Debates- Wednesday, 21st February, 2001

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Wednesday, 21st February, 2001

The House met at 1430 hours

[MR SPEAKER in the Chair]





41. Mr L. L. Phiri (Chipangali) asked the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services:

    (a)    how many workers from the following institutions died between January, 1996 and December, 2000:

        (i)    Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation;

        (ii)    Zambia Information Services; and 

        (iii)    Zambia News Agency;

    (b)    how many of these deceased estates have been paid their terminal benefits; and 

    (c)    how many have not been paid.

The Deputy Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services (Mr Mando): Mr Speaker, during the period 1996 to December, 2000, ninety-three employees died in service. The breakdown is as follows:


Mr Speaker, all the deceased estates at Zambia Information Services and Zambia News Agency have been paid their terminal benefits, while the pension lump sum is handled by the Public Service Management Division and the Pensions Board who sort out the problem between themselves and the administrator of the estate. My ministry has no hand in it.

Mr Speaker, it is only at Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) where terminal benefits due to the deceased estates amounting to K582.8 million are still outstanding out of the original K1,018 million. 

I thank you Sir.

Mr L. L. Phiri: Mr Speaker, could the hon. Minister shed light on why the number of the deceased at ZNBC is so high. What could be the reasons for losing such a big number of our young men and women?

Mr Mando: Mr Speaker, I am at a loss. I do not know the hon. Member of Parliament’s interest in the matter.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Mando: Death is a natural phenomenon which is not uncommon in Zambia at the present moment.

I thank you, Sir.

Mr Sichinga (Isoka East): Mr Speaker, could the hon. Minister just shed some light on how many of the estates have had the contributions for their pensions already paid to the Pensions Board.

Mr Mando: Mr Speaker, while I appreciate the interest of the hon. Member of Parliament in this issue, I would suggest that he gives us time to answer those specific queries.

I thank you, Sir.


42. Mr Mweni (Lupososhi) asked the Minister of Education when the following schools in the Lupososhi Parliamentary Constituency will be rehabilitated:

    (i)    Kabombo;

    (ii)    Katuta;

    (iii)    Mwando;

    (iv)    Mutondo;

    (v)    Kalaba; and

    (vi)    Chimbwi.

The Deputy Minister of Education (Mr Mmembe): Mr Speaker, this question has been asked several times in this House in different forms but I would like to say that all the schools in question are part of those schools that have already been identified for rehabilitation in the 2001 to 2003 Provincial Development Plan.

However, the communities in these schools need to raise up-fronts in form of burnt bricks, sand, crushed stone or timber for the schools to qualify for rehabilitation.

Thereafter, the rehabilitation works will commence as soon as enough up-fronts are provided by the community.

I thank you, Sir.

Mr Mweni: Mr Speaker, is the hon. Minister aware that these schools are just about to collapse, especially with the heavy rains this year?

Mr Mmembe: Mr Speaker, I am aware, perhaps, not in regard to these particular schools but to the extent that a lot of other schools in the country need rehabilitation. That is why we have BESSIP in place.

I thank you, Sir.


43. Mr Mwitwa (Mansa) asked the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry:

    (a)    what was the state of the machinery at Mansa Batteries Limited, now under receivership;

    (b)    whether there are any plans to sell company houses to sitting tenants;

    (c)    whether all employees have been paid their full terminal benefits, if not, how many have not been paid;

    (d)    what was the total amount required to pay the full terminal benefits; and 

    (e)    of the amount in (d) above, how much has not been raised.

The Deputy Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry (Mr Chikwakwa): Mr Speaker, in response to the question by Hon. Mwitwa, Member of Parliament for Mansa, I wish to inform this august House as follows:

    (a)    Mansa Batteries was placed under receivership by Development Bank of Zambia and Zambia National Commercial Bank over debentures held over the assets and floating charge, respectively. Development Bank of Zambia had a fixed charge while ZANACO had a floating charge over all the assets.

        In 1997, the Development Bank of Zambia sold the assets, the plant and machinery charged to them to Amanita Zambiana Limited, and thus settled their claim on the company. At the time of sale, the assets were in working condition.

    (b)    The Zambia National Commercial Bank still has a floating charge over all the assets of the company, although the workers have since placed an injunction over an intended action by the bank.

        The Government is still negotiating with the bank on how best to dispose of the houses occupied by former workers of Mansa Batteries.

    (c)    None of the employees have been paid their full terminal benefits. However, the Government has, so far, paid out K154 million as compassionate payment to some of the workers.

    (d)    The total amount required to pay the full terminal benefits to former Mansa Batteries employees is K1,315,712,618 which is almost K1.32 billion.

(e)    On the last part of the question, Mr Speaker, so far, nothing has been raised. The Government is, however, committed to paying the full terminal benefits when we get the funds.

Thank you, Sir.

Mr Mwitwa: Mr Speaker, can the hon. Minister inform this House how many employees have, so far, died without receiving their terminal benefits.

Mr Chikwakwa: Mr Speaker, although that is a very important question, it needs research as it relates to the Ministry of Health to give us accurate statistics.

Thank you, Sir.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sibetta (Luena): Mr Speaker, may I know why the Government did not redeem this company by investing money in it since it is a shareholder but chose to pay legal costs. I am aware that the Government is in the business of creating more parastatals like the Presidential Housing Initiative (PHI). So, why not re-invest in this company?

Mr Chikwakwa: Mr Speaker, the company went through the privatisation process.

Thank you, Sir.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Hachipuka (Mbabala): Mr Speaker, the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry is representing Government as he answers. May I know why he cannot influence the Government so that moneys that are in the Presidential Fund can be applied towards that K1 billion which is outstanding in Mansa?

Mr L. L. Phiri: Or through Kwachamania!

Mr Chikwakwa: Mr Speaker, the Government is concerned about the plight of former workers, not only of Mansa Batteries, but all the companies that are facing problems and the Government is committed. As a listening Government, we are taking corrective measures to address this issue.

I thank you, Sir.


44. Mr L. L. Phiri asked the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services:

    (a)    why Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation stopped paying its workers through the banks;

    (b)    why the salaries are paid late;

    (c)    what the corporation’s wage bill is; and

    (d)    why the institution is failing to raise money for its own salaries.

Mr Mando: Mr Speaker, in reply to this question, I would like to answer as follows:

Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation stopped paying its workers (who are based in Lusaka) through the banks due to liquidity problems coupled with pressure from workers who want to get paid as soon as cash is available.

Sir, I wish this House to note that all workers outside Lusaka are paid through commercial banks, except in cases where workers do not have bank accounts.

Mr Speaker, salaries are paid late due to liquidity problems which the corporation has been going through over a number of years. The corporation depends on commercial revenue such as radio and television advertisements which has proved to be far inadequate to meet operational costs of the institution. The corporation wage bill stands at K370 million per month.

Mr Speaker, as I have mentioned earlier, the corporation’s revenue base is very limited, many companies perceive advertising of their products as not a priority because it is not automatic that when goods have been advertised, sales will improve. The corporation’s revenue base needs to be broadened. Throughout the world, national public broadcasters can never sustain themselves through advertisements hence, a public funding mechanism which would ensure adequate incomes. All possibilities are being examined, including introduction of licence fees.

Thank you, Sir.

Mr Speaker: Order!

I would like to remind hon. Members that the microphones we use in the House are very sensitive and they pick up even whispers. Because of that, the hon. Ministers who are answering questions and also the hon. Members who are asking questions and those who are listening get distracted when there is an audible discussion in any corner of the House. May hon. Members, if they have to consult, do so lowly or, maybe, go out in the foyer.

I do not know if there is a supplementary question.

Mr L. L. Phiri: Mr Speaker, what has the hon. Minister done in order to improve the situation at ZNBC as far as salaries are concerned?

Mr Mando: Mr Speaker, I did belabour the point of how we are trying to redress the issue. If the hon. Member of Parliament would show leadership by listening carefully as I speak, he will probably help me a lot.

Thank you, Sir.


45. Mr Mweni asked the Minister of Education which schools in Northern Province were managed by a single teacher during the year 2000.

Mr Mmembe: Mr Speaker, the answer to that question is very long because the number of schools are many and I would like to lay the paper on the Table.

Mr Speaker: The hon. Deputy Minister is advised to answer the question so that Members may raise supplementary questions.

Mr Mmembe: Mr Speaker, Chilubi District has eight schools which had only one teacher in the year 2000. Chinsali had twenty nine; Isoka, eighteen; Luwingu, twenty; Kaputa, twenty five; Mbala, twenty five; Kasama, eight; Mporokoso, eight; Mpika, eighteen; Mpulungu, eighteen; Mungwi, fifteen; and Nakonde, seven.

Thank you, Sir.

Mr Mmembe laid the paper on the Table.

Mr Mweni: Mr Speaker, may I find out what measures he is putting in place to improve the situation.

Mr Mmembe: Mr Speaker, we have a programme in place, now, in order to increase the number of teachers. Teachers in teacher training colleges are being trained for one year in class, and then there is a practical one year period outside in schools. We hope that this programme will go on for a couple of years and we should be able to sort out the problems that the hon. Member of Parliament is concerned about.

Thank you, Sir.

Mr Ngulube (Lundazi): Mr Speaker, what is the quality of education can children gain from schools which are manned by only one teacher?

Mr Mmembe: Mr Speaker, our experience is that the quality is all right. The teachers are trained to teach more than one class at a time.


Mr Mmembe: Although there may be only one teacher in a school, they are trained to handle that kind of situation and so, we have no problems with that.

I thank you, Sir.


Mr Chisanga (Bwacha): Mr Speaker, the Minister told this House that they send teachers out in the field for practicals. Do they give them some kind of remuneration  to keep them going?

The Minister of Education (Brigadier-General Miyanda): Mr Speaker, may I take this opportunity to explain further what the hon. Deputy Minister alluded to. This is referred to as multi-grade teaching so that one teacher can handle several classes but I also notice that the other Members here are not very pleased with that. I admit that we are not happy about this situation also. The reason for this measure is the inadequate number of teachers in our schools.

Sir, partly, due to HIV/ADS, the numbers that we are losing are quite high but the replacement rate in the colleges does not match the lost numbers. As I said in the past, teachers are not like biscuits that you go in the shops and get them off a shelf. It takes time to train them. In the programme that the hon. Deputy Minister referred to, over time, we may have something like 3,000 teachers and then we will revert to the normal system of training our teachers. It is like an emergency programme to answer the cries of hon. Members.

Sir, the House must accept that this problem is with us no matter how many times we ask the same question. In my statement during the Budget Speech, I will cover this aspect as well to enable the House be aware of what the Government is doing.

I thank you, Sir.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Dr Mbikusita-Lewanika (Mongu Central): Mr Speaker, does this orientation for multiple teaching include orientation for one teacher to teach all the grades from 1 to 7?

Brigadier-General Miyanda: Sir, that question is valid. It does not do that. That is the reason for the change in introducing that programme which will increase the number of teachers. A teacher cannot do multi-grade teaching up to Grade 7 successfully. It is too much a load on one teacher no matter how skilled that teacher may be. This is a serious problem and we hope that maybe, in a short while, we can address that particular issue.

I thank you, Sir.

Mr Sibetta: Mr Speaker, may I know what the hon. Minister of Education is doing to pay those teachers that are manning schools single handedly their allowances for multiple class teaching. 

Brigadier-General: Sir, I just answered the hon. Member’s question when he talked about double class allowance.

I thank you, Sir.


Mr Speaker: Order! The Chair is aware that English is the official language of Zambia but in case hon. Members are discouraged from debating or asking questions in this House for fear of mispronouncing the English words or for fear of making grammatical mistakes, I would like to encourage them not to shy away ...

Mr Sibetta: Or for fear of answering questions.


Mr Speaker: Yes, even for fear of answering questions. This is not to say that we must carelessly use the language. I am not encouraging that, but hon. members should not fear to speak using the official language. The Members already know that English is the international language, however, even in England itself where they speak English and not Scotland or Wales or Ireland, there are a variety of accents. The English spoken in London is not the English which is spoken in West Yorkshire or  Cockney and so on.

The English spoken outside the United Kingdom, the American English, is different. Similarly, our kind of English here is also different. The English spoken in India is different. The English spoken in South Africa is also different, it goes on like that. The point, however, is to make ourselves understood and get on with the business of the House.


in the Chair]

VOTE 51/01 - Ministry of Communications and Transport - Headquarters - K61,807,026,324).

(Consideration resumed)

Mr Chipili (Kamfinsa): Mr Chairman, I rise to support the Estimates for the Ministry of Communications and Transport. In doing so, I would like to make a few comments. I have noticed that the budgetary allocation has been increased which makes me happy and relieved in that there were a good number of problems, especially at the Meteorological Department. This year, there is an increase.

However, Sir, I would like to make a request, through the ministry, to the Government that we harmonise the National Roads Board. The fuel levy money has been coming late time and again. This is for the simple reason that these monies move from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to the Ministry of Energy and Water Development, before they can finally be disbursed to the National Roads Board. The process is cumbersome.  I would like to implore the Government to channel money straight from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to the National Roads Board. 

The fragmentation where too many ministries are handling road repairs is not working out in our favour. This, in my opinion, must be done away with. We should encourage a situation where the  National Roads Board has power to supervise and carry out maintenance of roads in our cities and feeder roads. Even our co-operating partners will find it easier to work with the NRB.

On water transport, I would like to implore the hon. Minister to try and improve the water transport sector. We are landlocked but I think, canals and waterways can be opened up so that we do not spend so much time. Our goods are spending a hell of a time, especially at the Dar-es-Salaam Port. It takes up to four to six weeks before the goods can be cleared from that port. That, in fact, raises the cost of importation.

Mr Chairman, on rail transport, I would like to implore the hon. Minister to try and quickly do something about Zambia Railways Limited. The capacity of the cargo they are carrying keeps dwindling signifying that there must be a serious problem somewhere which requires sorting out. We have, so far, spent too much money and we will continue to do so on repairing our trunk roads because, now, we seem to be using more of road transport than rail transport. The rail system is the most ideal for cargo transport as long as maintenance is done on the line. 

Road transporters have, now, gone out of their way. They carry thirty tonne cargo from the port in South Africa to Zambia whereas if you used the railway line, you would carry 2900 tonnes more. This is pushing up the cost of almost everything that we import. So, we need to do something seriously about that. The state of the railway line itself is in a pathetic situation. If the laws were to be imposed seriously, I do not think we would allow passengers to go on that railway line because all the sleepers, in some sections, are eaten up. It is very dangerous indeed.

So, we need to put our house in order. I know what is wrong at Zambia Railways Limited. Probably, it is just a matter of recapitalisation. We must co-ordinate and control it so that we make sure that the management that we put in place is able to manage the affairs of the company.

Mr Chairman, equally, TAZARA has too many hiccups because it is not owned by Zambia alone. We are getting a raw deal. The head office is in Zambia. We do not even know what is going on there. Decisions are made the other side to favour our partners. This must be looked into.

TAZARA started off on a very good note and I think it is still sound but of late, it does not have enough wagons and locomotive engines, when there is a big workshop in Mpika. The biggest in this region.

Sir, I am asking the hon. Minister to try and see what can be done about it because this must be corrected. We need the railways.

With these few words, I thank you, Mr Chairman.

Princess Nakatindi Wina (Kanyama): Mr Chairman, I thank you for according me the chance to speak. I am addressing my young sister, the hon. Minister of Communications and Transport. 

Mr Chairman, I would be very grateful if you liaised with the hon. Minister of Home Affairs regarding the many police roadblocks in this country.

Sir, we seem to be in a police State. Every kilometre, there is a roadblock. What are the officers looking for really in all fairness? Indicators, water in the radiator and many small mistakes. 

I remember when we were campaigning, we defeated UNIP because of the many roadblocks and now, they are becoming just too frequent. I am a friend of the police, as you know, in all spheres but when it comes to irrelevancies, I think it is very unfair. Some people would be taking their children to the hospitals but they die while waiting at roadblocks. Some people deliver in cars because police at the roadblock take long to clear them. 

Mr Chairman, some traffic officers normally charge and misuse the money they collect for either a defective small tyre, vulva, tube or something very minute. I think we should not turn this country into a police State. We are not only frightening our citizens but it is also unfair.

Sir, I suggest that better spots be chosen for roadblocks where it would be appropriate for the motorist to talk to the traffic officers if the car is defective or dangerous to both the driver and the passengers. Sir, many times, traffic officers have taken over the job of traffic lights.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Princess Nakatindi Wina: When the white man invented the traffic lights, it was ...

Mr Sibetta: It was a black man in the United States America.

Princess Nakatindi Wina: I did not know that, Hon. Sibetta.

These things are electronically controlled. If we want to make them manual, we are not only going to cause many accidents, but even our police officers could be knocked down day and night. What happens is that when someone is given a green light, our officer gives a red light. So, we would not know which one to follow. 

Mr Chairman, the other issue regards the Mulobezi Railway line. It is the only communication we have in North-Western Province vis a vis Sesheke at the moment. We get, at least, one derailment or two per week. I travelled to Sesheke to see my sick aunt. There was a derailment between Mulobezi and Livingstone. People waited in the bush for five solid days. I am sure the hon. Minister is aware of that. You had to send rail tracks to go and pick them up. They were not only starving but were also thirsty. As a result, there is an outbreak of cholera in Livingstone which emanated from Simonga, which is about sixteen kilometers from Livingstone. That is where the railway line passes. So, I would appreciate if the hon. Minister looked into the transport sector in Sesheke, especially the Mulobezi Railway line.

With regard to transport in the western part of the country, I think my Government thinks anything going to the west is wasted because we have no roads in Western Province. Lusaka/Mongu Road is dilapidated, Nakatindi Road, which other people are trying to ignore, is, at the moment, really impassable. So, I would appreciate if from some of the monies you have, Nakatindi Road is looked into. I am not only talking because I am from Sesheke, I am equally from Kalabo; I am a member of the Barotse Royal Establishment. I mix with the Chiefs and when you go and campaign using the Chiefs, they ask you one question: what have you done for the people of Western Province that makes you think you deserve our support now? You will be embarrassed because we were using these roads as our campaign tools.

Hon. Nyundu: Hear, hear!

Princess Nakatindi Wina: When they know that we have been cheating them for the past ten years, we do not only become liars, but we are not doing any good to our party, especially now that it is election time. I think the promises have been too numerous and they have not been honoured.

Thank you, Sir.

Mr Kalenga (Kabompo West): Sir, thank you for allowing me to add my voice to this important Vote. I would like to begin by commending the hon. Minister of Communications and Transport for the hard work she is doing, especially if you look at our minibuses which have been painted in MMD colours, ...


Mr Kalenga: ... at least,  the colours are adding beauty to the city. I think the hon. Minister should do more than just paint the minibuses. She should also look at the inside part of the minibuses and also work with the hon. Minister of Home Affairs to ensure that they put regulations in place because there is no sanity in the city. There are a lot of minibuses and obstructions to the motorists. They pack anywhere, at traffic lights, pavements and there is no comfort. I think there should be new regulations so that, at least, there is beauty and order in the city.

Mr Chairman, the hon. Minister should do more because the MMD has done very well and I think they should go further. They have flooded the market with a lot of minibuses. I think they should also put up new stations to cater for the growing population and fleet of minibuses.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear! {mospagebreak}

Mr Kalenga: Mr Chairman, the other issue which I would like to raise with the hon. Minister is from the Presidential Speech of 2000 on page 41. I would like to find out the Government’s position, and I quote:

    ‘I am also pleased to inform the House that Zambia will shortly enjoy the benefit of direct satellite television transmission. This will be made possible by the use of our domestic satellite facility operated by Zamtel. This will not only cover the whole country, but will reach most parts of the African continent. The project will provide for both satellite as well as terrestrial transmission, to ensure that the television signals reach all corners of our country. Viewers in remote parts of the country with dishes will be able to view television.

    This service will supplement the service offered by the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation as a public broadcaster. It is intended that the service will provide three television channels at a fee. This project will also accord Zambia a voice beyond our borders.’ 

Mr Chairman, we are still waiting and we are in the dying minutes. When will this project take off?

With these few remarks, Mr Chairman, I thank you.

Mr Matutu (Kafulafuta): Thank you, Mr Chairman, for affording me this opportunity, once more, to contribute on this very important Vote.

I will begin with the Meteorological Department. Mr Chairman, the equipment at the Meteorological Department is obsolete and requires to be replaced. The K710 million which has been allocated for this is completely inadequate. Could the Government, through the ministry, please, source more funds for the equipment. This department is very important as it gives us weather forecast which is important for farmers, pilots and even when individuals travel, we would want to know what to expect where we are going.

The second point, Sir, is that of Ndola Airport. Ndola Airport is an international airport and for a long time, there have been plans on the ground for a new terminal building. Mr Chairman, up to date, nothing has been done. There is completely nothing allocated for Ndola Airport when there is telecommunication equipment which is budgeted for other airports. What is the future of Ndola Airport? Does the hon. Minister have any plans?

The third point, Mr Chairman, is that of the National Road Safety Council. I note that last year, it was allocated K103 million and this year, only a paltry K28 million. This department is very important as it disseminates information to people on road safety. I would like to hear from the hon. Minister how she intends to raise more money to keep that very important department going.

The forth and last point, Mr Chairman, is that air travel in this country is very expensive. I think it is the most expensive in the whole region. It is not possible if you are not travelling on Government business to use a plane. What is air travel meant for? Is it just meant for the few rich people or all Zambians to sample this kind of facility?

Mr Chairman, the hon. Minister should intervene to make air travel cheap in this region or, at least, to compare favourably.

With these few remarks, I would like to thank you, Sir.

Mr Sichinga (Isoka East): Sir, I would like to make very brief remarks on this Vote.

First of all, I would like to commend the hon. Minister. I know she is a very pro-active Minister and I am wishing to draw on that expertise and enthusiasm to see to it that a number of issues that have already been committed move on.

Sir, I would like to make specific reference to the issue of Information Technology in the country normally referred to as IT. Sir, Information Technology the world over is driving both Government operations as well as private business. I think that this issue has not been given the attention that it deserves.

In the Vote that we are debating now, I have not seen specific provisions for telecommunication as such. I went further, Sir, and made reference to page 50 - the Public Investment Programme which covers the period 2000-2002. This discusses transport and communications to see how much has been invested in IT. I see that two items have been indicated. One is Roads Department and there is the whole list on pages 51, 52, 53, 54 and 55.

There is a whole list of roads to be constructed. I would have thought that this falls in the Ministry of Works and Supply but it is shown under the Ministry of Communications and Transport. The next item that is shown is railways and there is no indication of communications. So, I am left only to rely on the provisions that are shown in the Budget because there is no provision here for the investment that would be made in telecommunications. I would appreciate if the hon. Minister could kindly elucidate on this issue as to what her ministry is going to do in terms of supporting Zamtel to strengthen the telecommunications backbone in the country.

Hon. Kalenga made reference to the statement that was made by the President to this House last year pertaining to satellite communications. Once again, this is an important issue because it is much cheaper to communicate through satellite, to reach the remote areas such as those that some of us in this House represent. I dare say, through the Chair, that my whole constituency, 200 kilometres long and 150 kilometres wide, has no communication of any kind whatsoever other than the Office of the President. Obviously, this situation in the 21st Century cannot be allowed to go on unattended to. 

Sir, there is an item that is shown under headquarters and it is on capital expenditure and it refers to Rural Telephone Installation and a figure of K260 million has been provided. I would like to be advised just what items this K260 million is supposed to cover. When could the rural constituencies or locations expect to have this satellite communication? I thought the promise by the President would have been an ideal way of dealing with this particular problem.

I also notice on the same page, no. 206 of the Yellow Book, that there is a provision for Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation (Fuel Levy) of K36 billion. A number of issues were raised when we were debating the Ministry of Works and Supply on roads and I do not want to go back to that. But I want to say that if the hon. Minister needs to explain the basis of distribution of this amount to different roads. I would like to know what formula is used because without maintenance, through the fuel levy, even the roads that are currently passable and in good condition will soon deteriorate. 

Mr Chairman, I want to commend the hon. Minister for taking steps to computerise the Road Traffic Commission. I notice that she has provided K2 billion for computerisation. She made a commitment when we were debating the Committee Report on Communications, Transport, Works and Supply end of last year that she was going to take practical steps. I wish we could have the same provisions for telecommunications, especially in the rural areas. 

Lastly, is the issue that some of the colleagues have alluded to and that is the use of railway line. When we were discussing the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development and, especially issues relating to the Copperbelt, a point was made on how much damage is caused to the roads on the Copperbelt because of the heavy trucks carrying ore that pass through the roads. The normal practice in the past has been that the railway lines have been used to move heavy loads such as copper ore between the mines. I would like the hon. Minister to please explain to us what steps Government is taking to ensure that heavy loads are put back on the railway line.

I thank you, Sir.

Mr Mushiba (Sesheke): Thank you, Mr Chairman, for giving me this opportunity to express my sentiments on this Vote.

Mr Chairman, my concern is on the state of the buses in this country. The majority of the buses are very risky in the sense that if you get into a bus, particularly those going to rural areas, they have no safety measures. I have actually experienced a situation where a bus caught fire. There is no way in which the bus crew can save the passengers because there is no minimum requirements for safety. I would like to ask the hon. Minister to put in place measures that will take care of the safety of the passengers as well.

The second point, Mr Chairman, is that the road signs in this country are highly depreciated. It probably explains why Princess Nakatindi Wina said that roadblocks in this country, now, are being done at random and in places which are not suitable because certain places are not supposed to have roadblocks because there are no road signs. So, probably, we can improve on this issue by putting up appropriate signs in proper places of the roads.

I am also concerned, Mr Chairman, about satellite receivers in this country. It looks like we have so many receivers in this country but there is no co-ordination as to which receiver is supposed to be transmitting to where. As a result, we are getting interference in certain areas in terms of telecommunications, more so on radio and television.

Lastly, I want to talk about the Livingstone/Sesheke Road which has severely been depleted. I hope the hon. Minister of Works and Supply, who promised to work on it, will not turn out to be rhetoric because this is a year of elections and definitely there is no way in which we can measure the Government’s output other than by fulfilling such promises.

Thank you, Sir.

Mr Muloji (Chavuma): Thank you, Mr Chairman.

Mr Chairman, I wish to congratulate the lady Minister in the Ministry of Communications and Transport for bringing sanity to road transport by ordering the painting of buses. She must go further to ensure that overcrowding which is so common in minibuses is also tackled and that the drivers respect road laws. 

Mr Chairman, I wish to come to a promise that was made in this House by her predecessors of setting up a regional satellite station for telephones in Chavuma. Up to today, nothing has been done. When I spoke to the Managing Director of ZAMTEL, all I was told was that they had made arrangements to bring in money. ITU had money but the Government’s share was not there. So, the hon. Minister must inform us when we are going to have the station built in my constituency.

The second point, Mr Chairman, is that so many contracts have been signed and so many rehabilitation projects have been talked about in Zambia Railways Limited. Unfortunately, it seems we always sign open-ended contracts which end up not improving the situation in the company. The Swedish who are manning the company were given a blank cheque. As a result, a lot of movable properties were sold out. I do not know whether the Government knows because even fixed properties were sold. I believe, right now, that there has been a mammoth retrenchment of staff at all levels. Some Zambian senior staff in ZR have been retrenched in preference to whites or expatriates. I do not see any logic in that. I urge the Government to always look at the type of contracts they enter into with our co-operating partners because I am sure at the end of it all, we may not reap what we desire by making concessions to the would-be investors.

I thank you, Sir.

Mr Shimonde (Mwembeshi): Thank you, Mr Chairman, for giving me this chance to contribute to the debate on this important Vote.

Mr Chairman, first of all, let me start with the National Roads Board. It is true it is collecting fuel levy but our Lusaka/Mumbwa/Mongu Road is not rehabilitated at all. Let there be equitable distribution of these funds so that our roads can be rehabilitated.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Shimonde: Mr Chairman, the National Road Safety Council and the Road Traffic Commission should work out a mechanism where they can be checking PSV drivers at random, especially the minibus and taxi drivers.

Mr Nyundu: Hear, hear!

Mr Shimonde: Some of them are not qualified at all but they are driving on our roads and accidents are caused because they allow their young brothers, kaponyas, to drive passengers around when the licensed drivers are somewhere else having a nice time. Let us have a random check up to see whether these people are actually qualified and let them wear Public Service Vehicles badges like before so that when you meet them, you will know that they are qualified passenger drivers. At the moment, they wear suits like me.


Mr Shimonde: Mr Chairman, the other point is that these minibus/taxi drivers stop anywhere they find a passenger. They do not care to look behind or indicate, they just stop and make a U-turn or cross the road. Please, let us have order on these roads. What is the role of the Road Traffic Commission together with the Road Safety Council? Let them take these people back to school and examine them for, at least, one year to make sure that they are qualified drivers to avoid accidents because our lives are in their hands.

For instance, the recent accident which happened in Kabwe at Mulungushi Bridge where the minibus failed to cross the bridge and killed people could have been avoided. That chap should be hanged if he is still alive.

Mr Nyundu: Get annoyed.

Mr Shimonde: I am getting annoyed, Sir.


Mr Shimonde: Mr Chairman, the other issue is that I do not think UTTA are wearing their uniforms. So, if we can improve on that. The buses are nicely painted and so, drivers should be smart. The uniforms can be in whatever colour so that we can distinguish drivers from other people.

The SADC licence, Sir, has faded because the rule is that we should carry them wherever we are. Now, the more I carry mine, the more it fades and on the road block they will say ...

Hon. Members: Lay it on the table.

Mr Shimonde: I will lay it on the table. 


Mr Shimonde: Can we make an improvement on the SADC licence because it is fading.

Sir, we have a problem of communicating with our people in the villages. I know that telecommunication has put some wheel telephones here and there but some areas are not considered at all ...

Mr Simasiku: Wheels?

Mr Shimonde: The wheel telephone.


Mr Shimonde: Mr Speaker said we can use whatever language as long as you understand the point.


Mr Shimonde: The wheel telephone system should be adequately distributed in the districts instead of selecting just a few places. We all want to communicate to our people. For example, I am here and if a chief or headman dies, I must be the first one to be informed. So, let us have this system in place starting from tomorrow, Hon. Bamayo.


Mr Shimonde: Sir, no money has been allocated in the rehabilitation of aerodromes. How are you going to detect a plane which is trying to violate our air space?

Mr Nyundu: They steal mandrax.

Mr Shimonde: They can come in and fly out. Days are gone during the Kaunda time when Smith used to come in here any time. We must be able to detect where a plane is. If you do not put money in these aerodromes, how are you going to know that your airspace has been violated in the night?

Mr Nyundu: Get annoyed, there are more to come.

Mr Shimonde: Yes, I am still coming mwana. On the Meteorological Department, the effect of El Niño is hitting us now, my farmhouse is submerged ...


Mr Shimonde: I have to get a canoe to get to my farm and the field is full of geese which we are slaughtering for lunch and supper. All this is because we were not informed in advance that this year, there will be heavy rains. We bought a lot of fertiliser and planted early enough but, now, it has gone into the rivers and the fish is feasting on our fertiliser, my maize is yellow in colour.


Mr Shimonde: We should have been informed on time to avoid such problems. We are crying because there will be hunger this year in this country. I hope the Office of the Vice-President has enough money for disaster management. Otherwise, we will have nothing in Mwembeshi.

Mr Chairman, on the need for a national carrier, we cannot afford to be seeing our own little kwacha and the dollar that we are earning going to these foreign airlines. 

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Shimonde: You liquidated Zambia Airways Corporation Limited, now, make another one so that we can earn foreign exchange and boost the tourism industry. Hon. Harrington needs the foreign exchange but he can only earn it if he has a national air carrier to pick up people from wherever they are and bring them to Zambia. Days are gone when we could be in Chicago, Minneapolis and did not know how to locate Lusaka but, through the help of the ZA office which was there, we were shown where Zambezi River, the Great Lakes and many other places were on the map. Sir, today, we are hiking on planes like ...


Mr Shimonde: We should have our own national air carrier where we will be proudly walking in and out.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear! Hammer!

Sir, the other point which I want to mention is the accommodation of the people that are collecting revenue for us in this country. I am in a Committee where we discovered that officers at the weigh bridge collecting money have no proper accommodation. Yet, these people are keeping millions of kwacha in a house and maybe, it is a rented one. I urge the ministry to find houses for the revenue collectors so that they can have good houses to avoid bribery, nichekeleko ...


Mr Shimonde: The ministry should make sure that these people are well paid and accommodated. Also, we need good border post offices.

Lastly, Sir, I want to talk about trucks which carry charcoal on our roads. These trucks are a menace on our roads, they smoke, have no reflectors and move very slowly in the night. If there is a break down, and if the car which is following such a truck is travelling at 180 KPH like my Mercedes Benz car because it is very fast, one may hit into that stationary truck.

So, I urge the hon. Minister of Communications and Transport to put a law in place so that these trucks can only move during day time.

I thank you, Sir.

Mr Hlazo (Mumbwa): Mr Chairman, I thank you. Since they are insisting that I must kuluma, kuluma.

Hon. Members: What is kuluma?


Mr Hlazo: Mr Chairman, first of all, I would like to congratulate the hon. Minister on ordering the painting of minibuses. At least, we are, now, able to identify our public transport buses.

Sir, I would like to appeal to the hon. Minister to try and extend the facility of cellular phones to the rural areas. We seem to have a problem with the land phones. I think we have been battling with the land phones for quite some time now. I think cellular phones are proving to be a much better system though Zambia is the most expensive in this region with regard to cellular phone service.

My other outcry, Mr Chairman, is that I have noticed that most of the motor vehicles seem to have the court of arms on their number plates.


Mr Hlazo: Well, as far as I am concerned, I have travelled, not using a Local Purchase Order (LPO), but using my own money, around the world. I have noticed that it is only in Zambia where number plates have a court of arms. In other countries, you only find the court of arms on the number plate of a President, but here you find that even taxis have them. I know we are going through what is called liberalisation, but I think there must be law and order. Please, hon. Minister, if you can, maybe, try and counter-check on that one. You will prove that I am right.

Sir, I would like to find out the criterion used in your ministry when issuing licences to the operators. We have noticed that we have some private individuals who have no aircraft but have licences. I do not know how possible that is. My colleague from Mwembeshi has pointed out on the issue of other airlines which have literally taken over the place of Zambia Airways Corporation Limited. The British Airways flies from Johannesburg in a Boeing 737 with an RSA registration, but it calls itself Zambian Airways. Madam Minister, can you kindly check on that one. Really, I think we have a lot of well trained pilots in this country who are doing nothing, they are out of jobs. If you could check on this issue, really, I think you will give us a lot of happiness to see our brothers and sisters who are out of jobs working for these airlines.

The other issue is on the Department of Civil Aviation. I have noticed that the Director of Civil Aviation is a ground engineer and his deputy is an aircraft controller, so, where do you fit in the pilots in these jobs?

I thank you, Sir.

The Minister of Communications and Transport (Professor Luo): Let me thank you, once again, Mr Chairman, for according me yet another opportunity to make a statement on the 2001 Estimates of Expenditure for my ministry.

Before I make specific comments, Mr Chairman, on the issues that have been raised by my hon. Colleagues, let me just share my ministry’s programme and our vision in the year 2001 and the years to come, as we continue to guide this country. My ministry, Mr Chairman, is responsible for formulating and administering policy in transport, communications and meteorological service. Technical functions of this ministry are carried out by each department and statutory bodies such as the Department of Road Transport, Civil Aviation, Meteorology, Maritime and Inland Water Ways, National Road Safety Council, Communications Authority, Government Communications Freight and the National Roads Board. In addition, my ministry co-ordinates sectors and activities that are national, regional and international as we are members of SADC and COMESA.

Mr Chairman, the role of communications and transport in the economic development of this nation cannot be over-emphasised. Communications and transport is a catalyst to any meaningful development in any country. This is the reason why the MMD Government gave priority to communications and transport and this is evidenced by some of the work that we have done, especially in the road construction and rehabilitation and maintenance of trunk, main, district and feeder roads.

Mr Chairman, let me share a little on the roads sub-sector. I would like to inform this august House that the Roadsip Phase II of the programme will be launched this year. Under this phase, a number of roads will be rehabilitated with more emphasis this year on feeder roads. In addition, construction of bridges, community roads and tourist roads will be undertaken. Training and capacity building, especially in road safety will be given top priority.

Mr Chairman, let me also talk about road transport which has attracted a lot of discussion this afternoon. When the MMD Government came into power, in 1991, the first step it took in the road transport industry was to liberate the sector, most of which, now, is private-sector driven, involving both small entrepreneurs and big entrepreneurs. Our role, therefore, as a ministry, remains that of regulating, ensuring safety of road users and improving the quality of the service being delivered. While we have managed, as a Government, to bring in so many buses for public transportation to fill the gap left by the defunct United Bus Company of Zambia, a lot needs to be done to rationalise and regulate the operations of the public road transport industry in order to bring sanity to this particular sector.

I want to share some of the concerns that we have, as a ministry, for which we have developed programmes. One is over-loading in our passenger transport, unroadworthiness of public service vehicles, harassment of commuters and lack of observation of traffic regulations by PSV drivers. 

With regard to freight transport, the major concern is over-loading by the truckers and this has serious implications for our road network. In order to reverse this trend, my ministry, in conjunction with the Ministry of Works and Supply, has set up a task force to prepare an action plan on axle load control. Other major problems in the road sector have been identified as lack of an institutional frame work, lack of human resources, inadequate funding and lack of enforcement of traffic regulations. The laws are there, it is just enforcement.

In order to address these problems, I am glad to inform this august House that my ministry has engaged a consultant who has revised the Road and Road Traffic Act Cap. 464 of the Laws of Zambia. The consultant has since submitted the first draft which my staff and other stakeholder ministries have studied and commented on.

The consultant is, now, in a process of incorporating commerce into the final draft. In addition to this revision of Cap. 464, my ministry has introduced what we call a callback system which compels public service operators to bring their vehicles for re-examination at any time in order to improve the quality of service of the travelling passengers.

During this time, we do not only inspect the vehicle, but also look at the PSV licences and badges of the drivers. We also talk to the operator of the vehicle to look at how he interacts with his drivers and also the source of his conductors. In collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs, my ministry has embarked on road traffic patrols aimed at enforcing traffic regulations. Furthermore, I would like to inform the House that the private sector is assisting my ministry in the provision of traffic signs and other road safety materials.

Mr Chairman, since the last Parliamentary Committee which raised concerns on the operations of the Road Traffic Commission, I wish to inform this House that my ministry will this year computerise the department throughout the country. This will reduce frauds and revenue leakage. To this effect, I am pleased that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has agreed to allocate K2 billion for this particular exercise.

In addition, my ministry shall continue to procure the necessary services and goods which will facilitate the enforcement of traffic regulations and ensure accountability of revenue. Just before the end of last year, we provided traffic gowns to all the road traffic policemen and I am sure that you have seen them in that outfit.

Mr Chairman, road safety will be given top priority in 2001. Zambia loses an average of 1,000 lives through road accidents and it is also estimated that road accidents in Zambia cost the country 2.3 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually. Costs include direct costs such as damage to the vehicles, policing, medical expenses and insurance costs.

In order to protect the lives of road users, the Government, through the Road Safety Council, shall make road safety engineering compulsory in the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of the roads. We shall introduce awareness of better road safety behaviour among road users through publicity and training, and improve the enforcement of traffic laws and regulations.

I would like to add that it is not only public transport drivers that flout regulations, even us, the public are doing so and maybe, my hon. Colleagues may also check if they are among that list.

Mr Chairman, I will, now, move to the Department of Civil Aviation. The infrastructure at all airports, including provincial and district aerodromes are truly in a dilapidated state and require urgent attention. In addition, most of them lack basic equipment such as fire tender, rescue and communication systems thereby causing danger to the traveling passengers. 

However, Mr Chairman, my ministry is committed to ensuring that the country’s air transport infrastructure is in a serviceable condition. My ministry, through the Department of Civil Aviation, is encouraging private sector participation in the development of these airports and aerodromes countrywide, especially in provincial and district airports where there is a lot of tourism potential. As a matter of policy we intend to scale-up preventive maintenance as we have recognised that the deterioration of the infrastructure in the aviation sector has been due to the fact that we have not done much in this area. 

In this regard, unlike what Hon. Shimonde said, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has agreed to allocate K5.3 billion towards this exercise. So, he may wish to read his book once again. Other challenges are that we equip our airports with modern communications system, safety equipment and ground handling facilities. This has started with the rehabilitation and upgrading of the terminal buildings both at Lusaka International Airport and Livingstone. In addition, my ministry has commenced a programme of procuring fire tenders and so far, fire tenders have been delivered to Mansa Airport and Chipata Airport.

I am grateful to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for agreeing in this year’s budget to make more funds available for this exercise. As regards air transport services, these are, now, private sector driven with a number of privately owned Zambian airlines taking up domestic, regional and lately even intercontinental routes. Zambian owned airlines are being encouraged to go into partnership with other airlines to make them more competitive on the market.

As you are aware, Mr Chairman, rail transport forms the back bone of our economy. As far as carriage of bulk cargo is concerned, rail transport is the best alternative. The current practice is that bulk cargo is being carried on the roads because of deterioration in the rail infrastructure over the years due to lack of re-capitalisation. In order to address this trend, cabinet approved concessioning Zambian Railways Limited in order to attract private investment.

Mr Chairman, I wish to inform this august House that the concession process is progressing well and biding documents have been prepared. In order to oversee the concession process and ensure regulatory and safety standards, my ministry is reactivating the position of Government inspector of the railways.

With regard to the Tanzania Zambia Railways Authority (TAZARA) a study to improve the operations of the rail line has been concluded by Chinese experts and it is awaiting our study and comments.

Maritime and Inland Water Ways have a vital role to play, especially in those areas that are inaccessible by other modes of transportation and only accessible by water. It has an inherent advantage that services can be operated wherever navigable water is available without requiring huge investment. Sustainable investment would be required for the improvement and maintenance of navigable rivers, canals and channels and development of terminal facilities such as harbours.

However, the performance of the sub-sector has been constrained by lack of appropriate equipment to carry out major rehabilitation of existing water transport infrastructure. This year, Government intends to embark on a canal improvement programme which will make most of the infrastructure navigable, undertake major rehabilitation of the existing ports and harbours which I am hopeful will spearhead economic enhancement in the local communities.

In order to enhance safety, the Government intends to procure equipment such as rescue boats and radio telecommunication systems. In addition, the Government shall ensure communication regulations on lakes and rivers are adhered to by water transport operators to avoid accidents.

Since the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector, a number of private companies have come up to improve various services competitively. The role of Government shall remain that of regulator to ensure quality services and a level playing field in the industry. 

Similarly, in the postal services sub-sector, competition has been enhanced, particularly in courier services. The Zambia Postal Service Corporation has implemented strategies such as leasing out all loss making post offices as well as excess space and performing certain functions on urgency basis.

However, I would like to inform this august House that my ministry will, once again, give priority to postal services. We shall study the operations as they are obtaining, now, and see how best to improve these services.

Mr Chairman, meteorology plays a crucial role in provision of services to all sectors in the economy. It provides climatic data to sectors such as air transport, shipping, agriculture, food security and others agro-based industries, tourism, construction, environment, health and early warning systems. It, therefore, contributes immensely to the general social and economic welfare of our community.

However, the operations of the department have been hampered by lack of modern equipment resulting in inaccurate weather forecasts and reports. Most of the equipment in the department are obsolete. In this year’s budget, I am pleased that the Government has provided K3.6 billion to modernise operations of this department.

Mr Chairman, may I conclude by thanking the hon. Members of Parliament for their constructive debate, support and advice that they have given to our ministry.

In response to specific issues, I wish to start with Hon. Chipili who talked about harmonising the National Roads Board and mentioned the Fuel Levy coming late to the National Roads Board and the fact that we need only to have one department that looks after issues of roads. I want to inform this august House of the way the road programme works in Zambia. The National Roads Board has a specific function, that of road rehabilitation. There is a council of ministers which constitute the Ministers of Communications and Transport, as Chair, Works and Supply, Energy and Water Development, Local Government and Housing and Finance and Economic Development. We hope this year to add the Ministers of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries and Tourism. These ministries sit together and decide on the road programme of this country.

Hon. Government Member: Hear, hear!

Professor Luo: The Ministry of Works and Supply implements all the programmes related to trunk roads and the Ministry of Local Government and Housing deals with local and feeder roads. The distribution of money for rehabilitation is done from the National Roads Board. So, I am confident that the current structure is good enough for us to be able to develop a good programme on roads.

In relation to water transport, I want to share the fact that we just completed a study on water transport in Zambia. It has been brought to my attention that most of the people who need this transport cannot, in fact, afford it. The study that was done on Lake Bangweulu showed that most of the people could only afford K5,000 and yet, the cost of running that ferry from Samfya to Chilubi Island far supersedes the number of passengers who contribute to this particular ferry. So, my ministry is, again, re-examining this transport to see what type of vessels we can use that can meet the poverty levels of our people but also be able to run the services.

I do not see any relationship, Hon. Chipili, of cargo in Dar-es-Salaam and water transport because we haul cargo from Dar-es-Salaam through TAZARA. There is no water connection from the Port of Dar-es-Salaam into Zambia. What is connected is the Great Lakes Region through the Lake Tanganyika and I think that it is one of the ports that are receiving attention. We, now, have private sector participation and work is progressing well in Mpulungu.

On railway transport I want to agree with you that there has been dwindling of cargo on Zambia Railways Limited because of the fact that we do not have enough wagons. We also have suffered a lot of derailments, and for this reason, we decided to concession Zambia Railways Limited so that it is re-capitalised and the truck over-hauled and rehabilitated.

In terms of management, the Zambian Government through the Board, also did realise that there was a deficiency in the management of the company. I think you have been made aware, through the Press, that we relieved the managing director and some of his staff of their duties because we did not think they should continue in their positions. We have had a new managing director just in the last few months. We will watch him very closely and make sure that he performs. If he does not, we will make the same decision.

On TAZARA, it is not true that because the office is on the other side, things do not work properly, ...

Mr Hachipuka interjected.

Professor Luo: Well, we also fired you for mismanagement.


Professor Luo: The decisions for TAZARA are made through the Board and we inter-change in terms of meetings, one time we meet in Zambia the other in Tanzania. I think what we should be talking about are negotiation skills so that we can negotiate from the Zambian side what we think is good for us. It has nothing to do with the location of the office.

Secondly, TAZARA suffers re-capitalisation and that is the reason why we had to get a consultant to study TAZARA and advise us on how best we can run this service in a profitable manner and also give quality service to our people.

Hon. Member: Hear, hear! {mospagebreak}

Professor Luo: Princess Nakatindi Wina talked about roadblocks. This has been brought to my attention elsewhere, and the Minister of Home Affairs and I are working on modalities of reducing roadblocks, even charging them with new responsibilities, if they have to exist, so that they look for the right things instead of just standing there and not looking for defects in cars.

Mulobezi Railway Line is receiving attention, very soon we shall be commissioning a study to look at how best to deal with the company. Our strategic plan is to link Mulobezi Rail to Walvis Bay so that even the agricultural products and timber that are being produced by our people in Mulobezi can also have an outlet to the ocean for exports.

In relation to the Lusaka/Mongu Road and the Sesheke Road, my colleague, Hon. Mandandi, yesterday, dealt with this adequately but I want to say that the Sesheke Road will be done and contracts have been awarded. The Lusaka/Mongu Road has been adopted by DANIDA and will be done this year.

Mr Shimonde: Hear, hear!

Professor Luo: Hon. Kalenga talked about the buses being in MMD colours, I just want to tell the august House that then MMD must be really great because if you stood outside and looked at the sky it is also blue and white, so it means MMD is in the sky.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Professor Luo: I think the reason for choosing blue and white is that they are beautiful colours and are adding beauty to the city.

Mr Kayope: Hear, hear!

Professor Luo: Sir, flouting of regulations is receiving attention. The hon. Minister of Local Government and Housing and I have been talking about the issue of bus stops and I think soon we will have a programme which may help us regulate how the bus drivers and other users of roads behave on the road.

There has been work that has been done about satellite television between my ministry and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting regarding this and I think this year this project will be done. The budget for this is not appearing under my ministry but under the relevant Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services.

Hon. Matutu, I would like to ask you first of all to apologise for calling me a ‘he’ because I am a ‘she’.


Mr Matutu: My apologies my sister!

Professor Luo: This House does not allow women to come in trousers so I am in my skirt.


Professor Luo: Anyway, you were a Deputy Minister in this ministry and I wish you had taken up some of the issues that you were talking about but I will answer you.

Mr Matutu: I did!

Professor Luo: The Meteorological Department is receiving attention this year. The money that has been allocated may not be enough, but as you know we also talked to other partners to supplement the allocation. To this effect, we have been speaking to our colleagues in Geneva and they have promised that as soon as we write the projects, they will contribute to the rehabilitation and equipping of the meteorological services.

Sir, there are people who are interested in working with us on Ndola Airport and we have just finished writing the project as to what Ndola Airport should look like, and we will soon commission architects to also put up a drawing of what the airport must look like.

The Road Safety Council had been working very closely with the private companies and I am sure some of you have already seen that when you drive on our roads, there are some road signs and also areas are being identified. If you drive to Fairview, you will see a poster that you are, now, in Fairview and so, this is how we intend to approach road signs and traffic signs.

Mr Chairman, on air travel, I could not agree with the Member more that it has become very expensive and our ministry has received complaints which we have sent to the Zambia Competition Commission to really look at the complaints which the people have put to us. I cannot believe that to fly from South Africa to London costs US$500 and to fly between Lusaka and South Africa for one and half hours would cost almost the same amount although the best way to deal with this is to increase competition. Sir, because of monopolies that are existing, now, with very few airlines from Lusaka into London, fares are up and my ministry is actively looking at this.

Mr Chairman, on information technology, Hon. Sichinga is not here but I would like to inform this House that the ministry has written up a project proposal on Information Technology and on how ministries will be linked to each other and this has been tabled to the Japanese Government who have in principle said that this is the project they are interested in. So, Sir, it will have a training component so that our people are trained in Information Technology. There will be computerisation and inter-connectivity. 

Mr Chairman, the reason why there is no specific programme in the Budget for telecommunications is because we have a body in the name of Zamtel which is charged with the responsibility for telecommunications and our ministry continues to work with them to ensure that they deal with the requirements of the country. We also have just concluded discussions with China to start looking at rural telephone and the two provinces that have been earmarked for this year are Eastern and Southern provinces.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Professor Luo: He asked what the budget that has been put at K260,000,000 at the Headquarters is for. This is for inspections so that those people who are in the telephone industry can be monitored in case they are doing other things which are different from what they applied for in their licence.

Mr Chairman, Hon. Mushiba talked about buses; that they are risky and have no safety measures. I talked about the recall system. One of the things we look for in the recall system are safety gadgets. We have also added that they should also carry a dust bin in addition to other safety equipment that is required to be on public transport. On road signs, I have already answered. On the satellite receivers, I do not think we have that many. The interference is because of different reasons and Zamtel is attending to that. The explanation they gave me is that sometimes the wires touch and, therefore, you get interference.

Mr Chairman, I have already answered the question on Sesheke Road. Hon. Muloji talked about over-crowding on our buses. We are attending to that as well in conjunction with the Ministry of Home Affairs. I will look at the promise of setting up a regional satellite station to see what the problems are.

Mr Chairman, on the retrenchments and selling of assets, I wish to inform this august House that, in fact, we have been very concerned and as a result, we stopped the sale of assets and instead asked for an inventory to be done and we have restructured how these assets will be sold. For example, land is going to revert to the Ministry of Lands because they are the best people to sell and distribute land.

The Chairman: Order!

Business was suspended from 1615 hours until 1630 hours.

Professor Luo: Mr Chairman, when business was suspended, I was just replying to the submission by Hon. Shimonde on equity and the formula that is used to allocate roads.

Mr Chairman, if you look at the development of other countries, there is no formula that is used in terms of allocating roads. I think the most important thing that is taken into consideration is the strategic nature of a particular road and we have been working on looking at strategic roads first and we have put a programme for next year’s rehabilitation and maintenance of roads. I just want to assure Hon. Shimonde that the road he referred to, the Lusaka/Mumbwa/Mongu Road has been adopted by DANIDA and work will start soon.

Mr Chairman, in relation to wearing of PSV badges, this is a requirement and it just requires reinforcement and I want to promise this House that this will be dealt with and given top priority.

The Road Safety Council and the Road Traffic Commission are, now, working very closely to ensure that everybody abides by the rules on the road. Again, I just want to promise this august House that you will see a change in the behaviour of operators and transport owners on the roads because we have put up a very aggressive programme this year to ensure that. What I will need is the support of my colleagues because when people come to clash with us, then you also join in and say, yes. But I think we need to support each other because some of these changes are very painful to our people.

Mr Chairman, on rural telephone, this is something we have been dealing with with Zambia Telecommunications Services and as I said earlier, we have already worked on the programme for two of the provinces and the other provinces will benefit at a later date.

Mr Chairman, on civil aviation, again, aerodromes will be receiving attention this year and I dealt with that in my policy statement and I just want to assure this House that the ministry has been working on a programme for the past six months because we had seen the need to improve our airports and aerodromes. Recently, the President had to welcome me to Mansa as ‘Minister of Grass at the Airport’ because of the state in which Mansa Airport was and I was very embarrassed and I do not want to go through that embarrassment again.

Mr Chairman, the Meteorological Department is receiving attention in this year’s Budget but we have also budgeted for some money elsewhere to improve. In relation to the national carrier, I did not put it in my paper because of the level of discussion that we have reached with various stakeholders but I want to promise this august House that, God-willing, we will have a  flag carrier for Zambia.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Professor Luo: In relation to drivers’ uniforms, not all drivers belong to UTTA but I want to say that all drivers who will be involved in public transport will, by law, be required to wear uniforms.

As regards licences, we are aware that the licence that is available, at the moment, is probably giving problems and the Department of Road Traffic Commission has been looking at the best way to deal with this. Our problem has not really been the licence itself but the laminators. So, we intend to improve on these laminators.

With regard to charcoal trucks, though I do not think it is only charcoal trucks, it is all trucks, they have been a source of accidents. We are looking at the law which bars trucks from travelling on the roads after 1900 hours and we want to improve on that and amend it so that trucks can pack at a certain time. We will be bringing a Bill to Parliament.

Mr Chairman, on extending cellular phones to rural areas, I am not sure that it is something that is viable at the moment but it is something that we can look at because these are in the hands of the private owners. I think we want to improve on land phones in rural areas. 

Sir, I am aware, as a minister, that our telephones are very expensive. We have been discussing with the operators and I hope we will come up with some decision soon.

Mr Chairman, I am aware that there have been people who have not had aircraft but have had air service permits. To this effect, we had a meeting with all the operators and I made it very clear to them that nobody who does not own an aircraft will have a permit. We have streamlined the requests and when I approve these permits, I do not sit alone. I make sure the Director for the Department of Civil Aviation is present and we go through each permit and they show me which aircraft they have. So, nobody, now, will have a permit. We have also increased the cost of transferring licences. So, if anybody gets a licence and think they can transfer it to somebody else, the cost, now, is going to be very high.

Sir, the last point was about the Director of the Department of Civil Aviation. The current Director of the Department of Civil Aviation is not a substantive director. He is acting because we were offered a position as a country in Canada, which was good for us. So, the previous director has gone to Canada. We have an acting director who is an engineer but usually, Directors of Civil Aviation are Aeronautic Engineers and when somebody studies Aeronautic Engineering, they have the know-how of the different sectors like piloting, engineering and so on. We will advertise this position at a later date to get the appropriate candidate.

I thank you, Mr Chairman.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Vote 51/01 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 51/02 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 51/03 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 51/04 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 51/06 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

VOTE 65/01 - (Ministry of Science, Technology and Vocational Training - Headquarters - K26,209,003,393)

Mr Ngulube (Lundazi): Mr Chairman, I wish to thank you for giving me this chance to add my voice to this Vote.

Sir, the Vote has so much for this country, but I wish to put it on record that the National Scientific Research is not advising the ministry correctly.

I am saying so because Zambia regionally has a lot of produce which can bring in a lot of money be it in forex or local currency. For example, Sir, in Northern and Luapula provinces, there is a lot of cassava grown there. When Hon. Kavindele was the Minister in this ministry, we even tasted biscuits made out of cassava meal here at Parliament. This was a very good advancement in science and technology.

In North Western Province, there are pineapple and honey which can bring in a lot of foreign exchange.

In Eastern Province, there are a lot of groundnuts which can be made into peanut butter and peanuts which can also bring in a lot of forex.

In Southern Province, we have a lot of cattle for canned beef but where is our science and technology? Why can the ministry not start manufacturing these small machines which will make peanut butter, juice squizzers so that we earn foreign exchange.

Dr Pule interjected.

Mr Ngulube: You are a real capitalist - Dunamis Fire Impact!


Mr Ngulube: Mr Chairman, we are losing a lot of money because our men are not doing enough in sensitising the people of Zambia and in advising the Government so that certain simple machines can be made out of the technology which our men have acquired at the universities and so on. Let this ministry work hand in hand with the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry. They should be given a lot of money because this will also provide employment to our young men and women. Each province should have some small factories which will support the national economy and let them do more research and the Government should fund these projects.

Thank you, Sir.

Mr Musakabantu (Nominated): Mr Chairman, the essential difference between the rich north and the poor south is technology. Now, this country has had a misfortune of training engineers upon engineers without paying attention to technicians. I think this is a serious omission and ought to be corrected.

Mr Chairman, this is the ministry which I think should encourage training manpower in technology because at the moment, practically, every sector that is productive in this country depends heavily on machinery which is imported. Sometimes, I find it extremely embarrassing that we have to import a pair of scissors, spade, and so on which can actually be manufactured here. We have to import simple ox-drawn harrows and ploughs. As if we have no bulls here, you have to get bulls from somewhere in order for you to continue the breeding programme. Where are the people who are supposed to harnesses industry? There are lots of things that can be manufactured locally for the agriculture industry. We want technicians that are locally trained to design irrigation pumps for our villagers to produce all year round. We need small industries.

When you look at India, it is better than us. The only reason why India is better than us is that she has concentrated on small scale industries. She has a weakness for this sector. The Government designs policies that encourage lending to small scale industries. It encourages training in technology. Sir, India invests in what it can afford although it is simple.

I once had a privilege of attending India’s National Day, Sir. I will not go into details of matters of security. However, what I saw impressed me to the extent that I could see the whole Indian technology in armed forces. Simple bicycles designed for soldiers, policemen and policewomen to run around.

My appeal to the hon. Minister, who is energetic, educated at the University of Makerere in Uganda - those days when Makerere was a powerful university - is that he still has the energy to come up with policies that will encourage the growth of technology.

Hon. Members: He has no energy because he is newly married.


Mr Musakabantu: I understand he is newly married. So, that should add to his energy.


Mr Musakabantu: I think we are spending a lot of money on importing technology and I would like to say that it is possible for us not to import technology. The only difficulty we have is that we do not seem to have the right talking shop where we can assist those that want to train in technology. If this country is going to have a say in world affairs, it must invest in science and technology. If we do not do that, we shall always be followers and shall never lead.

Thank you, Sir.

Mr Sinyangwe (Chifubu): Sir, thank you for this chance to debate. I would like to urge the ministry to set up trades training institutes in constituencies so as to cater for our young men and women who are not able to get school places in higher learning institutions.

Mr Chairman,  there was a provision for putting up trades training institutes in the Yellow Book last year, but there is nothing this year. These young men and women need to be empowered so that they are taught some skills as you know, jobs are, now, scarce. My constituency has ten primary schools with no secondary school. So, the number of school dropouts is very high.

Mr Chairman, I have just observed that Ndola Polytechnic School which last year was given K20 million has been given the same amount. I do not think it will match their needs this year.

In Ndola, we have Northern Technical College. The new investors, who have bought our parastatals, must be encouraged to make use of these colleges instead of sending their employees out of the country for training. 

With these few remarks, I thank you, Sir.

Mr Chipili: Mr Chairman, I stand to support the Ministry of Science, Technology and Vocational Training. 

Mr Chairman, this is a very important ministry in that without science and technology, you cannot develop in any form. You would be static. In supporting them, I would like them to take full account and stock of all the existing colleges and training centres where they have established boards. These boards are supposed to work for and on behalf of Government and for the parents who take the children to the schools. 

There are boards which receive grants from the Government and hike fees from K146,000 to K675,000 for one short course, say a pharmaceutical course. These hikes are not working in the best interest of the Zambian people or this Government. We are approving estimates here. Management boards will receive grants and then increase fees by 500 or 600 per cent. Has the Government abrogated its responsibility to look after and train the Zambian children or what? Definitely, not. So, the hon. Minister has to counter check what is going on in these boards. I understand that the Government policy is that we should share costs not transferring the entire responsibility to the parents. We should look at their pay slips. How much do they get? Even us seated here, how much do we get?

Miss Phiri: K100.

Mr Chipili: So, you cannot have fees which are unattainable like the ones that are pertaining, now, at Evelyn Hone College. That is unacceptable. Government has a responsibility and it must fully exercise its responsibility. The college has been run down, fine. But years of neglect have caused the college to be run down. It has not been run down by the students or parents who are being punished. If it is an increase, it must be a gradual increase which can be affordable. This is a Christian nation. We want the hon. Deputy Minister, who is also a staunch Christian at Dunamis to, please, listen to this cry. People are crying out there. We cannot afford the fees.

With these few remarks, I thank you, Sir.

Mr Hachipuka (Mbabala): Thank you, Mr Chairman, for giving me this opportunity to contribute to the debate on this Vote.

I would like, to register my support for this Vote. Before I go very far, I would like to congratulate the hon. Minister responsible for the ministry, Hon. Kayope, and also to remind him now that he is a full Cabinet Minister that he should not forget that fifteen of his best years were spent in Southern Province and it is high time he started paying back.


Mr Hachipuka: He should not count himself as not from Southern Province.


Mr Hachipuka: Mr Chairman, on a serious note, I would like to articulate here and point out this that the basis of our education, the basics, and the technocrats in our midst have faded away. Even in primary and secondary schools, the imparting of skills to pupils has diminished over the years in comparison to when we went to school ourselves. I would like to urge the ministry to seriously take steps, even if at primary and secondary levels skills imparting has been diminished. I would like to appeal to him that he should look at the colleges which should be able to produce carpenters, electricians and so forth.

 No country can develop without those basic skills. No country can develop in the midst of such high technology. As of now, if your television breaks down, you would have to throw it away. As of now, if your cellular breaks down, you have to throw it away because this country has neglected the imparting of skills to our students; something that is vital for our development. No country can live on imported skills alone, particularly at artisan level. Even our own rules and regulations and even our own labour laws prohibit the importation of skills at artisan level and yet, these rules and regulations have not been visited and we have ended up with a vacuum at those levels. 

I would like to, once again, Mr Chairman, urge that we should produce and look at the imparting of skills very seriously.

Thank you, Sir.

The Minister of Science, Technology and Vocational Training (Mr Kayope): I would like to thank you, Mr Chairman, for affording me this opportunity to contribute to my ministry’s Estimates of Expenditure for the year 2001. 

May I take advantage of this occasion to express my own honest and sincere gratitude and appreciation to the President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba, for according me the chance to modestly but faithfully serve the Zambian people in the elevated position of Minister of Science, Technology and Vocational Training.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Kayope: I am humbled by this renewed confidence. I am on my part fully conscious of the immense challenges ahead of me. I am grateful to all hon. Members of Parliament who have congratulated me upon my appointment and wished me every success in my work. I say to you, my brothers and sisters, that I am at your service in our collective endeavour to transform the land of our forefathers through the policies and programmes enunciated by the MMD and its Government. 

Allow me, now, Mr Chairman, to begin by thanking all the hon. Members of the House for the support they gave me and my ministry during the debate on the Estimates of Expenditure at the dawn of the new millennium. I am quite grateful for the support and I want to assure you that what you have voted to my ministry will be put to good use.

Mr Chairman, my ministry is tasked with providing skills to all the peoples of Zambia so that they are technically competent on one hand and on the other maximising the benefits of research, science and technology so that all of us, our children and the children of their children can enjoy a higher standard of living. Of the K27 billion granted to my ministry in the previous Budget, K8 billion was donor supported and the rest was Government appropriation. This year, therefore, there has been an improvement in that the grant to the ministry has been raised to K34 billion of which donor component is at K7.2 billion. Let me give you a breakdown of how we intend to use these funds at the ministry headquarters and the two sectors under my ministry, science, technology and research on one hand and vocational and technical education on the other.

Ministry Headquarters

As you are aware, the ministry is going through a restructuring process. The idea is to devolve power to autonomous bodies that execute the ministry’s programmes. The ministry will retain the function of policy formulation and monitoring. It will continue to pay grants to all institutions in the science and technology and training sectors.

Vocational, Educational and Training

Although it is often said that the need to invest in training cannot be overemphasised, training like education is one of the weapons that we have at our disposal to face the future with confidence. The amount we invest in training is to some extent a measure of what importance you attach to national development.

Mr Chairman, there is a Chinese epigram that goes like this:

    ‘If you are thinking one year ahead, sow seed.
    If you are thinking ten years ahead, plant a tree.
    If you are thinking of a hundred years ahead, educate and train people.’

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Kayope: Our eyes are cast beyond the horizon ahead of us. At the same time, we are taking stock of the under-funding to the training sector. In order to resuscitate vocational training, vast amounts of money will be required. Buildings will have to be either rehabilitated or constructed if we are to absorb the thousands of school leavers who have not ceased to knock at our doors. The existing institutions will need appropriate equipment and training materials to ensure that those that are in the system receive decent training. Changing technologies have, to some extent, made the training of our lecturers acquired in the seventies or eighties obsolete. We shall need vast amounts of money which the Government alone will find it very difficult to raise. Even the economic fees that users may be requested to put in will be only a far cry from the billions of kwacha the sector requires.

Mr Chairman, in the ten years the MMD Government has been in power, it has tried its best to ameliorate these deficiencies, however, some more issues still remain to be addressed in order to create a viable training system. The problem of poor management is being addressed through the creation of Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority (TEVETA) and Institutional Management Boards. These are autonomous body corporates to be managed by highly skilled manpower.

It is, now, desired to redress the run-down infrastructure. For the purpose, the Government has put in place the TEVET development programme for the period 2001 to 2005. The programme has the following investment components:-

    (i)    Improvement of training systems, trade testing and examinations;

    (ii)    Entrepreneurship development and informal sector training;

    (iii)    Infrastructure, books, tools and materials;

    (iv)    Development of TEVET human resources;

    (v)    Management information systems;

    (vi)    Organisation and management of TEVET;

    (vii)    Cross cutting issues (such as HIV/AIDS) and gender;

    (viii)    Management of TEVET development programmes; and

    (ix)    TEVET financing.

Although the TEVET development programme will be driven by Government, through the ministry responsible for science, technology and vocational training, it will be implemented with full participation of stakeholders in Government, industry, trade and commerce.

Government is in the process of establishing a TEVET fund which will be used to finance the TEVET development programme and the recurrent costs of the TEVET system. It is important, hon. Members, that employers (as beneficiaries of the TEVET programmes) join Government and donors in contributing to the fund.

Mr Chairman, these humble initiatives and interventions should go a long way in addressing issues of employability among the people of Zambia and ensure that our country has the capacity to cope with the technology and has the skill-base necessary for keeping abreast of globalisation and above all, regionalisation.

Mr Chairman, I am happy to report that an appraisal has just been conducted by the World Bank and donors in the sectors such that we should be getting the results soon.

The whole programme is estimated at US$89 million over the next five years. Government input during the first year is in the region of K16 billion. This includes the institutional grants under the ministry.

Science and Technology

The thrust in science and technology during the year, Mr Chairman, has been setting up structures that will rejuvenate research and science promotion. The department at the ministry headquarters will still continue with policy monitoring. It will also, in conjunction with relevant stakeholders, promote science education in both the education and training sectors. 

The ministry in the sub-sector of science and technology has an ambitious programme ahead of it. There are three basic programmes on the cards.

The first of these is the physical establishment of the National Technology Business Centre (NTBC) whose legal framework is already in place through the 1999 Statutory Instrument No. 136. The centre will broker technology developed by scientists and companies to investors in the commercial sector. This way the NTBC will facilitate technology transfer between developers and users.

Secondly, the ministry is laying the ground work to access satellite imaging through remote sensing technology. The applications of this technology are numerous. Among the many that will be of benefit are those in agriculture, town and country planning, environmental and water resources management and even wildlife management. Towards harnessing these modern technology, a remote sensing centre that will be responsible for the co-ordination and promotion of remote sensing activities in the country will soon be established.

Lastly, it is desired in 2001 to go beyond paying lip service to the promotion of indigenous knowledge and technologies by documenting the knowledge and technologies.

It has been observed that one of the cases of rural poverty has been the abandonment of the inherited wisdom. At the end of this exercise, strategies will be developed to make indigenous knowledge and technologies easily accessible and if need be, commercialise some of this indigenous knowledge. It is hoped that closer links will be developed between natural and social scientists, on one hand, and the communities in rural areas on the other.

Mr Chairman, I have already alluded to the National Science and Technology Council above. This body continues to draw its funding only from my ministry when, in actual fact, it cuts across all research institutions irrespective of which ministry they fall under. 

Mr Chairman, the NSTC has, so far, concluded a Statutory Instrument for bringing the National Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research (NISIR) under its umbrella. However, by the end of this year, it is hoped that the research institutions in the country will come under its control so that national research institutions can be more focused and achieve higher rates of return through unity.

In conclusion, Mr Chairman, our 2000 Budget was a seed that we all planted together in January last year. If it must grow and bear fruit, it must be nurtured by all of us, both in and outside this august House. Training will have to be provided on a cost-sharing basis so that all those who benefit from it contribute something to its provision. Research too will have to be adequately funded if we must keep our competitiveness, if not in the world, at least, in the SADC region. Although the sector has a lot of potential to generate its own resources, it needs money to kick-start it.

Let us look beyond the tree to the hundred years when we shall not only service foreign technologies, but even export, as the hon. Members said, our own proudly stamped products ‘made in Zambia’.

Allow me now, Mr Chairman, to address some of the concerns raised on the Floor of the House by hon. Members. The hon. Member for Lundazi suggested that the National Council for Scientific Research - the name has changed following the law that we passed. Yes, the National Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research has a mandate to generate technologies in food processing. However, over the years, the NISIR has not been adequately funded to carry out the work in generating technology. The NISIR is only receiving funds only enough to pay salaries. I do pray that hon. Members will give us the necessary support so that we can have sufficient resources to enable us venture more into this.

It has also been suggested by Hon. Musakabantu that training of technicians for the manufacture of implements and agro-equipment has not been embarked on by the Government. The policy for encouraging technical education is already in place as I have already stated in my statement. The Government issued the TEVET policy in 1996. The problem has been lack of adequate resources for technician education. For this reason, the ministry has proposed a TEVET development programme to start during the course of this year.

The hon. Member for Chifubu as well as the hon. Member for Kamfinsa, did, of course, suggest that we set up trade institutes in the constituencies. There is no provision in the Yellow Book this year for that. There is, of course, appreciation by the Government that there is need to establish more trade institutes if funds permit. The 2001 funding has a provision for on-going construction in Mongu, Chipata and Solwezi.

May I acknowledge the compliments by the hon. Member for Mbabala. It is very correct that the people of the Southern Province did look after me very well, indeed, and I had acknowledged that fact in my maiden speech of December, 1991. 

Thank you very much, Sir.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Vote 65/01 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 65/04 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.

Vote 65/05 ordered to stand part of Estimates.

Vote 65/06 ordered to stand part of Estimates.

The Chairman: The Ministry of Tourism is not ready, so, we move on to the Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development.

Hon. Members: He is not in the House.

The Chairman: In that case, I will, hurriedly, as we have no other business to deal with, hon. Members, ask Mr Speaker to come in.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear, Nkoloko ya lala!


[MR SPEAKER in the Chair]

(Progress reported)



The Vice-President (Lieutenant-General Tembo): Mr Speaker, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn.

The House adjourned at 1730 hours until 1430 hours on Thursday, 22nd February, 2001.