Debates- Thursday, 18th November, 2010

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Thursday, 18th November, 2010

The House met at 1430 hours

[MR SPEAKER in the Chair]






The Minister of Communications and Transport (Professor Lungwangwa): Mr Speaker, I thank you for according my ministry the opportunity to issue a statement on infrastructure development and the policy interventions undertaken to grow the communications sector.

I appreciate the honour to have the opportunity to inform this august House and, through it, the nation on the developments in the communications sector.

Sir, I wish to mention that the Government has embraced information and communications technology (ICT) as an enabler of development. Indeed, the Government would like to see to it that ICT infrastructure and services are equitably distributed, available and affordable to the greatest possible proportion of our population.

To this effect, the Government launched the National Information and Communications Technology Policy on 28th March, 2007 to guide the development of the sector.

Furthermore, in order to stimulate growth and recognising the evolution of ICTs, this august House passed the ICT Act No. 15 of 2009 which is now fully operational.

Mr Speaker, in putting into operation the ICT Act, I issued a number of Statutory Instruments (SIs) to support the Act, namely:

Statutory Instrument No.35 of 2010 – The Information and Communications Technologies Licensing Regulations, 2010

Mr Speaker, the said SI provides the licensing framework consistent with the ICT Act. This was necessary in order to move all licensees under the repealed Act to the new licensing regime under the ICT Act No. 15 of 2009. The regulations also allow the licensed mobile operators to have their own international gateways. I should mention that the transition was done smoothly and in conformity with the Act.

Statutory Instrument No. 34 of 2010 – The ICT Fees Regulation, 2010

In transitioning to the new licensing regime, it was prudent that the licence fees were revised in consistence with the Act. The transition requirement under the Act is that the fee payment obligations are no less favourable than those provided for in the previous licence. In order to ease doing business, the licence fees for operating an international gateway were reduced from an equivalent of US$12 million to US$350,000. As mentioned earlier, the transition was done smoothly.

Mr Speaker, I am happy to mention that from the said intervention, the country has witnessed considerable reduction in international calling rates, ranging from 40 per cent to as much as 70 per cent, depending on the destination.

I wish, through this august House, to applaud all the operators for passing on the benefits to the consumers.

Statutory Instrument No. 31 of 2010 – The ICTs Allocation of 3G Frequencies Regulations, 2010

In order to enable the mobile operators roll out 3G services, it was necessary to make available 3G frequency spectrum. This SI made available frequency spectrum for 3G. I should mention that under the new licensing regime, all the mobile operators can roll out 3G services upon payment of necessary frequency spectrum fees as provided for under SI No. 34 of 2010.

Allow me to inform this august House and, through it, the nation, that all operators are already rolling out 3G services. Zain has so far rolled out 200 Base Transceiver Stations. MTN has rolled out ninety whilst the Zambia Telecommunications Company Limited (ZAMTEL) is in the process of commencing the roll out.

Statutory Instrument No. 30 of 2010 – The ICT Allocation of 2G Frequencies Regulations, 2010

The SI made available additional frequencies for the provision of mobile services in order to enable operators provide efficient services.

Statutory Instrument No. 29 of 2010 – The ICT National Numbering Plan Regulation, 2010

Mr Speaker, numbers are rare resources that need to be used prudently. The National Numbering Plan Regulation provides guidelines in the use of numbers for various services consistent with the International Telecommunications Union guidelines. For instance, certain numbers such as 999 are reserved for emergencies, 991 for the police, 992 for hospitals and 993 for fire.

Mr Speaker, the ICT Act No.15 of 2009 aims to grow the sector and, at the same time, protects the interest of both the operators and users. The expected outcomes are:

 (i) greater network reach and capacity;

 (ii) high quality services;

 (iii) efficient delivery of services;

 (iv) affordable services and equitable distribution of services; and

(v) diverse rich of both data and voice application that includes Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and Video Telephony.

Mr Speaker, in order to empower the users and enhance competition amongst operators, my ministry has held consultative talks with the Zambia Information Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) and the mobile operators on the possibility of introducing number portability. Number portability refers to the ability of the user to change the service provider without having to change any of the digits in the number.

For instance, if one had a number 09xx 777777 connected to one service provider, the user might opt to change to another service provider without having to change any of the digits, including the network identity number. Therefore, changing the service provider will not require any change in the number as the user will move with the whole number, thereby allowing the user not to lose any contacts or having to reprint business cards.

Mr Kambwili: Hear, hear!

Professor Lungwangwa: In short, operators will have to offer high reach, high quality, efficient and affordable services in order to retain customers on their network.

Mr Speaker, electronic payment systems are the cornerstone of e-commerce development by ensuring convenience and flexibility when undertaking commercial transactions and trade. Indeed, mobile commerce solutions via GSM phones are increasing on the market mainly due to the convenience, flexibility and increase in the use of mobile phones. In order to enhance the proliferation of such technologies to support that business, there is a need to enhance security of the systems. My ministry is holding consultative talks with ZICTA and the mobile operators on the possibility of introducing Sim registration.

Most countries are introducing Sim card Registration. Sim registration is simply the capturing of identity details of a person to who the Sim card and number are assigned. Therefore, as one buys a Sim card, there will be a requirement to produce a valid national identity or passport in the case of foreign nationals.

Mr Speaker, arising from sound policies of the Government and prudent management, the country has witnessed continuous and steady growth in the reach and connectivity of mobile telephone services in the recent past. Allow me to provide statistics of the growth progression.

(i) in 2007, there were 2,639,026 mobile users, reflecting a penetration of 22.54 users per 100 inhabitants;

(ii) in 2008, there were 3,539,003 mobile users, reflecting a penetration of 26.96 per cent users per 100 inhabitants;

(iii) in 2009, there were 4,165,101 mobile users, reflecting a penetration of 32.28 users per 100 inhabitants; and

(iv) at the end of September, 2010, there were 5,144,000 mobile users, reflecting a penetration of 38.5 users per 100 inhabitants.

From the above statistics, it can be noted that mobile penetration has grown by over 45.4 per cent in the last two years. This signifies the achievement attained under the able leadership of His Excellency, Mr Ruphia Bwezani Banda …

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Mwenya: Kamwendo munjila!

Professor Lungwangwa: … in the ICT sector.

Hon. Opposition Members: Question!

Professor Lungwangwa: The reforms he has embarked on since assuming office are positively impacting on the growth of the sector and the overall national economy. In terms of geographical reach, 42.8 per cent of the country is covered with population coverage of about 70 per cent. The skewed level of ICT penetration has, however, limited the pace of development interventions.

In order to promote the widespread availability and usage of electronic communications services throughout Zambia and bridge the digital divide between urban, peri-urban and rural areas, this august House, last year, passed the Information and Communications Technology Act No. 15, of 2009 which established a Universal Access and Service Fund to address the provision of electronic communications services in un-served or underserved areas and communities. The fund is being administered by ZICTA.

Mr Speaker, allow me to highlight the activities being undertaken by the Government through ZICTA, the ICT regulator, in collaboration with operators to promote the reach and provision of electronic communications services in un-served or underserved areas and communities. The activities being undertaken include tower construction to enable mobile operators extend mobile coverage and the establishment of Multipurpose Community Telecentres.

In order to promote or complement the efforts by operators to extend services to rural areas, ZICTA is rolling out towers under the Universal Access and Service Fund. In the first phase, forty-seven towers are to be constructed in rural areas. The tender has already been issued and closes on 26th November, 2010. It is anticipated that mobile services will be extended to these locations in the first quarter of 2011. Additional sites are being prepared for phase II also to be rolled out in 2011.

Mr Speaker, there is no doubt that the availability of ICT infrastructure in rural areas will render an enormous impact upon the rural communities and economy in general. Communities that traditionally travel long distances to communicate, whether about business or personal matters, will have instant access either via their own phone, one belonging to a friend or the community. The availability of ICT infrastructure in rural areas will positively impact on small-scale farmers in that they will be able to ascertain the best selling price for commodities that they have produced using phones and Internet.

Mr Speaker, by extending connectivity to rural areas, the Government will be able to introduce e-health services. The potential of ICT in contributing to the efficient and effective performance of the health sector is enormous, especially in remote diagnosis and treatment. Indeed, the potential impact of ICTs such as telemedicine are immense, as it optimises the constraint of limited highly experienced medical personnel and also eliminates the distance barrier in the delivery of health services.

Telemedicine can also be used to provide both basic and continuous skills transfer to health professionals. This will help mitigate isolation of the health professionals in rural areas. The dissemination of medical information through ICTs will facilitate informed decision-making, particularly in hard-to-reach areas.

During the period January, 2009 to September, 2010, ZICTA set up nine multi-purpose community telecentres in the following locations: Mumbwa, Mazabuka, Kabwe, Mongu, Serenje, Mpulungu (two centres) and Mporokoso at a cost of K2.9 billion. The multi-purpose community telecentres offer services such as internet, telephone, fax, photocopying, document scanning, binding and laminating. In some cases, they also operate as computer training centres.

Sir, furthermore, in collaboration with Macha Linknet, an non-governmental organisation (NGO) focused on rural connectivity, ZICTA set up three telecentres at Chilonga in Mpika, Kaleni in Mwinilunga and Minga in Petauka respectively at a cost of K1 billion. ZICTA provided the funds whilst Macha Linknet implemented the project. The telecentres were commissioned in February and March, 2010.

Mr Speaker, well developed ICT infrastructure and services facilitate the development and growth of other sectors of the economy. For instance, in the sphere of education, ICTs have the potential to improve the quality of educational training through e-learning and online learning. My ministry is working in collaboration with the Ministry of Education to connect educational institutions. As part of the programme to connect educational institutions, ZICTA, in 2009, financed an initiative by the Zambia Research and Education Network (ZAMREN) aimed at connecting institutions of higher learning. ZAMREN is a non-profit-making association comprising the University of Zambia (UNZA), Copperbelt University (CBU) and Mulungushi University (MU). The project involved connecting UNZA and the CBU through an optic fibre. The total cost of the project was K680 million.

Mr Speaker, following the establishment of a fibre link between the two institutions, a high definition (HD) video conferencing system from XVD Corporation of Japan was installed to provide real time video interaction between the two institutions. The installed equipment is a distance learning solution that allows the two institutions to share real time lecture room interaction. This means that students at either university can participate in the lecture at the other university in real time. The system was unveiled by His Excellency, Mr Rupiah Bwezani Banda on 26th May, 2010, during the E-learning Africa Conference which Zambia hosted.

Mr Speaker, the Indian Government has been assisting African countries to establish a Pan-African Electronic Network. The Pan-African E-Network Project involves linking fifty-four African countries to Indian institutions and also linking African countries to each other. In Zambia, the project involves linking Zambian universities and health institutions to other universities and health institutions in Africa and India. The project scope entailed the installation of telemedicine equipment at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), the establishment of a tele-education mode at the MU and the VVIP equipment at State House to ensure interconnectivity between the President and other African Heads of State. The interlinking of education and health institutions provides a platform for sharing experiences. The tele-education mode at the MU has since been handed over to the Ministry of Education.

Sir, the UTH has been provided with tele-health equipment to facilitate consultation and diagnosis by Zambian doctors with the help of their counterparts in India as well as others in Africa where similar infrastructure has been installed. The other infrastructure development projects being undertaken by the ministry are the construction and rehabilitation of post offices in order to facilitate the provision of ICT and postal services in unserved and underserved areas. Post offices provide an effective distribution channel for ICT products and services to rural areas. I wish to inform this august House that the post offices are regaining the status of being centres of business transactions such as bill payments and money transfers. In addition, most post offices have e-post facilities where emails can be turned into ordinary mail at the point of delivery, thereby increasing the speed at which mail is distributed. The construction of Sinda Post Office is almost ...

Hon. Government Member: Hear, hear!

Professor Lungwangwa: … complete and that of Shang’ombo is at tender stage. Whilst, there has been substantial growth on mobile connectivity, the internet and broadband connectivity have been very low with a total subscriber base of 17,754, reflecting a penetration of 0.14 per 100 inhabitants as at the end of March, 2010. There are eighteen licensed internet service providers eleven of which are operational.

Sir, in order to facilitate growth in internet penetration, the Government did put in place a new licensing regime under the ICT Act No. 15 of 2009 and expects the operators to extend internet services to all parts of the country through the use of their broadband technologies.

Mr Speaker, I wish to mention that mobile operators have already risen to the challenge of providing internet facilities with the provision of internet through mobile phones. The numbers of internet users has increased tremendously over the recent few months. There are over 600,000 users using mobile phones to access internet services. With the roll out of 3G services, a lot more people will be able to access the internet. As at the end of September, 2010, the mobile operators had installed over 290 3G base transceiver stations. The growth of internet penetration has partly been limited by the high cost of the services. The cost of internet services in Zambia and Africa in general is more than ten times the cost of the same service in either Europe or Asia because of reliance on satellite technology for connectivity.

Mr Speaker, it is anticipated that due to the deployment of the optic fibre networks on both sides of the African seaboard and the subsequent interconnection with inland fibre networks, the cost of ICT services will come down arising from the shift from satellite technology to higher capacity and high quality fibre networks. Zambia, by virtue of its geographical position, is a natural regional hub for ICT services in the transition from satellite to optic fibre connectivity in that it can be able to link countries in the west to the east and those from the north to the south and, in the process, contribute substantial amounts to the national economy.

Sir, furthermore, it is a prime location for the establishment of a regional internet exchange point. In order to be able to play this significant role, Zambia needs to establish fibre connectivity with all its neighbours. Three operators, namely Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO), Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) and the Zambia Telecommunications limited (ZAMTEL) have optic fibre networks which are providing the backbone infrastructure for the nation. The CEC network covers Copperbelt towns and is about 540 km.

Mr Speaker, the ZESCO network covers about 1,700 km from Sesheke to Lumwana through Livingstone, Lusaka and the Copperbelt. The ZESCO fibre network has been interconnected to Namibia at Sesheke in Katima Mulilo, thus enabling access to the Sat 3 Undersea Cable. ZESCO has commenced its Phase 2 of the fibre project that will enable Mbala, Mansa, Mpika, Kasama, Nakonde, Mpulungu, Kawambwa, Luwingu, Musonda Falls, Chishimba Falls, Lunzua, Chinsali, Isoka, Mongu, Kaoma, Senanga, Kasempa, Mfuwe, Lusiwasi, Msoro, Katete, Chipata, Mkushi, Chirundu and Maamba to be connected to the fibre network before the end of 2011. The project covers an additional fibre distance of 3,000 km and is being executed by ZTE Corporation. The equipment has already been manufactured and is expected to start arriving in December, 2010.

Mr Speaker, the ZAMTEL network covers about 1,913 km and, so far, the portion between Lusaka and the Copperbelt is operational. The Lusaka/Serenje route is operational and the Lusaka/Kazungula segment has been completed and is currently undergoing acceptance tests.

 ZESCO and ZAMTEL have a signed agreement for collaboration regarding their fibre networks so that they can avoid a duplication of expenditure by combining their efforts and linking their networks. Arising from this agreement, ZAMTEL and ZESCO are collaborating with their counterparts in Botswana to interconnect at Kazungula so that ZAMTEL can be linked to the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) on the eastern coast in which ZAMTEL has an investment. 

The EASSy cable is now operational. It is anticipated that the interconnection to the EASSy undersea cable will be completed in January, 2011. Once the interconnection is done, it is anticipated that there will be abundant bandwidth and that prices of internet services will substantially reduce.

Mr Speaker, I would like to conclude by stating that the Government is committed to seeing to it that ICT infrastructure and services are available and affordable for the larger proportion of our population. We shall also ensure that the services are equitably distributed. During the next five years, the Government intends to expand ICT infrastructure to cover all parts of the country stimulated by the implementation of the e-Government strategy that seeks to provide citizen centred integrated services covering all sectors delivered through multiple delivery channels to everyone.

Mr Speaker, I thank you.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Mukanga (Kantanshi): Mr Speaker, I would like to find out …


Mr Speaker: Order!

You are going to have to start all over again. There was a lot of loud talking across the aisle.

May you start all over again.

Mr Mukanga: Mr Speaker, I would like to find out when Zambians will be in a position to make video calls on their mobile phones.

Professor Lungwangwa: Mr Speaker, VoIP is a very important service. However, as the hon. Member realises, the establishment of a fourth mobile service provider has been suspended. Establishing this facility in Zambia would entail us having a fourth mobile service provider. At the moment, we are confining all our service providers to data provision and not the VoIP.

Mr Speaker, I thank you.

Mr Lumba (Solwezi Central): Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister stated that there is an increase in the number of mobile phone users. Is he aware that the increase is due to some people having three Sim cards because of the high rates in phoning across networks? If he is aware, can he confirm that the numbers he gave can be reduced by, at least, half?

Professor Lungwangwa: Mr Speaker, the data we have comes from the mobile operators who know exactly how to compute the number of people who use their services.

I thank you, Sir.

Mr Nkombo (Mazabuka Central): Mr Speaker, I would like to know the real reason for the suspension of a fourth mobile service provider. Why has this suspension been slapped on the establishment of this mobile service provider, considering that competition builds better and cheaper service delivery? 

Professor Lungwangwa: Mr Speaker, this decision is extremely important for the growth of the sector and the current operators as they compete.

Mr Speaker, allow me to highlight some information for the hon. Member for Mazabuka Central. Out of the 5,144,000 subscribers, MTN has a 32.3 per cent share, Zain has a 64.7 per cent share and ZAMTEL has a 3 per cent share. Clearly, the decision to suspend a fourth mobile operator was taken in order to enable providers like ZAMTEL compete and grow.

I thank you, Sir.

Dr Machungwa (Luapula): Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister announced, some time last year, that the construction of towers through the Universal Access Programme would be completed by October, 2010. Now he is stating that the construction works will start at the end of this year and may be completed next year. Why is it taking so long to have this service in place?

Professor Lungwangwa: Mr Speaker, this particular service in most developing countries and, as agreed under the International Telecommunication Union (ITC), guidance is a new service. Quite a number of us who are participating in the Universal Access Programme are implementing it while taking into account a number of parameters.

For instance, to raise towers in rural areas, we need the co-operation of the service providers. We need to acquire land and to know the topography and soil composition of the area in which the tower is to be located. We also need to understand the dimensions of the tower that has to be constructed in terms of its length.

Clearly, the process has taken long because we had to go through the tender process and the selection of the designers of the towers. We are happy that the tender bids will be opened next week and the construction should start soon.

Mr Speaker, I thank you.

Ms Kapata (Mandevu): Mr Speaker, since the Government has decided to open a medical school in Ndola as part of the (CBU), I would like to find out from the hon. Minister whether e-learning will be extended to first and second year students to learn natural sciences which does not exist at the CBU but UNZA.

Professor Lungwangwa: Mr Speaker, e-learning is increasingly under use in our educational institutions. This facility is not only being used at UNZA, but also other universities and colleges. Clearly, the school of Medical Sciences of CBU in Ndola should be able to acquire computers and other facilities to enhance e-learning because it is extremely important in the academic world.

 I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr Milupi (Luena): Mr Speaker, let me congratulate the hon. Minister for his extensive statement. In congratulating him, let me state that I hope that we will move beyond words to implement the good things that are contained in his statement. In this line, would the hon. Minister explain what measures the Government intends to take to ensure that we have a penetration greater than the 38.5 per cent that he has given us by, for example, increasing the universal access and service fund.

Professor Lungwangwa: Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. Member for Luena for congratulating me on the statement. As a Government, we are taking every opportunity to ensure that our geographical location, as a landlocked country with eight countries neighbouring us, becomes a great advantage for the development of the ICT in the region. That is the more reason we are constructing fibre optic lines to the various parts of the country and between our country to areas in other countries with the participation of service providers. We are very confident, as a Government, that Zambia will become the hub of ICT development in the region.

We are encouraging service providers to increase their service provision. For example, by September, this year, Zain had 655 sites and its target is to increase this number by adding about 148 new sites by December, this year. MTN is doing the same and we expect ZAMTEL to also catch up and intensify the provision of such services in the rural areas as well. ZICTA is also being impressed upon to increase the number of sites so that we can truly narrow the gap between the urban and rural areas and make Zambia a hub of ICT development.

 I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr Chimbaka (Bahati): Mr Speaker, the laying of the optic fibre network is a very good programme. However, when is the ministry going to extend this facility to densely populated areas in our water bodies like Chilubi, Chishi, Mbabala on Lake Bangweulu, Chisenga, Kilwa  Island on Lake Mweru and Kasomwa Lunga, the famours swamp area?

 Professor Lungwangwa: Mr Speaker, as I indicated in the statement, the process has started and it is ongoing. The goal is to eventually cover all the districts in the country and all different areas within the districts.

 I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr Ngoma (Sinda): Mr Speaker, when will ZICTA, through the ministry, make it mandatory for all customers to have their sim card numbers registered by their service providers in order to improve security in the nation.

Professor Lungwangwa: Mr Speaker, as I indicated in the statement, the process has started. We are now discussing with ZICTA and mobile operators so that the system gets introduced and established in our country.

 I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Colonel Chanda (Kanyama): Mr Speaker, with this well-meaning advancement in the ICT technology in the country and also the liberalisation of the international gateway, I would like to find out from the hon. Minister what the future of the aging Mwembeshi Satellite Earth Station is.

Professor Lungwangwa: Mr Speaker, technology is changing by the day and obsolete technology is being overtaken by a more efficient kind that can provide quality service. Clearly, Mwembeshi Earth Satellite is being overtaken by other means of communication which are more efficient.

 I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr Mwenya (Nkana): Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the hon. Minister what steps have been taken to protect residents, where these towers have been constructed, from radiation and noise pollution emitted by the generator sets which are left running 24/7.

Professor Lungwangwa: Mr Speaker, so far, I am not aware of that problem. If there are such problems, I am sure measures will be taken to protect our people. As of now, I do not think such a problem has arisen.

 I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr Zulu (Bwana Mkubwa): Mr Speaker, there is a service called roaming which is provided by Zain. I would like to find out from the hon. Minister why both the sender and receiver pay when this service is made use of.

Professor Lungwangwa: Mr Speaker, it is just good business practice. The providers of the service would like to generate profit from those who can afford it.

 I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mrs Phiri (Munali): Mr Speaker, the US$10 million has been available for some time now. I would, therefore, like to find out why ZICTA has not utilised this money to improve the universal access.

 Professor Lungwangwa: Mr Speaker, this is exactly what is being done. As indicated in the ministerial statement, ZICTA is rolling out various services such as the multipurpose telecentres which I mentioned and also the towers that are being planned for erection. This is part of the utilisation of that money that is available under the Universal Access Fund.

However, let me point out that the Universal Access Fund is one to which service providers contribute out of their profits, every year, so that the money can be used to provide equitable access to ICT facilities in the remote areas.

I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mrs Kawandami (Chifubu): Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the hon. Minister why it has taken Zambia such a long time to connect to the EASSy cable. Can he also equivocally confirm that the connection will be completed by January, 2011?

Professor Lungwangwa: Mr Speaker, I wish to inform the House that we are part of the EASSy cable project. The project is a New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) project to which Zambia subscribes through ZAMTEL. EASSy cable came to light last year and so, it has not been in existence too long. The countries that will utilise the facility are busy connecting themselves just like what we are doing as a country. We hope that, by next year, we should be able to connect ourselves to EASSy cable which will enable us have a more efficient broadband connectivity.

I thank you, Sir.

Mr Imenda (Lukulu East): Mr Speaker, does the hon. Minister recognise that the good figure that he elaborated very well in terms of connectivity progression is skewed towards the rural population and that the much-talked about optic fibre does not capture the people between towns and cities?

Professor Lungwangwa: Mr Speaker, indeed, we, as a Government, do recognise that there is a digital divide between the urban and rural areas, including the peri-urban areas. That is the more reason we are rolling out the optic fibre initially to the provincial headquarters and then to the districts so that more people can access ICT services. This will enable more people in the rural areas to be ICT connected.

I thank you, Mr Speaker.




168. Mr Imenda (Lukulu East) asked the Minister of Labour and Social Security how many jobs had been created from 2000 to 2010 in comparison to the jobs lost in the same period.

The Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Security (Mr Kachimba): Mr Speaker, according to the 2000 Census Report, the total number of employed persons was 2.1 million. Preliminary figures of the 2008 Labour Force Survey show that a total of 4.6 million people were employed. Therefore, approximately 2.5 million new jobs were created in all sectors of the economy. However, it is important to note that the majority of the employed are in the informal sector which constitutes about 90 per cent of the total persons in employment.

In the same period under review, only 31,128 jobs were lost according to the administrative records available to my ministry.

I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Hon. Government Member: Hear, hear!{mospagebreak}

Mr Imenda: Mr Speaker, how does the hon. Minister reconcile the fact that the majority of the workers are paid salaries under the K1 million threshold with the fact that our economy heavily depends on income tax? How does he hope the economy will improve with this scenario?

The Minister of Labour and Social Security (Mr Liato): Mr Speaker, I am sure that the hon. Member of Parliament was around when the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning presented the 2011 Budget before this House. Every year, there are reviews on tax which are meant to relieve workers of the burden of tax. In next year’s Budget, there has been such a movement, as relief has been given to those getting K1 million and below.

I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr Kambwili (Roan): Mr Speaker, what is the ministry doing about the jobs created by Chinese investors who are paying below K500,000. For example, at Collum Coal Mine, the lowest paid employee is getting K450,000. Is it normal for anybody to work underground for K450,000?

Mr Speaker: I will allow the hon. Minister of Labour and Social Security to answer that question, but hon. Members must look at the core question here. It relates to jobs created and jobs lost.

Mr Liato: Mr Speaker, I thank you for your guidance.

First of all, when a window is opened for job creation in a nation, the job opportunities come with a lot of challenges. These are challenges that any growing economy faces. In our case, it means that we have to cope with the task of familiarising our investors with our internal labour laws. The trade unions must also rise to the occasion to create and recruit new membership in the unfolding investment programmes. So, really, it is not the Government’s task alone. I think that all social partners mainly, the employers, workers and Government must put their energies together to cope with the influx of investors and ensure that they all work to create conditions of service that are favourable to our people.

As regards Collum Coal Mine, in particular, this issue is ably handled by the ministry. After the shooting incident, a couple of things have been discovered as the cause of the shooting. The idea is to create favourable conditions at Collum Coal Mine because both the locals and the Chief in Sinazongwe made it clear that they did not want the investment to close. In other words, they want the jobs for the people in Sinazeze. At the same time, as a Government, it is our responsibility to ensure that the conditions are favourable. This is being handled by the ministry. Basically, there was a gap because there was no union representation. However, we will ensure that it will be in place from now onwards.

I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr Kakoma (Zambezi West): Mr Speaker, out of the 2.5 million new jobs that were created between 2000 and 2010, I would like to find out from the hon. Minister how many were created in the formal sector and how many were created in the informal sector.

Mr Liato: Mr Speaker, as the hon. Member of Parliament will realise, this was not the initial question presented. Obviously, this means we have to get back to the technocrats to give us that information. I do not have it off hand, but it can be availed to the hon. Member later.

I thank you, Sir.

Mr Chimbaka (Bahati): Mr Speaker, may I know …

Mr Milupi: On a point of order.

Mr Speaker: A point of order is raised.

Mr Milupi: Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to raise this point of order. I am mindful of my status as Member of Parliament. I am aware that we should not disturb the business of this House by raising frivolous points of order.

Mr Speaker, I raise this point of order which borders on the integrity of this country, especially in the funding of nations and the work of this House. In terms of the work of this House, our responsibility, in addition to legislation, appropriation, and representation also includes playing an oversight role. In carrying out these functions, this House has played its oversight role effectively by raising, among other issues, a number of concerns regarding the utilisation of public resources.

Mr Speaker, I raise this point of order arising from the report in today’s The Post Newspaper which says, “Zambia has misappropriated US$13 million from the Global Fund”. It further says that:

“Out of the four countries that are mentioned, that is, Mali, Mauritania and Cameroon which, together, appear to have misapplied or misappropriated US$25 million, out of this, more than half, which is US$13 million, is attributed to Zambia alone”.

Bearing this in mind and taking into consideration the fact that the Global Fund is applied to fight the Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), Malaria and Tuberculosis, is this Government in order, through the hon. Minister of Health, not to appraise this House and the nation on exactly what happened in the misappropriation of this US$13 million, and now that the Global Fund is asking for a refund, not to let this House know where this Government is going to get the money to refund it and what action is going to be taken against those who misappropriated this amount of money? Is the hon. Minister in order not to inform this House about this?

Mr Speaker, I am aware that even though this report has appeared in the newspaper today, the Government does not merely work on the basis of newspaper reports. Therefore, they will have been aware of these happenings in the Global Fund long before they appeared in the press.

Mr Speaker, I, therefore, seek your ruling on this very serious matter. I lay the paper on the Table.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mrs Phiri: Balefola K65 million.

Mr Milupi laid the paper on the Table.

Mr Speaker: Order!

Concerning the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Luena, what appears to be some difficulty for the House is that this matter, which started sometime ago, is being referred to both in this House and outside piecemeal. There has, in fact, been a ministerial statement on this matter in this House. What was then not available was the figure referred to in the newspaper which the hon. Member for Luena has laid on the Table of the House. This case, which is being referred to both here and out there, is that a number of civil servants have been arrested and are appearing in court.

The House may also be aware that, in fact, there has been a shift, even though this has not been made available in this House by way of a statement that the funds from the Global Fund that have been mentioned are now being availed through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

However, since we are here to deal with the National Budget, the august House is aware that the budget, with regard to the Ministry of Health, is predicated on the assumption that there will be not much money coming from the Global Fund and, maybe, other funds, too, because of what has happened. I am also aware that the House is about to debate the Ministry of Health. The Vote for the Ministry of Health is still to be debated. The hon. Member for Luena will have an opportunity to debate that issue under this ministry and the hon. Minister of Health will answer thereto.

I cannot answer for him because I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information in the newspaper.

Therefore, let us wait and debate this matter shortly. The briefer we are on the Questions for Oral Answer, the sooner you will get to the important point of order you have raised.

Will the hon. Member continue, please.

Mr Chimbaka: Mr Speaker, before the point of order was raised, I was trying to find out from the hon. Minister of Labour and Social Security how he is addressing the issue of a living wage in terms of bringing it closer to or above the poverty datum line for the number of people who have been taken on in formal employment.

Mr Liato: Mr Speaker, this matter has already been addressed by our social partners and the ministry. It is just in its final stages of being processed and is being looked at by the Ministry of Justice.

I thank you, Sir.


169. Mr Kambwili (Roan) asked the Minister of Health:

(a) what the current establishment of the following categories of health workers were at the University Teaching Hospital:

(i) doctors;

(ii) registered nurses and midwives; and

(iii) enrolled nurses and midwives;

(b) how many births were recorded in 2009 at this hospital; and

(c) what the total number of patients admitted in 2009 were at the same hospital.

The Deputy Minister of Health (Dr Kalila): Mr Speaker, the current establishment of health workers at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) is as follows:

UTH Approved Structure Staff in Post Variance

Doctors 287 160 127

Registered nurses 450 242 208

Midwives 163   41 122

Zambia Enrolled
Nurses 613 301  312

Zambia Enrolled
Midwives 106   33   73

Total   1,619 777 842

Mr Speaker, the House may wish to note the following:

(a) in addition to the 160 doctors who are in post, the UTH has 105 junior resident medical doctors on internship and their positions are on the Ministry of Health Headquarters establishment;

(b) there are also forty-three doctors at UTH on the Master of Medicine Degree Programme who are on establishments of various hospitals where they are stationed; and

(c) the filling of positions to reduce the variance between the approved establishment and the staff in post is being done in phases. The Government sets aside funds in the National Budget for recruitment of Ministry of Health workers each year.

Mr Speaker, the following births and admissions were recorded in 2009 at the UTH:

Indicator 1st quarter 2nd quarter 3rd quarter 4th quarter Total

Live Births 4,348 4,417 4,249 4,046 17,060

Admission 21,444 17,535 19,900 21,138 80,017

Mr Speaker, I thank you sincerely.

Mr Kambwili: Sir, it is clear that the number of patients being admitted to the UTH overwhelms the current workforce. May I know from the hon. Minister the timeframe that the Government has set for filling up all the positions at the UTH so that the hospital can offer good quality medical service.

Dr Kalila: Mr Speaker, first of all, as you may have noticed, the approved establishment for doctors at the hospital is 287, but the current number of doctors working at the institution is 308. This is well above the establishment and is very adequate. Nonetheless, I am sure the hon. Member may not have been in the House when the hon. Minister announced that we are presently recruiting health workers. That announcement should answer his question as regards the timeframe of filling all the positions.

I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr Mukanga (Kantanshi): Sir, I would like to find out what the permissible doctor-patient ratio is as stipulated by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Dr Kalila: According to WHO, it is supposed to be 2.5 doctors per 1,000 patients and our current ratio is 0.9 doctors per 1,000 patients. We are definitely still way below the WHO ratio. That is why we are making all the efforts that have been elaborated on the Floor of this House to try and improve the doctor-patient ratio.

I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr Chisala (Chilubi): Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister has just told us that 17,060 is the total number of births recorded in 2009. Of the number given, how many were baby boys and how many were girls?


Dr Kalila: Mr Speaker, you have correctly guided on the Floor of this House on the need for hon. Members to pay particular attention to the core question. The hon. Member’s follow-up question is not part of the core question, but we would readily provide that information if he came to our offices.

I thank you, Sir.


170. Mr Chongo (Mwense) asked the Minister of Works and Supply:

(a) how many kilometres of road rehabilitation works were completed under the Rural Roads Unit (RRU) in Luapula Province in 2009, district by district; and

(b) how much money had, so far, been spent under the RRU in the 2010 Budget.

The Deputy Minister of Works and Supply (Mr Mangani): Mr Speaker, the kilometres of roads rehabilitated in Luapula Province by the RRU in 2009 are as follows:

District Total Distance Covered (km)

 Mansa  188

 Chienge    18.5

 Nchelenge    22

 Kawambwa    16

 Milenge 34

 Samfya 55

 Mwense 86

 Total  419.5

Mr Speaker, the money, so far, spent under the RRU in line with the 2010 Budget is as follows:

Province Budgeted Received Spent
 (K’ bn) (K’ bn) (K’ bn)

Lusaka 5 1.8  1.8

Luapula 5 5  2.6

Northern 5 4  2.9

Eastern 5 5  2.9

Central 5 5  2.7

North-Western 5 5  3.4

Western 5 4  1.8

Southern 5 1.5  1.5

Copperbelt 5 1.3  1.3

Total 45 32.6  20.9

Mr Speaker, I thank you.

Mr Chongo: Mr Speaker, since the roads that were planned for rehabilitation in Mwense Constituency in particular were not rehabilitated last year, but the money was used, can the hon. Minister indicate whether the RRU has the mandate to divert money to other activities or road projects without consulting the stakeholders who had initially planned for the roads.

Mr D. Mwila: Hear, hear!

The Minister of Works and Supply (Mr Mulongoti): Mr Speaker, the RRU in the provinces is under the total control of the provincial administration. Therefore, the Ministry of Works and Supply has no control over this unit.

I thank you, Sir.

Mr Lumba (Solwezi Central): Sir, I heard the hon. Minister say that, out of K45 billion, only K32.6 has been disbursed. May I find out when the money, which has not yet been disbursed, will be released since we are getting to the end of the year.

Mr Mulongoti: Mr Speaker, it is common knowledge that the Treasury will only release what it has.

I thank you, Sir.

Mrs Chitika-Molobeka (Kawambwa): Mr Speaker, I would like to know the name of the road that was rehabilitated in the constituency. 

Mr Mulongoti: Since it was rehabilitated by the provincial administration, we hope that when the hon. Minister debates the budget for the province, we will be able to make the details available.

I thank you, Sir.

Mr Ntundu (Gwembe): Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister has stated that his ministry has no control over the RRU. Now that he knows that some of the monies were not used, is there anything that his ministry is going to do to ensure that monies that are allocated to the provincial administration are used? Is the hon. Minister sure that there is nothing that he is going to do about this?

Mr Mulongoti: Mr Speaker, when monies are appropriated in the provinces where hon. Members come from, it is expected that they will follow it up. It would be extremely unfair to expect the Ministry of Works and Supply to come and supervise your projects when money has been given to the province for you to use.

I thank you, Sir.

Mr Kasongo (Bangweulu): Mr Speaker, since all hon. Members of Parliament from Luapula Province have said, several times, that the K1.8 billion that was released by the Ministry of Finance and National Planning for maintaining roads was not utilised, is it not possible for the hon. Minister of Works and Supply to send a team of officials to the province to verify this information and find out what happened to the money?

Mr Mulongoti: Mr Speaker, the reason the Provincial Minister will have to speak to this House over the money the province received and the money they are requesting the House to approve is to take account of the money. If the hon. Minister’s explanation is not satisfactory, that is when we shall want to know what could have happened. As far as we are concerned, we expect the leadership of the province to actively follow up the use of that money because the projects are generated from constituencies, districts and the province itself.

It is extremely unfair for stakeholders to detach themselves from the budgets because they are approved by this House and this House knows how much is going to each province. However, the best thing to do is, within the year, follow up this money and see how it is being utilised and not to wait until we pass another budget for you to start requesting the Ministry of Works and Supply to follow up the utilisation of the money when, in fact, our expectation is that, with your participation, the projects that you wanted were implemented.

I thank you, Sir.




The Minister of Finance and National Planning (Dr Musokotwane): Mr Speaker, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr Speaker, the Bill before this House is principally seeking to increase the Property Transfer Tax rate from 3 per cent to 5 per cent and introduce Anti-Avoidance Rules in the Act.

Mr Speaker, as this House may be aware, Property Transfer Tax is charged on the realised value for the transfer of land, buildings and share holding companies. This is one type of tax that can provide an important and sustainable source of domestic revenue for the country, particularly given the economic developments in the country.

Mr Speaker, this revision is aimed at increasing Government revenues for developmental programmes that the Government is currently undertaking. It is justified to revise the rate now since the last revision was made in 2003. The projected gain from this measure is K21.8 billion.

Mr Speaker, the proposed rate is within the range of what is charged in most countries in the region while other countries have rates as high as 15 per cent or even higher. Even with this increase, Zambia still remains a competitive property investment destination.

Mr Speaker, there is also a need to strengthen legislation in order to curb revenue loss through avoidance schemes that may be perpetrated by some taxpayers. Therefore, the provision on anti-avoidance in the Act will ensure collection of taxes that would otherwise not be collected due to avoidance activities.

Mr Speaker, this Bill is straightforward and I now commend it to the House.

Mr Speaker, I beg to move.

Mr Kakoma (Zambezi West): Mr Speaker, I wish to thank you for the opportunity to make comments on the Property Transfer Tax (Amendment) Bill.

Your Committee on Economic Affairs and Labour was tasked by the House to consider the Property Transfer Tax (Amendment) Bill. Your Committee invited a number of stakeholders in property business to make both oral and written submissions.

The Bill primarily seeks to address two issues, that is the increase in the Property Transfer Tax from 3 per cent to 5 per cent and the introduction of the anti-avoidance provisions in the Property Transfer Tax Act Cap. 340 of the Laws of Zambia.

One of the measures that the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning wishes to take to raise revenue is to increase Property Transfer Tax from 3 per cent to 5 per cent. The revenue expected from this measure will be about K21.8 billion.

Mr Speaker, the report of your Committee contains valuable information which, if applied, can result in the Government realising more than K21.8 billion from the property market. This sub sector is very active and thriving, particularly in economically-active areas in Zambia.

Mr Speaker, allow me to highlight a few specific issues concerning the proposed provisions in the Bill.

(i) Commencement Date

As hon. Members will have observed, the effective date of the Bill is 1st April, 2011 to run up to 31st March, 2012. This will be applicable to subsequent years. Property Transfer Tax is a transaction-based tax and has to be paid if one has to proceed with the process of having the transaction registered and ownership changed. It, therefore, does not require to be linked to the financial years of companies. Your Committee has, however, taken note of the fact that the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) will, from 2011, start the process of aligning the tax charges to the budget year.

(ii) Increase in the Property Transfer Tax Rate from 3 per cent to 5 per cent

Mr Speaker, the majority of witnesses, specifically non-State actors, supported the increase, but were of the view that it should not be by two percentage points, as this is too steep. Most of them also feared that the increase will:

(a) increase total transaction costs and discourage further investments in the property market;

(b) cause prices of properties to go up and ultimately affect the ordinary Zambian; and

(c) lead to an increase in tax avoidance.

Your Committee recognises these concerns and actually anticipates the above to occur. However, your Committee doubts whether the transaction costs and price of properties will come down if the rate of property transfer tax is reduced, let alone left at 3 per cent. This is because property transfer tax is one of the other costs that make up the total cost of transactions on properties, the others being legal, land registration and real estate agency fees.

In order to address the problem of high transaction costs and the cost of properties, all these constituent elements have to be taken into account. The Government is, therefore, urged to undertake a comprehensive review of the factors with a view to reducing the transaction costs and cost of properties.

Furthermore, your Committee is of the view that the review of property transfer tax is long overdue, as it was last reviewed in 2003. It also recognises the need to raise funds to compensate for losses suffered due to other measures proposed by the Government as already stated.

Based on the above, your Committee supports Clause 2 of the Bill and urges the House to pass it.

(iii) Anti-Tax Avoidance Measures

All the witnesses who appeared before your Committee supported the introduction of the anti-tax avoidance provisions in the Property Transfer Tax Act. Their major concern, however, was on the capacity of the ZRA to enforce compliance. There is a definite need for building capacity at the ZRA if the Government has to collect reasonable revenue from the property sub-sector which is growing at a fast rate. Your Committee supports the provisions in Clause 3 and urges the House to pass the Bill.

As I conclude, Mr Speaker, I wish to mention that there is a growing concern at the rate foreigners are acquiring property in Zambia. There is also a need to ensure that Zambians are protected. To this effect, some stakeholders feel that a higher rate of property transfer tax should be introduced for non-Zambians.

Furthermore, in order to lessen the negative impact on economically vulnerable Zambians, the Government should consider introducing a graduated system of paying property transfer tax. Low value properties should be subjected to a lower rate and vice- versa for high value properties.

Mr Speaker, I wish to thank you and the Office of the Clerk for the support you rendered to your Committee when considering the Property Transfer Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2010. I further wish to thank all the witnesses who made written and oral presentations to your Committee and made its work much lighter.

Mr Speaker, I thank you.

Hon. UPND Member: Hear, hear!

Dr Musokotwane: Mr Speaker, I wish to thank your Committee and the House for the support. My only comment is on the last statement made by the Chairperson of your Committee. Your Committee expressed fear at the number of foreigners acquiring property in this country being to the disadvantage of the ordinary Zambians. I wish to disagree with that because properties are being developed in this country and provide all types of opportunities for Zambians. The foreigners do not come with the sand, stones, water and labour. So, if they develop the properties, job and business opportunities will be created for Zambians. In fact, there are many countries in the world that have created wealth out of properties. A good example of this is Dubai.

Mr Speaker, I thank you.

Question put and agreed to and the Bill read a second time.

Committed to a committee of the Whole House.

Committee on Wednesday, 19th November, 2010.

THE ROAD TRAFFIC (Amendment) BILL, 2010

Dr Musokotwane: Mr Speaker, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr Speaker, the Bill before the House is principally seeking to increase road tax on vehicles by 50 per cent. As this august House may be aware, the Government and co-operating partners, under the Road Sector Investment Programme (RSIP), agreed to create a road fund for purposes of financing road rehabilitation and maintenance. From domestic revenues, the major sources of this fund are fuel levy and other road user charges, including road tax. The purpose of this measure is, therefore, to increase the resources earmarked for road maintenance in order to augment the support we are receiving from the co-operating partners.

Mr Speaker, the need to have a good road network which is properly maintained cannot be overemphasised since this forms the backbone for sustainable economic development and prosperity that we aspire to attain as a nation. This makes the need to have more resources channelled to the road sector necessary and thus justifies the proposed revision.

Mr Speaker, let me also take this opportunity to thank our co-operating partners for the continued support they are providing in the road sector and infrastructure development in general. I also wish to inform this august House that the MMD Government is committed to providing more domestic resources and, therefore, reduce over dependency on donor financing in the long run.

Sir, this Bill is straightforward and I now commend it to the House.

Mr Speaker, I beg to move.

Hon. Government Member: Hear, hear!

Mr Imenda (Lukulu East): Mr Speaker, this Bill, whose Second Reading is being debated today, was referred to your Committee by the House on 2nd November, 2010. The objects of the Bill are twofold:

(i) to revive the licence fees payable in respect of motor vehicles and trailers; and

(ii) provide for matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing.

Sir in scrutinising the Bill, your Committee requested written submissions from various stakeholders who then appeared before your Committee and made oral submissions. The stakeholders, while welcoming the Bill, raised a number of pertinent issues which need to be addressed in future.

There were a number of concerns raised pertaining to the proposed increment of the Road Tax. Some stakeholders were of the view that the Road Tax Licence increment of 50 per cent was rather too high. For instance, a 4 x 4 vehicle which exceeds 2,000 kg, but does not exceed 4000 kg is currently being charged K250, 020 per annum. On 1st January, 2011, when this proposed amendment Bill becomes effective, the same type of vehicle will be charged K375, 030 per annum. A big truck and trailer vehicle which exceeds 20,000 kg is currently paying K1,499,940 per annum. With effect from January 1st, 2011, it will be charged at K2,249,910 per annum.

Sir, the argument is that such a sharp and sudden increase is rather too high, particularly for buses and taxis, as owners of public service vehicles will pass on the increase to passengers through an increase in fares. In addition, the increase in road user fees may result in reduced compliance by some motorists who may choose to risk driving unlicensed vehicles and avoid paying new fees.

Mr Speaker, another concern raised was that the Road Traffic and Safety Agency (RTSA) is not found in all parts of the country. In some remote areas, one has to travel long distances to provincial centres or some areas where RTSA offices are in order to have their vehicles licensed.

Sir, some stakeholders even went further to argue that sudden sharp increments will encourage motorists to evade paying the tax and resort to bribing law enforcement officers.

Mr Speaker, to prevent future public outcry over the seemingly high Road Tax increment, the Government should learn to consult widely before any such percentage increase is arrived at and announced to the general public.

Sir, your Committee was reliably informed that a major stakeholder like the Zambia Police Service was not consulted. Equally, other stakeholders like the Passengers, Pedestrians and Cyclists Association of Zambia and the Commuters Rights Association were not consulted either.

Other witnesses also expressed the following concerns:

(i) the capacity of the Road Development Agency (RDA) and the National Road Fund Agency (NRFA) staff was questioned going by the audit queries which revealed abuse of funds entrusted to them;

(ii) the Government is putting a heavy load on only one form of tax instead of broadening the tax base by putting up toll gates so that toll fees are also collected;

(iii) some provincial administrations, as implementing agencies, are failing to use the released funds to the road projects in their jurisdictions; and

(iv) there is no point in raising the Road Tax Licence by 50 per cent because, currently, there are so many vehicles being imported into the country. The number of vehicles has lately increased to about a thousand fold per year to an extent where the Government is now getting enough revenue from that source.

Mr Speaker, after having taken everything into consideration, including the fact that this tax was last increased in 2008, your Committee is of the view that the increment in the Road Tax is a vital tool to raise revenue for …

Mr Speaker: Order!

Business was suspended from 1615 hours until 1630 hours.

[MR SPEAKER in the Chair]

Mr Speaker: As there is no quorum, I suspend business for two minutes.

Business was suspended from 1630 hours until 1632 hours

[MR SPEAKER in the Chair]

   Mr Imenda: Mr Speaker, before business was suspended, I was saying that after having taken everything into consideration, including the fact that this tax was last increased in 2008, your Committee is of the view that the increment in the Road Tax is a vital tool to raise revenue for the Government for the construction of urgently needed roads to connect the many new areas that need development.

The Government needs money to maintain the road network because a good one has a positive implication on the development of other sectors such as mining, agriculture, tourism and the manufacturing industry.

Therefore, after considering various viewpoints, which were for and against the proposed amendment to the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, 2010, your Committee notes that the increment being proposed of 50 per cent is understandable going by the fact that the cost of doing business in Zambia has gone up since the last adjustment.

Sir, though the increment appears high, the intentions of the Government in raising the Road Tax Licence fees are noble. The Government needs adequate money for road maintenance, as there are now many vehicles on the road.

Further, in supporting the amendment, your Committee wishes to urge the Government to step up efforts to build the internal capacity of RTSA officers and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that compliance is achieved within a reasonable period of time, hence the need to have well trained professional staff.

Mr Speaker, in conclusion, allow me to express my profound gratitude to you for appointing us to serve on your Committee and giving us the mandate to scrutinise the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, 2010.

My appreciation also go to the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly for the services rendered to your Committee. Last, but not the least, your Committee extends its appreciation to all stakeholders who interacted with it in this noble cause.

Mr Speaker, I wish to thank you for the support you rendered to your Committee.

Mr Muntanga (Kalomo Central): Mr Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the debate of your Committee’s report.

In supporting your Committee’s report, I wish to state that it is important for the Government to consider using measures that will bring in more revenue. The issue of road maintenance should not be used to continuously collect money from Zambian motorists.

Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister is saying that it would be cheaper to buy licences monthly, but he is forgetting that not everyone can afford to do that. In fact, when you calculate how much one would spend during the year based on the proposed increment, you will discover that the tax will be expensive. The figure will increase from K250,000 to K300,000 and this will create a big problem for the motorists.

The other time, we changed the driver’s licences from yellow to black and recently, a small card was introduced. All these are money-generating ventures. The Government has also changed blue books to white books.


Mr Muntanga: The white book looks like just a piece of paper. I do not know what we will have next. I do not even know what to call the car registration paper that is there now. I do not know whether to call it a white book or not because it is just a piece of paper. You have to laminate it for it to be durable. Money is needed for that to be done.

Mr Speaker, let me also talk about the issue of toll gates. Why is the Government not putting up the toll gates which it has been talking about? The late former Prime Minister, Mr Nalumino Mundia, started this initiative, but it was abandoned later. The two small houses at the Kafue Weighbridge were all part of the efforts to start building toll gates. I remember Mr Mundia also constructed small houses at Batoka and Livingstone for the same purpose. It is because, as Prime Minister, he wanted to put in place the toll gates.

Sir, the vehicles that are destroying our roads are the heavy trucks from South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. Our road tonnage specifications are 60 to 70 tonnes, but the trucks that are coming into the country weigh more than 90 tonnes. What do we do because the trucks going to Lumwana are not paying anything? In most cases, when these trucks pass through the Livingstone Checkpoint, they are overloaded. However, officers at the checkpoint will ask a person with a small vehicle to pay something while they will allow an overloaded truck to pass without paying anything. They even allow a big truck weighing 90 tonnes to pass through the checkpoint without paying anything. This will contribute to the destruction of the whole road from Livingstone to Solwezi.

Now, the law stipulates that, for every kilometre that is damaged, the owner of the truck must pay for its repair. Do they manage to pay that amount of money? Are the people who are overloading their trucks paying any money to the Government? If I look at the Act which demands for such payments, I see that they cannot afford to pay because if the law is applied, all the trucks would be off the road. What are we doing about that? Why are we not putting up toll gates? Our roads are being destroyed by people who are not paying us anything. South Africa and many other countries have put up very nice toll gates which they are using to collect money.

Mr Speaker, we cannot even construct flyover bridges because we do not collect enough money from some motorists. The contention is that flyover bridges cannot be constructed at a junction because it is expensive, and yet a lot of cement is produced in this country which can be used to construct anything. Why are you not doing such works? Do not say that you lack money for such works because you just do not want to collect money through toll gates. Increasing the tax that is paid by the average road users will not help us significantly. What will happen is that, when charges for the average Zambian road users are increased, it will make them start evading tax or drive during the night through the bush using all sorts of shortcuts so that  they cannot be seen. They will also be driving unlicensed vehicles. If you make the fees reasonable, they will pay them such that you will be able to collect all the money that you need. I also think that it is high time we had toll gates in place.

Mr Speaker, let me also comment on the issue of RTSA. I would like to urge the Government to, please, monitor and control the officers at RTSA. What is happening there? Is it corruption or mere theft? The officers there always want to cause congestion at their offices because they do not report for work on time, at 0800 hours. When you go to RTSA early to pay your road tax, you will find that there is no one to attend to you. If you call their offices, you will be told that the officers who are supposed to attend to you are either on the way or at the Ridgeway or Lumumba offices, and yet they are not at any of those places. Sometimes, you will be told that the officers who are supposed to attend to you are on their way to their offices such that they will make you wait from 0800 hours to 1000 hours. All this will be happening as the queues keep getting longer. Whilst you are standing in the queue, you see people collecting money from people on the queue claiming to know Mr X, and yet the money will keep changing hands.

Mr Speaker, still on the issue of road tax, the computerisation of the system has brought about complications. At times, when a vehicle breaks down or is involved in an accident, it may be in the garage for three or more months. When it is repaired and I go to RTSA to pay road tax, the records there will show that the vehicle was not licensed during the last quarter. When you tell the officers at RTSA that the vehicle was in the garage, they will tell you that you have no evidence to prove your claim. They will instead demand for money from you. Now, it becomes expensive for me to pay tax for a vehicle that was not moving. What happens if I do not have the money? I think you will be encouraging me to drive a vehicle that is not licensed. If we want to address all these issues, let us devise permanent methods that will help us to raise money for road maintenance.

Mr Speaker, the fuel levy that was being collected was not released by the Ministry of Finance and National Planning for road maintenance.


Mr Muntanga: Mr Speaker, let us introduce money-raising ventures that will benefit this country.

Mr Speaker, we support this idea because we need to raise enough money. However, we want the Government to use the money for its intended purpose. We do not want to hear stories about the diversion of funds like what happened with regard to the fuel levy. There was a time when we were charged money which was supposed to go to stocking up fuel reserves. However, the money was diverted. This is despite us being told in this House that there was money for the building of fuel reserves. What has happened? Today, we are being told that the money is being used to subsidise the price of fuel and that there are no fuel reserves, and yet we authorised an increment in what we were being charged for that purpose. If money will be raised through this proposed increment that we are being asked to authorise, my plea is that it is used for the intended purpose. Do not divert it.

Mr Speaker, I thank you.

Mr Shakafuswa (Katuba): Mr Speaker, I thank you for according me the opportunity to contribute to the debate of your Committee’s report.

From the outset, let me state that I support the proposals which have been brought to the House by the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning and, in doing so, I would have loved to see suggestions that have been made by Mr Muntanga implemented. Even though all these measures are meant to collect general revenue for the country, I think they should also benefit the road users. The proposal we are considering is one of the good things that the hon. Minister has come up with.

Sir, as we collect money from road users, we should also take into account the people who are contributing more to the wear and tear of our roads. Instead of having this uniform 50 per cent increase across the board, I would have loved to see a situation were vehicles below 800 kg to about 1,000 kg had an increase of 20 per cent only because the wear and tear caused by these kinds of vehicles is very minimal. Vehicles which are over a 1,000 kg to 1,400 kg should have had an increase of about 25 or 30 per cent while those which are 2,000 kg or more could have had an increment of about 40 per cent.

However, the biggest problem on our roads, as Hon. Muntanga has said, is that of heavy trucks. The owners of these trucks should not have what they pay subsidised by other road users. They are the ones who are causing the wear and tear of our roads. As a result, they should be made to pay more. If they want, they can pass on the cost to the people who contract them and these are the owners of the mines. I believe the trucks carrying copper are all over 40 tonnes.

I would have loved to see a situation where the mines contribute to the cost of maintaining these roads because, to me, levying the mines 30 per cent tax in the face of the huge profits from the prevailing copper prices is a very big tax holiday, and yet, as Zambians, we are not even getting anything from the mines. As much as I agree with the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning when he says that we should encourage investment, I know that these investors would not withdraw their investment from this country if taxed because they would not find the copper that we have in Zambia elsewhere.

Sir, on the issue of graduation, I think we should put an increase of 100 per cent tax on heavy trucks so that this does not affect the people who use small cars. The burden of paying for services in this country greatly lies on the ordinary Zambians who pay tax because the bulk of our revenue is contributed by individual Zambians. So, when you bring in a tax for using the road, you are, adding onto the income tax and the tax levied on food. Therefore, this tax should be spread so that those in the low income brackets and who are driving light weight cars are given some kind of relief rather than their tax being bundled with heavy weight cars.  

Mr Speaker, there are a lot of innovative ways of raising money from road users. If you go to countries such as South Africa and Botswana, you will find that there are people who want to show off by putting their names on their number plates. In Zambia, we are only charging K1 million for a three letter personalised number plate.

Hon. Opposition Members: K5 million!

Mr Shakafuswa: Mr Speaker, I am told that it is K5 million. You find that a lot of people do not adhere to the statutory requirement of leaving spaces in between the letters, instead they squeeze them up. This means that they want to make a name. The hon. Minister should advise RTSA to come up with delegated legislation to charge K1 million for each additional letter for those who want their names on their number plates. For instance, if I want to put, “Jonas” on my number plate, I will have to pay K8 million. I think these are innovative ways of raising money. People who want personalised number plates are the ones with money to spare and that is a revenue bracket which we can also look at.

Sir, I have also noticed that, on the Zambian roads, there are times when traffic is heavy when it is supposed to be flowing. This is because a car may have broken down and instead of being pushed off the road, even when there is a diversion about 2 metres ahead, the owner may just opt to put triangles and cause a traffic jam. Such people can be punished by increasing the penalty of obstruction so that such road users realise that if they leave their broken down vehicle on the road, they will have to pay for inconveniencing other road users. Therefore, if RTSA can come up with punitive measures to punish such inconsiderate road users, it will be able to raise a lot of money.

Sir, if you look at the birth of the road network in Zambia, you will discover that the British South Africa Company built roads and railway lines for its business concerns such as mining activities, among others. Therefore, we, as country, should find a way of taxing companies which extract minerals which are very heavy. This is because we are looking at an extraction of over a million tonnes of copper and other mineral activities in this country which will, in turn, increase the wear and tear of our roads. So, why should we have one group of Zambians going deep into their pockets …

Mr Shakafuswa coughed.

Hon. Members: Drink water!

Mr Shakafuswa: … to even subsidise the mining companies that make a lot of money? Why should we have the ordinary Zambians, who are the ones with smaller cars and incomes, to be the ones subsidising the mining companies? Why are we kind to the mining companies?

Mr Speaker, there are also mines in developed countries. In countries where these investors come from, they have investments such gas extraction. The hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning will agree with me that, in some Scandinavian countries, they pay up to 65 per cent tax on extractive minerals, and yet when they come here as investors, they want a tax holiday. When are we going to recover our money and be rich? When are we going to develop like countries such as Malaysia and Singapore? What have they done that is different from what we are doing?

Sir, we can only develop through our resources. I am proud that the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning is trying to use local resources to finance the 2011 Budget rather than depending on donor funding which comes with strings attached. That is a good thing, but we also need to look at who else can assist us raise the money in order to implement the activities in the Budget.

The people of Zambia out there know that this money goes to general revenues and the needs are enormous. If we put together the money we collect from fuel levy, road tax and licensing compared it to the demand of the road network as regards maintenance and building of new roads, you would find that the road network is a very big drain on the resources of Zambia. Therefore, as a Government, we should not feel pity to tax these companies. If our generation has no potential to stand up to those who are causing wear and tear on our roads, maybe, our children who are better educated due to e-learning and new trends in the world will do a better job when they grow up. Therefore, these investors should go and wait for our children to take over.

Mr Speaker, I thank you.

Major Chizhyuka (Namwala): Mr Speaker, I stand to entirely support this Bill. I would like to pick the component of Hon. Shakafuswa’s debate on graduation of tax as my own. Allow me to mention that I have travelled to South Africa by road twice. The first time was when I was on suspension and decided to raise money from the sale of my cattle to travel to Port Elizabeth to attend my daughter’s graduation. She was graduating from Rhodes University. I saw the work of these toll gates. From the South African end, there were no toll gates on the Botswana side. The second time, I travelled to Pretoria, last month, by vehicle I saw many toll gates like I have never seen in my life.

There are toll gates on the Zimbabwean side and it does not matter how close you are to any town, the charge is US$1. As a result, there are a lot of fake dollars circulating because even the dollar I was given as change was fake. 

Mr Speaker, however, the South African toll gates are money spinners. You will never leave so much money on the road as you will when going to Pretoria by road. The closer you get to the bigger towns, the shorter the distance between toll gates.

The graduation of toll gates for small cars, slightly bigger cars, buses, light trucks and heavy trucks is evident as you approach the toll gates. Therefore, I think that there is reason in graduating the tax. Zambians cannot be paying the exact tax as the multi-million dollar mining conglomerates.

It would not make sense for a 4x4 vehicle of an hon. Member of Parliament to pay the exact amount of tax as that huge truck we saw not long ago that has never been seen and will never be seen again on our roads. It was so huge that when it was on the road, no one else would use it. I just wanted to buttress that point as a way of support. It makes sense, hon. Minister, that the tax is graduated.

Mr Speaker, I would like to look at page 3 (viii) of the report, which says:

 “The capacity of the Road Development Agency (RDA) staff and of staff from the National Road Fund Agency is questionable going by the audit queries which revealed abuse of funds entrusted to the officers of both organisations.”

This is the angle I want to take. I realise that there have been reshuffles at the RDA as a result of the euphoria created by a donor who funded the agency at US$11 million. The Auditors-General’s Office raised so much euphoria around the question which if this House was purposeful to the extent of the debate, it would have long solved the problem associated with the NRFA and RDA.

Mr Speaker, we had said that the 50 per cent increment would eventually find itself in the NFRA and RDA to build better roads. The people of Namwala are beneficiaries of the works of the NRFA and RDA, through this Government, and are thankful for this. We have said it before that we shall forever remain indebted to this Government for having given us the opportunity to travel on a tarred road.

Mr Speaker, I see it as near neo-colonialism for a donor to come and fund a Government agency, which starts speaking in tongues to a point where the Government cannot even understand and, thereby creating euphoria. I say this because, today, the director and some officers at the RDA have no jobs. 
Mr Speaker, when we are pushing for approval of certain things, as hon. Members of Parliament, we interact with these people. If you ask anybody, they will tell you that we have lost a fine engineer simply because a donor made too much noise. In the history of this country, we have never seen officers from the Auditor-General’s Office going to dig up a road to ensure whether the thickness of the tarmac is correct only to come back here and report a different figure while the officers from the RDA go to the same road and dig 2 cm from where the officers of Auditor-General dug and find the thickness to be up to specification.

 Mr Speaker, he who pays the piper calls the tune. What is this Government department up to? We discussed, in this House, that the manner in which the RDA performs is in a three dimensional consideration. There are three various Acts that allow the RDA to operate. It need not operate only within the term of one year. The Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allows it to plan for three years. The Financial Act allows it to get into contracts for three years.

Mr Speaker: Order!

What has that got to do with the Bill before the House? You already debated the report of the Public Accounts Committee and it ended there. Do you agree or disagree with the Bill?

Major Chizhyuka: Mr Speaker, it has a lot to do with the component because the 50 per cent that we are going to approve is going to the RDA and NRFA. Therefore, if, the RDA or NRFA has staff who are incompetent and circumvented by external forces like neo-colonialists who come to fund departments in Zambia for their sake and not in the interest of the Zambians, resulting in us losing fine engineers, who might have done nothing wrong, then it has something to do with it.

Mr Speaker, the money we are approving, today, will go to the RDA and NFRA. If these two agencies are not organised, sorted and understood, we shall continue raising the 50 per cent and the problem shall continue to prevail. This is the basis of my debate. This is why I am saying that we should be patriotic Zambians. This is our country. Let us stop dancing to the tune of foreigners. We have been independent for the past forty-six years. There is no reason we should continue to lose some of the finest brains in the country which contribute to the improvement of the road sector.

Mr Speaker, on the basis of the question you asked, and having replied, I conclude my debate.

I thank you, Sir.

Dr Scott (Lusaka Central): Mr Speaker, I thank you for the chance to debate.

Mr Speaker, I think that the Taxation Policy in general needs some thought from the hon. Minister and his associates. We have a very strange situation in this country where we are told that the rate of inflation is less than 10 per cent. This means that the cost of goods and services is going up, on average, by less than 10 per cent. This may be true for private sector provided goods and services.

When it comes to charges levied by the Government or Government-owned institutions, this year alone, we have had ZESCO hyper inflating. Unlike the single figure inflation rate, there are double figures on ZESCO charges.

The hon. Minister has just brought us an increase in Property Transfer Tax of 67 per cent, that is, from 3 per cent to 5 per cent. Now, we are being asked to increase the tax basically on vehicles by 50 per cent at once. These are double figures.

Trade unions are being asked to keep their demands in line with the low-rated inflation. All of us are being asked to be reasonable, but when it comes to public sector charges, the Government is unconcerned. Therefore, you have the attempted Government revenues rising and an increase in the public sector as it feeds off the private sector. It is not just the rich private sector that is affected. I would not object if this amendment was selectively pro-poor. However, if I wake up at 0500 hours in the morning and drive along the Leopards Hill Road into town, heading for the airport or anywhere, I meet people walking on either side of the road on the way from Bauleni to the centre of town to take up their jobs. This is because the cost of the minibuses is excessive for them relative to what they are paid.

 Mr Milupi: Hear, hear!

Dr Scott: I may be wrong, but I do not think that I am. This measure seems to be more selective of the poor people who now pay extra electricity charges, have switched to charcoal and are paying already high minibus charges due to the price of fuel going up earlier this year. The number of these people will definitely increase from what I can see.

 Mr Speaker, I accept that this tax has not been raised since 2008 but, surely, if we are going to increase by 17 per cent a year and keep things together and in a balance, they should be moving together. Every year, we should have a little bit of legislation and contributions from the people on your right hand side and the people from outside and that should be balanced. It should not be like you are sending shocks rustling through the system. Nothing is done for years and then, suddenly, it is 50 per cent, 100 per cent and 200 per cent up. We have had examples of this in this Session of the House.

Mr Speaker, I would appeal to the hon. Minister to do two things. Firstly, is to think about the phasing of this increase. Do you have to have it all in one big bang? What a surprise after three years! Do we have to have it all at once?

The second is the targeting of this measure. It is a crying shame that commuters have to pay the full cost in this schedule to get to town while, as other speakers have mentioned, the overloaded copper trucks from the DRC and Copperbelt are belting down the main roads, thereby doing a lot of damage and even overturning our pontoons. I think some selectivity and modesty needs to be brought in there.

Mr Speaker, just as a footnote, the real problem seems, to me, to be that the modestly gaining inflation rate, at the moment, seems to have been contrived by making foreign goods and currencies exceptionally cheap. Therefore, anything from outside this country is exceptionally cheap. The problem is that it includes things like second-hand vehicles which, in kwacha terms, are costing less as a consequence of the policy that the hon. Minister and his buddies at the Bank of Zambia have been implementing. Let us make things cheap in kwacha is the policy. If you make vehicles cheap in kwacha, you raise less tax, less exercise duty and less Value Added Tax (VAT). Now you are caught up in a trap that you need to, somehow, make up for that lost income so that you adjust another tax which is the kwacha tax which we are debating at the moment.

This gives us a situation for which there is no English word, but in Bemba it is ‘chimbichimbi’ and in Latin it is ‘ad hoc’. We just respond to situations as they arise. Therefore, I would appeal to the hon. Minister to, please, have more phased budgeting and tax policy, more sparing of the poor and more pro-poor development in this country. At the moment, it seems to be that we are just a society with vast numbers of very poor people. We are copper producing importers of luxury goods.

 I thank you, Sir.

Mrs Masebo (Chongwe): Mr Speaker, I would like to thank you for this opportunity. I would like to support the report of your Committee.

In supporting this report, I have a few comments to make. I will be very brief seeing that there are other hon. Members who want to speak after me this afternoon.

Sir, on Page 3, of your report, there is a concern that has been raised that I want to address to the hon. Minister of Finance and National Planning. The report reads:

“RTSA is not found in all parts of the country such as Chavuma and Shang’ombo.  Therefore, one has to travel to provincial centres to license their vehicles. Such a situation is not only cumbersome, but also costly. People in such remote areas will naturally take long or simply fail to license their vehicles, particularly when the fees are too high.”

Mr Speaker, personally, I support the increase because it is necessary. I think that is one area where the Government can get money from for maintenance of our roads in the country. The problem I have is that the increase of 50 per cent, this time around, is too big. I think that we should be making these increases, maybe, after every year or even after every two years or gradually like 25 per cent this year and 25 per cent next year. This way, people will not complain. A 50 per cent increase, especially for those who have a lot of vehicles, is quite high because people find it difficult to raise money even for the current fee. Therefore, when you charge so highly, you just encourage people to evade taxes in the long run.

In Zambia, every year, we have many cars coming into this country which are being imported and are driven by even our ordinary farmers. In Chongwe, a lot of farmers have bought vans and other types of vehicles. This means that the number of vehicles has increased. Therefore, this would help the Government to make an increment which is reasonable such as 25 or 30 per cent and not 50 per cent. In future, the Government should increase these fees slowly on a yearly basis, but the increase should be small and not big because big increases cause evasion of taxes.

Mr Speaker, the other point I would like to make is related to distances. You will recall that the licensing of vehicles used to be done by councils. That function was transferred from the local authority. The idea was that certain districts, especially those that are outside Lusaka, did not have sufficient number of vehicles. Therefore, it was felt that it was better to centralise this function so that the money can be shared equally among the different districts. However, this is not the case because even when the money is collected centrally, we see that some districts are not serviced. In this case, I am not going to talk about Chongwe, but the whole country and various districts in the country. Some districts get a better deal than others. Therefore, there is a need for equitable distribution of these resources because that was the intended purpose for centralising this function.

Secondly, even with the centralised system where we now have RTSA, I would like the Government to consider and ensure that RTSA delegates that function to the district councils. RTSA should also not create offices everywhere because that is just increasing the administrative cost on the part of the Government and that is where we have a problem. It should not be the case that every agency that we come up with must create its own offices throughout the districts as this is just duplicating work and is costly for the Government.
Therefore, I would like the Government to consider the option of having RTSA appoint all councils in the country as its agents to collect some of these levies, especially the motor vehicle licences on its behalf. In this case, there will be no need for people from Shang’ombo to go to Mongu to get a motor vehicle licence.

Sir, the other point that is related to this issue is that, in the past, the problem in that the motor vehicle licences fee collected was being diverted to other causes. I am aware that, in the last few years, the Ministry of Finance and National Planning has been collecting and releasing 100 per cent of this money. I stand to be corrected, but I do not know whether this has changed. Nevertheless, 100 per cent of this money should be released for road maintenance purposes. However, when the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, through the NRFA, releases this money for roads, we still have a problem like what is happening in Luapula Province. The money meant for maintenance of roads was released, but we heard hon. Members of Parliament from that province raising questions on it.

Mr D. Mwila: Hear, hear!

Mrs Masebo: The answer by the relevant hon. Minister was not good enough.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mrs Masebo: At the end of the day, the Ministry of Works and Supply is responsible for the entire road network in the country. Therefore, when people complain, it is the duty of the hon. Minister to assist and find a solution, but not to tell them that that is their job.

Mr D. Mwila: Hear, hear!

Mrs Masebo: I think sending this money to the provinces is not helping in any way because, clearly, there seems to be a problem.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mrs Masebo: Consequently, the Ministry of Works and Supply is getting a bad name because of the agents it has appointed in the provincial administration …

Mr D. Mwila: Hear, hear!

Mrs Masebo: … to perform this function on its behalf.

Mr D. Mwila: Bwekeshapo!

Mrs Masebo: Sir, I would like to suggest that part of this money from the NRFA should go to the RDA to work on the main roads. The other part of this money should go directly to the districts, through the relevant ministry, so that the roads can be worked on at the district level. I say so because some of these people who pay motor vehicle licences do not drive between districts, but within their districts. Therefore, if the roads in the districts are not rehabilitated and only the main roads are worked on, people will continue to complain about this. At the moment, the road network in townships, villages and rural areas is in a bad state generally. Maybe, in other places, it is good, but in my constituency the road network is not good.

People understand the fact that they have to pay for the motor vehicle licence but, at the same time, they want to see the results of what they are paying for in their respective constituencies, districts or provinces and they will stop complaining.

Mr D. Mwila: Hear, hear!

Mrs Masebo: If what they pay for does not show, then they will complain. They are not worried about paying the fee, but it is where and how this money is utilised that they are worried about. If the roads were worked on every year, nobody would complain. However, the situation now is that the motor vehicle licence fee is high, but the road network is in a bad state, at least, this is so in my constituency.

Mr Speaker, I wish to appeal to the Government to ensure that the monies collected from this levy goes to the RDA to work on the roads and part of it must be allocated to the councils so that they can also work on the roads that are under them. This money must also be seen to be used in the districts through the relevant ministry which is the ministry of Local Government and Housing.

I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Dr Musokotwane: Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity given to wind up the debate on the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, 2010.

In general, I wish to start by thanking the House for the support and the various recommendations and suggestions that have been made.

However, allow me to just respond to some of the issues that were raised beginning with the question that the motor vehicle levy is too high. Sir, I do not quite agree with the reason being that for all these assets that we acquire, whether it is a house or a motor vehicle, it is not enough for anyone of us to say I will build a house and completely forget that to get to my house, I need a road. When you buy a car, it is not enough to say I have a car and the road is not my business. The two go together. Therefore, as we buy cars, we ought to be mindful of the fact that we must contribute to the provision and maintenance of roads.

The figures have been said to be too high, but for a motor vehicle whose weight is between 1.2 to 1.4 tonnes, before the increase, the licence fee was K180,000 per annum and after the increase, it will be K270,000 per annum. Translated on a monthly basis, the new licence works out to be K22,500 per month. The question, and taking into account what I said earlier, is can anyone who buys a car or owns a car say that it is too much to contribute K22,500 per month for the maintenance of the roads? If people think like that, then they have no business owning cars.

Mr Mubika laughed.

Dr Musokotwane: This is, indeed, a small amount of money.

Another example is that for most of the motor vehicles owned by hon. Members of Parliament, the four wheel drives which are between 2 to 4 tonnes, the fee is only K31,252 on a monthly basis. That cannot be too much. In this country, the biggest number of vehicles is in that category.

Mr Speaker, my argument is that this level of fees is reasonable. In fact, compared to what people pay in South Africa, we are still paying very little in this country.

Mr Muntanga: The toll gates!

Dr Musokotwane: I will come to that issue.

Sir, in South Africa, for the motor vehicles that I indicated with the weight of 4 to 6 tonnes, the fee is more than K1 million. In Zambia, it is K375,000. Therefore, I believe that these amounts are quite reasonable. This is especially so, as the hon. Member of Parliament for Chongwe indicated, that all the money that we collect under this fee is passed onto the NRFA to repair and maintain the roads. Therefore, I cannot see how anyone with reason can say it is too much to pay K31,000 per month. How much do we pay for fuel per month? We pay a lot more for fuel certainly and K31,000 is nothing in comparison.

Mr Speaker, someone also talked about this Government deceiving the public that we say that inflation is coming down, but the fees for public services are always rising and that this is hurting the poor. I disagree with this because I think it is a question of a wealthy man feeling pity for himself. I say so because the way we measure inflation is on the basis of a basket of goods and services. A typical basket will come out of the 2010 Census that we are conducting at the moment. Based on the statistics of that census, we will work out a typical basket that a shopper purchases. Most of the money of the vast majority of this country, goes to buy food and basic services. I am aware that the prices of food have been coming down and this has nothing to do with imported items. It is just the prices of food and other basic items that are coming down. Therefore, for those on the fringes of society, the wealthy ones, they will take this as a sign of increasing inflation.

The truth of the matter is that this cannot really affect the majority of the people. Therefore, I insist that the decline in the inflation rate is genuine.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!{mospagebreak}

Dr Musokotwane: Mr Speaker, there was also an issue raised about the need for graduated increases. I think the misconception here is that because we are saying 50 per cent increment across the board, therefore, there is no graduation. There is a graduation because we are applying 50 percent on different amounts. The old rates were such that the smaller cars attracted less tax and the bigger vehicles attracted more tax. More specifically, the smallest car attracted a licence fee of K120,060 per annum while trucks that are over 20,000 tonnes attracted almost K1.5 million per annum. It follows, therefore, that when you work out 50 per cent of K120,060 and 50 percent of K1.5 million, automatically, the trucks and heavy vehicles will be paying more compared to the smaller motor vehicles.

Mr Speaker, there was also the question of remote places being disadvantaged because people have to travel long distances to get a licence. That is understood and accepted. Something is being done about this because RTSA has a programme to decentralise this service. Various institutions such as councils, banks and others will be appointed agents to collect money from motorists and issue licences. The only thing that needs to be done is to ensure that a system of accountability exists. To this effect, a computer-based system is being rolled out to ensure that as councils, banks, post offices everywhere in the country issue licences, we shall make them accountable.

Mr Speaker, I think I have addressed the key issues and my final point is, once again, to thank the House for the support.

I thank you, Sir.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Question put and agreed to and the Bill read a second time.

Committed to a committee of the Whole House.

Committee on Friday, 19th November, 2010




(Consideration resumed)

Vote 76/01 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 76/02 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 76/03 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 76/04 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

VOTE 46 – (Ministry of Health – K1,758,592,077,757).

The Minister of Health (Mr Simbao): Mr Chairperson, I am grateful to you for allowing me to speak, once again, on the Floor of this House in support of the 2011 budget allocation to the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry of Health is mandated to ensure that health services are provided to the citizens of Zambia. As you are aware, good health is the key to a healthy nation fit for economic, educational and security proficiency.

Mr Chairperson, in order to be on top of things, the ministry has stratified diseases in age groups as follows:

Children below the Age of Fifteen Years

The common diseases affecting this age group are malaria, diarrhoea, intestinal worms, acute respiratory infections, measles, cholera and others. Many, if not all, of the mentioned diseases are a result of the environment. If the environment is clean, children will grow very well without diseases. Another dangerous disease in this age group is a condition known as malnutrition. This condition is very dangerous and kills a lot of children in Zambia, and yet it is preventable.

Mr Chairperson, sadly, almost all the diseases affecting this age group are preventable. In fact, it has been noticed that immediately after six months of exclusive breast feeding, 30 per cent of children get diarrhoea compared to 10 per cent during breast feeding.

Fifteen to Forty Years

The common diseases in this age group are communicable and infectious ones such as malaria, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and others.

Forty Years and Above

This group suffers mainly from non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and hypertension. It is very common nowadays that when a man suffers from cancer, it is possibly prostate cancer. In women it is cervical cancer.

Mr Chairperson, the Ministry of Health, therefore, has to treat all these types of diseases in the allocation provided in the Budget. In addition, the Ministry of Health is also expected to adhere to the world standards of meeting the millennium development goals (MDGs) and other agreements on health. The Ministry of Health has set up many objectives to meet the set national and international targets. Concerning MDGs, the ministry wants to achieve significant reduction in maternal and child mortality rates.

Therefore, the ministry is committed to reducing the under-five mortality rate from the current 119 deaths per 1,000 live births to sixty-three deaths per 1,000 live births by 2015. The ministry is also committed to reducing maternal mortality from the current rate of 591 deaths per 100,000 live births to 159 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015. The ministry also wants to reach a no transmission status in malaria by 2015 or before. To make all these significant steps, the ministry realises that more needs to be done in the areas of infrastructure, personnel and drugs, especially in rural areas.

Mr Chairperson, I have split this presentation in three sections as follows:

(i) highlights of the 2011 sector Budget;

(ii) analysis of the 2011 budget in comparison to the challenges of the 2010 budget; and

(iii) conclusion.

Highlights of the 2011 Budget

Mr Chairperson, the biggest highlight of the 2011 Budget is that the Ministry of Finance and National Planning boosted the allocation to the Ministry of Health by 30 per cent. This is unprecedented. It is, indeed, a shot in the arm and will allow the ministry to do a lot of work probably as never before. With this allocation, we will certainly take good care of our people by providing most of the necessary requisites like drugs, equipment and personnel in time.

Analysis of the 2011 Budget vis-à-vis 2010 Budget

Mr Chairperson, in 2011, the Ministry of Health has been allocated K1.758 trillion, which is a sizeable increase from the K1.352 trillion allocated in 2010. The difference, which is K406 billion, has been applied diligently to meet most of the budget lines which suffered the donors’ withdrawal of funding last year. This year, many institutions will not have to depend on donor funds. This Government has proudly stepped in its shoes and will provide for its citizens without fear of someone and without regard for the effect of his/her actions of putting off the candle when we still need the light.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Simbao: This extra funding will take away some of the shame we suffer by always going down on our knees to beg even when it hurts. This is the beginning of the realisation that we can take care of ourselves. The process of economic independence has started and I hope none of us will ever look back to the time of bent knees and a begging bowl.

Mr Speaker, of the K1.758 trillion allocation, K956.2 billion, which is 55 per cent, is for personnel emoluments, K117.9 billion is for drugs and medical supplies, K114.3 billion is for infrastructure development and K52 billion is for personnel recruitment.

This Government has provided infrastructure development like never before. Before our own eyes, this Government has constructed 323 health posts now ready for commissioning. This has never happened before.

Mr Chairperson, before our own eyes, this year, 2010, the Government is building an additional 123 health posts. The need for health posts is great and I am glad to mention that His Excellency the President, Mr Rupiah Bwezani Banda, has directed us to meet the challenge head on. He believes it is possible to build health posts at every school in Zambia, be it community, private or public.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Simbao: By this approach, the President is sure of providing health services to 95 per cent of the Zambian population by 2015. This new approach of health post construction at schools, be it community, private or public, as long as a school is outside the 5-km radius of the health facility, is the best approach to realise the vision of the Ministry of Health, which is to take health services as close to the doors of Zambians as possible.

Mr Chairperson, the completion and commissioning of these health posts will take health services to 1,344,000 rural dwellers in the hard-to-reach places.

Mr Chairperson, the President has directed us to continue building district hospitals in all districts where there are no hospitals and upgrade clinics to hospital status in compounds and settlements where the population necessitates the existence of a first level hospital. To this effect, we are constructing thirty-two hospitals, thirty-one of which are first level and the other one general level.

Mr Chairperson, more hospitals will be constructed in the remaining districts before 2016. The President’s vision is to see to it that Zambia has advanced hospital services in all the districts.

Mr Chairperson, hospitals are being built at Chavuma, Namwala, Lundazi, Masaiti, Mkushi, Serenje, Milenge, Mwense, Mongu, Luangwa, Choma, Mpulungu, Kaputa, Kapiri Mposhi, Chadiza, Mufumbwe, Lumwana, Kaoma and Isoka, while in Lusaka works are going on in Kanyama, Chilenje, Chipata, Matero and Chawama.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Simbao: Chamboli and Ndeke clinics are also being upgraded to first level hospital status. Kabushi Clinic in Ndola is being considered to be turned into a mini children’s hospital. This was the request of the area hon. Member of Parliament. However, the community has decided to build a maternity wing at the clinic and the ministry will respect that decision. The money allocated will be applied for that purpose.

However, in order to partially meet the hon. Member’s concern for children, the ministry has acquired an ambulance for Arthur Davison Hospital so that sick children can be brought to the hospital from any clinic in Ndola. This beautiful ambulance, which is better than most of the ambulances that we have, will be sent to the provincial medical officer who will then present it to Arthur Davison Hospital.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Simbao: I hope the hon. Member of Parliament for Kabushi will be present at the presentation so that he can explain to the people of Ndola his passion for children’s health.

Mr Chairperson, the President came up with an innovative idea of purchasing mobile hospitals since, at the moment, the construction of static infrastructure takes long.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Simbao: Mobile hospitals are hospitals on wheels. Once on it, you will forget you are on a mobile clinic because it has everything that a static hospital has. The floors, walls, equipment positioning and consulting rooms resemble those that are found in static hospitals very much. There is nothing lacking in these hospitals since everything has been catered for.

In addition, a lot of comfort for the worker and patient has been provided for. For the doctor or nurse, this set up will be like a hotel since it will have a cafeteria, sleeping quarters and gym. The sleeping rooms will be well equipped with the necessary needs of each individual. There will be nothing to be missed apart from the family.

Mr Chairperson, as regards the patient, those requiring hospitalisation will be hospitalised immediately as they wait for evacuation to a static hospital with the necessary professionals and experience. The patients requiring surgery will be attended to right on the spot without being referred elsewhere. The mobile hospitals will be general hospitals on the move and all Zambians will have the opportunity to receive maximum medical attention as close to their homes as possible. This is, indeed, an innovative way to improve medical services in our country.

Mr Chairperson, due to the size of some provinces, the ministry will give two mobile hospitals to big provinces so that many people can be attended to quickly.

Mr Chairperson, all these developments cannot happen without the adequate allocation of funds. Fortunately, this year, the Ministry of Finance and National Planning has upped the allocation by 30 per cent. This is a big allocation which translates into K46 billion more for the ministry. Part of this funding is as a result of the increase in the money required for recruitment of personnel from a paltry K13 billion in 2010 to K52 billion in 2011. This allocation will allow us to recruit all the personnel available in Zambia to man both the static and mobile hospitals.

Supply of Drugs and Medical Supplies

Mr Chairperson, the Ministry of Health has to ensure that all commodities needed for the provision of health services such as equipment, drugs and medical supplies are available in all health facilities at all times. Shortages of essential drugs and other medical supplies experienced are mainly due to poor logistics and management. Even with limited funding, this Government works hard to provide essential drugs for its citizens.

Human Resources for Health

Mr Chairperson, the overall establishment of the Ministry of Health is 51,000. This includes all the various levels of the ministry such as the headquarters, provincial and district medical offices, training schools, hospitals, health centres and health posts. The staff on the ground increased from 25,000 as at 31st May, 2009 to 30,000 as at 31st August, 2010.

The ministry is about to recruit 1,500 recently-graduated health workers by November, 2010 using the K13.6 billion set aside for net recruitment in the 2010 National Budget. It must also be noted that we have 3,000 vacancies already funded which we are trying to fill.

Despite the increase in the number of staff in posts, the staff establishment is far from being completely filled. The construction of new health infrastructure also requires additional health workers. A number of newly constructed health facilities are expected to be operational by the end of 2010. This includes the Lusaka General Hospital which should be commissioned in the first quarter of 2011 and district hospitals which include Lufwanyama, Shang’ombo, Lumwana, Chiengi, Mufumbwe, Chadiza, Kaputa, Chama, Samfya, Chongwe, Mumbwa and Kapiri Mposhi and thirty-two already completed health centres and health posts.

The number of health professionals required to man the new facilities is estimated at 4,500. However, the current output from training schools is 1,740 per year, but could potentially be expanded to above 3,700 annually according to the 2008 Training Operational Plan. Such an expansion of training schools would considerably alleviate the manpower problems that are faced by the ministry. The ministry has directed all training institutions to carry out parallel programmes of training. The parallel programmes are self sponsored, but have the same curricula as the normal programmes. The output of the parallel programmes will double the number of graduates in nursing and paramedics. At the same time, the funds raised will be used to improve infrastructure and provide incentives for the lecturers. Funds will also be applied to other programmes of training institutions that require improvement.

Mr Chairperson, the Ministry of Health, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, has put in place structures to open a School of Medicine under the Copperbelt University Senate in Ndola. This school is expected to open in April, 2011. When initiated, the school will begin with an intake of forty medical students and ten dental students. In due course, this number will increase.

Mr Speaker, Cabinet recently approved the construction of a Health Sciences Centre in Ndola. The centre will be the hub of all health sciences in Zambia. The building of this centre will elevate the application of health sciences in Zambia.

The current number of nurses and midwives providing services in the public health facilities is at 40 per cent of the required number. In order to mitigate the shortage, the ministry has introduced the direct entry midwifery programme and started the implementation of a community health workers’ programme for the lower levels of service delivery. This intervention requires substantial investment in training and capacity building.

The implementation of the Zambia Health Workers Retention Scheme has greatly helped to attract and retain qualified health professionals in rural areas. There are currently over 860 health professionals on the scheme. In 2010, the Government’s contribution to the scheme increased to about eighty per cent compared to the contribution by donors. Further, the ministry procured 560 motor bikes for health professionals in rural areas and installed radio communication equipment in rural health facilities. The construction of staff houses has also reached an advanced stage. These efforts are aimed at addressing staff morale and welfare and require substantial investments for them to be sustained.

In 2010, the ministry has installed a new magnetic resonance imaging equipment (MRI), a computerised tomography (CT) scanner and eye equipment at the Cancer Diseases Hospital and the University Teaching Hospital respectively. This is aimed at reducing the number of patients being taken abroad for specialised treatment.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Simbao: Regarding the other costs related to staff motivation, the Ministry of Health has, over the years, accrued over K150 billion in debt for leave travel benefits, commutation of leave days, settling-in allowances, salary arrears, long service bonuses and repatriation allowances. This year, we have addressed this debt by putting aside K50 billion for settling arrears.

Following the restructuring of the Ministry of Health, there is a need to improve performance management systems in public health institutions through the implementation of the Government Performance Management Package which emphasises target setting, work planning and performance reviews.

In conclusion, Mr Chairperson, investing in primary health care as a strategy to attain our vision for the health sector will continue to be emphasised. In addition, efforts will be made to ensure that investment is strengthened in improving the welfare of staff to ensure that all Zambian citizens are accorded quality health care as close to the family as possible.

Sir, I also wish to emphasise the importance of key determinants of health, namely good nutrition, safe water and sanitation, better housing and improved literacy.

Thank you, Sir.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Mukanga (Kantanshi): Mr Chairperson, thank you for giving me this opportunity to contribute to debate on this important Vote.

Sir, since I know what engineers are able to do and also their commitment to work, I also have an idea about what doctors are able to achieve. However, looking at the way the health sector has been operating in this country, without taking away any of its success, I think it requires serious resuscitation. There are many problems that the health sector is facing which need to be addressed. 

Sir, Zambia is a signatory to the Abuja Declaration of 15 per cent of the national budget going to the health sector, but we are still at 8.6 per cent. What is going to be achieved at 8.6 per cent of funding? The other problem we have is that medical professionals are leaving this country day in and day out. For the ministry to avoid this, it needs to provide good salaries and allowances for medical staff so that they do not leave this country. If this is not done, the staffing levels will continue to be low. The current retention scheme is not working. We need to have a good scheme in place so that the problem of doctors leaving the country will be a thing of the past.

Sir, I am surprised that the hon. Minster always talks about mobile hospitals when the ministry has about 3,000 vacancies at present as he said. I know that the hon. Minister of Health is an engineer by profession who is supposed to analyse issues critically together with his staff. Has a serious analysis been done regarding mobile hospitals? The answer is no.

Sir, let me be very categorical and clear about mobile hospitals. The hospitals will be introduced in rural areas where most of the roads are impassable like in Luapula and Chongwe. These mobile hospitals will be on wheels. How are they going to move in rural areas where roads are impassable?

Sir, the scriptures tell us that if you wrestle with men and are worried, how shall you do with horses? Similarly, if the roads are as bad as they are when there is no rainfall, what will happen when the rain falls and how will the mobile hospitals operate?

Sir, it is important that we are not blind to the things that are happening. The mobile hospitals, once in Zambia, will be expected to go round in the rural areas where the roads are in bad condition and, at the end of the day, will have serious breakdowns. When this happens, the spare parts can only be acquired from the countries of origin of the mobile hospitals.

Mr Chairperson, the people helping the Government to acquire these mobile hospitals may appear to be Samaritans, but I call them the bad Samaritans because they are helping the Government to acquire something which will cost this country its meager resources back to the country where the mobile hospitals originate.

This country would have lost out through the cost on maintenance and local employment because the countries from which these mobile hospitals originate will bring their own engineers to repair the mobile hospitals and, at the end of the day, it will not pay off on our part.

Sir, the other issue is that we do not even have adequate personnel. We were told that we needed three thousand people to be employed. Where will you get the mobile nurses and doctors to go round with the mobile hospitals? Where will they come from?

Sir, we will not only have mobile hospitals, but mobile patients as well because if, for instance, I am admitted, today, I should go in that truck around the country. We need to do a serious analysis. For example, how will this be done in Chilubi Island and Bangweulu in the Luapula Province where you need vessels on water? There is a need for a serious analysis.

Whether the Government likes it or not, these bad Samaritans who are assisting it to procure the mobile hospitals are not doing it justice and ...

Mr D. Mwila: Hear, hear!

Mr Mukanga: … the nation. We are losing the little resources that we have gained as a nation through them.  They may say that they are giving us a loan, but they are doing it with one hand and getting more than we think with the other.

Hon. Opposition Member: You are right.

Mr Mukanga: They are merely providing employment for their own nationals at the expense of the Zambians. You should look at these issues seriously. I do not know why people are so quiet about these issues when they are seriously affecting us. It is our revenue and our money.

Mr Chairperson, good roads are not found everywhere in this country. I think that if there are no roads there should be no mobile hospitals. Why are we insisting on mobile hospitals when the people out there have rejected them?

Hon. Government Member: They have not rejected them!

Mr Mukanga: Why should we insist on a wrong thing?

Hon. Government Members: Which people?

Mr Mukanga: This does not show seriousness.


Mr Mukanga: You should show leadership by changing and repenting.


The Deputy Chairperson: Order! Order!

Hon. Members, there is only one hon. Member debating. Wait for your turn.

Hon. Opposition Member: It is Nkhata.

Mr Mukanga: I thank you, Sir. There are also other issues such as the lack of drugs in the hospitals. This is why I am saying that the health sector needs resuscitation.

The other day, I was watching television and heard people talk about the non-availability of tuberculosis drugs and anti-retrovirals (ARVs). We must look at issues that affect our lives and improve the health sector so that people are protected and assured of tomorrow.

Sir, the biggest problem we have is that most of the hospitals around the country are in a state of disrepair. Why are you insisting on the mobile hospitals when we can repair the existing ones?

Mr Chairperson, we also have a big problem of understaffing in the already-existing hospitals and, hence the mortality rate is increasing everyday. We need to provide enough funds to the health sector if things are to change.

 Mr Chairperson, let me refer you to the case of the Ronald Ross Hospital in Mufulira. Every year, we have been talking about the non-availability of bed linen in the hospital, but everybody has been paying lip service to this. To date, there is no linen. The blankets on the beds in the wards have an array of colours. This is unacceptable.

Mr Chairperson, this situation prompted us, as hon. Members of Parliament in Mufulira, to donate money to buy bed linen. I also thank God for the Pastors’ Fellowship that has been working in the hospitals by adopting a number of wards which the pastors themselves are painting. I thank God for those pastors in Mufulira because they have shown leadership by coming up to assist when everything else has failed.

Mr Chairperson, we need to look at all these issues seriously. The hon. Minister talked about the MRI equipment in the Cancer Diseases Hospital. I am sure that we need specialists to operate that type of equipment, but do we have the specialists in Zambia? The Government may have all that nice equipment, but if it does not have specialists to operate it, it will be a white elephant. You can also boast about building 323 health posts around the country, but do you have people to work there?

Mr D. Mwila: No!

Mr Mukanga: By the time you staff them, you will need to apply another coat of paint, repair the roofs and other things. There is a need for proper planning. If you do not plan properly, you will not get the desired results.

Sir, I want to thank God for the late President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, SC., because all these things were his vision.

Hon. Government Member: You did not want him.

Mr Mukanga: He was the one who envisaged a situation where we would have health posts and nobody else. Do not mislead the nation. Without President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, SC., these would not have been there.


Mr Mukanga: Although you refuse his legacy, thank you for following it.

Hon. Government Member: He was not Patriotic Front (PF).

Mr Mabenga: On a point of order, Sir.

Mr Mukanga: It is important that we look at issues seriously.

The Deputy Chairperson: Order!

A point of order is raised.

Hon. Opposition Member: Aah, sit down!

Mr Mabenga: Mr Chairperson, I stand on a very serious point of order. The hon. Member on the Floor is discussing a matter that hinges on how a party in the Government works. Is he in order, therefore, to insinuate that whatever is done in this nation by this Government is a result of one man’s idea? Any party in the Government is guided by its manifesto. So, is he in order to insinuate that the building of the health posts was one man’s vision? I need your serious ruling.

The Deputy Chairperson: The point of order has been adequately debated and the point cleared.

May you continue.

Mr Mukanga: I thank you, Sir. When we talk about visions, we must realise that they are conceived by leaders. A leader conceives a vision and the others follow. There is only one leader who carries the vision and the rest just follow. We must thank God for the leader who had the vision.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Mukanga: We have been saying that Zambia wants to meet the millennium development goals (MDGs) numbers 4, 5 and 6 that relate to health. Unless we put in place measures, it will not meet them. 

Ms Lundwe: Finally.

Mr Mukanga: Sir, we have a problem as regards maternal mortality. There are a lot of places where about 51 per cent of the children born in Zambia are born in areas devoid of medical facilities. The expectant mothers are assisted by the traditional birth attendants (TBAs). However, what measures has the Government put in place for the TBAs so that they work properly and promptly in an effective and efficient manner? We seem to have a problem because, at the moment, the TBAs are coming to ask for assistance from hon. Members of Parliament to give them the necessary requisites for them to execute their jobs. You need to put measures in place so that, together, we can meet the MDGs we have said we are going to meet.

Sir, MDGs numbers 4, 5 and 6 will not be met …

The Deputy Chairperson: Order!

Business was suspended from 1815 hours until 1830 hours.{mospagebreak}


Mr Mukanga: Mr Chairperson, before business was suspended, I was saying that there is a need for us to make a provision for TBAs so that they can receive requisites from the Ministry of Health.

I have just been reminded that patients at health posts such as Mutipula in Chipili …

Mr D. Mwila: Hear, hear!

Mr Mukanga: … are sleeping on the floor. Therefore, it is important that we make provisions for enough beds and other necessary equipment to run such health facilities.

Mr Chairperson, I also want to talk about the issue of x-ray machines in district hospitals. For example, Luwingu District Hospital has no x-ray machine. If somebody wants to have an x-ray taken, he or she has to cover a lot of kilometres to access an x-ray machine. Therefore, it is important that, in this day and age, every time we discuss budgets and other issues, we talk about monitoring and evaluation. I expected the hon. Minister to talk about monitoring and evaluation of the construction of all these health posts to see if there is a need for more to be built.

Finally, I would like to talk about HIV/AIDS. It is important for us to look at this issue seriously and bring legislation to this House which will protect people living with the virus in as far as discrimination is concerned. It is necessary to have a legal framework in place rather than saying that we are fighting the virus when there is no legislation to support this and make those infected comfortable.

Mr Chairperson, with these few words, I thank you.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Msichili (Kabushi): Mr Chairperson, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the debate on this Vote.

I would like to begin my debate by stating that health is life and life is health. On Monday evening, when I was watching television, I heard the British Prime Minister talk about his tours to Singapore and Malaysia. In his opening remarks, he said that, in 1970, the gross domestic product (GDP) for these countries was four times less than that of Zambia. Today, these countries’ GDP is sixty times more than that of Zambia. What has gone wrong?

Hon. Government Members: Health!

Mr Msichili: In 1968, K1.50 was equivalent to a British Pound. Today, it is K8,000. It cost K0.75 to get a United States Dollar. What has gone wrong? As we address this issue, first and foremost, we must admit the mistakes that we have made. Once we do that, we will be able to move forward.

I listened to the hon. Minister of Health’s policy statement very carefully and I was surprised to hear him say that the budget allocation for 2011 had been increased by 30 per cent because this still falls short of the Abuja Declaration. Why do we commit ourselves to targets which we cannot meet? This is the first problem which should be addressed. We have committed ourselves to the Abuja Declaration, and yet as we come up with our Budget, we are not honouring what we have committed ourselves to.

Mr Chairperson, to me, this Budget is quite over ambitious. It has too many programmes and projects against very limited resources. As we plan our Budget, it is high time we came up with realistic figures which we are able to meet. The 2011 Budget is overstretched. I do not know whether we are going to meet our target, especially that donors have withdrawn most of their support not only to the Ministry of Health, but also the country as a whole.

There are certain issues which we have achieved, over the years, such as a reduction in the maternal and infant mortality rates but, because of reduced donor funding, it will be difficult to meet this target. We will even lose what we had achieved in the past because we have drawn a budget which may not meet our needs.

Sir, let me also talk about health posts that have been constructed countrywide. When we talk about resources and the issue of staffing the 320 health posts, I am wondering how the Government is going to manage this. Our health institutions are running at almost half capacity at the moment. Now, with the 300 new health posts that have been constructed, it means that the Government will start deploying people from the existing institutions, which are already running at half capacity, to new health posts. As a result, the current institutions will now run at quarter the number of staff that the establishment requires.

I urge the Government to address the issue of retaining health workers. Much as the enrolment level at institutions such as nursing schools has increased, what is happening is that if, for example, 100 students graduate, all of them leaves for greener pastures. Therefore, as a country, we must look at ways of improving conditions of service for health personnel. The Government must also acquire equipment to be used in the health institutions .

It is sad to note that most hospitals do not have drugs. Poor TB and HIV/AIDS patients are forced to buy their own medicine. The Government should ensure that such drugs are provided.

Mr Chairperson, I would like to thank the hon. Minister for the maternity ward which is being constructed in my constituency. I want to say that this initiative was started by the people of Kabushi using the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and I am glad that the ministry has come on board to ensure that the maternity ward is completed.

I am very sad that we have a problem in Kabushi regarding the children’s hospital which the hon. Minister referred to. There is a clinic there already and an adjacent building which is owned by the council. This building has not been used in the past twenty years. We are having some difficulties getting that building from the council so that we turn it into a children’s clinic. I have, therefore, written to both the Ministries of Health and Local Government and Housing on this matter. I hope that the two ministries can resolve this issue so that the money which has been allocated for this purpose can be used to kick-start this project.

Mr Chairperson, the ministry of health has bought a lot of new vehicles but, unfortunately, a maintenance programme has not been put in place. As a result, most of them have been running for close to one year without service. In this regard, even the new vehicles will not last long.

Mr Chairperson, the last time I debated in this House, I talked about the list of people who are coming back next year.


Mr Msichili: This list has been updated and I am surprised that a lot of people are now being kind to me because they want me to show them this list that I have.


Mr Msichili: Mr Chairperson, I must tell my colleagues not ukubeba. We know all those who are not coming back and we will not tell them.

The Deputy Chairperson: Order!

Can you interpret that word, please?

Mr Msichili: Mr Chairperson, not ukubeba means do not tell them. We are not going to tell them and I will lay this list on the Table.


Mr Msichili: Sir, people are coming back to us …

Mr Lubinda: Ukamba ba VJ!


Mr Msichili: Mr Chairperson, people like ‘Taken Gibinga’ would like to look at this list, but I said, I will not show it to him.


Mr Msichili: Mr Chairperson, finally, I would like to thank the hon. Minister for his speech and I hope that this issue of Kabushi will be resolved.

I thank you, Sir.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Lumba (Solwezi Central): Mr Chairperson, I thank you for giving me an opportunity to add my voice to the debate on this important ministry. I support the provision given although it is not enough. I think this ministry deserves much more than that.

Sir, I think we all appreciate this ministry because we need to be healthy as other hon. Members have said. I am worried when I see those in the business of undertaking thriving because then I know that we have a problem.


Mr Lubinda talked to hon. Members behind him.

The Deputy Chairperson: Order!

Hon. Member, the Chair is here and not behind you.

May the hon. Member continue.


Mr Lumba: Mr Chairperson, I was saying that when those who are in the business of undertaking say that their business is thriving, then we have a problem in the ministry. So far, we can see that there is good business in undertaking and making of coffins.

Sir, I have to take note of some of the points which the hon. Minister raised. There are four important items which I picked from the hon. Minister’s speech and these are buildings, equipment, personnel, drugs and laboratory reagents. In addition to these four, is the management and the way we configure the activities which the hon. Minister mentioned.

Sir, on the issue of buildings, I need to commend the Government for a job well done. For us who come from rural constituencies, we can see a lot of buildings dotted around. I do not intend to prolong my debate as some of the issues have already been debated by my colleagues. My concern is that some of these buildings are taking long to be opened. I have, in my constituency, Mapopo Rural Health Centre, …

Mr D. Mwila: Ya, na Musonda Falls.

Mr Lumba: … or post that was constructed by the Government and the community. It is a very nice building in the middle of nowhere. It is now two years since it was completed, but it has not been opened. Hon. Minister, you are doing well in the area of putting up buildings. Just the other day, you gave us your ministerial statement and you mentioned a lot of buildings that have been built. Therefore, we want these buildings to be opened so that the people can benefit from them. I also note that these buildings lack equipment. Where there is equipment, the specifications cannot meet our demand. I think I should have declared interest in this business. At one point, the ministry bought about fifteen water baths and distillers and these have never been used because of their specifications. They were taken to rural health centres, but they are there as white elephants.

Sir, we know that the ministry has done its part, but do we look at the specifications when buying this equipment? What about the after-sale service? We have seen some good high-tech equipment, but immediately one small component becomes dysfunctional, the equipment stops working. You will find that this happens in a rural place whereby even bringing it to Lusaka will cost the ministry. Therefore, I suggest that we buy equipment which is user friendly so that when it stops working, we can easily send a technician from the ministry to service it. 

Sir, I have noticed that laboratory equipment requires the use of reagents and these are very expensive. Most of the people who bring this equipment to Zambia are South Africans and they are agents. No Zambian can buy equipment directly from the manufacturer. Therefore, every time a Zambian wants to buy from the manufacturer, they will be referred to a South African agent. The South African will buy from the manufacturers and puts a mark-up on the price of the equipment. If they have agents in Zambia, they will also put a mark-up on the price of the equipment. I thought the hon. Minister should have been thinking of ways of streamlining this. The ministry should be able to talk to the manufactures of the equipment and laboratory reagents so that they can come directly from the manufacturers to Zambia and not via South Africa.

Sir, the hon. Minister talked about the issue of personnel. At one point, I had an interesting time. One prominent person in our country was unwell and was being evacuated to South Africa. The doctor who was attending to this person was my friend and we went together to the airport. What interested me was that I found that one of the personnel on the plane that came from South Africa to evacuate this person was actually Zambian, but based in South Africa. The point I am trying to make is that we are not doing much in trying to retain the staff in the country. Even what has been provided for salaries in the budget, particularly for the doctors, is inadequate. I do not think this will be able to attract doctors. We need to be a little more serious for us to attract doctors. I think those who have remained have done so out of patriotism. I know of a few doctors who are around, but they also admire their friends who are working in other countries. When their friends come to visit, they tell them how much they are enjoying where they are. Therefore, the temptation for them to leave the country is high.

Mr Chairperson, on the issue of drugs, I would like to submit to the hon. Minister that once the Government buys from the local people, that is, those who have licences to import, they are very expensive.

Sometime back, the Opposition moved a Motion to streamline the provision of medical services. It was shot down and one of the issues that came out is that it is very expensive to bring pharmaceutical products into this country.

For one to bring in panadol or any drug, they first have to register the drug with the pharmaceutical regulator and pay US$7,500 to register the drug to be brought into the country. This being the case, it means that this cost will be passed onto the consumers. I would like to appeal to the hon. Minister to review this figure of registration. Many Zambians are not in the business of bringing in drugs because of the costs involved.

Mr Chairperson, it is good to say that they are providing all these facilities to our people, but we need to look at what health entails. It is not just about going to the hospital and getting a prescription. I must be able to afford the drugs.

One time, I heard Hon. Kasongo talking about ministries being income earners. I strongly feel that the Ministry of Health can generate income for this country. We are centrally positioned and if we had good health facilities, we would attract colleagues from the Democratic Republic of Congo and elsewhere. We would be able to make money.

Mr Chairperson, I did not hear the hon. Minister of Health say anything about the triple ‘P’, that is the public private-partnership (PPP) in the Ministry of Health. Being centrally located, we can make a lot of money if we could attract other people with good health facilities. The hon. Minister is very quiet about rendering any help to private hospitals, and yet most of us here access medical facilities from these health institutions.

Mr Chairperson, I would like to submit that we need to look at improving health facilities in private health institutions because these, in turn, can be a money spinner for the Government.

Mr Chairperson, I can see that time is running out and I did not mean to spend more than ten minutes, but I cannot conclude my debate without talking about Solwezi.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Lumba: The people of Solwezi sent me here to speak on their behalf.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Lumba: Mr Chairperson, Solwezi Central is the hub of the North-Western Province and what we are calling the new Copperbelt. Everyone going to the North-Western Province has to pass through Solwezi Central. I have to submit that we do not have a district hospital. The hon. Minister said there was nothing planned for Solwezi. I am appealing to the hon. Minister to review the programme and include a district hospital for Solwezi.

Things are happening in Solwezi Central, and not Lumwana. Out of all the mining companies, Kansanshi Mine is the only mine paying tax at the moment. We need to get something out of these mines as well. I want to submit that we want a district hospital by next year.

Mr Chairperson, I thank you.

Major Chizhyuka (Namwala): Mr Chairperson, I thank you for the opportunity to debate. This evening, the humble people of Namwala will be able to register their sentiments on this Vote.

First and foremost, I would like to state that I support this Vote and would like to thank the hon. Minister for a very articulate, sacrosanct and down-to-earth delivery of his statement. I now understand why, when he is manager of elections, he wins.


Major Chizhyuka: Mr Chairperson, on a serious note, …

Mr Muntanga: What about Chilanga?

Major Chizhyuka: He was not manager of elections in Chilanga. If he was, I am sure the situation would have been different.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Captain Moono: On a point of order, Sir.

The Deputy Chairperson: A point of order is raised.


Captain Moono: Mr Chairperson, I rise on a serious point of order. Is the hon. Member debating in order to insinuate that I came here by accident …


Captain Moono: … because of the weakness of the campaign manager, when I beat my Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) opponent by more than 1,700 votes?

Hon. Government Members: Only?

Captain Moono: Mr Chairperson, I am a very senior Member of this House. I was here between 2001 and 2006 and this gentleman is relatively new. Is he in order to so insinuate?

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

The Deputy Chairperson: The point of order has been adequately debated and the point taken. Therefore, the hon. Member for Namwala may continue debating.

Ms Changwe: Hammer, Major! Insubordination.

Major Chizhyuka: Mr Chairperson, I will leave some issues and deal with the topic at hand.

Major Chizhyuka: Mr Chairperson, on Sunday and Monday, I was in Mobola to see a rural health post whose roof was blown off by a very violent wind reminiscent, in my opinion, of Hurricane Katrina.


 Major Chizhyuka: Just when I was wondering where we would get the money to fix the roof, the staff from the Ministry of Health was on site with roofing sheets, iron nails, and everything needed for the job. As I speak, the people of Mobola have a roofed health centre. Such efficiency is almost unbelievable even for an ex-serviceman like me. We must give credit where it is due. I thank you, hon. Minister. 

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka: Mr Chairperson, I would like to talk about mobile hospitals.

As I have said in the past, I come from the Kafue Flats where we do two things predominantly; grow maize and rear cattle. We understand that at a certain point, the maize will be young and you need to tender it until such a time that it can give you a cob. We also understand that when a calf is born, you have to wait a minimum of three to four years before you can have milk from it. We are patient.

We can, therefore, relate to the things that the hon. Minister of Health is doing. I am getting three health posts in my constituency and I understand that this is a good thing for this year and next year. The other year, I will ask for mattresses and beds for these health posts, knowing very well that the hon. Minister has responsibilities countrywide. 

People should not expect to get things as easily as turning a switch on, whereby one just goes to a wall, touches a button and, all of a sudden, there is a hospital, linen, drugs and everything else. That is what people expect.

 Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka: That is not how real life is. Even when you come into Government, you will never be able to satisfy everybody with that kind of expectation.

Ask President Barrack Obama, he will tell you that he raised so much hope. The American people were thinking that here comes a whizz-kid like the Robert McNamaras. What has happened? He has come face to face with the reality. Governing a people or running a nation or State is not like building a house and say that in ninety days, you are going to give the people something. What are you going to give in ninety days period?

 Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka: Mr Chairperson, if the hecklers want to talk to me, I have the capacity to deal with them while standing on the Floor of the House.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka: I have absolute capacity. Therefore, I am saying that we can relate to the things that the hon. Minister is doing in Namwala.

Mr Chairperson, we talk about lack of a district hospital in Namwala. We said on the Floor of the House that every time Mr Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula, the founding father of Africa’s nationalism, was sick, he went to Namwala Hospital. That is exactly how it was in 2006 save for the improvements that the previous hon. Minister made there. Therefore, it is a good thing for us to see a multi-facility hospital in Namwala. Are you sure that we should be standing on the Floor of this House and ridiculing the very people who are saving our lives. Ask the people of Namwala, they will tell you how happy they are to have a hospital.

 Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka: Mr Chairperson, apart from the fact that I come from the Kafue Flats, I also have a military background. Therefore, when I hear some of the debates going on in this House about the condemnation of mobile hospitals, from a military background, I just wonder and laugh because mobile hospitals have been used in the military from time immemorial.


Major Chizhyuka: You see, when they start answering and I respond, they start complaining again.


The Deputy Chairperson: Order!

Hon. Member, just continue. Ignore them.

Major Chizhyuka: Sir, when I respond, I will answer them very well and it will be too bad for them.

Mr Chairperson, in the military, we have had mobile hospitals ever since. We have first, second and third line medical attention. In the military, a mobile hospital is either a tactical resource or strategic one. It would be found in the second line or third line and has always been there. Once you do not have a mobile hospital, then, you have problems.

Let us look at the civilian situation. I am imagining that there is a sudden outbreak of cholera in Chief Moyo in Pemba and, maybe, unprecedented malaria. Is it a bad idea for the hon. Minister of Health to send a mobile hospital to Moyo so that the people of Habbanyuka, Ndombi and all the other surrounding hills can access super medical attention like they would get at the UTH? Is that a bad idea?

Hon. Government Members: No! Tell them!

Major Chizhyuka: Mr Chairperson, you do know that there was an outbreak of bubonic and pneumonic plague in Baambwe Ward in Namwala. We sat down with the medical personnel and created a new clinic so that people could get immunised against the bubonic plague. Would it be a bad idea for a mobile hospital to go to Chibunze and deal with an emergent pneumonic and bubonic plague? Would that be a bad idea? I think that it is a good idea. It is important that as we deal with issues that we are objecting to, we should conduct a bit of research because the mobile hospital is a good thing.

 Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka: It augments the Zambia Flying Doctors Service…

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka: … except that the mobile hospital is able to cater for more people than what the Zambia Flying Doctors Service is providing. I think that we should start thinking deeply about some of these ideas so that we can find our place in those ideas.

Sir, it is like when you give a bushman, in Botswana, a cell phone and then the bushman says, “No, do not give me a cell phone, we shall continue walking these distances since we have been doing it for generations”, and yet the cell phone does not change the fact that he is still a bushman, but provides him with the capacity to communicate to other bushmen who are 300 kilometres away. The bushman will say, “No, I do not think I need a cell phone because I am used to running and, therefore, I shall run, reach that place and find them.”


Major Chizhyuka: Sir, the world is evolving and you can choose either to move with it with or remain in the doldrums. Therefore, the mobile hospital is a good idea.

 Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Major Chizhyuka: Sir, the last issue I want to deal with is that of …


Major Chizhyuka: I have told you that if you decide to speak from behind, you will get a response from me.

Mr Chairperson, I want to say that I have talked about the location of the hospital in Namwala. At the time that we were pushing for this hospital, we thought that it would be located in the centre of Namwala. The old Namwala encompasses Itezhi-tezhi and other places in Mumbwa Constituency. Namwala was the centre. Ever since we removed the biblical rib from Namwala to create Itezhi-tezhi, the position of Namwala Boma is far flung at the Western end.

Mr Chairperson, the hon. Minister has talked about taking health services to the people. In other words, if the majority of the people are in Kanyama, Mandevu or Matero, take a hospital to where they are. That is correct. Where we have placed this district hospital in Namwala has remained far flung. The people of Muchila, Nalubamba and most of the people of Mungaila will continue to go to Macha. Ask Hon. Munkombwe, he will tell you that. They would not use these new district hospital facilities because the hospital is far flung.

 I think that the location of an institution such is this one is very important. The majority of the people in Muchila’s area – I want to tell you that these are the people who are going to vote wisely –  ...


Major Chizhyuka: I want to look round, turn round and challenge anybody that these people are going vote wisely. 

Those people are unable to access good health facilities because they live in far-flung areas. I would like to suggest that the standard that you use in town when deciding where to build these facilities should be the same in the rural areas.

 In conclusion, let me state that I stand to support this very important Vote.

I thank you, Mr Chairperson.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!{mospagebreak}

Ms Kapata (Mandevu): Mr Chairperson, I am happy that I have finally caught your eye.

Sir, today, as I stand to support the budgetary allocation for the Ministry of Health, I am doing it with sadness in my heart. The reason is that this is the fifth budget that this House is passing since I became a Member of Parliament which, I think, will not bring about any significant change.

Year in and year out, I have seen a lot of different themes. This year’s theme is a People’s Budget from a People’s Government. However, even with this kind of theme, there are still situations where people walk out of hospitals with prescriptions after being seen by a doctor. This is because we still have a situation where there are no drugs in most of the government clinics and hospitals.

Mr Chairperson, before I talk about drugs, which I will come back to later on, allow me to take this Government, the men on your right, back to 2007 when they gave the Ministry of Health …

Hon. Government Members: Men and women!

Ms Kapata: … 10.7 per cent of the National Budget. In 2008, the ministry was allocated 11.5 per cent. In 2009, it was allocated 11.9 per cent and I thought we were moving in the right direction towards achieving the Abuja Declaration because the allocation was increasing in percentage terms. However, in 2010, the allocation dropped to 8.2 per cent. What a Shame. This year, the hon. Minister says that we have increased by 30 per cent from last year’s figure. Are we moving forward if we have just increased the budget from 8.2 per cent to 8.6 per cent?

Mr Mukanga: No!

Ms Kapata: I am aware that my colleagues have already talked about the Abuja Declaration, but as Chairperson of the Committee on Health in Parliament, I also want to say something about it. The Zambian Government signed the Abuja Declaration Treaty in 2002. To date, nothing has been done anything about it. A question may arise as follows: Do we sign these treaties under duress or we sign them because the neighbouring countries are doing so? Worse still, do we sign them because we want to please the people who attended a particular conference? For your information, we get embarrassed as hon. Members of Parliament coming from Zambia when we attend these international conferences. This is because most of our colleagues have managed to achieve the 15 per cent benchmark in the Abuja Declaration.

The idea of adjusting figures upwards or downwards does not mean anything to our people because they are still suffering. I heard the hon. Minister mention that the Government has built so many clinics but, soon, those clinics are going to be white elephants. Why am I saying so? I am sure there will be no people to work in those clinics.

Mr Mubika: But you ran away!


Ms Kapata: Mr Chairperson, health remains a valued asset, at the community, individual as well as national level. Why am I saying it is a valued asset? This is because health issues are a determinant of the well-being of an individual as well as the household and community.

Mr Mukanga: Hear, hear!

Ms Kapata: According to the definition of the World Health Organisation (WHO), health is simply the well-being of a person, that is, in the physical, mental and spiritual spheres and not just the absence of an illness.

Zambia has a rising disease burden due to weak public health services that the Government is giving and also bad polices that it has put in place.

The reduced budget to this ministry of 8.6 per cent for 2011 will impact negatively on the MDGs that are health related. These are MDGs numbers 4, 5 and 6 as already mentioned by one of my colleagues.


Mr D. Mwila: Akulanda iwe!

Ms Kapata: Iwe, ndepema, windufyauya!

Mr Chairperson, …

The Deputy Chairperson: Order!


Mr Mubika: Finally!

Ms Kapata: I would like to single out one service that deals with children since I also wish to comment on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT). The PMTCT service is not readily available in the rural areas. We still have a situation where parents walk long distances to get ARVs for their children because they are not available in most of the rural health centres.

When the hon. Minister comes to wind up debate, I would like him to also say something about the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines. If we are to attain 100 per cent coverage of PMTCT services, we need the PCR machines. Zambia is a vast country which cannot rely on three machines only. We need more PCR machines. If possible, let them be in all our provincial headquarters so that more children are captured. When your Committee on Health went to the rural areas, it found that the dry sample method did not work because the results got lost. They are not sent back to rural health centres. Mothers continue exposing their babies to HIV when we know we can do something about it.

Sir, sometime back, when we had a measles outbreak, the hon. Minister went looking for money from donors. One wonders why the ministry does not keep surplus money for such eventualities. Children are supposed to be cared for. The children’s budget must be visible within the Ministry of Health. However, we are not seeing clearly the money that is allocated to children’s health programmes.

Mr D. Mwila: Hear, hear!

Ms Kapata: In this country, we still have 591 deaths per 100,000 children which is too high. If we were to achieve the MDG which talks about maternal mortality, the bottlenecks that surround the high mortality rate must be attended to. Sir, one of them is the poor road network. The roads that lead to the clinics are still in a bad state. Even when a pregnant woman arrives at any of these clinics that this Government is preaching about, she will find that there is no trained personnel to attend to her.

I do not know how the ministry has tackled the issue of sensitising mothers to go early to the hospitals when they are in labour. In our African set-up, we have situations where, when a woman gets into labour, she still has to wait for her husband to give her permission to go and get medical attention. I do not know whether the hon. Minister has taken that into consideration.

Mr Chairperson, allow me to talk about human resource. I saw an advertisement for vacancies regarding medical personnel in the newspapers which, I think, should have come out earlier than it has because there is still a shortage of nurses, doctors and other cadre within the Ministry of Health.

Sir, I have always said, on this Floor of the House, that nurses and doctors do a lot of work by working overnight which other people in other professions do not do. I have always said that even if you do not increase the nurses’ salaries, you …


The Deputy Chairperson: Order!

Hon. Members, can you consult quietly, please.

Ms Kapata: … should give them enough uniform allowance. Surely, can you expect a nurse to look smart when you give that nurse less than K100,000 to buy a uniform? You need to give them overtime allowances as well since they knock off very late because they have to give a comprehensive handover to their colleagues.

Therefore, they need enough overtime allowance.

This time, with the prevalence HIV/AIDS, some nurses have been infected through handling sharps. I am, therefore, appealing to the hon. Minister to introduce risk allowance in hospitals.

Mr Chairperson, allow me to talk about HIV/AIDS further. At one time, the prevalence rate in Zambia was at 25 per cent. It reduced to 16 per cent and, now, it is at 14.3 per cent. This is still not good enough in the sense that we still have new cases of HIV infections. It is believed that, everyday, 250 people in Zambia are infected with HIV/AIDS, the reason being that Zambia is a Christian nation and has turned a blind eye to the drivers of HIV. We are aware that, in this nation, we have men having sex with fellow men …


Ms Kapata: We also have people who have multiple concurrent sex partners. I know it is taboo to talk about men having sex with other men, but as long as it is one of the entry points of new cases of HIV, it is time that this Government sorted out this issue of men having sex with men.

Mr Kaingu: On a point of order, Sir.


Ms Kapata: Mr Speaker, I would like to move to …

The Deputy Chairperson: Order!

 I hope the hon. Minister is raising a procedural point of order. May he raise his point of order.

Mr Kaingu: Mr Chairperson, is the hon. Member for Mandevu in order to say that men sleep with men without laying evidence on the Table? I need your serious ruling.


The Deputy Chairperson: Order!

The hon. Member for Mandevu may continue.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Ms Kapata: Mr Chairperson, I would like to find out from the hon. Minister how sustainable the anti-retroviral therapy (ART), TB and malaria treatment is in Zambia. According to the reports we have received through the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), misuse of funds by the ministry has continued despite what happened in the past and the ministry promising to put its house in order.

Mr Chairperson, we have always said, on the Floor of this House, that the supply of ARVS and TB drugs must be Government-driven and not donor-driven because, in Lusaka, a lot of clinics, in the past two weeks, have been struggling with the stocks of TB drugs. You are aware that if a person does not take TB drugs or ARVs for four days, then they will build resistance and when this happens, it means that they have to be put on a different drug. Do we have the capacity because the second line ARVs are very expensive? It is suicidal for our people and it is also immoral for the Government to run out of drugs for people living with HIV/AIDS.

With these few words, I thank you, Sir.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

The Deputy Chairperson: Order!

Hon. Members, allow me to say that the issues that have been debated, so far, are staff, medicines, clinics and hospitals, mobile hospitals and HIV/AIDS. I hope that, as you stand up to speak, you will not take us back to that because we have heard enough of it. So, I will listen to Hon. Milupi and, if he raises new points, we may call on one or two others. However, we will have to make progress after that.

Mr D. Mwila: Bwekeshapo!

Mr Milupi (Luena): Mr Chairperson, I thank you very much for this opportunity to contribute to the debate on this Vote.

The budget has gone up by 28 per cent.  This is a substantial increase that is way above the inflation level and the national average of 23 per cent. I have just a few issues to tackle and I do not intend to use up the full time allotted to me.

Mr Chairperson, the first one relates to mobile hospitals. I have been sent here by the people of Luena to say something on them. Therefore, whether somebody else has said something about them is immaterial. The idea of mobile hospitals is a bad one because if you listen to the speech by the hon. Minister, he talked about these super duper containers. To me, we are looking at one above forty feet if it is going to look like a hospital. It is a massive structure which will have to be towed on a vehicle and, already, we have said that the state of our roads is deplorable, much more so in rural areas. These vehicles will be dragging the mobile hospitals on non-existent roads.

Mr Chairperson, speaking about Luena, where I am hon. Member of Parliament, I cannot imagine mobile hospitals at anytime in a place like Sitoya. Some of the hon. Ministers have been there and they know what Sitoya is like. Even in other constituencies, if I speak with reference to the Western Province, I do not see these mobile hospitals in Moombo. I do not see them in Kama, hon. Member for Mongu Central, and I do not see them in Kataba, hon. Member for Mulobezi. It is impossible because we do not have roads.

Mr Chairperson, the amount of US$53 million, which is equivalent to over K200 billion, was used to purchase these mobile hospitals, and yet it would have been better spent on strengthening the existing infrastructure and building even more infrastructure.

Mr Chairperson, like someone has already said, it will mean that you will have to have mobile patients. For some diseases, you cannot admit and evacuate the patient to other places which are non-existent. The motivation for procuring these mobile hospitals will have to be properly investigated. The people who are standing up to support the mobile hospitals were not in the previous administration to support this idea because it is bad. However, someone has come and supported it and everyone is doing the same. These are the kind of follow-the-leader politics we should move away from in this country. Just because somebody says something, it is no longer in our minds to critically analyse whether something is in the interest of the country. As I said, this money could be better spent elsewhere.

Mr Chairperson, I now want to talk about the management of ARVs with respect to rural areas. My view is that every medical facility must have the capacity to prescribe ARVs and manage the programme. In rural areas, many people who are infected have to travel long distances to access this treatment. It is not too much to ask of this Government to ensure, just like people are managing malaria and other diseases, that those remote clinics, whether they are rural health centres or posts, must be equipped and also have the capacity to prescribe ARVs. This is a chronic disease and when the patients have access to these facilities, they will have a healthy life and, therefore, live longer.

Mr Chairperson, I would like to talk a little more about Luena Constituency. We began to construct a rural health centre in Simaa Ward using the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and the participation of the community. I must thank the Ministry of Health for having taken over the construction of this rural health centre. This is a good thing, but we are also building another rural health centre in Luena. I only wish the ministry had taken over the health centre we are building in Mabili Ward as well because these places are very far from the nearest clinic. Many people have died on Scotch carts on their way to these far-off rural health centres. In view of this, the ministry should, please, consider doing this. The name of the health centre is Nangili in Mabili Ward and we are constructing it very slowly using the CDF. If the ministry can take over its construction, maybe, I can start praising it for that as well.

Mr Chairperson, the other issue that I would like to bring to the attention of the hon. Minister is on Limulunga Rural Health Centre. Most people who have been to the Kuomboka Ceremony have seen the size of the Limulunga settlement. It is a massive place that is only serviced by a rural health centre. This health centre also acts as a referral clinic for many of the health posts throughout the constituency. Therefore, our first plea is for this health centre to be upgraded to a hospital. The huge population that uses this centre demands that it is upgraded to a hospital and I think they deserve that kind of facility.

Secondly, let us make sure that our health facilities, especially in rural areas, also have the requisite support facilities like laboratories and, above all, medical staff. Limulunga is one such place that requires these support facilities and medical staff. Another health centre, which many hon. Ministers who are campaigning in Luena, at the moment, have referred to, is in a ward called Nangula. We have built a very nice and beautiful hospital in this ward which is supposed to cater for the large population in the area but, to date, there are no clinical officers there. There are no laboratories and other required facilities. Once we complete these health centres, the required equipment must be sent there as quickly as possible.

I promised that I was not going to take up much time but, before I end my debate, let me go back to the issue I raised this morning on which the Hon. Mr Speaker referred me to the debate on this Vote. I listened very carefully to the hon. Minister’s policy statement, but he did not bring up this matter. The issue I am referring to, which I raised in a point of order, concerns the Global Fund.  Zambia is accused by the Global Fund of having misappropriated US$12 million in ineligible expenditures plus US$1 million in non-delivered goods. The total US$13 million alleged to have been appropriated must, therefore, be returned.

As I said, there are four countries mentioned in the Global Fund’s report which was quoted by The Post newspaper. The Post is actually quoting a respectable medical journal called The Lancet. The document I have in my hands is from The Lancet and, therefore, it is not The Post newspaper that I laid on the Table. The report says that four countries are involved in this misappropriation of funds from the Global Fund. These countries are Mauritania, Cameroon, Mali and Zambia. Out of the total US$25 million that was misappropriated, which is 5 per cent of the total Global Fund of US$500 million, more than half of this amount, which is US$13 million, is attributable to Zambia.

As a result of this, some countries such as Sweden, which support the Global Fund, are withholding their support, not only to Zambia, but also the whole Global Fund. So, because we are unable to account for funds to ensure that the money given to us is used for the intended purpose, we, as a country, together with other countries that have been mentioned, are now affecting the flow of funds to the Global Fund.

I think it is appropriate to know that the Global Fund is used to fund the fight against malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. I am sure the hon. Minister is aware that these are diseases that affect the poorest of the poor more severely than those who are not so poor. It is those who cannot look after themselves who are most severely affected, especially in rural areas, high density townships and those who are unemployed. Therefore, when we get external support such as that from the Global Fund and our people, ministries or Government cannot properly account for these funds, it is a painful experience.

As I have said elsewhere, we must set our own standards, hon. Minister. Whether other countries are misappropriating these monies, Zambia must learn to set her own standards and it must be these standards that should uphold the integrity of this country. It is painful for all Zambians to have our country now being mentioned as having misappropriated money from donors. It is bad enough to misappropriate our money, but it is even worse to misappropriate money that is given to us by outsiders.

I hope this matter will be taken very seriously and that, at some stage, we will be informed as to who, in the Ministry of Health or elsewhere, are the culprits who perpetrated this and what action has been taken against them. We need these answers so that we can move forward as a nation. We cannot perpetually address the same issues of misappropriation, misapplication and other vices, year in and year out. Let us move on. If this is a performing Government, it must rise to the occasion and do so.

Mr Chairperson, with these few words, I would like to thank you.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Simbao: Mr Chairperson, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to reply to some of the contributions by hon. Members. I must say that we are all trying to do the correct thing. It is a pity that when something goes wrong in African countries, people get at each other’s throats instead of working together. There is no one who has ever supported the misapplication of funds in the Ministry of Health. Not a single person on the Government’s side has ever supported the misappropriation of donor funds in the Ministry of Health. However, it is amazing that some people decided to support the donors’ withdrawal of funding to the Ministry of Health.

Hon. Government Members: Shame!

Mr Simbao: In other countries, people do not behave that way. In other countries, when something goes wrong, it is admitted by everyone and they try to find a solution to solve the problem. They do not perpetuate the problem by asking the people who are supposed to fund programmes to stop doing so, as has been the case in this country. The problem is that we drive ourselves into the ground and expect somebody else to take us out.

When this problem arose, it was the Government that exposed it. If the Government did not want this problem to surface, it would have, probably, found ways and means to conceal it. However, the Government decided to carry out investigations and when things were found to be wrong, it decided to inform the people of Zambia about it. I, therefore, do not understand why we have gone separate ways with our colleagues for them to start supporting the donors’ withdrawal of funding and not the Government’s position on this matter. The Government has never condoned what happened at the Ministry of Health. Therefore, where has the Government gone wrong when we have equally condemned what happened? Where is the problem?

As regards the issue that Hon. Milupi raised, the Global Fund is not being fair because it sent us a draft report and we have responded to this report. However, the Global Fund has refused to accept our response. Normally, when an audit is conducted, a good auditor will send back the report to the person or institution that was audited to clarify the issues raised in the audit. We have made our response, but the person in charge of the audit has refused to accept our response and has decided to ignore it.

It is not fair and that is not the way auditing is done. Even if you are very positive that there is something wrong. The same draft report you sent to us is the same one he has posted on the internet. That is not correct.

Mr Chairperson, in June, 2010, we wrote to the Global Fund informing them that the person in charge was not responding to our report and so can they make sure that he, at least, reacts to our response so that we know whether we have paid him wrongly or not. He should come back to us to tell us that he has not accepted our response, but he has not done that. The next thing was we saw the draft report posted on the internet. You do not work that way because those are not principles of auditing. According to the principles of auditing, you give the person you are auditing an opportunity to respond. Therefore, what they are saying now is very new to us as a country. We are not refusing what has happened, but why does he not react to the responses he wanted from us?

Mr Mukanga interjected.

Mr Simbao: Hon. Mukanga, we are trying to do the correct thing and it is always nice to hear from the other side because, at times, the other side brings out issues that are very clear but, maybe, just wants clarification.

On the issue of the MRI and the CT scan, I think some of you read a report about one of us being involved in a road accident. There was no need to evacuate the patient because we have all the machinery that we need to attend to such cases. We have experts in the country to handle this equipment.

The issue of always saying these are the late President Mwanawasa’s projects is not fair. Surely, if you have a person you are working with closely, you continue where he ended instead of starting from the scratch. You can only start afresh if they spoil the things you have started. If that happens, then there is a problem. Fortunately, this President is right on top of things and wants to complete projects that he found and start his own but, first of all, he wants to complete what his elder brother was doing. He is also doing his own things. So, we do not see the problem. As for us, we are very happy.


The Deputy Chairperson: Order!

Mr Simbao: We do not see anything wrong with that.

Mr Muntanga: On a point of order, Sir.

The Deputy Chairperson: A point of order is raised.

Mr Muntanga: Mr Chairperson, is the hon. Minister in order to imply that the Republican President had an elder brother in the name of the late President Mwanawasa when he is actually older? Is he in order to imply that late President Mwanawasa was older than Mr Rupiah Banda? Is he correct to mislead the House?

The Deputy Chairperson: The hon. Minister will continue and take that into account.

Mr Simbao: Mr Chairperson, we all know that these issues are about relationships. I do not know if the hon. Member has never had that kind of relationship. For instance, President Obama is young, but by virtue of his office, he is quite senior. I am sure the hon. Member knows that.

Mr Chairperson, with regard to the issue of mobile hospitals, I think there is still a little confusion there. This whole system is going to work as a unit with the Zambia Flying Doctor Service and the Zambia Air Force (ZAF). The system will work in such a way that if there is a need for you to be evacuated, you will either be picked by helicopter or fixed wing plane. It is not that everything will be tied to vehicles, no.

I heard the concerns of the hon. Member for Luena regarding this issue. The issue of Western Province has been discussed at length due to its terrain and other areas which are not reachable by road because, maybe, they are surrounded by water like Luapula. These have also been considered. Therefore, every portion of Zambia will be reached by not just vehicles, but planes and helicopters as well. I do not see why people should be so apprehensive about this.

The issue of drugs still worries me because we have a lot of drugs in this country although some people are saying there is a shortage of drugs in the country. We have said that if anyone is given a prescription, we would like that to be proved. It is true, and it is not possible that all the groupings of the drugs are not in health facilities. If somebody is given a prescription and there is no alternative to that medicine, we would like to see it. I would like to invite back the Chairperson of the Committee on Health to come to the ministry even tomorrow, sit down with us and look at the drug situation in the country. It will be very interesting to have you at our ministry tomorrow.

Mr Chairperson, regarding the issue of managing the 323 health posts, we are training a new cadre of personnel that is supposed to be manning health posts and not nurses. When we train nurses, we train them for hospitals, but we send them to clinics or health posts especially because we do not have any other cadre to work there. These people are supposed to be in hospitals. Now we are training a health cadre suitable for health posts and that is how we are going to man all the health posts we are talking about.

Hon. Lumba talked about PPPs. We are seriously considering that route. In fact, we are already attracting some interested companies, especially those who have shown interest from India, Korea and the United States of America, to come up and see how we can partner in some of these ventures. Therefore, we are not closed at all, but open. If you know of any other people who are willing to partner with us, you should come and talk to us. We are willing to partner with them and build some hospitals where everyone can go.

Mr Chairperson, as regards the issue of vaccines, we do budget for them every year. In this Budget, we have K11.6 billion for vaccines, that is for measles, polio and other diseases. Last year, it was K9.2 billion and, every year, drugs for children are budgeted for.

With regard to the 15 per cent Abuja target, first of all, it must be said, here, that only about five countries in Africa have managed to reach it. It is not so simple to just quickly jump to 15 per cent because you have to take into account all the other items in the budget of a country. Only about four to five countries have reached the 15 per cent target. The rest of the countries, including Zambia, are still struggling.

Mr Chairperson, as I conclude, let me talk about the issue of nurses’ uniforms. We have, in our budget, ` an allocation of K4.5 billion for nurses’ uniforms and it is very possible that we shall start distributing the uniforms as well as linen this month.

Vote 46/01 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 46/02 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 46/06 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 46/07 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 46/08 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 46/10 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 46/11 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 46/12 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 46/13 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 46/14 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 46/15 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 46/16 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 46/17 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 46/18 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

The Deputy Chairperson: Order!

(Debate adjourned)



[MR SPEAKER in the Chair]

(Progress reported)


The House adjourned at 1958 hours until 0900 hours on Friday, 19th November, 2010.