Tuesday, 14th March, 2017

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Tuesday, 14th March, 2017


The House met at 1430 hours


[MR SPEAKER in the Chair]










Mr Speaker: Hon Members, I have a ruling to render.


Hon. Members will recall that on Friday, 16th December, 2016, when the House was considering Question for Oral Answer No. 57 on the Order Paper, and the hon. Member of Parliament for Kanchibiya Parliamentary Constituency, Dr M. Malama, MP, was asking a supplementary question, Hon. Dr C. Kambwili, Member of Parliament for Roan Parliamentary Constituency raised a Point of Order.


In the Point of Order, Hon. Dr Kambwili, MP, referred to an article published by the Daily Nation Newspaper of Friday, 16th December 2016, in which it was reported, among other things, that he had threatened to beat up the Minister for Copperbelt Province, Hon. B. Lusambo, MP, but that he was restrained and then he walked out of the House. Hon. Dr Kambwili, MP, alleged that the article did not correctly report what transpired in the House. In this regard, Hon. Dr Kambwili, MP, asked whether the Chief Whip, Hon. R. Musukwa, MP, was in order not to cite the Daily Nation newspaper for contempt of the House for misrepresenting facts on what transpired in the House on 15th December, 2016, and also, for not referring the matter to the Committee on Privileges, Absences and Support Services.


In my response, I reserved my ruling to a later date. I have since studied the matter and will now render my ruling.


Hon. Members will recall that the Point of Order arose from events in the House on 15th December 2016, when Hon. Dr Kambwili, MP, was debating the Vote for the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.


Hon. Members, I had recourse to the full article by the Daily Nation newspaper and the verbatim record of the House on Hon. Dr Kambwili’s debate. A careful study of the two documents raised the following issues:


  1. members making running commentaries during debate in the House;


  1. language of debate in the House; and


  1. constitutional right of the Public to comment on proceedings of the House and the manner of commenting.


Hon. Members, I will guide the House and the nation at large, on the three issues before l can rule on whether the Chief Whip was in order not to cite the Daily Nation newspaper for contempt of the House and for not referring the matter to the Committee on Privileges, Absences and Support Services.


  1. Members making Running Commentaries during Debate in the House

As I mentioned earlier, the Point of Order arose from events in the House on 15th December, 2016, when Hon. Dr Kambwili, MP, was debating the Vote for the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources. During his debate, Hon. Dr Kambwili, MP, was urging the Government to put in place appropriate systems for land administration in order to curb, among other things, the rampant illegal land allocation by civil servants and political cadres. The House will recall and, indeed, the verbatim record shows that during Hon. Dr Kambwili’s debate, there were several running commentaries from both sides of the House. In particular, the verbatim record shows that as Hon. Dr Kambwili, MP, was debating, the Minister for Copperbelt Province, Hon. Lusambo, MP, made a running commentary in the Bemba language, which, translated in English meant: “this person got a golf course.” To this end, Hon. Dr Kambwili, MP, responded that: “Madam Chairperson, I want to warn that boy.” Hon. Dr Kambwili, MP, concluded his debate with the words, “and this coming from a boy who is not even PF…” in reference to Hon. Lusambo, MP.


Hon. Members, the conduct of House business is guided by rules, which are to be observed by hon. Members at all times in the House. Some of the rules that hon. Members are expected to observe are known as “rules of parliamentary etiquette”. The rules exist in order to maintain the decorum, dignity and integrity of the House. In this regard, parliamentary etiquette forbids conduct that demeans the House.


Hon. Members, one of the rules of etiquette provides that an hon. Member, who is speaking, should be heard in silence. It is for this reason that the Chair will call for order if it appears that there is an attempt to drown out an hon. Member debating. It is, therefore, against the rules of parliamentary etiquette for an hon. Member to pass running commentaries, especially of an offensive nature, while another hon. Member is debating because this not only disturbs the hon. Member debating, but also disrupts the proceedings of the House.


Hon. Members, our own National Assembly Members’ Handbook, 2006, does forbid this practice in clauses 6 and 7 of Chapter 5, which states:


“6. Members should maintain silence when not speaking in the House.”

“7. Members should not obstruct proceedings, or interrupt and should avoid making running commentaries when another hon. Member is speaking.”


Hon. Members, it is clear that Hon. Lusambo’s commentary when Hon. Kambwili, MP, was debating amounted to a breach of parliamentary etiquette. I have singled out the running commentary by Hon. Lusambo, MP, because, in any event, it is the origin of the point of order.


However, there were other running commentaries by other hon. Members, both from my right and left side. In this regard, all hon. Members should desist from this dishonourable habit of passing running commentaries when another hon. Member is debating.


Hon Members the rules of parliamentary etiquette are covered in Chapter 5 of the National Assembly Members’ Handbook, 2006. I, therefore, urge all hon. Members to acquaint themselves with the provisions of the Members’ Handbook.


(b)     Language of Debate in the House


Hon. Members, freedom of speech in debate is at the very heart of hon. Members’ functions in the House because it allows them to conduct the Business of the House without fear of outside interference. However, it is a freedom that must be exercised responsibly in conformity to, among other House rules, the rules on parliamentary language. The Members’ Handbook is very clear on unparliamentary language. Relevant to the matter at hand, Clauses 24(k), 28 and 32 of Chapter Five of the Handbook states that:


“24.(k) While on the Floor of the House, Members should not address individual Members, but face and address the Chair.”


“28. As far as is practicable, it is desirable that a Member should not be referred to by name, but in some suitable honourable way such as the “Hon. Member for X Constituency”, ”the Hon. Member representing .X Constituency”, “the Hon. Member from ...” etc.”


“32. Members should not use words containing insinuations and offensive and unparliamentary expressions ...”


Hon. Members, the verbatim record on Hon. Dr Kambwili’s debate shows that he referred to Hon. Lusambo, MP, as I pointed earlier on, as “a boy” …




Mr Speaker: … and stated that he wanted to “warn that boy”. By these statements, Hon. Dr Kambwili, MP:


  1. instead of addressing the Chair, addressed the hon. Minister and made a personal attack against him;


  1. did not correctly address Hon. Lusambo, MP; and



  1. used offensive and unparliamentary language against the hon. Minister.


Hon. Members, I have always guided that if an hon. Member is provoked by another hon. Member’s conduct, correct procedures should be employed to bring the hon. Member’s conduct in line. In this regard, by making a personal attack and using disrespectful and unparliamentary language against the hon. Minister, Hon. Dr Kambwili, MP, was himself out of order.


Hon. Members, I have observed a disturbing trend, recently, by some hon. Members to resort to use of abusive language and threats of physical violence. This kind of conduct not only offends the rules of the House, but also, unfortunately, seriously undermines the decorum and dignity of the entire House. I, therefore, urge all hon. Members to maintain their temperament at all times and be moderate and modest in their debate and conduct in keeping with parliamentary language and etiquette.


  1. Constitutional Right of the Public to Comment on Proceedings of the House and Manner of Commenting


As hon. Members are aware, the public and, in particular, the media has always had the freedom to comment on parliamentary proceedings. However, this right is now provided for under Article 88(2) of the Constitution of Zambia, Cap. 1 of the Laws of Zambia, which gives members of the public a right to comment on the deliberations, statements, or decisions of the National Assembly. Nonetheless, like all other rights, this right is not absolute. To this end, Article 88(3) provides that the manner of commenting on proceedings of the House shall be prescribed.


In this regard, Standing Order 164 of the National Assembly Standing Orders, 2016 guides on the manner in which the public may comment on parliamentary proceedings. The provision states that the comments must not discredit an hon. Member; must be based on factual and verifiable information; must not be in contempt of the House and must, above all, use civil language.


In addition, section 25(b) of the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act, Cap. 12 of the Laws of Zambia, makes it an offence for any person to publish false or scandalous libel on the Assembly or to wilfully misrepresent its proceedings.


Hon. Members, I have perused the verbatim report of the proceedings of 15th December, 2016, and the article by the Daily Nation newspaper of Friday, 16th December, 2016. My finding is that to some extent, the Daily Nation newspaper reflected what Hon. Dr Kambwili, MP, said on the Floor of the House on 15th December, 2016. However, the article was embellished with opinions and expressions that were not part of what transpired in the House. The House may wish to note that in its publication, the Daily Nation newspaper stated, among other things, as follows:


“Chishimba Kambwili, yesterday went vile in Parliament and openly threatened to physically beat Copperbelt Minister, Hon. Bowman Lusambo, MP, in the presence of Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Catherine Namugala …


… Unidentified PF Parliamentarians were heard shouting, ‘you (Kambwili) sold golf land,’ as Mr Lusambo, who was at the time not in the House, walked in and took his seat while Mr Kambwili was on the Floor debating the land promised to former miners.”


The Daily Nation further stated:


“Immediately after seeing Mr Lusambo, Mr Kambwili,” as they addressed him, “who seemed to have had a grudge against the Kabushi Parliamentarian, lashed at Mr Lusambo threatening he was going to beat him (Lusambo). Mr Kambwili verbally abused Mr Lusambo denigrating him as a small boy who was not a member of the PF.


‘I want to warn this boy that I can beat him. He is a small boy and not even a member of the PF.’


Mr Kambwili said soon after Mr Lusambo took his seat …”


Hon. Members, my findings revealed that at no time did Hon. Dr Kambwili, MP, go vile in attacking the hon. Minister for Copperbelt Province. Further, records show that at the time, Hon. Dr Kambwili, MP, was debating, the hon. Minister for Copperbelt Province was already in the House, and did not walk in during Hon. Dr Kambwili’s debate, as alleged by the Daily Nation.


Therefore, to the extent that the newspaper article embellished what transpired in the House, the newspaper was certainly out of order.


I wish to caution the media and, in particular, the Daily Nation


Hon. UPND Members: Hear, hear!


Mr Speaker: … that the exercise of the freedom of press guaranteed under Article 20 of the Constitution of Zambia, Cap. 1 of the Laws of Zambia, places a duty on the media to take necessary measures to ensure that it reports both responsibly and accurately. This is paramount because misrepresentation of the proceedings of the Assembly offends the very essence of press freedom, as it misinforms the public, lowers the dignity of the House and brings the House and its Members into unnecessary ridicule and disrepute.


As I have, on several occasions guided, the press should endeavour at all times to verify on matters of the House with our Media Liaison Officer before publishing or broadcasting them.


Finally, hon. Members, the question posed by Hon. Dr Kambwili, MP, in the point of order was whether the Chief Whip, Hon. R. Musukwa, MP, was in order to not cite the Daily Nation newspaper for contempt of the House by misrepresenting facts on what transpired in the House on 15th December, 2016, and not to refer the matter to the Committee on Privileges, Absences and Support Services.


Hon. Members, it is well settled that the main role of the Chief Whip or a whip, indeed, is to attend to the internal organisation of their parties in the House and, in so doing, contribute to the efficient and smooth working of parliamentary democracy. However, through practice and custom, the Chief Whip has an additional function of assisting the Speaker in maintaining the dignity of the House by, for instance, maintaining party discipline and drawing the attention of the House to breaches of its privileges. The question, then, is whether the duty to raise issues of breach of parliamentary privileges rests entirely on the Chief Whip.


Hon. Members, M. N. Kaul and S. L. Shakdher, in their book, “Practice and Procedure of Parliament”, Sixth Edition, on pages 219 to 220, state, on the subject, that:


“Each House is a guardian of its own privileges: it is not only the sole judge of any matter that may arise which in any way infringes upon those privileges but can, if it deems it advisable, punish, either by imprisonment or reprimand, any person whom it considers to be guilty of contempt.”


Hon. Members, further, the authors, in the same book, state at pages 980 to 981 that:


“Any member can and should invite the Speaker’s immediate attention to any instance of what he considers a breach of order or transgression of any law of the House, written or unwritten, which the Chair has failed to perceive.”


Hon. Members, from the authorities, it is clear that the House is the sole guardian of its privileges. In this regard, members are individually and collectively responsible for maintaining the privileges of the House. Therefore, Hon. Dr Kambwili, MP, or, indeed, any other Member of the House, who was aware of the alleged breach of privilege, was at liberty to bring the alleged breach to the attention of the Chair.


Hon. Dr Kambwili, MP, created an impression that the Chief Whip was the only member who could draw the attention of the House to the alleged breach. However, it is clear that although the Chief Whip plays a major role in maintaining the dignity of the House, the responsibility of safeguarding the privileges of the House lies with every member. In this regard, the hon. Chief Whip was not out of order.


Thank you.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!








The Minister of Transport and Communication (Mr Mushimba): Mr Speaker, I thank you for your generosity in allowing me to speak to the nation on important matters that contribute to national development.


Mr Speaker, the statement I am about to give is on the railway transport system in Zambia.


The current railway transportation system in Zambia can be divided into two categories. The first is existing railway network, under the Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) wholly owned by the Zambian Government covering almost 1,000 km and the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) co-owned with the Government of Tanzania which covers approximately 1,900 km. The second aspect of the railway network relates to the newly planned greenfield projects that will link Zambia to several sea ports.


Mr Speaker, as you may be aware, the existing railway companies have not lived up to our expectations over many years. There are varying reasons for this and I will touch on some of them in this statement and propose ...




Mr Speaker: Order both and the left and right!


Mr Mushimba: ... a way forward to turn the institutions around.


Mr Speaker, the state of the two railway companies reveals that both of them are currently operating at average speeds of around 40 km per hour for freight and maximum speeds of approximately 60 km per hour for passenger trains. The low speeds and vulnerability to derailments are due to the bad state of the permanent ways. The security for rail freight and passengers has also been a major concern and consequently, a major factor in the erosion of the market share.


Sir, the railway companies are also burdened with the responsibility of maintaining the railway infrastructure in addition to maintaining their rolling stock. As a result, both TAZARA and the ZRL have witnessed significant decreases in their freight and passenger haulage due to the lack of competitiveness.


Mr Speaker, it is common knowledge that the railway operators are competing with the road sub-sector where the infrastructure is better maintained by the Government. This set up gives a competitive advantage to the road operators who previously also did not have to pay for road maintenance directly.


Mr Speaker, the current railway freight transportation share of the market compared to road transport ranges between 5 to 8 per cent. This imbalance in freight haulage across these modes of transport is of great concern such that my ministry has been analysing options to spread haulage more evenly and appropriately.


Mr Speaker, in spreading haulage more evenly and providing multiple, affordable and readily available modes of transportation, the Government is investing in all the modes of transportation. This action by the Government is with the view to transforming Zambia, through a well integrated transport system, into a regional transport hub. Therefore, in the next coming years, the Government intends to focus on the development of the railway transport system in order to make it more attractive and competitive for the market. This will ultimately mean less haulage of bulk and heavy cargo on the roads and subsequently, this will improve the road safety profile and extend the life of our roads.


Mr Speaker, outside the plans to revamp the existing two railway companies, the Government has prioritised the development of five greenfield railway projects, namely:


(a)     the 389 km Chipata/Petauke/Serenje Railway Project to link Zambia to the Nacala Corridor;


(b)     the 600 km Chingola/Solwezi/Jimbe Railway Project to link Zambia to the Lobito Corridor in Angola;


(c)     the 195 km Nseluka/Mpulungu Railway Project to link Zambia to the Great lakes Region;


(d)     the 200 km Livingstone/Kazungula/Sesheke Railway Project to link Zambia to Walvis Bay in Namibia; and


(e)     the 800 km Solwezi/ Kaoma/ Sesheke Railway Project to link Zambia to Walvis bay, again, in Namibia.


Further, railway connectivity projects on the inter-mine are being implemented to link the new mines that are not currently connected to the railway network. Sir, 123 km of new railway connections on the Copperbelt at an estimated cost of US$25 million through joint funding arrangement are being built currently.


Mr Speaker, these interventions will result in lowering the cost of doing business in Zambia and make it a competitive destination for investment.


Mr Speaker, a number of institutional reforms will also be proposed in the railway sector to improve efficiency. I will soon move the Motion to create a national railway development authority meant to separate maintenance and development of railway infrastructure and permanent way from operations. The agency will also be the regulator of the railway subsector.


Mr Speaker, the current railway parastatal companies can, then, only focus on the operations whilst the Government, through the proposed agency, will undertake all maintenance, rehabilitation and development of railway infrastructure. It is further envisioned that this institutional reform will accord the railway operators an enabling environment for competitive costing of their services against the road service operators. It is also envisaged that this will attract the private sector to invest in railway transportation.


Mr Speaker, in order to increase the business and competitiveness of the existing railway operators, the ministry has began the process of reviewing the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) Act of 1995 and plans are underway to review the Railways Act Cap. 453 of the Laws of Zambia to make the railway sector commercially viable and give them a chance at profitability.


My ministry, therefore, proposes the following measures to improve the railway sector performance through the repealing of the said Acts above:


(a)     open access on railway infrastructure for more operators. In as much the ZRL and TAZARA currently have monopoly of the railway infrastructure, having lifted their burden of infrastructure maintenance and rehabilitation, the Government can, then, encourage more operators to ply on our railway infrastructure. This will help the Government to raise resources for the maintenance of the infrastructure, through the user pays principal which can be exercised through administering appropriate railway access fees;


(b)     in order to increase railway market share in the transportation of bulk and heavy cargo, there is a proposal of a 30 per cent quota system on restricting all our mining products and other bulk and heavy commodities such as lime, cement, sugar, fertiliser and fuel to be transported by rail;


(c)     considering the high cost of new railway infrastructure developments, which are currently averaging an estimated US$3 million  to US$5 million per kilometre, the Government encourage more public-private-partnership (PPP) initiatives for the construction of the planned new railway lines based on reasonable feasibility studies;


(d)     for more focused attention, a dedicated and specialised approach to implementing these measures, we propose to establish a semi-autonomous or quasi-Government agency, the Zambia National Railways Development Agency, which I earlier mentioned. This should be a special purpose vehicle (SPV) responsible for railway infrastructure maintenance, rehabilitation and development. This SPV will supplement the Government’s efforts in railway sector resource mobilisation, specialised staff development as well as development and maintenance of infrastructure and operational standards.


Mr Speaker, these enabling railway sector measures outlined here shall not only inspire the railways, but also assist in accelerating our nation’s transport sector development agenda.


Mr Livune: Question!


Mr Mushimba: As you may be aware, the Government has in place a Draft Revised National Transport Policy and is also developing its first ever National Transport Master Plan. These policy documents are being crafted with the view to integrating all transport modes, including water, aviation, roads and rail, with a goal to optimise all the transport modes in the country.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Hon. PF Members: Hear, hear!


Mr Livune: Question!


Mr Speaker: Hon. Members are now free to ask questions on points of clarification on the ministerial statement given by the hon. Minister of Transport and Communication.


Mr Muchima (Ikeleng’i): Mr Speaker, we thank the hon. Minister for looking at the railway sector positively. Indeed, when you look at developed countries, they depend on the railway mode of transportation as a very effective way of accelerating movement. Unfortunately, that is the opposite in Zambia, especially when you look at the speeds of our trains of 40 or 60 km per hour. Railway transport has not been effective despite the loans that this Government has contracted in the recent past. We had hoped that the loans would bring improvement to the railway sector. Today, we have felt very relieved by whatever the hon. Minister said will be reviewed and we encourage the review.


Sir, I would like the hon. Minister to comment on the much pronounced North-Western Railway line which is being spearheaded by our former Vice-President, Mr Enoch Kavindele, which connects Zambia and Angola through Jimbe. I am told it is the shortest route to the sea, which has been on the drawing boards for a long time. Could the hon. Minister shed light on the successes and failures of this railway line which we have heard about so much about in the past.


Mr Mushimba: Mr Speaker, in my statement, I actually mentioned that project as one of the greenfields that this Government is interested in. The Government recognises the value of such a railway line, especially in this area which is the new Copperbelt, going by the increased mining activities and everything that is happening there. The challenge that slowed the development of that project, which involved three countries, that is, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Angola, was that the railway line was being developed privately by a citizen. So, a citizen dealing with two Governments proved to be a challenge, which has been recognised by this Government. Hon. Kavindele and I are in discussions to ensure that we see how the Government can come in and speed up the development of this project.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Mr Speaker: Hon. Members, can we avoid long winding prefaces. This is occasion for clarifications and not debate.


Mr Chibanda (Mufulira): Mr Speaker, my question is on the greenfield. The hon. Minister has elaborated on Zambia’s intent to go into the greenfield. Is the hon. Minister in a position to give the House and the nation the costs and time frames within which the Greenfield projects would be completed?


Mr Mushimba: Mr Speaker, it is actually very difficult for me to tell the House the exact amounts of money that will be spent on the greenfield projects because many of them are at feasibility and detailed engineering studies phase. Only when these stages are completed and tendered can we know how much each project will cost. We are encouraging entering into PPPs on some of these projects so that we can have more private participation in the development of these projects.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Prof. Lungwangwa (Nalikwanda): Mr Speaker, these proposed railway lines have been on the drawing board for a long time. I remember, in 2010, a consortium of South African companies had a contract signed to construct Kasempa/Kaoma/Sesheke Railway Line and also a Chinese company to construct Chipata/Petauke/Serenje Railway Line. Can the hon. Minister tell the nation where we are with those projects? Where these companies gotten rid of and new ones contracted?


Mr Mushimba: Mr Speaker, only the Serenje/Petauke/Chipata/Mchinji Railway Line Project has a signed contract with a Chinese company. This matter was in the news recently. We signed the contract late last year, 2016, for US$2.3 billion. This will actually be the shortest route to a sea port from main land Zambia. We are very excited and interested in the development of this project which should start sometime this year when we conclude the contracting process. The project will take four years to complete.


Yes, Mr Speaker, a South African company had expressed interest in constructing the Kasempa/Kaoma/Sesheke Railway line. I found this information in the office when I took over as Minister. We are still discussing with the South African company and hope that it can be contracted to develop that spur as well.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Hon. Amb. Malanji (Kwacha): Mr Speaker, I would like to inform the hon. Minister that railway lines were firmly in use in the late 1970s and 1980s for heavy goods as it was a normal practice that time. A good number of companies and industries slowly started withdrawing from the use of the railway line because of inefficiency and thefts. With this guideline that the hon. Minister has given us today, would there be adequate provision of security, especially on the transportation of copper.


Mr Mushimba: Mr Speaker, the genesis that the hon. Member has given on the use of railway transportation in Zambia is accurate. We used to see a lot more tonnage being moved by rail. If you look at the trend, over the last few years, the tonnage has been going down because of some of the issues the hon. Member has raised. We could not guarantee the safety of the goods, permanent ways were not maintained and the speeds continuously slowed down. The mining houses and industries found other better ways to transport their goods. What we are doing now, as a Government, is to revamp both the ZRL and TAZARA. We have been injecting capital into these institutions. If you look at the last eighteen months or so, the trajectory has actually changed, we are picking up more tonnage. The Statutory Instrument (SI) that we are proposing to move 30 per cent of heavy and bulk cargo onto the rail is speaking to the thinking of the Government to revitalise the railway transport system. With that investment in the railway sector, we are addressing all the challenges that we encountered previously that made us lose market share. So, hon. Member, those issues are being addressed.


Thank you, Mr Speaker.


Dr Kalila (Lukulu East): Mr Speaker, I just want to seek clarification on one of the greenfield projects, that is, Solwezi/Kaoma/Sesheke Railway Line, to connect to Walvis Bay. I would like to find out found whether the feasibility study has already been started or this project is just at concept stage or in other words, just an idea.


Mr Mushimba: Mr Speaker, the hon. Member is right. I think, in the past, some thinking around this project was done, but it did not go beyond that. In the recent past, we have hosted a South African company which wants to develop this project and those discussions are still at concept note. However, we hope to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will be give the company a legal basis to start feasibility studies then go to detailed studies before we can potentially tender and have a contractor develop this railway in the next year or two.


Thank you, Mr Speaker.


Dr Musokotwane (Liuwa): Mr Speaker, could the hon. Minister assure us whether the railway lines, eight of them if I heard correctly, the Government plans to construct will actually have the capacity to haul copper and will not be white elephants, bearing in mind that if the Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) and Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) were rehabilitated, they would actually have more capacity to haul all the current copper production? In fact, copper is the main market for railway lines. Therefore, when copper prices dropped, the railways got bankrupt.


Mr Mushimba: Mr Speaker, I think the question raises the concern of whether we have enough trade to justify the construction of the railway lines, which we do. We have continued to see an increase in terms of the haulage of goods and services on our roads, but a better way to transport them would be through the railway. Further, we intend to transform Zambia into a regional hub and this means that we will generate business through commerce and trade due to the movement of people because it is strategically positioned in the central part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region and is politically stable, under the leadership of His Excellency, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu. We feel there is a hidden market that will be established once we complete the railway projects.


Thank you, Mr Speaker.


Mr Livune (Katombola): Mr Speaker, I would like to find from the hon. Minister whether there are any plans to upgrade the Livingstone/ Kazungula/ Mulobezi Railway Line because the hon. Minister only spoke about the Livingstone/Kazungula/Sesheke Railway Line Project? Today marks seven days of the Mulobezi Train, whose passengers are Zambian citizens, being stuck in the bush with no food or drinking water, because of this uncaring Government, yet hon. Ministers are drinking water.


Mr Ngulube: Question!


Mr Speaker: I was just checking on the distribution of water.




Mr Mushimba: Mr Speaker, Mulobezi and Livingstone are covered under the Livingstone/Kazungula/Sesheke Railway Line Project that will link Zambia to Walvis Bay. The feasibility studies were undertaken and we intend to carry out detailed engineering studies before we undertake the tendering process. 


Thank you, Sir.


Mr Kabanda (Serenje): Mr Speaker, the measures that the Government has introduced to improve the railway sector are very progressive and long overdue. However, when will the Chipata/Petauke/Serenje Railway Project commence and how many jobs will be created in the process?


Mr Mushimba: Mr Speaker, I mentioned that the Government signed a contract of US$2.3 billion late last year with China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) Ltd for the construction of the railway line. The project will commence this year and we are about to conclude the loan agreement with the Exim Bank of China. Therefore, before the end of the year, the ground will be broken and construction will start and 8,000 direct and indirect jobs will be generated during the four-year duration of the project.


Thank you, Sir.


Mr Belemu (Mbabala): Mr Speaker, among the measures that the hon. Minister made reference to is to provide for a quota system to force those who are in bulk production to use the railways that he referred to. That is clearly a major shift and is against the tenets of an open market. Could the hon. Minister amplify how reasonable it is to force people in the enterprise sector to use the railway line in view of it being a slow means of transportation, despite the cost?


Mr Mushimba: Mr Speaker, I actually expected that question. The Government has the mandate to create an enabling environment under which the private companies can thrive so that they can create employment for the people and pay taxes. The thinking behind incentivising the transporters of bulk cargo is meant to help the ZRL, TAZARA and the private sector in terms of the appropriateness of travel. It is inappropriate to transport heavy cargo by road and it should be transported by railway line. So, this is a way of incentivising the railway and private sectors. We proposed the 30 per cent quota system after consultations with the private sector, mining houses, transporters of fertiliser and direct stakeholders. We feel it will help them because railway transportation is cheaper compared to road transportation and the two railway companies will have the capacity to transport goods without any thefts.


Thank you, Sir.


Mr Chali (Nchanga): Mr Speaker, my question is on the existing railway line from the Copperbelt to Livingstone. How do we compare our speed limit of 40 km per hour against that of the railway lines in the region? Secondly, there is an outcry among the casual workers employed by the Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) over not being paid their salaries for almost a year. Could the hon. Minister comment on that, please.


Mr Mushimba: Mr Speaker, over the years, the Government did not invest in the railway sector, as it should have, and this led to the deterioration of speed. The current speed of 40 to 60 km per hour at which the ZRL operates is actually an improvement. Previously, it operated at a speed as low as 15 km per hour. When the Patriotic Front (PF) Government ejected US$120 million of the Eurobond into the company, the trucks and wagons were rehabilitated and some locomotives were manufactured. As a result of that, the speed has improved and is around 40 to 60 km per hour. It is not our desired destination and in our revamping strategies, we will continue to ensure that the speed keeps improving.


In fact, the ZRL has a three-stage modernisation process which will see it transformed into the modern railway transportation company that we want it to be with its trains moving above 100 km per hour. For now, that speed is not something about which we are smiling because we know that we can do better. Therefore, the institution has taken note of that and is working to ensure the rehabilitations and improvements continue so that we improve the speed.


Sir, the casual workers have not been paid by TAZARA and ZRL because there have been challenges resulting from the low tonnage, the indebtedness and the fact that the two companies have not been able to break even, hence they struggle to meet their obligations. Currently, TAZARA’s payroll is being met by the Governments of Zambia and Tanzania, which is not ideal. The ZRL has similar challenges, and so, the Treasury has been supporting it in retiring some of its debt. This being new information, I need to go back to the ZRL to ensure it takes that up and considers including it on its list of debt.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Kunda (Muchinga): Mr Speaker, Hon. Kabanda wanted to know where the project will start from. I feel that the hon. Minister did not address that issue. Could the issue regarding where the project will start from be addressed. Will it start from Serenje or Chipata?


Mr Mushimba: Mr Speaker, I am sorry I skipped that bit. I actually need to reference the studies first. After I have done that, I can come back to the House and inform it which side the project will start from.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Ng’onga (Kaputa): Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister has indicated that the Government intends to embark on the greenfield railway line project. Has there been a consideration for a railway line from Katanga/Mansa/Luwingu/Kasama/Nakonde, as that would be a shorter route and also an opportunity to take advantage of the minerals that are in our neighbouring countries?


Mr Mushimba: Mr Speaker, actually the studies and mappings that have been done for the nation regarding plans for railway development, that corridor is one of those that have been looked into. However, because of limited resources and the desire not to overstretch the Government, we have picked on what we call the priority or mass economical developments that we are focusing on over the next few years.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Mwamba (Lubansenshi): Mr Speaker, before we got our Independence and thereafter, Zambia used to have two links to the sea. These were the Lobito, which was the Benguela Railway Line, and another one which passed through Zimbabwe, then Southern Rhodesia. These were functioning railway lines. Today, we have one which goes to the south and it is functioning well. What has happened to the one which connected with Benguela Railway Line? Why is it currently not being used as it was in the past?


Mr Mushimba: Mr Speaker, the main reason a railway would stop being used is obviously if it is not generating enough traffic along it. This could be because other modes of transport have become more economical. That would be the reason the Benguela Railway Line is no longer being used.


Sir, I would like to go back to the question regarding where the Serenje/Petauke/Chipata Rail Project would start from. I have just been advised by my technocrats that we are actually going to break ground in three different places, which are Chipata, Serenje and Petauke, at the same time.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Jamba (Mwembezhi): Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister has spoken very well. As regard the issues pertaining to the railway systems in Zambia, some people may aregue that the Government is just being over-ambitious because after obtaining the Eurobond, the trains are moving at a speed of only 40km per hour. Is the hon. Minister sure that this project is one that will actually benefit the Zambians or it is simply one way of making the country indebted?


Mr Mushimba: Mr Speaker, I think that the hon. Member is speaking to the market again. It is a question of whether we have the market or if we will realise the benefits of that investments should we invest in it. The answer is yes. As a country, we know that we are growing the economy and diversifying it from mining into agriculture, industrialisation and tourism. We are also actively marketing Zambia as a destination of choice for tourists and also for companies to set up here. What we envision is this country continuing to receive a lot of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), companies coming to set up here and us creating employment for our people, as we are transitioning into a regional transport hub. The traffic will be there because of our geographical location and political and security stability. Traffic is not there at the moment due to the lack of infrastructure. So, really, it is the chicken and egg story where we are saying let us first develop the infrastructure and then the commerce will come or vice-versa. I think that we need to be very careful and ensure that we do not fall behind and block our growth because of waiting for traffic when we should actually have the infrastructure that will incentivise and bring the traffic that we need.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Kasonso (Solwezi West): Mr Speaker, if I heard the hon. Minister correctly, he said that the Government has contracted a loan of US$2.3 billion for the Serenje/Chipata Railway Line. Would he comment on the structure of the loan and how many years it will take for Zambia to repay it?


Mr Mushimba: Mr Speaker, I thank the hon. Member for that question. Last year or the year before, the Chinese President, Mr Xi Jinping, was in South Africa and there was a commitment of US$60 billion that was made for the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC). Therefore, this project is accessing part of that commitment to the African continent meant for infrastructure development. It is a concession loan with reasonably priced money whose repayment period is forty years.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Ngulube (Kabwe Central): Mr Speaker, what is the Government doing about encroachment on the land meant for the Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) and Tanzania-Zambia Railways Authority (TAZARA)? I am aware that most of the places owned by the ZRL even here in Lusaka have now been turned into bars, barber shops and taverns, among other things.


Mr Mushimba: Mr Speaker, I thank Hon. Tutwa for that, ...


Mr Ngulube: Hon. Ngulube.




Mr Mushimba: ... Hon. Ngulube for that question. It is a very sad situation that we find ourselves in. When we constructed these permanent ways, we did not take the time to create the boundaries so that people do not encroach. However, overtime, people have found access into such areas. Safety provisions state that people should not be within 50 m of a railway line. This is aimed at ensuring safety in case of a derailment. Therefore, the encroachments have been noted. I have visited both the ZRL and TAZARA and discussed this issue. We have also put together a plan on how to address it, once funding is available.


I thank you, Sir.




The Minister of Labour and Social Security (Mrs Simukoko): Mr Speaker, I wish to thank you for according me this opportunity to deliver a ministerial statement to this august House on the protection of human and employee rights in the Zambian labour market. I wish to begin by assuring this House that my ministry is committed to ensuring that workers’ and employers’ fundamental rights are guaranteed.


Mr Speaker, the protection of human and employee rights in the Zambian labour market is anchored on the Zambian Constitution as well as other various pieces of legislation relating to employment and labour. It is important to note that the employee rights are also human rights, which include the right to employment, fair wages, safety and health, social protection and non-discrimination, among others.


Mr Speaker, the rights of employees in Zambia are drawn from both the Human Rights Charter and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Charter. The ILO’s core mandate is to facilitate the setting and monitoring of international labour standards in the form of conventions, recommendations and codes of practices which set minimum standards and basic labour rights and obligations from member States.


Sir, in the context of the Zambian labour market, the Constitution and other subsidiary laws, including the labour laws, describe the following rights and obligations ensuring the protection of human …




Mr Speaker: Order, on the left!


Mrs Simukoko: … and employee rights:


  1. protection from forced labour;


  1. protection of freedom of assembly and association;


  1. protection from discrimination;


  1. protection of young persons and children from discrimination;


  1. protection of accrued pension benefits;


  1. right to minimum wages and conditions of employment;


  1. right to occupational safety and health; and


  1. right to social protection and compensation in case of injury at work.


Mr Speaker, in order to enhance compliance of employer obligations and ensure that employees’ rights are upheld, as enshrined in the various pieces of legislation, inspections are conducted by competent officials. Routine labour and factory inspections are carried out regularly countrywide. During such inspections, officials from the ministry also sensitise and educate employers on the provision of the laws in relation to the rights of their employees.


In addition, investigative labour and factory inspections are conducted by ministry officials upon receipt of reports of infringements or abuse of employees’ rights. Similarly, the trade unions are required, by their constitutions, to undertake workers’ education on their rights and obligations. The main objective of trade unions is collective bargaining and grievance handling.


Mr Speaker, employers are equally encouraged to be involved in worker education. The collective agreements and recognition agreements signed between parties require that both workers and employers take time to explain the meaning of these documents to ensure that all understand their rights and obligations. Worker education used to be mandatory by law, but was removed with the expectation that the trade unions would self-regulate in that matter.


However, overtime, it has been observed that not all unions are committing a lot of resources to worker education. I would like to take this opportunity to caution all trade unions that if the trend of poor worker education continues, we shall be left with no option, but to legislate the need for worker education. This we shall do after the necessary consultation with the Tripartite Consultative Labour Council (TCLC).


Mr Speaker, the Government, through the Industrial and Labour Relations Act Cap. 269 of the Laws of Zambia, provides a joint platform for the employers, workers and the Government to dialogue on matters of mutual interest through the TCLC. The Government is aware that there is a need to curtail labour brokering in Zambia as it infringes on the full rights of employees. The practice, if not controlled, would mean affected employees having slavery conditions of service.


Mr Speaker, I wish to indicate that in as much as employees have several rights, they also have obligations towards their employers. The law stipulates that every employee shall promote, maintain and co-operate with the management of the undertaking, in which the employee is employed, in the interest of industrial peace, great efficiency and productivity. Therefore, continued worker education by the trade unions is core to mitigating industrial unrest in the nation. The Government is aware that grievance handling has not been effective in some cases. This has led to workers rushing to bring disputes, which should have been resolved by the trade unions, to our ministry.


Mr Speaker, in a liberalised economy, conflicting interests are clearly seen between workers and employers. Employers want to maximise their profits while workers seek a fair return for their work. If these interactions between the two groups with competing interests are not managed well, it leads to conflict. Unions are, therefore, key players to avoid conflict and this is why, as a Government, we want to see effective trade unions because disputes are best resolved at the bargaining table.


Employers are equally important players who, through their Employers’ Association, also co-operate to see how best they can resolve labour matters and sustain high productivity in their organisations. We wish to encourage workers to join trade unions because they assist to resolve disputes. We equally wish to encourage all employers to join the Zambia Federation of Employers so that a collective voice can help to highlight the best way to regulate labour. On our part, as a Government, we balance the power between employers and workers through regulation. It, therefore, calls for trade unions and workers, generally, to be aware of their rights. I wish to emphasise, Sir, that there is a need for worker education and also another need for workers to read and familiarise themselves with the law so that they can bargain from a position of knowledge.


Mr Speaker, I wish to reiterate that employers also have an obligation to respect employees’ rights while the employees have a duty to their employer to ensure industrial harmony, greater efficiency and high productivity for the development of the country. However, employees are cautioned against resorting to industrial unrest at the expense of social dialogue and respect of the law in resolving disputes.


Mr Speaker, allow me to commend employers for being lenient with employees that have caused industrial unrest in Zambia recently, contrary to law, in various companies and institutions. I wish to emphasise that the law must be upheld by both employers and employees. The goal of the Government is to ensure industrial harmony and high productivity in the nation for sustained economic growth and wealth creation for all its citizens.


I thank you, Sir.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


Mr Speaker: Hon. Members are now free to ask questions on points of clarification on the statement given by the hon. Minister of Labour and Social Security.


Mr Ngulube: Mr Speaker, I am aware that, under our labour laws, it is illegal for an employer to dismiss an employee for involving himself or herself in trade union matters or industrial unrest. There was a dispute at the Zambia Railways Ltd (ZRL) where unionised employees demanded for increased salaries and management decided to suspend all of them and, in the end, dismissed five. My question is: What will be done about this situation?


Mrs Simukoko: Mr Speaker, it is normally not allowed to dismiss workers because they have expressed their views. However, we have to be mindful of the fact that employers also have regulations and the Industrial and Labour Relations Act outlines how workers are supposed to proceed with their grievances. Normally, workers who are dismissed are those who do not follow the right procedure in airing their grievances.


Sir, I have not got a report on what the hon. Member has just talked about. Therefore, it would be better for us to first get a report and if we are not satisfied with what we hear, we then can go and see the employer to find out exactly what happened. In grievance handling, we do not only hear from one side. We hear from both sides and are then able to guide who was wrong or right. I reiterate that under normal circumstances, an employer will not dismiss an employee for expressing himself or herself on issues of labour.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Mr Ngulube interjected.




Mr Jamba (Mwembezhi): Mr Speaker, I do not know when the mining companies last employed people on permanent basis in my constituency. The mining companies operating there are paying workers slave wages. If there is any modern slavery, it is taking place at the mines run by the Konkola Copper Mine Plc (KCM) in Mwembezhi. Has the ministry taken time to check on what is happening there and what will be done about it?


Mrs Simukoko: Mr Speaker, all the cases that have been reported to our offices have been worked on. We also have officers in the inspectorate department who make surprise visits once we get wind of what is happening at a particular institution. Where we have found that what we have heard is true, we have normally taken action.


Sir, we are aware of some workers under the Konkola Copper Mine Plc (KCM) who are employed on casual basis. We have made it clear on radio and other platforms on which we have been to educate employees, that any employment on casual or temporary basis beyond six months is illegal. Employment for more than that period should be on permanent and pensionable terms. I think we have made this very clear to the whole nation. So, we expect workers who are victims of such illegality to report to our offices. Where workers belong to a trade union, the union has normally taken up such cases. However, if they do not have a trade union, they can even write or give us a phone call. We will definitely take action and, in most cases, we have taken action.


Mr Speaker, let me take this opportunity to also state that most of the jobs that are being classified as casual could be temporal employment. As you know, there are different types of job categories. There is temporal service, which are casual and contractual jobs, as well as permanent employment. However, you find that when most people report to us that they have been on casual employment for so many months, we find out that they are actually just employed on a temporal basis. We discover that their contracts state that they are employed on temporal basis. So, there is all this confusion going on. Everybody is talking about casualisation when, in fact, some are contractual jobs. Nonetheless, I take note of the hon. Member’s case. I will talk to him so that he gives me details and then we will make a surprise visit just to establish the truth.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Mr Kufakwandi (Sesheke Central): Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister mentioned, in her statement, that pension and retirement benefits are rights of employees. Can she confirm if payment out of the K2.9 billion, which was approved by this House, has started being disbursed to employees who have been waiting since the early 1990’s.


Mrs Simukoko: Mr Speaker, pension benefits are workers’ rights and I am aware that we have quite a number of pensioners who have not been paid. Most of them are supposed to be paid by the Local Government Superannuation Fund (LGSF) and the Government. There are about 3,822 pensioners who have not been paid their lump sums from the LGSF and Government. We also have amenities that are due in the sum of K96 million in monthly payments. The Government has continued to pay monthly payments, although it is behind on lump sums. However, I think we all remember that, in the 2017 National Budget presented by the hon. Minister of Finance, there was an allocation to clear this debt in the sum of about K1.9 million. So, the Ministry of Finance will soon start releasing these funds to deserving retirees.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr S. Tembo (Chadiza): Mr Speaker, since the education of workers on their rights ceased to be compulsory, unions have relaxed in providing this service. Therefore, the ministry needs to remind unions on the need for workers to be educated on their rights. How often does the ministry carry out this exercise?


Mrs Simukoko: Mr Speaker, as I said in my ministerial statement, we have also observed that workers’ education is lacking. When we see too many grievances, as we are seeing now, then, we know that workers are not being exposed to their rights by the trade unions. In some cases, if there are no trade unions, workers can be educated through their own reading because we always announce the laws that we pass.


However, what we have decided is to scrutinise the reports that trade unions submit annually. We look at how many seminars they have held for their membership. So, we have observed that very few are holding these seminars. That is why we will talk to them. We were supposed to have the TCLC meeting this week, but will have it next week. This issue will be talked about. As I said earlier, if there is no improvement, we will have no choice, but to bring it to this House so that we put compulsory worker education back into the laws.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Mukata (Chilanga): Mr Speaker, on one hand, bestowing the responsibility of worker education on trade unions might raise issues of biasness and indoctrination. On the other hand, there is also the possibility of financial incapacity and lack of expertise by the unions to carry out this function. Does the hon. Minister not think it would be more prudent for her ministry to take up this responsibility through extension services?


Mrs Simukoko: Mr Speaker, for the hon. Member’s information, one of the main objectives of trade unions all over the world is worker education. This responsibility cannot be given to third parties because the trade unions are the only ones that can be trusted to educate their members and tell them the dos and don’ts and impart skills, among others. Mind you, this is about protecting the workers. If we give other people the responsibility to educate workers, they may mislead them. They may not tell them the truth on what we expect workers to know. Therefore, I repeat that, the world over, one of the duties of a trade union is to educate members on their rights and obligations and this responsibility cannot be given to any other body.


The Government cannot take up that role because its role between these parties is that of mediator or referee. Educating the workers is not one of the Government’s responsibilities because it may be accused of educating workers on things that are not correct by the other side. It is the role of trade unions, by their nature, to educate their members so that they impart knowledge that will protect the workers at a workplace.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Miyutu (Kalabo Central): Mr Speaker, in my constituency, there is one worker who is heavily victimised. The unfortunate part of this story is that this worker is disabled. The hon. Minister talked about workers having freedom to embark on many endeavours. We have local radio stations in the Western Province and they present different subjects. For example, they present topics on the cost of living and people phone in and express their views. This individual worker I am talking about is a radio champion and really participates in these radio programmes. However, he was written to, asking him to stop expressing himself as he was purported to be a political activist. I would like to get the hon. Minister’s view. Is it wrong for a worker employed by the Government to express his view over the state of affairs in his community or country?


Mrs Simukoko: Mr Speaker, expressing one’s views is not prohibited. Neither can it be deemed as wrong doing. However, it depends what those views are. When we are employed, we sign documents that dictate that we protect the institution we will work for, for example, in terms of confidentiality. Now, if I went on radio and started talking about my employer or giving examples that will bring the employer’s image into ridicule, definitely, I would face some disciplinary action. However, if I went on radio and gave general comments, like anybody else is doing, I am protected as a worker. So, there are dos and don’ts. We sign contracts which tell us how to behave at a workplace. We have disciplinary codes which tell us the does and don’ts and I have never known any employee who has been disciplined for simply making a general comment that does not affect his employer. Mainly, the people who are dismissed are workers who go on radio and go against what they agreed with the employer. As I said earlier, the laws guide us on how we should air our grievances. The disciplinary codes guide us. If you go against what you agreed with your employer, definitely, you will be disciplined. Freedom of association and expression has been given to us, but it also has limits and obligations.


I thank you, Sir.


Ms Chonya (Kafue): Mr Speaker, in her response, the hon. Minister mentioned something about the dialogue that should be there between the employer and the employee in the procedure of airing a grievance. I want to get her views on this procedure of retiring workers in national interest and whether it is best practice because, in that instance, the employee has no opportunity to explain their situation in the supposed misconduct.


Mrs Simukoko: Mr Speaker, regarding the issue of retiring workers in national interest and public interest, the laws that allow this to be done were made by this House and I take it that debates may have taken place. I am aware that sometimes, the people who are retired in national interest are not given an opportunity to be heard. However, if somebody is aggrieved by the manner in which he or she has been treated, the law gives a grievance procedure which he or she can follow to express his dissatisfaction. So, even those who are retired in national interest and public interest surely, if they are aggrieved, they are free to follow the law and express their grievances and explain why they are aggrieved. You need to state why you are aggrieved with the certain treatment you have received from your employer. People who work in the Government know the issue of being retired in public interest and national interest very well. So, when it happens to them, they know what has happened. If they are aggrieved, let them take up the matter and follow the procedure as enshrined in the Laws of Zambia.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Livune (Katombola): Mr Speaker, the issue of worker’s education on their rights is one on which we did very well in our previous lives with the hon. Minister herself. I need a very fair comment from the hon. Minister on whether she does not think that the law that supports retiring people in national interest is one that we need to amend? Instead of leaving this burden of taking up the matter when retired in national interest with the victims, we should have a process that should be followed before people are laid off to bring it in line with the dictates of industrial relations and labour demands.


Mrs Simukoko: Mr Speaker, like I said earlier, from my own research, the power to retire people in national interest has not been abused. It only happens when the employer is satisfied that a particular person should be retired. As I said, there is no law that forbids a person who is aggrieved to take up the matter. So, if those who are retired in national interest feel aggrieved, they should feel free to take up the matter following the laws that we have in place.


I thank you, Sir.


Ms Katuta (Chienge): Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the hon. Minister how often the Inspectorate Department visits areas in the hospitability industry. When you go to some lodges, you will see that workers are really oppressed.


Mrs Simukoko: Mr Speaker, sometimes, labour inspectors make surprise visits depending on the information they have received from people or workers concerned. In some instances, we have received grievances from workers themselves and other times, they keep quiet and just work in a situation that may not be conducive.


Sir, I must admit that the inspectorate is not very big as compared to the number of industries that we have in our country, hence the reason we are proposing that the inspectorate division be moved to the Workers Compensation Control Board (WCCB) because it is the one that actually compensates workers who are injured, while the inspection is done by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. So, there is some confusion in the way things are being done. Otherwise, we would want the inspectorate to be very effective, especially now in a liberalised economy where a lot of suppression and exploitation of workers takes place.


Therefore, we will enforce the transfer of the inspectorate division to the Workers Compensation Control Board.


Mr Speaker, as we write reports in the ministry, sometimes, we are challenged because where workers rightly report abuse at a place of work, we find that the information we have received is actually not what is on the ground. So, we have also been very disappointed by our workers who are not able to tell the truth. We have equally been disappointed by our workers who, even after being assured that the ministry will protect him/her from being fired after reporting an employer, are not willing to bring out that information to us that would make it possible for us to take action against an employer. So, we have had all these frustrations.


Sir, sometimes, the inspector confirms certain happenings, but when we address the workers, they refute the claim as not being true. So, we have had such challenges.


However, normally whenever we get reports, we educate the employer because sometimes they tend to also be ignorant. They do things without knowing that what they are doing is actually against some of our laws in our country.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Mr Sampa (Kasama Central): Mr Speaker, in as much as our country is looking for investors to employ the people of Zambia, we seem to have a problem when these investors come and deny the workers the right to belong to a union. I would like to find out what kind of punishment is meted on such investors that infringe upon the right of our workers to belong to unions?


Mrs Simukoko: Mr Speaker, even when I was a trade union leader some of the challenges we faced, as trade unions or the Government, is fear by our workers. They are too scared to express their rights even when they are assured that they are protected.


Sir, freedom of association is guaranteed in our Constitution and joining a trade union is one of those rights that are enshrined for the benefit of a worker. I have never known anyone who has been fired for joining a trade union. Joining a trade union has to come from the workers themselves. They must be strong enough to insist that they have to join a trade union.


The employer would always want to exploit labour all over the world because of the conflicting interest I talked about. The more they exploit labour, the more they maximise their profits. So, normally, they would discourage workers from joining trade unions, which are supposed to be their mouth piece and protector. Sometimes, they have blocked workers from joining trade unions by faking promotions. They use all the tactics. However, what we are saying is that workers must exercise their rights. If you know that you have the right to join a trade union, do not be scared. Feel free to join that trade union and nobody will fire you for doing so.


Also, if the employer is intimidating the workers and, thus, inhibiting them from joining a certain trade union, some workers have come to complain at the ministry or to the union of their choice which they feel should represent them.


There is a law that protects the workers and also a laid down procedure that we follow when the rights of workers have been infringed upon. The workers are free to come to the ministry or report to any labour officer about being intimated by their employer with respect to joining a trade union of their choice. We have normally moved in and ensured that the workers join the trade union without being intimidated.


However, what I am appealing to the workers is to pray against this fear that is in them. They must stop being scared. They must speak out whenever they feel they are being ill-treated or their rights are being infringed upon. If the workers do not speak out confidently, this exploitation will continue.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Chibanda (Mufulira): Mr Speaker, there have been media reports that a South African trade union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), has been meddling in the labour matters of a sovereign State by the name of Zambia. What is the hon. Minister’s response to the attacks on the Zambian labour force by a union from a different country?


Mrs Simukoko: Mr Speaker, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we did complain about the attitude of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA). Most of the members of the union, such as the General-Secretary himself, are colleagues of mine. I was very shocked when I saw what he wrote. However, if the hon. Member has followed the media reports, he will note that the High Commissioner to South Africa has since written to the Government of South Africa to express the Government’s position on this matter.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Mr A. C. Mumba (Kantanshi): Mr Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister for her elaborate ministerial statement, but I get the feeling that it is more skewed towards traditional companies or institutions, but I have in mind the Government’s desire to create 100,000 jobs. Mostly, these jobs will be created through an enabling environment that will encourage private sector participation towards this cause. The private sector does not only consist of big multinational companies, but also small-scale entrepreneurs or companies that are lining up to pay taxes to the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA). That is one way of monitoring whether the Government is really creating these jobs.


Is there a department under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security that is probably taking a keen interest in checking whether these small-scale companies are following these labour laws and that they pay workers accordingly? Even when the workers are not paid, does the ministry take a keen interest in lobbying with the Government so that we are able to have these 100,000 jobs and people contributing their taxes and ensuring the growth of the economy? Labour issues are cross-cutting and are an integral component of an economic definition. So, is there any department monitoring that?


Mrs Simukoko: Mr Speaker, we, at the ministry, and the Central Statistical Office (CSO) are conducting a labour force survey to determine how many people are currently employed and also looking at the skills they possess.


Mr Speaker, we agree that there are very few people who are paying tax. As you may be aware, the formal sector now stands at 16.1 per cent while the informal sector is at 83 per cent. Employees from the formal sector are carrying the burden of paying taxes. However, this is why we have been talking about organising the informal sector. This activity is already taking place and once it is done, the tax burden will be shared more equitably and at the same time, the informal sector will also benefit from various aspects that can make their businesses grow. For example, banks are ready to tailor their products in such a way that they capture the informal sector. It is through these kinds of services that we will see an organised informal sector that will transform into a formal sector at a later stage.


Sir, if we do not handle this matter quickly, pension houses will have challenges because workers in the informal sector do not normally contribute to pension schemes. Pension houses are also preparing and tailoring their products to include the informal sector. Growth in the informal sector not being captured in economic activities is one of the areas we will address with the support of the International Labor Organisation (ILO).


Sir, I believe we will soon get to a point when workers in the informal sector will also benefit from skills development. At the moment, they are not organised and cannot be trained or equipped with skills. All these are disadvantages that we face in our country.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Mwiinga (Chikankata): Mr Speaker, most Chinese companies do not allow their workers to join unions. There is a Chinese company in my constituency called Sinohydro. The hon. Minister must have its records on her table because she dealt with this company a month ago. The employees of this company have been told to consider themselves fired once they join trade unions. What are the hon. Minister’s comments on this?


Mrs Simukoko: Mr Speaker, earlier I said that the problem most people have is fear. Workers do not report such cases of injustice to relevant authorities. All they do is complain. An employee cannot be fired for joining a union. There have been times when employees have been fired because they are trade union activists and the ministry has moved in to aid. In situations where mediation by the ministry did not succeed, all those who went to court won the cases and were reinstated. We need effective worker education programmes because people need to know their rights.


Sir, Chinese companies have been visited and been informed that Zambia allows workers to join trade unions. We have taken action against companies that have not obeyed that directive. I would be happy to get the particulars of the incident that the hon. Member is referring to so that we visit the company and establish why workers are being denied an opportunity to join trade unions of their choice.


Mr Speaker, I appeal to all hon. Members of Parliament to give us any information about workers in their constituencies who are in similar situations so that we move in to resolve them. Like I say, a happy worker is an effective one and without the worker’s muscle, no wheel can turn.


I thank you, Sir.








169   Mr L. Tembo (Kaumbwe) asked the Minister of Energy:


  1. whether the Government had any plans to electrify the following areas in Kaumbwe Parliamentary Constituency under the Rural Electrification Programme:


  1. Mankhungwe;


  1. Menyane;


  1. Whankala;


  1. Zumaire; and


  1. Lusinde


  1. if so, when the plans would be implemented; and


  1. if there were no such plans, why.


The Minister of Energy (Mr Mabumba): Mr Speaker, according to the Rural Electrification Master Plan (REMP), Kaumbwe Parliamentary Constituency was scheduled for electrification in 2010. This was not done due to non-availability of funds. Once funds are available, the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) will consider electrifying the area. Works to establish the scope and associated costs will be conducted by November, 2017, for Mankhungwe, Menyane, Whankala, Zumaire and Lusinde.


Sir, the implementation of the actual electrification of the listed areas in Kaumbwe Parliamentary Constituency would be dependent on the availability of funds. Plans to electrify the above listed areas in Kaumbwe Parliamentary Constituency are there and will be implemented once funds are available.


I thank you, Sir.




Mr Kasandwe (Bangweulu) asked the Minister of Health:


  1. whether the Government had any immediate plans to rehabilitate Kapata East 1 Clinic in Bangweulu Parliamentary Constituency;


  1. if so, when the plans would be implemented; and


  1. if there were no such plans, why


The Minister of Health (Dr Chilufya): Mr Speaker, the Government has plans to rehabilitate Kapata East 1 Clinic in Bangweulu Parliamentary Constituency. To this effect, it has put K300,000 aside in the 2017 Infrastructure Operational Plan for the rehabilitation of the clinic.


Sir, the rehabilitation of the clinic shall be done in 2017 and shall commence as soon as funds are released by the Ministry of Finance.


I thank you, Sir.




171   Mr Mukosa (Chinsali) asked the Minister of Health:


  1. when the construction of Chinsali General Hospital would commence;


  1. whether the contractor for the project had been engaged;


  1. if so, what the name of the contractor was;


  1. what the total cost of the project was; and


  1. what the time frame for the completion of the project was.


Dr Chilufya: Mr Speaker, the construction of Chinsali General Hospital is expected to commence by April, 2017. This will be after the finalisation of the drawings by the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure. The contractor engaged to construct the hospital is China National Complete Engineering Corperation of China.


Sir, Chinsali General Hospital is being constructed as part of a project to construct three health facilities, the other two being in Petauke and Lusaka. The total cost is US$160 million for all three projects. The project is expected to be completed within a period of three years.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Mukosa: Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister mentioned that construction would commence after the finalisation of the drawings. Does this mean that there will be variation in terms of cost since the cost has already been put at US$160 million, but the drawings have not been finalised?


Dr Chilufya: Mr Speaker, we have the cost estimates and already know the costs of a high cost facility in Lusaka and a hospital in Petauke. Through our estimates, we know that we are within the loan amount.


I thank you, Sir.




172. Mr Mulunda (Siavonga) asked the Minister of Transport and Communication:


  1. whether the Government had any plans to construct an airstrip in Siavonga District;


  1. if so, when the plans would be implemented;


  1. whether a contractor for the project had been identified;


  1. what the time frame for the completion of the project was; and


  1. if there were no such plans, why.


The Minister of Transport and Communication (Mr Mushimba): Mr Speaker, in 2001, the Government constructed an airstrip in Siavonga District as part of the development plan of the tourism circuit around Chirundu, Siavonga and Kafue areas.


Sir, however, the airstrip has not been fully utilised due to flooding during the rainy season, encroachment by squatters as well as frequency of stray wild animals since the airstrip has not been fenced yet.


Sir, due to these challenges, the Government, in collaboration with Siavonga District Council, has embarked on a process to identify a new site where an airstrip will be constructed. The land has already been identified in Chief Simamba’s chiefdom.


Mr Speaker, the Government has plans to commence construction of the new airstrip once funds are available. No contractor has, therefore, been identified yet until the tendering process takes place. The time frame for the completion of the project will only be known once the scope of works has been defined and finances are available.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.




173. Mr Kamondo (Mufumbwe) asked the Minister of Home Affairs:


  1. whether the Government had plans to construct a police station at Kalengwa in Mufumbwe District;


  1. if so, when the plans would be implemented; and


(c)     if there were no such plans, why.


The Minister of Home Affairs (Mr Kampyongo): Mr Speaker, the Government has plans to construct a police station at Kalengwa in Mufumbwe District. However, like we have stated, time and again on the Floor of this House and going by the pronouncements made by the hon. Minister of Finance, these plans can only be implemented when we have concluded the construction of the current projects that are going on. We can, then, profile Kalengwa as one of the areas we need to consider for the construction of a police station.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Mweetwa (Choma Central): Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister has said that the Government has plans to construct a police post at Kalengwa. I think that plans of construction have to do with the budgeting. How can the ministry have plans without money?


Mr Kampyongo: Mr Speaker, even people who have no money plan ...


Mr Sichone: Yes!


Mr Kampyongo: … to build their houses when they have the money. Similarly, the Government is planning to build a police post in Mufumbwe when resources are available.  


I thank you, Sir.




Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!




174. Ms Chisangano (Gwembe) asked the Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development when the construction of bridges at the following places in Gwembe District would commence:


  1. Malobe, linking Shampande to Malobe;


  1. Lukonde, linking Lukonde to Fumbo;


  1. Nakapaya, linking Gwembe to Lukonde; and


  1. Meenda Alweela, linking Fumbo to Joongola.


The Minister of Housing and Infrastructure (Mr Chitotela): Mr Speaker, the Malobe, Lukonde, Nakapaya and Meenda Alweela crossing points are not in the 2017 Road Sector Budget owing to fiscal challenges being faced by the Treasury. The crossing points will be considered for construction in the 2018 Budget Cycle, funds permitting.


Sir, the existing structures on the crossing points are vented drifts low level bridges. The crossing points experience flush floods such that the residents have to wait for one to two hours for the water level to go down. The existing structures on the crossing points are in a fair condition. However, they require to be replaced with high level structures to ensure that they are usable even during flush floods.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Ms Chisangano: Mr Speaker, of late, we have lost huge consignments of drugs and other medical supplies simply because vehicles have been washed off these bridges. I know that the Government has no money, but I think it can do something about this because if nothing is done, we will continue losing a lot of drugs and even Government vehicles will continuously get damaged. We are expecting more rains in the years to come. Can the hon. Minister assure the people of Gwembe that, not long from now, the bridges I am referring to will be worked on?


Mr Chitotela: Mr Speaker, I want to assure the good people of Gwembe in the Southern Province that we have procured 100 bailey bridges and sixty-nine crossing bridges from the United States of America (USA) and France, respectively. In the Southern, Western and Eastern provinces, we have low level bridges such that during the rainy season, they get flooded. We will, therefore, target those crossing points when the bailey bridges have arrived. 


I thank you, Sir.




175. Mr Hamusonde (Nangoma) asked the Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development:


  1. when the rehabilitation of Myooye Bridge in Nangoma Parliamentary Constituency would commence;


  1. what the cause of the delay in rehabilitating the bridge was; and


  1. what the total cost of the project was.


Mr Chitotela: Mr Speaker, …


Mr Speaker: Order!


Business was suspended from 1640 hours until 1700 hours.


[MR SPEAKER in the Chair]


Mr Chitotela: Mr Speaker, before business was suspended, I was saying that the Myooye Bridge in Nangoma Parliamentary Constituency will commence as it is one of the bridges that will be worked on under the project of upgrading to bituminous standard of approximately 257 km of roads in Shibuyunji Chiefdom. The contract for the project was signed in January, 2017, and commencement of works awaits the finalisation of the financing agreement.


Mr Speaker, the delay in the commencement of works is due to the procedure involved in reaching the financial closure.


Sir, the total cost of the entire project, as I stated last week, is US$192,828,415.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.




175. Mr Mung’andu (Chama South) asked the Minister of General Education:


(a)     when Pondo Basic School in Chama South Parliamentary Constituency, whose classroom walls were cracked and roofs blown off, would be rehabilitated;


(b)     when the construction of additional classrooms at the school would commence, considering that the community had already moulded bricks;


(c)     what the cost of the works at (a) and (b) was; and


(d)     what the time frame for the completion of the works at (a) and (b) was.


The Minister of General Education (Dr Wanchinga): Mr Speaker, the ministry is aware that a 1x3 classroom block was blown off. The repair works have been costed and the project is among those that will be implemented in the 2017 Budget.


Mr Speaker, the construction of additional classrooms will start in 2017, once funds are released as the school is appearing in the Budget. Since it has already been budgeted for, what remains is the release of the funds.


Mr Speaker, the amount of money required for the repair of the 1x3 classroom block at Pondo Basic School is K240,000. We will know the actual time frame in which the works will be completed once funds have been released.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Mung’andu: Mr Speaker, I need clarification. Is the hon. Minister aware that this school has been without a roof for the past three years? At the moment, it is closed because of the rains and pupils cannot learn. What short-term measures have been put in place to ensure that the children of the people of Pondo get the most precious gift or right, which is education?


Dr Wanchinga: Mr Speaker, it is unfortunate that this school has remained without a roof for three years, as stated by the hon. Member. This is why the Government recognises the essence of putting it in the 2017 Budget. However, as an interim measure, I would have expected that there should have been some tents supplied to the school. If this has not been done, I will investigate. Three years back is a long time. The Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU), under the Office of the Vice-President, may have provided some tents as this is the normal route to undertake. However, if this was not done, I will investigate why and take interim remedial measures.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Livune (Katombola): Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister said that there is a budgetary provision for Pondo Basic School. Is he religiously sure that the money will be released in the 2017 Budget?


Dr Wanchinga: Mr Speaker, I cannot be religiously sure, ...




Mr Speaker: I do not know what that means.




Dr Wanchinga: ... but I can be fairly sure that the money will be released.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.




177. Ms Mwape (Mkushi North) asked the Minister of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection:


(a)     what the total number of dams constructed by the Government from January, 2010, to October, 2016, in Mkushi North Parliamentary Constituency, was;


(b)     whether the Government had any plans to construct more dams and sink additional boreholes in the constituency;


(c)     if so, when the plans would be implemented; and


(d)     if there were no such plans, why.


The Minister of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection (Mr Kaziya): Mr Speaker, the Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ) has not constructed any dams in Mkushi North Constituency during the period under review.


Sir, the Government has plans to construct dams countrywide, Mkushi inclusive. It has identified nine potential dam cites that will be assessed and ascertained for feasibility and will be included in the national dams development plan. In addition, the Government also has plans to sink a total number of fifty boreholes in Mkushi North Constituency.


The plans will be implemented as soon as the funds are availed. Note that the construction of fifty boreholes was planned for implementation in the 2015/2016 Annual Work Plan. So far, forty of the fifty planned boreholes have been drilled and await commissioning.


Mr Speaker, there are plans to construct dams in future.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Ms Mwape: Mr Speaker, Mkushi North is a farming area and the food basket of the country.


Hon. PF Members: Hear, hear!


Mr Ngulube: For maize.


Ms Mwape: May I find out from the hon. Minister if this feasibility study will yield into construction of dams. When do we expect the first dam to be constructed in Mkushi?


Hon. PF Members: Hear, hear!


Mr Kaziya: Mr Speaker, plans are still under way. As I earlier mentioned, we have identified nine potential sites. In our annual budget, we have included Mkushi to be part of our planning so that we provide suitable dams in these potential sites.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.




178. Mr Mulunda (Siavonga) asked the Minister of Youth, Sport and Child Development:


  1. whether the Government had any plans to construct a Youth Skills Training Centre in Siavonga District;


  1. if so, when the plans would be implemented; and


  1. if there were no such plans., why.


The Minister of Youth, Sport and Child Development (Mr Mawere): Mr Speaker, the hon. Member may wish to know that the Government has plans to construct a Youth Resource Centre in each district in the Republic of Zambia, including Siavonga.


Mr Speaker, the hon. Member may wish to note that the construction of Youth resource Centres is being done in a phased approach.


Sir, the answer to part (c) of the question, is as at (b) above.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.










(Resumption of debate)


The Minister of Mines and Minerals Development (Mr Yaluma) on behalf of the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry (Mrs Mwanakatwe): Mr Speaker, indeed, when business was interrupted last Friday, as I was just starting to move the Motion on the Metrology Bill, National Assembly Bill (N.A.B) 6 of 2017.


Mr Speaker, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to make my statement on the Metrology Bill, 2017.


Sir, I would like to express my gratitude to your Committee on Education, Science and Technology on the work it did in reviewing the Bill and facilitating consultations on the fundamental aspects of the Bill.


Mr Speaker, Metrology is defined by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) as:


“The science of measurement embracing both experimental and theoretical determinations of any level of uncertainty in any field of science and technology.”


In Zambia, Mr Speaker, metrological functions are divided by the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS). ZABS is responsible for scientific metrology and industrial metrology, which is calibration under the Standard Act, Cap. 416 and the Zambia Weights and Measures Agency (ZWMA), which is responsible for Trade Metrology and caters for legal aspects under the Weights and Measures (Amendment) Act of 2003.


Sir, these responsibilities are unclear, hence the conflict of roles between ZABS and the ZWMA despite it being the main agency responsible for metrology.


Mr Speaker, the Metrology Bill of 2017 is, therefore, coming out of the need to put in place legislation that will eliminate overlaps that currently exist in regulating metrology between the ZWMA and ZABS and place all metrology functions under a single agency. This will be done by transforming the ZWMA into the Zambia Metrology Agency (ZMA), establish it as a custodian of national measurement standards and redefine its powers and functions based on international best practices and World Trade Organisation (WTO) guidelines.


Furthermore, Mr Speaker, the Bill will facilitate the repeal of the Weights and Measures Act and expand the scope of activities covered by the ZWMA in line with international best practices. In addition; all metrology functions in ZABS will be transferred to this agency.


Mr Speaker, Zambia currently faces obstacles in assessing global markets for its manufactured products due in part to lack of adherence to systematic and internationally acceptable standards and quality assurance. It does also not have an integrated system of measurements which has result fragmentation, large gaps in terms of measurements, standards requirements and traceability, duplication of efforts, overlaps between ZABS and the ZWMA and wastage of resources.


Sir, these challenges are further compounded by the fact that global purchasers are increasingly demanding products and services that meet rigorous and advanced standards of quality and measurements not only to ensure that such products and service integrate flawlessly with others in the supply chain, but also satisfy customer expectations.


Mr Speaker, therefore, the proposed Metrology Bill lays the foundation for an integrated national metrology system for Zambia. This will extend not only to equipment used in trade, but will also include other measuring equipment utilised in law enforcement, service provision and environmental management. The Metrology Bill will also provide for the designation of national measurement standards and there keeping and maintenance and the transfer of metrology functions as defined in the Standard Act 1994 to the ZMA and provide for matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing.


Mr Speaker, the main objective of the Bill is to place metrological functions under a single agency by transforming the ZWMA into the ZMA, based on international best practices. The specific objectives will include the following:


  1. to provide for the use of measurement units of international systems of units and certain other units;


(b)     to provide for the designation of national measurement standards and their keeping and maintenance;


(c)     to provide for consumer protection, healthy, safety and environmental management through legal metrology measures;


(d)     to transform the ZWMA into a national metrology agency and redefine its functions;


(e)     to repeal the Weights and Measures Act of 1994;


(f)      to provide for transitional provisions; and


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


Mr Speaker, the implementation of the Bill, once enacted, is expected to result in a fully integrated national metrology system through the merging of the scientific, industrial and legal metrology functions under a single agency. It will also enhance the standing of Zambia’s metrology framework in the international trading system. The Act will be administered by the ministry, through the ZWMA and Metrology Department under the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZBS). However, due to its multifaceted application in the wide range of subject matter, the effective implementation of the Act will require collaboration with several stakeholders.


Sir, I have taken note of the observations and recommendations of the Committee and will consider the advice in the finalisation and implementation of the Bill.


Mr Speaker, in conclusion, let me emphasise that it is necessary to have legislation that will provide for the establishment of a single metrology agency which will be the custodian of national measurements standards and redefine these measurements based on international best practices and WTO guidelines. I, therefore, look forward to the full support of the hon. Members of the House on this issue.


Thank you, Mr Speaker.


Ms Mwashingwele (Katuba): Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to present highlights of the report on the Metrology Bill, National Assembly Bill, No. 6 of 2017, which is before the House.


Sir, allow me to briefly comment on the background to this Bill. In 2001, the Zambian Government introduced the National Quality Policy. The policy responded to the need to establish a national quality infrastructure and technical regulation framework inspired by local and international best practices. This was aimed at ensuring that locally produced goods and services met quality standards that were genuinely recognised and accepted by Zambia’s trading partners. One of the areas of implementation of the policy was the need to put in place legislation that would eliminate the overlaps in regulating metrology that were apparent between the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZBS) and the Zambia Weights and Measures Agency (ZWMA).


Mr Speaker, the objects of the Bill are to:


  1. continue the existence of the ZWMA, re-name it as the Zambia Metrology Agency (ZMA) and redefine its functions;


  1. establish the board of the agency and provide for its functions;


  1. provide for the designation, keeping and maintenance of the measurement standards;


  1. provide for the use of measurement units of the international system of units and other units;


  1. provide for consumer protection, health, safety and environmental management through legal metrology measures;


  1. repeal the Weights and Measures Act of 1994; and


  1. provide for matters connected with, or incidental to the foregoing.


Sir, your Committee supports the Bill and commends the Government for bringing it to the House. Stakeholders who appeared before your Committee were in support of the Bill, as it lays a foundation for an integrated national metrology system for Zambia to include measuring equipment used in law enforcement, health and safety services and environmental management and trade.


Mr Speaker, in supporting the Bill, your Committee is, however, concerned that there is no provision in the Bill for a minimum academic or professional qualification for the appointment of the members to the board. Your Committee, therefore, recommends that a minimum academic or professional qualification be prescribed in the Bill so that only persons who understand the work of the agency and can add value to its operations are appointed as board members.


Sir, your Committee observed that the transformation of the ZWMA into an integrated metrology agency shall require the necessary attention in operationalisation over and above the enactment of the Bill. It is the view of your Committee that consideration be given to practical issues such as adequate and single office space and adequate operational resources, among others.


Mr Speaker, the Bill under Clause 30(3), does not prescribe a time frame within which the Executive Director shall consider a request for registration and communicate the decision. It notes that a time frame is important to avoid inordinate delay and in the promotion of efficiency because there can be a hindrance to commerce and trade. Your Committee is of the view that the Bill be amended to ensure that a person or supplier will be deemed to have complied with the Act if the Director does not communicate his or her decision on a matter within a specific period.


Sir, I wish to conclude by thanking all the witnesses who appeared before your Committee for their valuable input. I also wish to thank you, Mr Speaker, for affording your Committee an opportunity to consider the Bill. Finally, your Committee also appreciates the services rendered by the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Ngulube (Kabwe Central): Mr Speaker, allow me to contribute to the debate on the Bill. The measurements at filling stations are not the same despite the Zambia Weights and Measures Agency (ZWMA) insisting that there be a universal calibration of all measuring instruments. Furthermore, some chain stores do not comply with the agency’s regulations. Therefore, this Bill should be enacted so that we can find a way to harmonise the weights. Lately, the ZWMA and Competition and Consumer Protection Commissioner (CCPC) raided big chain stores to check on the weights of the food products, yet imported products are not subjected to this kind of calibration. I am also aware that there is discrimination of some sort between local and foreign traders and manufactures.


Mr Speaker, the example I will give is that when you import a scale to be used in a butchery, there is insistence that you subject it to calibration before the ZWMA for it to ascertain if it is suitable for our market. The amount of money one is asked to pay is more than what is spent on buying this scale. So, speaking as a businessman, it is better for the ZWMA to operate on a regulatory arrangement than a profit-making institution.


Sir, in most instances, a person may import a scale that costs about US$300, which is roughly about K3000, and the ZWMA will say that it does not have such a scale in its system. So, that person who has bought the scale must pay K2,800. If what the ZWMA wants is regulation and compliance, I believe that it should not be that expensive. You will also notice that pumps at filling stations in rural areas and certain parts of this country are not calibrated. Therefore, it is difficult for a customer to know whether he has put 10 litres of fuel or 8.9 litres. I, therefore, want to urge this agency to roll out its services and be stationed in the provincial centres the way other institutions, like the Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA), are doing it. Right now, it is only centralised in Lusaka and I know that the agency has problems when it comes to bigger weights because it does not have weigh bridges.


Further, I think that there is also a need to harmonise the services of the ZWMA with those of the Road Development Agency (RDA). At the moment, if you import a tipper truck from China, you will be told not to drive it on our roads because before it is even loaded, it weighs 28 tonnes. The RDA is giving people penalties for such while the ZWMA should be the one to do that. Therefore, there is a need for these Government agencies to be harmonised to ensure that we do not disadvantage ourselves. I am aware that it is not easy for an importer to know that this type of vehicle, for example, will not actually be suitable for our roads. I am also aware that there was an impasse between the RDA and bus operators. There are certain buses which weigh about 30 tonnes before they are actually loaded with passengers. When that bus goes through the weigh bridge, it is found to be over-loaded. When the passengers disembark and the goods are removed from the bus, it is still found to be weighing over the recommended weight and there are people who are being charged at weigh bridges for over-loading. Therefore, as a country, we need to know what we want to achieve. You cannot develop an economy if weights are restricted.


Sir, if we want to protect our roads why, then, do we have to restrict people from using certain types of buses and trucks? We are aware that people who sell sand, for example, cannot be told to reduce the weights of their vehicles. That will not be possible because they carry heavy goods.


Mr Speaker, in supporting this Bill, I want to urge all the Government agencies that deal with weights and measures to harmonise their calibrations. I am also aware of the fact that there are disputes that arise on the conventional weigh bridges stationed in our weigh bridge centres like Kapiri Mposhi, Kafulafuta and Mpika in comparison to mobile weigh bridges. A person driving from Dar-es-Salaam would have passed through a weigh bridge and are told their vehicle weighs 28 tonnes. The RDA will also stop that vehicle and tell the driver that his vehicle weighs 48 tonnes because of its mobile weigh bridge. So, let the ZWMA be the one to tell us how it arrives at these weights. We have people who have private weigh bridges in their facilities and we also have Government weigh bridges. It is, therefore, important for us, as a country, to move in one direction.


Mr Speaker, I am aware that in Europe, regardless of which country you are in, one tonne remains one tonne. However, in Zambia, at the RDA weigh bridge, you will be told your vehicle is one tonne, a private weigh bridge will say your vehicle is 1.5 tonnes while the ZWMA will tell you that your vehicle is 800kg. All these are supposed to be harmonised because if you are importing or exporting, you are bound to lose money and pay penalties that you are not supposed to pay.


Sir, let us also concentrate on empowering our locals. Restricting our local manufactures and traders to certain weights and measures will not grow our country’s economy because we know that even if a person harvests 100 bags of maize, he or she cannot ferry them by road because their vehicle will be overweight. So, the transporter should pay penalties. I believe that there should be exemptions because what the people want to see is development in our economy.


Mr Speaker, allow me to also say that we seem to have a lot of conflicts among our local authorities such as the councils, the ZWMA and the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS). ZABS will okay something while the ZWMA will not okay it. There is a need to have a one stop centre. I am speaking as a manufacturer and these are the problems that we experience.




Mr Speaker: I do not know how many roles you are performing.




Mr Ngulube: Mr Speaker, it is about doing ninety-nine jobs.




Mr Ngulube: Sir, you will agree with me that the ZWMA is based in Lusaka and a person is forced to carry his or her goods to Lusaka for weighing. If you have a scale and you are measuring products like rice, ZABS will ask you to comply with its regulations. Similarly, the ZWMA and the council will also ask you to comply. We have about seventeen of such agencies. So, in order to grow our economy, we must devise a way of establishing who is responsible for certain things. If we continue at this pace, we risk losing out on opportunities because people will now resort to foreign products. It is easier and cheaper for me to buy already packed goods and resale them than for me to pack my own. Agencies such as the ZWMA will demand that the scale that I am using be calibrated and that requires me to pay K2,800 every year. ZABS will also make the same demands and if I am to transport them, the RDA will also make the same demands. Therefore, there is a need for us to find a way of exempting our own products from such demands.


Sir, we also know that there are Zambians who manufacture scales. However, they are not among the manufactures recognised by the ZWMA and that means one has to become a Chinese guy or company for them to qualify.


Mr Speaker: Order!


Hon. Member, your reference to “guy” is unparliamentary.


Mr Ngulube: Mr Speaker, I am sorry for that. I got carried away. In conclusion, let me congratulate the Under 20 National Soccer Team for scooping the trophy after beating the Senegalese team that was using Luapula technology.


I thank you, Sir.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!




Mr Chali (Nchanga): Mr Speaker, my contribution is very brief. The Bill seems very progressive, but I have a concern, which is about the regulation of the board. Just last Friday, we passed two Bills and they both had something on the regulation of the boards. Even though the hon. Minister said that the boards will fund themselves, if you look at our fiscal stand, in terms of the pressure we are exerting on the Treasury, it goes back to the previous speaker who has just said that the cost of calibrating a scale is more than buying a new one.


Sir, my concern is that if we allow the regulation of this board, it will be like creating three new boards under the same ministry, and how much will that cost? The hon. Minister is talking about twenty-one board members under the same ministry, with each board comprising seven members. That is my concern. Otherwise, I support the Bill.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Yaluma: Mr Speaker, firstly, I would like to thank the chairperson and her Committee for supporting this Bill. Indeed, all the concerns that have been raised will be taken into consideration when we implement the Bill.


Mr Speaker, the issues raised on calibration of these measurements and weighing tools are valid. One can only guarantee the accuracy of any measurement if the weighing instrument is regularly calibrated. By law, it should be desired that there is a frequency of two or three times per year that a tool is calibrated or checked for accuracy. This will not distort whatever measurement is taken. It will not be justified or verified if the instruments are not being calibrated.


Mr Speaker, hon. Ngulube’s points are very valid. If we are to empower Zambians, we must ensure that whatever they are paying to calibrate their weighing instruments is reasonable and not exorbitant. I can assure him that this will be taken into consideration.


With regard to application of the law on imported products, this Bill is meant to apply to all weights and measures on local and foreign products. So, we are trying to bring in a culture of ensuring that whatever we weigh meets the expectation of the foreign market before exporting it. We will, therefore, take this into consideration.


On the question of decentralisation, if we need to get proper services from the Metrology Agency we are creating, we will need to ensure that we decentralise these services for the people around the country. This will help someone who has ended up in Nakonde to, at least, get the same litres of fuel he or she gets here in Lusaka. Just to elate the House a little, we have already started opening up offices in Kasama and Chinsali so that we can bring these services closer to the people across the country.


Mr Speaker, with regards to weigh bridges, both private and Government bridges have to be calibrated by the ZWMA. This they do regularly to ensure that two trucks laden with 50 tonnes of maize weigh the same at either Kafue or Kafulafuta Weigh bridges. So, we are trying to ensure that calibrations are done as frequently as possible to reduce the overlap that I talked about between ZABS and the ZWMA. Even though each of them is trying to do its own thing, under one umbrella of the Metrology Agency, all these problems will be eased.


Finally, I would like to talk about the qualifications. We will ensure that these board members meet the requisite qualifications to serve on the board. We will ensure that we do not siphon the resources from the Treasury and that whatever we do is done in the right manner so that if there is money to remunerate, we do so where possible.


Sir, I wish to thank all hon. Members who contributed to the debate on this Bill.


I thank you, Sir.


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


Committed to a committee of the Whole House.


Committee on Thursday, 23rd March, 2017.








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


Question put and agreed to.




The House adjourned at 1747 hours until 1430 hours on Wednesday 15th March, 2017.