Committee made is the absence of a Statutory Instrument (SI) to support the School Re-entry Policy. While the Education Act No.23 of 2011, Section 25 (2)(3) spells out that pupils who fall pregnant can be readmitted to school, section 25 (3) suggests that the hon. Minister should issue an SI to reinforce the School Re-entry Policy. In this regard, I urge the hon. Minister of Education to issue an SI to reinforce the School Re-entry Policy.

Madam Speaker, the second observation is on the low number of girls being readmitted. There are a number of factors contributing to the low numbers of girls being readmitted into schools. Among them are discrimination, stigmatisation and some being forced into early marriages after falling pregnant. It is important to ensure that girls who fall pregnant are readmitted into school. I wish to also observe that there are a number of laws that compel the Government to act against any person seen to be working against the School Re-entry Policy.

Madam, the third point is the inadequate information on the School Re-entry Policy among learners and communities. Your Committee observed that there is lack of information among learners and the community. It is my considered view that more effort is put towards the spread of information on the School Re-entry Policy among the learners and the communities. This will ensure that no girl child who falls pregnant is left behind.

Madam Speaker, my fourth point is on lack of understanding of the School Re-entry Policy by school managers. There is a need for school managers to be re-oriented and trained on the School Re-entry Policy to ensure smooth implementation. It is equally important that school managers are made aware of the urgency that is attached to the implementation of this policy.

Madam Speaker, the fifth point I wish to make is on the inadequate trained staff to offer guidance and counselling services. It is important to have a deliberate policy that will ensure teachers and school managers are trained on how to offer guidance and counselling. As observed by your Committee, I strongly recommend that more trained counsellors be recruited to offer counselling services. This will contribute to the effective implementation of the policy.

Madam Speaker, I wish to also draw your attention to the non-implementation of School Re-entry Policy in some faith-based schools. Some schools see it as a moral issue and an act that can negatively influence other learners. There is a need for the Government to engage authorities in faith-based schools so that they consider re-admitting girls who fall pregnant.

Madam Speaker, the Education Act No. 23 of 2011, Section 25(4) clearly stipulates that:

“(4)A person who contravenes subsection (2) commits an offence and is liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding two hundred thousand penalty units or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years, or to both.”

Madam Speaker, another observation that was made by your Committee is the expiry of examination numbers. The Ministry of Education should consider allowing re-admitted pupils who are in examination classes to use their old examination numbers, so that they do not repeat two or more grades back.

Madam Speaker, I also wish to draw your attention to payment of examination fees under General Certificate of Education (GCE) by the re-admitted girls. The Ministry of Education should consider paying examination fees for girls who are re-admitted under GCE because examination numbers would have expired and as you may be are aware, free education does not apply to learners under GCE.

Madam Speaker, as I conclude, I wish to commend your Committee for the commendable job.

Madam, I support the report.

Madam Speaker, I thank you.

Mr J. Chibuye (Roan): Madam Speaker, thank you very much for allowing me to add my voice to the debate on the report that has been laid on the Table by the hon. Member for Itezhi-Tezhi. This is a report on Education, Science and Technology.

Madam Speaker, in supporting this Motion, I agree with the observations of your Committee on some instances. It is, indeed, worrying that 30 per cent of our girl children are dropping out of school because that is quite a big number.

Madam Speaker, whilst appreciating the Re-entry Policy by the Government for the girl child, I want to bring to your attention that much as we are fighting this problem of the girl child getting pregnant, I thought we should also pay attention to what the root cause for our girl children getting pregnant is. What drives them to getting pregnant?

Madam Speaker, I am aware that we have laws in this country, which laws are applied when someone is abused or an under-aged child is engaged. However, if you look at today’s generation, you will see that our girl children are getting ripe and ready for work at a very tender age. You realise that this girl child would have completed school had she not gotten pregnant. This means that we have a tall order when it comes to ensuring that our girl child finishes school. However, the question is why is it that so many of our girl children are getting pregnant? What is the root cause? What measures is the Government putting in place, aware from the Re-entry Policy, to ensure that the other players who actually make these girl children pregnant are also sensitised and taught about the danger of making these girls pregnant.

Madam Speaker, it is saddening story that things look rosy in the urban areas or in the Central Business District (CBD), but if you go in the outskirts of the peri-urban areas, like constituency where the mover of the Motion is from; Itezhi-Tezhi, it is a sorry sight. You find girls as young as fourteen years old carrying fellow babies on their backs, meaning they are mothers.

Madam Speaker, I am of the view that we need to do a lot of sensitisation, not only to the girl child. We need a lot of outreach programmes to ensure that every well meaning Zambian, especially the males, are also involved in this fight.

Madam Speaker, it is saddening that even the people who are supposed to protect these girl children from abuse and defilement are actually in the forefront of doing this. These are the people we need to take stock of. We need to do a lot of post-education to the children and teach them the danger of getting pregnant.

Madam Speaker, for some, once they test this, it becomes a challenge for them to stop. This is the time we need to emphasise that now is the time for the necessary line ministries to come in and ensure that a lot of sensitisation is done.

Madam Speaker, on top of the laws that we have as a country, regarding child defilement, abuse and molestation, I think we need to do more. We need to put more stringent measures in place to ensure that whoever is found wanting, especially the people who are supposed to be protectors of this girl child, may it be teacher, uncles, are brought to book. Sad enough, even guardians like fathers are also engaging in these illicit activities.

Madam Speaker, in supporting this Motion, I urge the Government to come up with deliberate policies and push in more money to ensure that we do a lot of outreach programmes to sensitise and educate the girl child and tell them about the beauty of being independent. Today, even if you are educated as a girl, if you are not earning yourself a salary, it becomes a challenge in a home today. I am always telling my children that a man is a man. A girl will only be independent once she starts working and drawing a salary. Even if the is brutalising you, as long as you are earning your salary, then you will be comfortable. So, we need a lot of sensitisation in this area.

Madam Speaker, with these few remarks, I want to support the Motion.

Madam Speaker, I thank you.

Mr Wamunyima: Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. Member for Itezhi-Tezhi for moving this Motion to adopt this report.

Madam Speaker, when I was looking at the report and the School Re-entry Policy, in the rural constituencies, the biggest challenge we have is that once the girl child drops out of school, because of the set up of traditional marriages, that girl child is married off and she has a challenge to go back to school actively. So, the only option is General Certificate of Education (GCE), which does not fall under the bracket of free education. So, I support the recommendation in the report that a Statutory Instrument (SI) be produced and it should be specific, especially when it comes to GCE. Nonetheless, the advent of free education itself has somehow changed the state of affairs, to some extent.

Madam Speaker, I will also draw your attention to pages 15 to 17 of the report, which talk of the Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TEVET) programmes level II and III test certificates in Zambia, which are not recognised by the Zambia Qualifications Authority (ZAQA). This mismatch between TEVET programmes and the ZAQA framework poses a challenge on the advancement of science and technology. With the increased Constituency Development Fund (CDF) or with the increased resources going closer to the people, the absence of a clear monitoring and evaluation mechanism for TEVET programmes poses a challenge to measure what the requirements are.

Madam Speaker, you will also take note that on page 21, there is an issue of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), which is also a problem. As we gather here today, our country does not even have a university of just science and technology. In advancing other options, you can look in the report, especially on page 22, that there is less emphasis of STEM in non-STEM schools. We do agree with this report and we would like to encourage the Executive to look at the recommendations of this report as implementing them would really enhance the state of affairs.

Madam Speaker, the harmonisation of TEVET and ZAQA itself will also be another player. When you look at most of the TEVET schools we have in our provinces, you will see that because of this mismatch between ZAQA and TEVET, the encouragement of the youth or those who drop out – these TEVET programmes require a lesser qualification as opposed to the undergraduate programmes.

Madam Speaker, with these few remarks, I would like to support the report.

I thank you, Madam.

Mr Miyutu (Kalabo Central): Thank you, Madam Speaker. Let me thank your Committee on Education, Science and Technology for a fabulous report on the subject of re-entry of the girl child into school.

Whilst reading the report, Madam Speaker, I visualised the rural areas, including Kalabo. Questions are posed, or the major question is: Like the hon. Member for Roan asked, what is the cause? When you visit the institutions of learning in rural areas, you can see what the causes of these enhanced pregnancies are, which is not resulting in re-entry of girls into schools. The re-entry rate is negative or is very low.

Madam Speaker, human beings have a natural instinct to reproduce for the sake of existing. They get entangled in these activities which result into pregnancy. Quite alright, the Government has opened doors for girls to go back to school, but for me Madam Speaker, what matters here is the cause. What is the Government doing to reduce the incidences of pregnancy?

Madam Speaker, firstly, when going to school, children walk long distances, especially in the rural areas. Secondly, they will reach the school, but they will not find teachers there. So, they are made to go back. The children develop a tendency to not like school. Therefore, they live and grow without education being delivered to them. What happens thereafter? Other speakers have highlighted that we live in a cultural or traditional setup where marriage is cardinal.

So, with all the recommendations and observations which your Committee has made, I really urge the Government to continue enhancing this measure that we are seeing of increasing the number of teachers in schools. I am sure that as the number of teachers increases, education will be delivered, and will capture our girl child in the school. This will lead to a reduction in the incidences of pregnancy. I am very hopeful that the number of pregnancies might go down because of the increase in the number of teaching staff in these schools.

Madam Speaker, where some of us are coming from, there used to be trained school counsellors. In the afternoon, the school counsellors would invite the students and interact with them, indicating to them what is in their communities, but alas, we reached a level where all these positions just existed on paper. Those teachers were not here. The councillors were not in existence, and therefore, these children were just left unattended to. Therefore, we urge the Government, really, to continue so that these teachers are not just appointed by the school administrators so that they become counsellors, but let them be trained so that they become professional counsellors, so that we cut down on the incidences of pregnancies.

Madam Speaker, many speakers have talked about this. Whilst the Government has come up with a policy of re-entry into schools for girls who fall pregnant, there is this issue of expiry of examination numbers. In a rural area, it is not easy to raise this money, and therefore, I urge the Government that whilst there is free education, let it also include these girls who are going back to school as a result of pregnancy. They should not be made to pay those fees like K300. It is easy when you are in an urban area to talk of K300, but when you are in a typical village, K300 is a big mountain. So, I am urging the Government to add on to free education these girls who have to go back to school because them failing to raise this money is a barrier to them accessing education.

Madam Speaker, with these few words, I support the report.

I thank you, Madam.

The Minister of Education (Mr Syakalima): Thank you, Madam Speaker. First of all, I would like to thank your Committee for the report well-done.

Madam Speaker, in terms of the policy and legal framework on the implementation of Zambia’s school Re-entry Policy, the Education Act of 2011 and the Education Policy are currently undergoing a review for amendments, which will include strengthening the legal framework for the Re-entry Policy’s support.

In terms of challenges faced in the implementation of Zambia’s school Re-entry Policy, and in addition to what the ministry is doing, there is a need to strengthen sensitisation and awareness programmes by stakeholders. In this vein, we are inviting the private sector to come on board and support this cause to address all these challenges comprehensively.

Madam, with regards to the implementation of the school Re-entry Policy in the schools toured by your Committee, as I said, we need a lot of support from the stakeholders to comprehensively provide a conducive environment for the girl child in the provision of education. For example, what your Committee observed on page 11, Section 7.9(4) is common and requires effort not only from the Government but also from the parents and the private sector. The quote by the community is that some parents were not willing to inform the school management when their daughter had fallen pregnant. Instead, they opted to handle the matter at village level. Even in instances where the school was informed about the pregnancy, some parents were not willing to sign maternity leave forms for their daughters. So, this again, is hampering the Re-entry Policy. Many of the observations by your Committee will be taken into account.

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

Mr Mutinta: Madam Speaker, thank you very much for giving your Committee another opportunity to wind up debate. I thank all hon. Members of Parliament who contributed to this debate. Hon. Daka contributed on the issue of safe houses, Hon. Fube spoke passionately about the need for comprehensive sexuality education as a solution to this problem we are grappling while Hon. Chibwe spoke about the faith-based schools and the need to have counsellors. Hon. Chibuye, thank you for your passionate contribution about funding and issues of outreach programmes that we need to put in place. I also thank the hon. Member of Parliament for Nalolo for debating on issues to do with the Statutory Instrument (SI) which is also key in ensuring that this issue is substantiated and it sees the light of day. Hon. Miyutu talked about the root causes of young people falling pregnant and the challenges that the young people of this Republic are facing.

Madam Speaker, finally, I thank the hon. Minister for his contribution, which was about the policy and legal framework from the Government point of view. We are very grateful that a commitment has been made to deal with most of these teething issues around this policy that has been in existence for over 22 years but not meeting its entire obligation.

I submit and thank you for giving us this opportunity, Madam.

Madam Speaker: Thank you hon. Member for Itezhi-Tezhi, but you forgot to thank the hon. Member for Milanzi

Question put and agreed to.

Madam Speaker: Order!

ADJOURNMENT

The Vice-President (Mrs Nalumango): Madam Speaker, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn.

Question put and agreed to.

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The House adjourned at 1825 hours until 1430 hours on Wednesday, 22nd June, 2022.

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