Tuesday, 27th October, 2020

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Tuesday, 27th October, 2020


The House met at 1430 hours


[MR SPEAKER in the Chair]











55. Mr Nkombo (Mazabuka Central) asked the Minister of Energy:


  1. what the cause of the sudden erratic supply of fuel, which is affecting all economic sectors, countrywide, is;
  2. what urgent measures the Government is taking to normalise the situation; and
  3. what long term measures are being taken to ensure a normal supply of fuel in the country.


The Minister of Energy (Mr Nkhuwa): Mr Speaker, the erratic supply of fuel was caused by an illegal work stoppage by truck drivers. This disrupted the delivery cycle of fuel to depots and filling stations around the country. This situation triggered panic buying by members of the public. I wish to assure the nation that the situation is being normalised.


Sir, this farming season, the Government is committed to address any bottlenecks that may hinder the smooth supply of petroleum products in the country. In this regard, the following measures have been put in place:


  1. the ministry has engaged Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to import enough products for the consumers. The Government has further engaged Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) on the use of the pre-clearance facility to ensure speedy delivery of fuel into the country. The Government has also agreed with the Tanzanian Government to expressly clear all Zambia-bound petroleum products;
  2. the ministry, in conjunction with the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) and Tanzania/Zambia/Mafuta (TAZAMA) Pipelines Limited, has come up with measures to speed up the mandatory inspection of fuel deliveries by OMCs and to also introduce flexible working hours to service OMCs efficiently; and
  3. the Ministry of Energy, in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs, is offering police escorts to tankers for security and speedy delivery of products to their destinations.


Mr Speaker, the Government remains resolute in ensuring that there is security in the supply of fuel in the country and it has put in place, the following medium term measures:


  1. enhancing logistical arrangements regarding the importation of crude oil to ensure steady supply;
  2. given OMCs waivers to import petroleum products; and
  3. will continue to enhance private sector participation by ensuring that citizen-owned companies participate in the petroleum supply chain.


Sir, the long term measures include:


  1. the rehabilitation of the TAZAMA Pipeline in order to improve its operational capacity;
  2. expansion of provincial fuel depots in all provinces. This will enhance fuel storage reserves; and
  3. construction of finished petroleum products pipelines. This will enhance our ability to meet the growing demand of petroleum products in Zambia. Notably, the two projects that have reached advanced discussions are the Tanzania/Zambia Finished Petroleum Pipeline and the Angola/Zambia Refined Petroleum Multi-Product and Natural Gas Pipeline (AZOP).


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Mbangweta (Nkeyema): Mr Speaker, in a layman’s language, the hon. Minister said that the situation is being normalised. When do we expect the situation to be normal?


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, the situation should be normal in the next one week.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Nkombo: Sir, I apologise. The system sort of closed me out earlier on.


Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister said that the shortage of fuel was as a result of the illegal work stoppage by truck drivers.  Illegal, as the action is by the truck drivers, what have they presented to him as their grievance which caused them to stop moving this very essential commodity?


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, the situation is that, as the Government, we do not own trucks. Therefore, we do not have grievances with the truck drivers. The trucks belong to private transporters and I think the truck drivers have grievances with their employers and not with the Government.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Lihefu (Manyinga): Mr Speaker, in most parts of the North-Western Province, there is no filling station that is operational. Ambulances are inoperative in most hospitals, hence the loss of lives because of failure to take patients to hospitals. What measures has the Government put in place to quicken the supply of fuel to Government hospitals and to ensure that they are supplied with fuel?


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, hospitals buy fuel from filling stations when it is supplied to them. Therefore, if there is a crisis in the hon. Member’s area, he can call on me like some hon. Members of Parliament have done. They have called on me and I put in place, emergency measures to ensure that all the filling stations are supplied with fuel. So, we are assisting in areas where people inform us that there is no fuel. However, when we know that there is no fuel in certain places, we tell OMCs, through the ERB, to deliver fuel to those places and ensure that there is fuel in every area. So, we know the areas that do not have fuel, but if the hon. Member has concerns about a certain area, he should get in touch with us and we will expedite the allocation of fuel to that area.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Mr A. C. Mumba (Kantanshi): Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister has told us and the nation that the Government does not have trucks and that this problem is due to truck owners. Does the hon. Minister not realise that the strong correlation between the Government and Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) has an effect on our economy? There is currently, a looming fuel crisis and, as we have heard, other sectors of the economy, like the health sector, are affected. Could the hon. Minister assure the nation that he will go beyond the recognition that the Government does not have trucks, but has a partnership with OMCs who play a role in ensuring that our economy continues to remain steadfast?


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, the International Traders Association of Zambia (ITAZ) and two other associations operate in the transport sector and they are recognised by the Government. The hon. Minister of Transport and Communication and I engaged these associations and they do not have a problem with the Government. It is just that a few disgruntled people started stopping the fuel trucks, stoning them, and picketing. So, the associations do not have a dispute with the Government because they have not declared any.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Miyutu was inaudible.


Mr Siwanzi (Nakonde): Mr Speaker, my question has partially been asked by the hon. Member for Kantanshi. However, fuel transporters are regulated by the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) because they apply for a fuel transporting permit before they commence the activities in this business. When applying, does the Government not ensure that such issues that may arise in future are attended to? As the hon. Member for Kantanshi stated, this affects our economy even if it has nothing to do with the Government. So, does the Government have any plans to include the component of disputes between drivers and their employers in the regulations so that we avoid such illegal strikes in future which affect our economy?


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, this issue falls directly under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transport and Communication and the transporters are in touch with it. Like I said, the associations had no argument with the Government. The truck drivers just became unruly and started doing things that they were not supposed to do, and that is why we called it an illegal operation. However, the Ministry of Transport and Communication directly deals with the transporters.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Mr Kasonso (Solwezi West): Mr Speaker, my question has been overtaken by events.


Mr Speaker: Very well.


Mr Miyanda (Mapatizya): Mr Speaker, my question is about the truck drivers who decided to go on strike, and the truth is that their action has caused damage to our economy. How many fuel transporting companies are Zambian and how many are foreigners?


Mr Speaker: Unless the hon. Minister has the information, I am quite reluctant to allow him to respond to this question. Firstly, we are talking about the fuel shortage. Secondly, he has repeatedly stated that the superintendence does not fall under his line ministry.


Hon. Minister, would you like to say something?


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, it is exactly as you have stated.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Mwila (Chimwemwe): Mr Speaker, the fuel shortage was observed –


Mr A. C. Mumba: On a point of order, Sir.


Mr Speaker: A point of order is raised.


Mr A. C. Mumba: Mr Speaker, I apologise for interrupting the hon. Member of Parliament for Chimwemwe, but I feel compelled to raise this point of order.


Sir, you are fully aware that when the President was addressing the nation on 25th September, 2020, he announced that before the end of this year, he will commission the Kafue Gorge Lower Power Station and that load shedding will be an issue of the past. Obviously, power is one of the main contributors to our economy through businesses. Therefore, the business community was excited, especially the people with small businesses like barbershops, butcheries and saloons, because these have not been functioning during normal hours thereby contributing less than expected to our economy.


Mr Speaker, last week, the Kafue Gorge Lower Hydropower Plant caught fire and we heard of one fatality. It has also left scars on a number of people who were working there.


Sir, is the hon. Minister of Energy in order to remain quiet when the close to US$2 billion investment by taxpayers is under threat? At the same time, every one of us is anticipating that the eight hours load shedding which has also affected the performance of our children in schools, is supposed to come to an end by the end of December. Is he in order to remain quiet over such an important project which is supposed to support our economy?


I seek your serious ruling, Sir.


Mr Speaker: My ruling is that if you would like to engage the hon. Minister of Energy in the terms that you have just described or narrated, surely, you are at liberty to do so, and I will assist you as soon as I receive your question.


Mr Mwila: Mr Speaker, a fuel shortage was observed in filling stations three days after the drivers declared the illegal strike. What is the average fuel cover in terms of base before stock output has been halted at the filling stations in the country.


Mr Speaker: Hon. Minister, have you been able to follow that question.


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, No, I did not follow the question.


Mr Speaker: I did not follow it either.


Mr Mwila: Mr Speaker let me repeat the question. The country started experiencing fuel shortages at filling stations a few days after the illegal strike that was created by the transporters or truck drivers. Therefore, what is the country’s average fuel cover in terms of days? How many days would our country go without experiencing fuel shortages at filling stations?


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, I am not too sure of what he was saying. Is he asking how many days the fuel shortage is going to continue? Is that the question?


Mr Speaker: Hon. Member for Chimwemwe, try and abbreviate your question. Maybe, we will get it. Wherever you are, you are not very clear. You are usually clear, but probably, you are in Chimwemwe.


Mr Mwila: Mr Speaker, I am at the Parliament Motel. I think the network reception here is not very good.


Mr Speaker: You are more audible now. Try and abbreviate your question.


Mr Mwila: Mr Speaker, what is the average import or storage cover for fuel in our country? How many days is the fuel cover in the country before motorists can start seeing stock outs at filling stations?


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, the normal days of fuel stocks in our depots has a minimum of fifteen days. As of yesterday, the stock days were five days, but we are still receiving a lot of fuel into the country. Sometimes, the delay is caused by not being too sure if these people have completely left the bushes where they were operating from. Therefore, in such circumstances, we get the Zambia Police under the Ministry of Home Affairs, to assist us in escorting the trucks. The Zambia Police escorts a fleet of twenty or thirty trucks at a time, when transporting fuel. So, this process is causing a bit of delay. However, we will build up. We had gone down to about two days of stock, but now, we are up to five days of stock.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Zimba was inaudible.


Mr Kabanda (Serenje): Mr Speaker, how is the Government going to deal with the situation that it has found itself into, which is the cross fire-fighting between the truck drivers and their employers? What is the Government’s plan in the event that such a thing reoccurs in future?


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, let me reiterate that this issue is under the Ministry of Transport and Communication. However, the fact that we are interested in the fuel, we liaise with the Ministry of Transport and Communication time and again, to make sure that we are on the same page. Therefore, we are discussing with colleagues at the Ministry of Transport and Communication, and I am sure that the answers will come from them. We have to go through them. 


Mar Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Mwiimbu (Monze Central): Mr Speaker, I am aware that the hon. Minister of Energy’s predecessors used to advise us that even if we failed to import fuel in the country, we had adequate storage facilities in all provincial headquarters, including Lusaka. Having taken note of the disruption by the transporters, why do we have these serious shortages when we have all these storage facilities throughout the country, and in some certain areas, there is no picketing that is happening? Why is there a shortage?


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, we have storage facilities in many provinces but definitely not adequate because the fuel requirements keep on increasing. Whereas two years ago, the storage capacity would have been enough, but that is not the case right now. The ministry is building storage facilities in Chipata and Lusaka. So, we are doing something about it. The facilities are being built and going forward, this situation will not arise.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Mecha (Chifunabuli): Mr Speaker, I am aware that energy, especially petroleum, is the life blood of the Zambian economy and any disruption to the supply chain has obvious implications. Has the hon. Minister done any quick studies in collaboration with other ministries to ascertain the extent to which the economic life of the country has been jeopardised due to the work stoppage and the disruption in fuel supply?


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, earlier on, I said that we anticipate this situation to normalise in about a week’s time. Thereafter, we will carry out a post-mortem to look at the extent of the damage that has been caused to the economy as a result of the fuel shortage.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Mr Nkombo (Mazabuka Central): Mr Speaker, I need your help, and through you, maybe, the hon. Minister can help me. I would like to read part (b) of my question on the Order Paper, which reads as follows:


(b)      in view of the forthcoming farming season, what urgent measures is the Government taking to normalise the situation.”


Sir, I observed that the hon. Minister got away with it by simply saying that this is not his portfolio, but the Ministry of Transport and Communication’s, yet it is the same Government. Could the hon. Minister please answer my question.


Mr Speaker: The hon. Minister of Energy.


Mr Nkombo: Sir, I have not even posed the question. I was just pre –


Mr Speaker: Order!


I thought your question is on the Order Paper, and he had not answered it, therefore, you want him to answer it.


Mr Nkombo: No, Sir, can I repeat my question?


Mr Speaker: Pose your question.


Mr Nkombo: Mr Speaker, I want to remind the hon. Minister that the Government is one, and hon. Ministers serve under the same Cabinet. He cannot afford to pass the buck to the Ministry of Transport and Communication when we ask what has been done to deal with Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs), whom we appreciate for dealing with the drivers who went on an illegal strike. What has the Government done to engage OMCs to ensure that the situation normalises? This is the question I asked at (b) not to the Ministry of Energy but to the Government. This is a matter of public concern and that is why it has come as a question of an urgent nature.


Mr Speaker, my second question is that, ever since the United States (US) Dollar gained against the Kwacha, there has been speculation that this particular work stoppage has been engineered by the OMCs themselves, who are trying to instigate the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) to hike the prices of petroleum products. Has the hon. Minister heard about this speculation or not?


Mr Speaker: Hon. Nkombo, Member of Parliament for Mazabuka Central, you will agree with me that the second question is clearly a new question. The practice is that you are only entitled to one question. Hon. Minister, you may answer the first question.


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, the answer for that question was that this farming season, the Government is committed to addressing any bottlenecks that may hinder the smooth supply of petroleum products in the country. In this regard, the following measures have been put in place:


  1. the ministry has engaged Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to import enough products for the consumers. The Government is further encouraging the use of the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA’s) pre-clearing facility to ensure the speedy delivery of fuel in the country. The Government has also agreed with the Tanzanian Government to expressly clear all Zambian-bound petroleum trucks;
  2. the ministry, in conjunction with the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) and the Tanzania/Zambia/Mafuta (TAZAMA) Pipelines Limited, has come up with measures to speed up mandatory inspection of fuel deliveries by all OMCs and introduce flexible working hours to service OMCs. We had a situation where trucks were not moving at night, but now, we have allowed them to move at night so that they can deliver the fuel to the depots and to the filling stations; and
  3. the Ministry of Energy, in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs, is offering police escort to tankers for security and speedy delivery of products to their destination.


Mr Speaker, I thought that that was adequately covered.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Livune (Katombola): Mr Speaker, there are assertions that this fuel shortage is as a result of the push to ensure that the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) makes it possible to adjust the fuel prices upwards. Now, people are wondering whether that is true. Therefore, they would like the hon. Minister to tell the truth. Otherwise, people think that the rumour that ERB wants to hike the fuel prices is true. Could the hon. Minister tell the nation the truth.


Mr Speaker: Order!


Hon. Members, if you have information, issues and so forth, you are at liberty to ask questions. What I am doing now is to process supplementary questions. Hon. Minister, would you like to respond to that question?


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, rumours are very sweet and they move very fast. I can say here that as the Ministry of Energy, we had a meeting in my office last week with most of the OMCs. They never motioned any price hike in the whole of the discussions. Therefore, we will treat that as a rumour.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Sing’ombe (Dundumwezi): Mr Speaker, the erratic supply of fuel has seen an increase in illegal fuel dealers on our highways. What is the Government doing to ensure that these people supply clean fuel since we currently have the shortage of fuel in filling stations?


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, if I heard the question right, the hon. Member talked about people selling fuel along highways.


Mr Speaker, we have ERB and the law enforcement officers who keep checking on such people. We have asked them to intensify checks to ensure that people are not selling fuel on the road sides as it is not safe and the quality of fuel may be compromised because they add all sorts of additives to it.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Michelo (Bweengwa): Mr Speaker, is the hon. Minister in a position to give an estimated loss, in monetary form, arising from the erratic supply of fuel in the country?


Mr Speaker: Order!


The hon. Minister already answered that question. He said, after all is said and done –


Mr Michelo: Mr Speaker, then I can ask another question. Can I come in again?


Mr Speaker: No, you may not since you have acknowledged that it has been answered.


Mr S. Banda (Kasenengwa): Mr Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister for the response. Obviously, it has put to bed many issues which were raised. He did indicate that the Government wants to encourage local Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to participate in the distribution of oil. Does the hon. Minister have statistics to show how many local OMCs are participating and how many are from across the borders?


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, indeed, we do have statistics in the office. We have local OMCs who are participating in the distribution of oil. However, I do not have that list just now. If the hon. Member can come to the office, I will be able to share with him, the list of local OMCs who are participating in the distribution of oil.


Mr Speaker, it is the wish of this Government to empower Zambians in the petroleum sector and to build capacity.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Speaker: Hon. Members, I will take the following last interventions: The hon. Member for Kalomo Central, the hon. Member for Chifubu, the hon. Member for Mwembezhi, the hon. Member for Solwezi West, the hon. Member for Gwembe, the hon. Member for Kalabo Central. I will close with the hon. Member for Kabompo.


Mr Kamboni (Kalomo Central): Mr Speaker, how has the devaluation of the Kwacha at K20.21 to US$1, affected the fuel business?


Mr Speaker: Hon. Member for Kalomo Central, that is a new question.


Mr Ng’ambi was inaudible.


Mr Jamba was inaudible.


Mr Kasonso (Solwezi West): Mr Speaker, I am aware that the Government has 10 million litres worth of fuel tanks and over 5 million litres of petrol in Solwezi. So, why was there a shortage in Solwezi town which is just about 3 km from the Government tanks? Was it not because the tanks were empty?


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, indeed, the tanks were empty. This was due to a disruption in the supply line. The disruption was mainly happening at points of entry such as Nakonde and Chanida border posts.


I thank you, Sir.


Ms Chisangano (Gwembe): Mr Speaker, why has the Government not bothered to apologise to the people of Zambia for the fuel shortage when a lot of activities have been disturbed.


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, my ministry and the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) have issued several statements explaining the situation on the ground. We have even been urging people not to panic and bulk-buy. So, there are statements that have been issued to the press.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Miyutu (Kalabo Central): Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister has indicated that he is expecting the situation to normalise in seven days. I would like to request him to think outside the box and see this country outside Lusaka. What gives him confidence that the seven days period is enough to sort out this situation in the country? What made him be assured of seven days and not less than that? We were hoping that he would say within three days because the effect of the shortage of fuel is too much.


Mr Speaker: Order!


 Hon. Member, you are repeating yourself.


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, I know the number of trucks that are coming and the amount of fuel that is going to be produced by Indeni Petroleum Refinery Company Limited. It is from that background that I said that this shortage will be history within seven days.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Lufuma (Kabompo): Mr Speaker, –


Mr Jamba: On a point of order, Sir.


Mr Speaker: A point of order is raised.


Mr Jamba: Mr Speaker, I rise on a very serious point of order. Is the hon. Minister in order not to answer questions? He is either diverting the questions to the hon. Minister of Transport and Communication or directly not answering them at all. For example, in his response to the question raised by the hon. Member for Solwezi West, he talked about Chanida Border Post when the hon. Member asked about the lack of fuel in the fuel tanks that are in Solwezi.


Mr Speaker: The hon. Minister, as far as I am concerned, is responding very adequately. In fact, …


Mr Jamba: No!


Mr Speaker: … in so far as the question relating to Solwezi West was concerned, he was very candid. He acknowledged that the storage facilities were empty and went on to give an explanation on why they were empty. He could not have been more candid than that.


The hon. Member for Kabompo may continue.


Mr Lufuma: Mr Speaker, fuel is a very strategic commodity to any economy as it is a life line of economic activities in any nation. To forestall such disruptions in future, what long term strategic plans has the Government put in place to ensure that there is investment in the production and mining of this commodity within the country?


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, the response to part (c) of the question was that the medium term solution will enhance logistical arrangements regarding the importation of crude oil to ensure a steady supply. The second one was that the Government had given Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) waivers to import petroleum products. The third one was that the Government would continue to enhance private sector participation by ensuring that citizen-owned companies participate in the petroleum supply chain. Further, in the long term, we have the rehabilitation of the Tanzania/Zambia/Mafuta (TAZAMA) Pipeline, in order to improve its operational capacity. We have already done 50 per cent of that and there is only about 900 km remaining. We can start transporting more through the pipeline very soon. Another one is to expedite the construction of provincial fuel depots in all provinces to enhance fuel strategic reserves.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Speaker: There were three other interventions on our other zoom platform and I take cognisance of them. These are the hon. Member for Keembe, the hon. Member for Mumbwa and the hon. Member for Mwinilunga.


Ms Kasune (Keembe): Mr Speaker, has there been any communication by your ministry to sensitise the citizenry on the fuel shortage so that it is not hit with unnecessary increments in prices of other commodities? This is usually what happens. Even though the shortage of fuel, from the hon. Minister’s view may be short-lived, many merchants, particularly in rural areas where news does not travel fast, increase prices of commodities, citing the fuel shortage.


Mr Speaker, could the hon. Minister clarify and help us to understand whether or not there has been some sensitisation to ensure that consumers out there are not hit with unnecessary hikes in the price of commodities.  


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, this portfolio falls under my ministry and the ERB. Like I said earlier on, my office and the ERB have communicated to the public. If there is any fuel price increase, it is normally announced by the ERB. It is only at such time that the ERB announces a price hike or a price reduction of fuel that the general public should take it as official. Anything that does not come from the ERB is unofficial and illegal.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Nanjuwa (Mumbwa): Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister mentioned the provision of waivers to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs). How long will these waivers stand? Will they come to an end once the situation normalises or not?


Mr Nkhuwa: Mr Speaker, the current waivers will expire on 31st December, 2020. If the situation still requires that we renew them, we will be able to do that. We will give, at least, fourteen days’ notice to OMCs in order for them to make sure that they have adequate time to prepare for supply.


 I thank you, Sir.


Mr Speaker: The last intervention from the zoom platform is from the hon. Member for Mwinilunga.


Mr Samakayi was unavailable.









VOTE 33 – (Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry – K639,025,132)


(Consideration resumed)


Mr Nkombo (Mazabuka Central): Madam Chairperson, when business was suspended on Friday, 23rd October, 2020, I had just about a minute to go. I was saying that we need a surgery of the situation in this country. The surgery that I was talking about was the removal of a malignant mass from the body so that the body can breathe well. What we have failed to do as a country is to attend to the things that I spoke about last week. These include the weak innovative capacity, lower human capital capacity and policy.


Madam Chairperson, who is responsible for policy? It is the Government. So, this is the surgery that we need to do as a country. We need to remove the current Government and replace it with a more serious Government that can attend to the issues which will make sure that we take advantage of the natural endowments that we have, such as the gold deposits, other mineral deposits and the Mukula tree to the benefit of the citizens.


Madam Chairperson, the Patriotic Front (PF) has failed to do that and this is why, on 12th August, 2021, it must be given marching orders or an instant dismissal by the Zambian people.


I thank you, Madam Chairperson.


The Chairperson: Hon. Members, last week, we took note of the hon. Members who intended to debate. I will try to follow those indications.


Mr A. C. Mumba (Kantanshi): Madam Chairperson, I thank you for the opportunity to debate. I would also like to thank the hon. Minister for the policy statement. In my debate, I will just try to remind the Government, particularly the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry that it plays a pivotal role in as far as trade, investment and commerce are concerned. There must be a way the ministry has to function without it operating in silos, but in a multi-sectorial approach which should be able to drive businesses and create opportunities for the people of Zambia. This can be done through consistent policies.


Madam Chairperson, let us take, for example, what is happening in the agriculture sector where we are investing millions of Kwacha in as far as the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) is concerned. The Government invests tax payers’ money. If we take the 2020 Budget, for example, we are investing K2 billion to support FISP and another K600 million towards the purchase of maize for our strategic reasons. The third expense by the Government, which I think adds to the cost of maize are the running costs of the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), the maize policing costs of the FRA, the storage costs, sack costs and all the suppliers who depend on the investment into FISP. However, what do we see at the end of the day after a bumper harvest? Anybody who tries to turn this maize into mealie meal – inaudible


The Chairperson: Order!


 Hon. Member, can you try to speak up. We can hardly hear you. If you are using a microphone, get closer to it.


Mr A. C. Mumba: Madam Chairperson, I was just giving an example of the pivotal role that the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry plays in promoting trade and investment, both domestically and abroad. Of course, investment from abroad is through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). My main interest, however, is our local trade. I was giving an example of the correlation that exists in sectors such as agriculture and mining. I have picked on agriculture because we were looking at the cost of FISP which is funded by taxpayers’ money which goes into the FRA. At the end of the day, when we have these bumper harvests and all these costs including the cost of running the FRA through the taxpayer, you find that the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry is absent when it comes to the churning of this maize into mealie meal and, indeed, going into export markets such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where we have already existing bilateral agreements.


 Madam, on the other hand, the Government has invested a lot. Look at the solar milling plants which have remained idle and are unable to produce any mealie meal, thus making the co-operatives unable to pay the Government so that it can also pay back its loan.


Madam Chairperson, my point is that the ministry needs to look at how it can expand the trading opportunities for Zambians as opposed to smuggling which we are talking about now. Those are things that used to happen in the seventies, simply because we have not been able to create a strong correlation with this business ministry to provide opportunities for the Zambian people. Look at the buy-Zambia campaign and the opportunity that the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) crisis has created. This is a time when we should see more and more of our local products on the shelves of all these big shop outlets like Shoprite and Pick n Pay.


Madam Chairperson, this year’s budget has gone further to ensure that taxes are increased on any livestock product that will be imported into the country. This will create an opportunity for all of us in this country. Off course, we will face challenges. Right now we have a fish deficit of 35 metric tonnes and then we have been told that China will no longer bring in any fish or there will be a huge tax that will be slumped on importing fish. So, it means that this budget is creating an opportunity for us to double our efforts.


Madam, I just feel that the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry has not been too aggressive, especially now that even our FDI has declined. We have a world recession hence it will be very difficult to have investors easily invest into huge sectors like mining, which is a mainstay of our economy. There should be a need for the ministry reflect and see how best it can build local businesses instead of calling it smuggling, especially for products like maize that are produced under the agriculture sector. It is quite unfortunate.


With those few words, I would like to end here.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Ng’onga (Kaputa): Madam Chairperson, I just want to add my voice on this Vote, on behalf of the people of Kaputa and probably just try to debate two issues. One of them is the budget support to the co-operatives unit that falls under the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry. Secondly, I will look at the investment that the Government has put into the small blue hammer mills.


Madam Chairperson, there is a need to find money to invest in these small blue hammer mills which are dotted around the country. In almost every province, wherever you go, you will find these small hammer mills. A number of them can now be called white elephants because they are not operational. However, for those that are operational, a bit of investment and ingenuity could turn these centres into centres of excellence. These centres could be used as aggregation points for some of our agricultural crops. The investment on the solar panels which surround these small hammer mills could also be used, not only for the generation of power around the areas where they are, but also for minor irrigation, especially in places where the Government has already put up that investment at a great cost. I wish that the hon. Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry and those who are involved in the empowerment of youths and local people could ensure that they put in some more resources to make use of these blue hammer mills. A lot of investment has gone into putting up these hammer mills.


Madam Chairperson, let me briefly talk about the support through the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC). This particular wing of the Government in the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry is very important in ensuring that whatever resources allocated to it, which are meant for empowerment, are given in good time.


Madam Chairperson, I have examples. In 2018 and 2019, there were projects that were approved and funded but because of the exchange rate differences, the approved projects have not been operational. The projects were supposed to empower the youths in order to generate businesses, grow those businesses, and contribute to our economy. These projects have not been operationalised because, either, the machinery is dormant or the buildings have done and they cannot move forward. When resources are allocated to the CEEC, please, ensure that the release of funds is expedited so that those who benefit from these Government resources can get the empowerment that they deserve.


Madam Chairperson, the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry is a very important ministry in our country, as indicated by everybody who has debated because it is a ministry that can generate or help to create a conducive environment for traders, those who are commercially minded, and for those who can generate resources for this country, Zambia.


Madam Chairperson I would like to urge the hon. Minister and his team to come up with policies like that of cassava in the North-Western Province.  Inaudible – There are many examples that we can cite. All we are saying is that the Ministry Commerce, Trade and Industry should pull up its socks so that it does its job in order to contribute to this economy as anticipated.


I thank you very much for the opportunity.


I thank you, Madam Chairperson.


Mrs M. L. Phiri (Chilanga): Madam Chairperson, I thank you for this opportunity that you have given me to add my voice on this important Vote, on behalf of the people of Chilanga. I thank the hon. Minister for the policy direction on this Vote.


Madam Chairperson: Order!


There is something wrong with the picture.


Mrs M. L. Phiri: The Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry is the engine of our economy.




Madam Chairperson: Order, hon. Member just give us a moment.


Mrs M. L. Phiri: Yes, okay.


Madam Chairperson: You can proceed now with your debate.


Mrs M. L. Phiri: Madam Chairperson, I was saying that the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry is the engine of our economy. In supporting this Vote, I would like to urge the hon. Minister to allocate much more resources to enable the ministry to monitor some of the Statutory Instruments (SIs) which are in place, such as the one on block-making which is supposed to be reserved for locals. This business is supposed to be reserved for the locals but it has been overtaken by foreigners. Anywhere where there is a construction site, you will find that these foreigners have put up a giant factory which is producing many blocks. One factory costs about US$180,000 and produces about 10,000 blocks a day and it consumes about 600 pockets of cement per day. This is a huge investment which most of our local people cannot afford to do.


 Madam Chairperson, I urge the hon. Minister to monitor that SI which is already in place and make sure that the locals take over this business so that more jobs are created for locals and the money which is generated is deposited within the country.


Madam Chairperson, I also want to know whether these foreigners who own big factories that are making blocks are banking the monies they make from the sale of these blocks. Are they paying the needed taxes to the Government? The ministry needs money to be able to monitor all these things.


Madam Chairperson, when the hon. Minister visited a Government factory on the Copperbelt, he made a very commendable statement that the Government was going to work towards stopping the importation of personal protective clothing which is already being manufactured in the country. This is a very good step in the right direction because the moment this is done, small industries that are manufacturing garments like work suits, overalls, and gumboots will create more jobs and wealth, and we will be self sufficient in personal protective clothing. I am one of those who are producing protective clothing. Many more people will join this kind of manufacturing industry if it is enforced now whilst we have the Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. I think it will be very good. By the time we come out of the storm, we will be self-sufficient in the production of personal protective clothing.


Madam Chairperson, with these very few remarks, I support the Vote.


I thank you.


Mr Muchima (Ikeleng’i): Madam Chairperson, the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry is a key engine of an economy. The Vote for the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry should be supported but we are not utilising the chances that are available to us. We have many borders like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Angola which are export arenas but we have neglected them. If you take a look at Katima Mulilo on the Namibian side, you will be amazed to see how they have concentrated on it. If the hon. Minister can also take an opportunity to develop these boarder areas, there will be a great opportunity even for a simple person to export and that will improve our balance of payment. However, we have just concentrated on imports that are coming through the major borders. This is something that we have to look at very seriously.


Madam Chairperson, I would like to urge the hon. Minister to encourage Zambians to partner with foreign investors to fill in the gaps that are commercially viable. Look at the way we are suffering with the importation of oil. We only have one linkage, which is either by road or by Tanzania/Zambia Railways Authority (TAZARA) railway, from Tanzania. Nevertheless, we can connect to the one from Lobito in Angola, through Jimbe in my constituency. My constituency is well placed. It borders with DRC and Angola and this gives us an opportunity to export and cheaply import into this country.


Madam, our planning should be strategic by concentrating on value addition but we are not doing that. Politics is at the centre than the economy is. I would like the hon. Minister to be at the centre of development. Look at the money which the Government wants to put into youth empowerment. This money should go to the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry through the Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) so that it generates and develop the interest of many Zambians.


Madam Chairperson, there are artisans who are just loafing because they have no capital. It is very difficult for some of them to borrow because they have no collateral. If we critically examine ourselves, we will find that Zambia is economically viable. We have water, land and nearly everything but we have no coordinated skill to develop this nation. I would urge the hon. Minister, as he has been doing, to coordinate the marketing strategy for Zambian goods. We can be able to produce maize for exports, local consumption and animal feed. All these opportunities are going to waste simply because of lack of communication and coordination in the issue of connecting the marketing system. The market strategy will help this economy grow. We do not need to import some of these items. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) favours countries like China and others, not us.


Madam, in Namibia, they do not easily export because they have restrictions in place. They would rather import from South Africa into Namibia and yet we can export vegetables and maize bran to Namibia. We can do much more if we concentrate on commerce. Commerce is a key driver to this economy except that we are mixing it too much with politics. Caderism should be removed. Let us concentrate on people who have potential; people in gardening and fabrics. Let us support them. We should find means and ways of supporting them and how we can recover our money. We can bring in experts from China or Japan to help manage this economy by improving the value of what the people of Zambia are doing.


Madam Chairperson we should also improve the Nakonde border because it creates a lot of money but when you look at the status this border, you can vomit. We need money to be ploughed into the Nakonde border.


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


The Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry (Mr Yaluma): Madam Chairperson, I would like to thank all the hon. Members of this august House who ably debated my Budget statement. These are: Hon. Sensio Banda, Dr Imakando, Hon. L. Phiri, Hon. Muchima, Hon. A. Mumba, Hon. Garry Nkombo, Hon. Ng’onga, and not forgetting Hon. Tutwa Ngulube.


Madam, I would like to assure them that all their comments have been taken in and we will evaluate and see how we can incorporate them into our daily business. However, regarding the concerns of Dr Imakando, I would like to assure him that the Patriotic Front (PF) Government, led by His Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, has been committed and is still committed in ensuring that this economy is run by a private sector. It is a very well-known fact that should we need to grow our economy, we need strong participation from the private sector. It is also a very well-known fact that the Government has embarked on diversification of the economy. The strategy is to move away from copper which is a depleted asset and concentrate on agriculture and agro-processing. We also want to ensure that all the end products sustain our economy for the future, using our abundant raw materials which we are endowed with as a country.


Madam Chairperson, I would like to thank Hon. Ngulube for amplifying what was contained in my statement and as a result, we all know very well what we are doing in order to empower our youths and women by concentrating on the value chain, such as cashew nuts, cassava. We are also ensuring that we empower youths through the exploitation of the industry. He also talked about Kabwe having an industrial park. Indeed we will avail one to Kabwe so that we can give opportunities to our youths like those who are involved in light engineering, light manufacture and metal fabrication, and mechanics. We will maintain the empowerment of our youths who in turn, would create employment for our people.


Madam, as regards Hon. Garry Nkombo’s debate, what he contributed today is something different, but I would like to assure him that come next year, I will show him where we would have put up some serious textile industries which will be operational.


Madam Chairperson, Zambia has a strong potential to stimulate its economy through the textile and garment industry because it has huge tracks of land, good climate and good water resources, which can support the stimulation of the textile industry. I know for sure that, previously, we had a thriving textile industry in this country. Some people who have been there for a long time remember that Serioes International and Colwyn Low and Bonar in Ndola were household names in the textile industry, but we lost them along the way. However, we are currently on track and we hope to see new textile and garment industries in the country. We are about to reopen Mulungushi Textiles and we anticipate new industries by the Japanese in Kabwe, which should kick-start in the next two years or so. So, we are on track.


Madam Chairperson, Hon. Ng’onga talked about milling plants. Yes, milling plants are intended to ease unemployment by empowering the people in rural areas as regards milling.


I thank you, Madam.


Vote 33 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.


VOTE 38 – (Ministry of National Development Planning – K779,507,247)


The Minister of National Development Planning (Mr Chiteme): Madam Chairperson, it is my honour to stand before this august House to present the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the Ministry of National Development Planning for the period 1st January to 31st December, 2021.


Madam Chairperson, before I proceed, let me take this opportunity to thank the hon. Minister of Finance for presenting a very progressive 2021 National Budget amidst a challenging national and global economic environment, particularly in the context of the very serious Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, while laying a strong foundation for economic recovery for the 2021 Budget aimed at safeguarding livelihoods and protecting vulnerable citizens, especially, the allocation towards social protection programmes through the provision of the Food Security Pack and the Social Cash Transfer Scheme to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on the poor and the vulnerable population. That is a step in the right direction.


Review of the Medium Past Performance of the Ministry


Madam Chairperson, my ministry was able to implement a number of programmes and activities as envisaged in the 2020 Budget. A lot of progress was made in the spirit of achieving more with less despite the various challenges, including the earlier mentioned COVID-19. Let me now highlight a few achievements we had in 2020.


Madam Chairperson, to strengthen the implementation, monitoring and reporting on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Government, through my ministry, successfully participated in the 2020 Voluntary National Review and produced a progress report on the implementation of programmes towards the attainment of the SDGs in Zambia. This report was presented virtually at a high level political forum on sustainable development in July 2020. The ministry also sourced a US$1.5 million grant from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and signed implementation agreements with the Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZANACO) and the National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) for the purpose of actualising the technical assistance component for the renewable energy financing framework.


Further, in relation to climate change, the ministry has continued to co-ordinate the implementation of interventions in line with the National Population Policy on Climate Change. Some of the activities that my ministry supported include the installation of livestock breeding centres, the production of mushroom, honey, and crafts at district level, to mention but a few. The implementation of these projects has contributed to strengthening the country’s capacity to adapt to climate change.


Madam Chairperson, you may wish to note that the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) is expiring in 2021. In this regard, and in line with the requirements of the National Planning and Budgeting Policy of 2014, the Government, through my ministry, has started the process of developing the Eighth National Development Plan (8NDP) for implementation during the period 2020 to 2026. This successor plan will seek to build on the 7NDP and be a building block towards the Vision 2030. Findings of the medium-term review of the 7NDP that was undertaken this year will also be taken into account as we do the new plan. This august House will be updated in due course on how the Government, through my ministry, intends to undertake this important national assignment in collaboration with different stakeholders in line with the planning and budgeting legislation.


Madam Chairperson, my ministry has made strides to overcome the challenges in undertaking monitoring and evaluation of various projects and programmes in the country. Some of the key achievements include the roll-out of the upgraded Government Management Monitoring System with over 700 end users trained and 50 per cent of the spending agencies using the system. Following the development of the Public Investment Management System (PIMS), which governs the preparation, selection and implementation of public investment projects, I am glad to inform this august House that the Public Investment Management Board is now operational and all public projects will be thoroughly scrutinised. Public investment guidelines have been issued to all Government institutions and the general appraisal manual for public investment projects is also under development and will serve as a practical guide in the identification, formulation and appraisal of projects.


Madam Chairperson, during the review period, my ministry developed and launched the 2029 National Population Policy whose objective is to harness the demographic dividends. The policy also aims at integrating population issues into all development planning purposes and to help address the rural-urban drift. To enhance the availability and the use of population data for development planning, my ministry, in collaboration with the University of Zambia (UNZA), undertook an in-depth analysis of the 2018 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS) on selected thematic areas. In 2020, the in-depth analysis systematically examined trends and patterns and inequalities in the realisation of health and wellbeing, the rights of women and adolescents, including understanding their immediate and underlying structural causes.


Madam Chairperson, the overall ministerial budget is within the 2021 cluster ceiling of K779,507,247. Let me now highlight the few key programmes that the ministry will undertake in 2021.


Development Planning Co-ordination


Madam, my ministry will focus on developing the 8NDP that seeks to address the issues and bottlenecks identified in the 7NDP mid-term evaluation. In addition, we will seek to continue to co-ordinate the implementation of the 7NDP and the SDGs. This will be done by strengthening multi-sectoral co-ordination through the National Development Co-ordinating Committees (NDCCs), the Provincial Development Co-ordinating Committees (PDCCs) and the District Development Co-ordinating Committees (DCCCs).


2021 Population and Housing Census


Madam Chairperson, my ministry will focus on ensuring that the Population and Housing Census is undertaken to support evidence-based development planning, and monitoring and evaluation. In 2021, my ministry will continue to provide key economic indicators to track development in the economy and informed decision-making. These include the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the consumer price index, the external trade statistics, employment data and crop forecast statistics, to mention but a few.


Public Investment Planning


Madam Chairperson, my ministry will continue to co-ordinate the preparation and appraisal of all major public investment projects in accordance with the established public investment systems. This is to ensure that all public investment projects which are being developed are viable, achieve value for money and are in line with national strategic objectives.


Monitoring and Evaluation


Madam Chairperson, our focus will be to co-ordinate the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the 7NDP programmes and projects. Further, the utilisation of the management monitoring system, which is a wide Government monitoring and evaluation system, will be enhanced. Measures will also be undertaken to build capacity in monitoring and evaluation at all levels of the Government.


Population and Development


Madam Chairperson, my ministry will focus on operationalising the National Population Policy with a view of ensuring that development plans, policies and programmes and their implementation are informed by population dynamics. This will also be done through the development and implementation of the demographic dividend operational plan and the population integration module.


Development Co-operation


Madam Chairperson, my ministry will continue to co-ordinate the high level engagement with development partners to enlist their support in financing the implementation of the country’s development agenda. This will be done in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance. In addition, my ministry will continue enhancing the supervision of externally financed projects to ensure that the implementation of programmes is on track in delivering agreed upon results.


Climate Change


Madam Chairperson, our focus will be to mobilise resources for climate adaptation and mitigation. Further, the ministry will continue to strengthen the co-ordination mechanism of climate change interventions across line ministries with a view to ensure that they are aligned to the strategic interventions of the 7NDP.


Madam Chairperson, in conclusion, my ministry will endeavour to effectively and efficiently co-ordinate national planning that it is evidence-based –


The Chairperson: Order!


The hon. Minister’s time expired.


Ms Kasune (Keembe): Madam Chairperson, I thank the hon. Minister for that policy statement.


Madam Chairperson, I am concerned about the budget which is allocated to the ministry that is charged with the national planning of our country as well as monitoring and evaluation of programmes and projects because it seems it will not be able to achieve the core business or mandate that it was created for.


Madam Chairperson, in many countries, similar ministries are not positioned the way this ministry has been placed in the governance structure in Zambia. Such a ministry is usually under the Vice-President or the President of the country, so that they can oversee the planning aspect of development. However, this is not the case in our country and this has reduced this ministry to just be like any other ministry when its mandate is actually critical.


Madam Chairperson, money has not been allocated for the census. However, we are aware that the next national census was supposed to have commenced in August this year, 2020. This is in line with the fact that come 2021, people, especially us as hon. Members of Parliament, would have known what the number of people in specific areas is and where even the need for multiplication of constituencies could have taken place. You cannot claim to bring equal development to a nation when you do not know your population.


Madam Chairperson, this ministry is likely to miss the population dividends because of lack of data collection. The hon. Minister alluded to the importance of data collection and rightly so. However, in as much as the ministry’s budget seems to have increased, there is no increment because of the United States Dollar ever getting stronger than the Kwacha.


Madam Chairperson, it is important to underscore the fact that most of the projects that this ministry implements are funded by international bodies such as the World Bank and we do not have enough resources to fund these projects ourselves. Therefore, most projects in our constituencies which are supposed to help attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as the hon. Minister alluded to, will actually come to a halt. We know that international bodies are also beginning to either slow down or pull out because they want to see the domestic revenue being put into priority projects, which I do not think is the case now.


Madam Chairperson, this is why some of us in the United Party for National Development (UPND) do not support the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019 based on the fact that if you do not understand the population of your country, how then can you say that you are going to have the capacity to delimitate the constituencies so that they are manageable and development is brought closer to the people? This is one of the key issues that those who are proponents of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019 have been dangling around. However, if you cannot count your population, there is no way you are going to effectively delimitate the constituencies.


Madam Chairperson, this is why I have challenges with this Vote and I ask the hon. Minister of Finance in collaboration with the hon. Minister of National Development Planning to actually look into this issue. I am not just speaking as the Member of Parliament for Keembe, but as the Vice-Chairperson of the Zambia all-Parties Parliamentary Group on Population and Development (ZAPPD). We have argued that as long as we do not have satisfactory data, it will be very difficult to plan for our country and to even address the rural-urban drift that the hon. Minister talked about. For us to really understand and mitigate those challenges and plan well, we will need data. So, based on these few reasons, I feel more money should have been allocated to this Vote, for this ministry to carry out its responsibility.


The Chairperson: Order!


The Member’s time expired.


Dr Imakando (Mongu Central): Madam Chairperson, this is yet another policy statement that I find unsatisfactory. The Ministry of National Development and Planning is supposed to have the best budget because it is responsible for national visioning, co-ordinating national development planning, regional planning and rural development.


Madam Chairperson, when you examine the 2021 budget for the Ministry of National Development Planning, you will see that out of the total of about K780 million, K603 million will go to unidentified transfers and subsidies which account for about 77 per cent of the ministry’s budget. Why should these transfers and subsidies be unidentified? Why are they not itemised? How can you conceal 77 per cent of your budget?


Madam, a budget line which I consider to be very important is for Public Investment Management. However, it has only received 0.3 per cent of the budget. Public investment analysis ensures that we derive maximum benefits from our investments. In a country where public investments are made at political rallies, on the spur of the moment, it is critical that investment management is used to ensure that all investments which are made, give us maximum returns.


Madam Chairperson, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that developing countries lose between 30 to 40 per cent of returns on investment due to inefficiencies in Public Investment Management processes. There is a need to improve public investment because we cannot carry on losing 30 to 40 per cent returns on our investments. This can only be achieved if we make meaningful investments in the budget allocation for Public Investment Management. It is important that we analyse all public investments for economy, efficiency and effectiveness.


Madam, this budget needs to be recast. The 77 per cent budget allocation to unidentified transfers and subsidies should be reviewed. The allocation to Public Investment Management should be increased beyond 0.3 per cent. It is necessary and important that we get meaningful returns from our public investments.


I thank you, Madam Chairperson.


The Chairperson: Hon. Members, we are behind in our programme of work as a Committee, and I will, therefore, be very slow to allow points of order. If you have anything to say about a particular Vote, just indicate to debate. If you cannot wait, communicate through the Clerk. As I said, I will be slow to allow points of order.


Mr Kamboni (Kalomo Central): Madam Chairperson, planning is very important. It is through planning that we are able to produce. A house will only be built after making a plan. If there is no plan, what comes out is chaotic. When I look at what is happening in the country and also the Budget, I see a lot of chaos.


Madam, this ministry has not done well. We must call a spade a spade. There is a need to inject the correct human resource in this ministry to produce the results that we need. If there was proper planning and a good working culture between the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of National Development Planning and those who are doing infrastructure like the roads, we would not be in the debt that we are in.


Madam Chairperson, the hon. Minister is talking about monitoring, but where is the plan? The Government wants to jump the plan and go to monitoring. It is monitoring things that are taking the country downwards and bringing problems for the whole country.


Madam, if the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development, Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of National Development Planning sat together to discuss issues, Zambia would not be heavily indebted. However, we continue sinking deeper into something that is bringing us problems, which in this case is debt. Where is the Ministry of National Development Planning to advise?


Madam Chairperson, the hon. Minister used to talk about the new Lusaka. What happened? Money was spent and plans were drawn to shift Lusaka but that idea is gone now. When I listen to what has been said here, I get the feeling that this is about copy and paste. This ministry really has to change. It has to sit down with all the ministries that gobble a lot of money from the Government coffers so that it can advise them to plan properly in order that the little that we have can be of use to the country.


Madam, it was incorrect for the hon. Minister to say that we have been able to achieve more with less. How can he say that? Look at the cost of roads. Roads cost US$3.8 million per km when in other areas they cost US$250,000.


Madam Chairperson, as regards the Budget, we are going to borrow to pay civil servants and borrow to pay back another loan. That is unacceptable, and if there was planning, that would not be the case. We have many natural resources, but the ministry is failing to plan for us to use our natural resources to improve the lives of Zambians. This ministry is collecting taxes from my grandmother, poor people and everybody else and, so, it must produce results as opposed to coming with a speech that just sounds like a story.


Madam Chairperson, the Government is talking about monitoring when it has not done the planning. Planning should be done. Look at all the ministries and help them to plan properly so that what comes out at the end will be of use to the country.


Madam, Zambia is heavily indebted right now. The lenders are not willing to lend money to Zambia. We have run out of ideas on how we can use these natural resources to service the loans.


Madam Chairperson, regarding the banks, we have borrowed so much from domestic banks that we are failing to pay the principle and we can only pay the interest. How are these institutions supposed to survive? As a result of this, interest rates are very high for individuals who want to borrow locally which makes the cost of finance high. This is where this ministry is supposed to come in. I expected the hon. Minister to tell us what plan he has to reduce the debt using our natural resources. What measures is the ministry taking to achieve that? Is the hon. Minister advising other ministries to make sure that they do things in a way that will ensure we are out danger? This ministry just brings stories to the House.


Madam, to be frank, the Ministry of National Development Planning is doing nothing. One cannot see any planning anywhere. I say so because you produce what you plan. Taxpayers’ money cannot be used by the ministry just for the hon. Minister to come and say that he was at a symposium or went here and there. I think the ministry needs to get back to the drawing board and tell us how we should move as a country because we are in a crisis now.


Madam Chairperson, when you are in a crisis, you need solutions. This is why the Ministry of National Development Planning is not providing any solutions. If I were in charge, I would have had an overhaul of this ministry. There is nothing this ministry is providing to ensure that Zambia is removed from this bad situation that is destroying it.


I thank you, Madam Chairperson.


Mr Chiteme: Madam Chairperson, I thank you once again. I just want to give a quick response to the three hon. Members who contributed to the debate on this Vote. I will start by responding to Hon. Kasune.


Madam, in response to the issue she raised on the population and housing census, I would like to say that we postponed the population and housing census to 2021 because of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) related issues. As you may be aware, the population and housing census is a high human contact exercise. Following guidelines from the Ministry of Health, we could not progress with the exercise this year, hence our attempt to postpone it to next year.


Madam Chairperson, I agree that the budget allocation to the ministry is not what everyone would have expected, but it is managing with the scarce resource. The hon. Member cannot come here and say that the reason she will not vote for the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019 is because the population and housing census has not yet been undertaken. The Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019 was on the table even before the census was postponed. So, I do not really understand but I hope she gets that point.


Madam Chairperson, some of the sentiments expressed by Hon. Dr Imakando on the Floor of the House are quite misleading. I say so because we have made adequate interventions in terms of finance and we have disclosed where the K759,780,537 will be used in the budget. It will be used, mostly by grant-aided institutions where we are doing the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) in the Western Province and parts of the Southern Province, and the Zambia Integrated Forest Land Project (ZIFLP) in the Eastern Province. We have got the Strengthening Climate Resilience in the Kafue sub-Basin (SCRiKA) programme. We also have the Transforming Landscapes for Resilience and Development (TRALARD) programme which is going to benefit Muchinga Province, Luapula Province and the Northern Province. So, that is where their money will be utilised.


Madam Chairperson, I would not want to comment too much on what Hon. Kamboni was trying to say because our work as Ministry of National Development Planning is for socio-economic development. We have produced the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) and also completed the medium term review of the same. We are in the process of undertaking an Eighth National Development Plan which should inform the Budget.


Madam Chairperson, with regard to the hon. Member’s sentiments concerning the cost and planning of investment, as a ministry, we have also introduced the Planning Investment Policy Board which will, particularly look at scrutinising the cost, value addition and everything that invested into public spending. This board is not only comprised of Government officials but has the private sector on it. So, the issue of the hon. Member saying that we are constructing expensive roads will be discussed as part of history.


Madam Chairperson, with those few words, I thank you.


Vote 38 ordered to stand part of the Estimates.


VOTE 39 – (Smart Zambia Institute – K99,793,953)


The Vice-President (Mrs Wina): Madam Chairperson, I wish to thank you for according me this opportunity to present a policy statement in support of the 2021 Budget Estimates for Vote 39 – Electronic Government Division or Smart Zambia Institute under Cabinet Office.


Madam Chairperson, in order to appreciate the Budget Estimates for the Electronic Government Division that are about to be debated, it is important that the hon. Members of the House are refreshed on the mandate of the division which is derived from the Government Gazette No. 836 of 2016. The division’s mandate is to coordinate, harmonise and implement Information and Communication Technologies (ITCs) in the Public Service with the goal to achieve social and economic transformation by adopting a paradigm shift from traditional approaches of service delivery to the use of digital platforms.


Madam Chairperson, it has to be noted that the ICT sector, among others, has the potential to contribute to increased job-creation through innovation that stimulates socio-economic growth. Allow me to present the policy statement by, firstly, highlighting the progress and achievements made by the division on key projects and programmes which are implemented in the fiscal year 2020, as well as the priority strategic area of focus for the year 2021.


Budget Past Performance for 2020


Madam Chairperson, in the year 2020 Budget Estimates, this House approved a total budget of K1.19 billion of which Smart Zambia Phase II project was allocated 94 per cent, leaving a recurrent departmental charge of K71,187,720. In the period under review, the Treasury released K68 million of the total budget. The key achievements and challenges attained by the division during the fiscal year 2020 include, but not limited to the following:


  1. The Government Wide Area Network (GWAN)


Madam Chairperson, in order to provide a digital platform for the Public Service digital services as of 30th September, 2020, the division managed to connect a cumulative total of 149 Government institutions to the GWAN and unified internet for enhanced communication and collaboration within the Public Service.


b. Installation of Tele-presence System


Madam Chairperson, the division installed the Tele-presence System in all Government ministries, provincial headquarters and Cabinet Office to ease communication, collaboration and sharing of information. This initiative resulted in reducing costs associated with having physical meetings to almost 0 per cent and in adherence to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) health guidelines.


c. Electronic ServicesGovernment Service Bus and National Payment Gateway


Madam Chairperson, the division, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, established the Government Service Bus (GSB) and Unified Payment Gateway known as ZAMPORTAL, which is a means through which citizens, non-citizens and businesses are currently accessing and utilising various electronic services which are offered by the Government institutions and allows online payments for all public services consumed. As of 30th September, 2020, forty-four electronic services are being accessed on the GSB platform, resulting in the following benefits:


  1. increased revenue collection by eliminating human interactions and influence. During the pilot phase of the GSB project, which started from March to September 2020, the Government has since collected K133 million and US$215,000 from the forty-four electronic services;
  2. facilitate prompt banking of Government funds as these monies are directly credited to Control 99 at the Bank of Zambia;
  3. reduced leakages in accounting for public resources as there is no face to face interaction between the public and the Government worker;
  4. reduce the time taken to access the Government service as citizens do not move from their homes or place of work;


(e)          direct contribution to support the Government efforts in fighting against corruption;


(f)           access to digital public services; and


(g)          self-service, informed and up-to-date service.


Madam Chairperson, in addition, the division developed and enhanced the Government information systems such as the Zambia Integrated Social Protection Information System (ZISPIS) which is currently used by the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services for disbursement and management of the Social Cash Transfer.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The Vice-President: Madam Chairperson, the division has continued managing the Zambia Integrated Agriculture Management Information System (ZIAMIS) used for the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) and continued quality assurance of the Electronic Tolling (e-Tolling) System. Through the use of digital platforms, the Government has continued to accelerate service-reach for its people regardless of their geographical boundaries.


Human Capital Development


Madam Chairperson, the division formulated and implemented the Public Service Information Communication Technology Human Capital Development Program (PSICTHCDP) that is meant to ensure a coherent and holistic approach to Information Communication Technology Human Capital Development (ICTHCD) across all Ministries, Provinces, and Spending Agencies (MPSAs).


Madam Chairperson, in 2020, Zambia, through the division, was selected among the four African countries that were accredited and enrolled as an Information Communication Technology (ICT) networking academy under the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a United Nations (UN) agency. In this regard, over 500 public service employees have been trained in various ICT skills and competencies.


Madam Chairperson, further, the division trained seventy-two change agents from twenty-eight Government ministries and Cabinet Office which has resulted into adoption and utilisation of shared services.




Madam Chairperson, the key challenge in the implementation of the 2020 Budget was the non-commencement of the Smart Zambia Phase II Broad Band Infrastructure Project. The division shall utilise the allocated resources in the 2021 Budget to finalise the implementation of some selected compass networks component of the Smart Zambia Phase II Project.


Madam Chairperson, despite the negative impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) to the country, for the Smart Zambia agenda, there was increased utilisation of digital platforms within the Public Service and the general citizenry due to the requirements for the adherence to the COVID-19 public health guidelines.


Budget for 2021


Madam Chairperson, the 2021 budget estimate for the division is K 99,793,953. In 2021, the division shall continue the transformational agenda and propel the utilisation of digital technologies to innovatively transform the way public services are delivered to citizens, business and within the Government.


Madam Chairperson, the division has ensured that the allocation of resources in the 2021 Budget reflects the priority placed on programs with the greatest impact on the national economy and contribution towards improvements of livelihoods of our citizens.


Madam Chairperson, allow me, therefore, to highlight the programs for 2021.


Electronic Government


Madam Chairperson, the electronic Government provides for the coordination of electronic services and adherence to standards and regulations. A total of K15,490,523 has been allocated for support to the Electronic Government programme to undertake the following programmes:


  1. Government digital services;
  2.  ICT standards and regulations; and
  3. ICT help and service desks.


ICT Systems


The ICT systems provides for a secure ICT infrastructure, unified internet connectivity and Government information systems in key social sectors such health, education and agriculture.


ICT Infrastructure


Madam Chairperson: Order!


Her Honour the Vice-President’s time has expired. However, I see that there is not much left, perhaps you should complete. You may conclude.


The Vice-President: Madam Chairperson, I thank you.


Management and Support Services


Madam Chairperson, to provide effective and efficient support services, the division has provided K14,329,341 to facilitate for a Management and Support Services Programme to undertake the following programmes:


  1. Executive Office Management;
  2. Human Resource Management − Administration;
  3. Financial Management − Accounting;
  4. Financial Management − Auditing; and
  5. Procurement Management.


Madam Chairperson, I, therefore, wish to urge the hon. Members of Parliament to support the 2021 Budget aimed at accelerating the provision of improved public service delivery through the use of digital platforms.


I thank you, Madam Chairperson.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


Mr S. Banda (Kasenengwa): Madam Chairperson, I thank Her Honour the Vice-President for the elaborate policy statement. Firstly, I would like to underscore what she has alluded to, that the Government of Zambia, under the Patriotic Front (PF), has embarked on a robust and smart agenda to ensure that Zambia becomes a smart Zambia. This means that Zambia needs to transition into a digital economy.


Madam Chairperson, to do so requires everybody’s effort in embracing the transformational digital culture for a smart Zambia. This Government understands the gains which come along with having a smart Zambia and, among them are efficiency, improved service delivery and better access to public service.


Madam Chairperson, allow me to say a few words on that point. There has been a lot of talk about the online voter registration. The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) is part of the community and requires adapting to the changing environment even as it applies itself. As you might be aware, every institution has been coming up with ways of how to apply itself during the era of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Therefore, that particular initiative, which is apolitical, is meant to ensure that the ECZ is efficient, improves service delivery and ensures accountability.


Madam Chairperson, unfortunately, it was very disappointing to see that a certain section of people came up with political propaganda to shoot down this particular initiative. It is an operational issue which is meant to actually adapt to the changing environment. Much more, it provides for sustainable economic development, transparency and accountability.


Madam Chairperson, Her Honour the Vice-President did allude to the key issues which the Government, under the leadership of His Excellency the President, has attained. As you know, for this agenda to be actualised, there are prerequisites which must be attained. The first one is that this Government has established a wider area network which has been connected to over eighty-seven districts. This will ensure access to information and accord more services to the people.


The second prerequisite, which is very key is the establishment of the Zambia Data Centre (ZDC). This is a very critical infrastructure. To attain a smart Zambia, the ZDC is very critical because it exists to nurture a culture of innovation and, also, provide for timely decision-making. If we have to make timely decisions, we must have a pool from where we can get information.


Madam Chairperson, furthermore, when we talk about improved service delivery, we must be able to think of data and come up with a model which will inform our operations or business processes. Therefore, this particular infrastructure is very critical because it will provide for an emergence of a new cadre of professionals. This is because companies will demand for skills to be able to pull command and make sense of data as well as come up with models. A new cadre of data scientists will come up. This move will actually provide employment opportunities or even an institute for data scientists. 


Madam Chairperson, the other aspect which is very key is the issue of the optic fibre which the Government has laid down. This is very critical. About 12,000 km plus of optic fibre has been put in place. This provides for the basics which are required to ensure that the implementation of Smart Zambia Institute is actualised. Many solutions as alluded to by the Vice-President have been put in place. 


Madam, this Government has made strides and it is in the right trajectory to ensure that a smart Zambia is attained. That said, Smart Zambia Institute has a huge task to actualise a digital economy and requires every Zambian to get on board to cooperate and ensure that we attain the said robust and ambitious agenda. I support the Vote.


I thank you, Madam Chairperson.


Mr Mbulakulima (Milenge): Madam Chairperson, a few days ago, as the Public Accounts Committee, we received an invitation from the Committee of Public Accounts of the United Kingdom (UK) to attend a virtual meeting as Commonwealth countries. I realised the importance of this technology. Instead of travelling to UK, we met in our respective countries and that included us who were born before the computer (BBC).


Madam, three years ago or so, the President of this country came to Parliament to launch a programme called Smart Zambia Institute. Many people thought it was just another nomenclature, little did we know that the Government had foresight. Three years down the line, who ever knew that the whole world could be hit by Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic?


Madam Chairperson, if we had not prepared, I think this country was going to be grounded to a halt. As I said, when we had that virtual meeting with the Public Accounts Committee of UK, some countries did not participate, probably because of technology. However, for us as Zambia, we were on top of the world. So, the importance of this programme cannot be overemphasised.


Madam this programme is one of the best to ever come out of the Public Service as far as I am concerned. It has reached the person to person interface. The issue of late banking, pilferage and all these kind of things are minimised.


The Government ministries, spending agencies and other departments are now connected. They are able to talk to each other. So, this is Zambia at the world level. It is important, therefore, that all of us rally behind this programme. However, we should also realise that a lot of costs have been saved such as travel in terms of fuel, air fees, telephone calls, and everything. We are able to communicate from our respective areas. However, I realise that the budget for Smart Zambia Institute is not growing. For instance, the budget for personal emoluments this year was K17,174,721, and it is envisaged to be K16,168,668 in 2021. From the figure itself, it tells you that we do not have enough personnel or salaries are quite low. I think we need to look into this issue.


Madam, I will also look at the allocation for goods and services. This year, we have K1,163,865,997 and for 2021, it will be  K76,747,640. I believe this reduction is because of the projects that have been completed.   


I think they have a lot of issues which they need to attend to but the funding to his institution is not adequate. There is a need for us, therefore, to pump in a little more. I know that there are competing needs here and there. Every ministry or department is very important but I think Her Honour the Vice President will agree with me that the focus of development today, globally, is information communication technology (ICT). What has saved Zambia today under the COVID-19 pandemic is ICT. Look at Parliament. Today, I am talking from my home, in Lilayi because of ICT. So, there is need for us not to lag behind and support this important sector.


With these few words, Madam Chairperson, I thank you.


Mr Kamboni (Kalomo Central): Madam Chairperson, to have the Smart Zambia Institute under the umbrella of Cabinet Office is a problem. The purpose of this Department is to coordinate, harmonise and implement the transformation of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to use a digital platform to create jobs and increase knowledge. If the Government can close digital companies like Prime TV that are run by locals, then I am very slow to understand whether there is really much of job-creation.


Madam Chairperson, during the COVID-19 outbreak, Electronic Learning (e-learning) was introduced but it failed lamentably, yet Smart Zambia Institute was allocated quite a lot of money for this purpose. In addition, internet is not for Lusaka and other towns only. No! We have a bigger part of Zambia that does not have electricity. What we should have done was firstly, to invest in electricity so that we could have more network towers everywhere. Right now, we have load-shedding. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many places had load-shedding, thus having no power. With that kind of situation, using ICT became a flop. Children have started learning from where they stopped. Some have forgotten what they learnt because they stayed for too long without learning. If Smart Zambia was doing very well, e-learning would have been a success.


Madam Chairperson, regarding Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) which has been mentioned, it is a disaster. The swiping which they are doing is actually sweeping them. It is not swiping because you will find that the machine will indicate that money must be redeemed yet it does not come out. Farmers are being robbed of their money. When they go to collect their money, they are being told that the money is showing and they have to redeem it. This process has been a total mess. This same Smart Zambia has failed to collect a lot of money which was lost by farmers who would have produced food and later on feed the nation.


Madam Chairperson, the Smart Zambia Institute got a very good chunk of money. They need to put their office in order so that their impact can be felt. You cannot talk of Zoom Video Communications (Zoom) as having been beneficial. How many have benefitted? If I am in Chifusa now, can I do Zoom in Zambia? I cannot. If I am in Kanchebe in my constituency I cannot do Zoom. If I just move 20 km from town, I cannot do anything on the internet and this is where the majority of our people live.


So, Madam Chairperson, we want the Smart Zambia Institute to benefit the whole country. This is why I was at pains talking about the Ministry of National Development Planning. We should not just get these things quickly without proper planning. What we should have invested in is electricity by making sure that it is everywhere. That is why even computer lessons in most of the schools are a disaster because there is no electricity. These schools do not have 4G speed internet connectivity and so they cannot benefit. 


Madam Chairperson, I have a school in Kalomo called Nazilongo Basic School. It is situated 2 km from the tarred road and just about 25 km from Choma but it does not have electricity or solar panels. Pupils have to go to somebody’s house in town to write computer examinations when they have not even done enough practice. So, these are some of the things that we really need to look at. We want these things to make a lot of sense.


Madam Chairperson, corruption in Zambia is very high because of the use of hard currency. Even the Government itself uses hard currency. When traffic is stopped at the roadblock, motorists are told to go and deposit money into the bank. Why can they not have pay points everywhere? The Government could have invested in the police force so that it puts up pay points for people to have payment options. In other countries, these things are there. When you are captured for over speeding by a speed trap, you just need to use a trunk card. Not far from here, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa have such a system. If you are captured by a speed trap, you have an option. It is either you pay or swipe at the pay point. However, in Zambia even for a K15 payment, you have to go and queue in a bank for many hours. You are disrupted just because of that. So, Smart Zambia must plan properly so that we see its effects. It can even be of great help in the improvement and efficiency of our system of revenue collection. So far, it has not done anything. It is a story for a few and not for the majority.


Madam Chairperson, this is why I am saying that Smart Zambia needs to get back to its drawing board so that it does its work properly. We still have ghost workers in these ministries. If Smart Zambia had brought in a very good system, how could we have ghost workers? We have lost so much money through ghost workers and corruption. So, Smart Zambia must make sure that it curbs corruption and reduce the use of hard cash so that we start buying things using bar codes and that kind of thing. So, it still has a lot of work to do.


I thank you very much, Madam Chairperson.


Mr Simbao (Senga Hill): Madam Chairperson, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to debate the Vote on the Floor of the House.


Madam Chairperson, this Government unit is one of the best units that the Patriotic Front (PF) Government has ever created and this shows the kind of brains that are leading us. It is undeniable that if we did not take this step, I think we would be 100 years behind.


Madam Chairperson, the problem is that most of us who went to school before the computer age lack skills, and some people have not acquired some skills. I have noted that when we want to use a computer, most of us depend on our children for assistance. For that reason, it is very difficult for us to appreciate a unit like the Smart Zambia Institute. However, I congratulate the PF Government.


Madam Chairperson, people keep talking about Rwanda, but they are failing to appreciate what Zambia has done. Rwanda got independent two years earlier than we did, but we saw what it did. In fact, let me be frank with the world. We started a technological programme in this country, except we did not move fast enough. Rwanda came and learnt from us and hired a Zambian company called Next Technology Limited to go and help them. However, the PF Government moved much quicker, and we seem to be doing fine.


Madam Chairperson, the Smart Zambia Institute has employed the best Information and Communication Technology (ICT) personnel in this country. It is for this reason that we are able to confidently approach issues like the ones at Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), and many other places. If we did not have the Smart Zambia Institute, we would not know what is happening in most companies because they are far much ahead in terms of ICT. However, we now have a Government unit with personnel who are equal to the task like those who are in different companies, and that is the way it should be. We are in a computer age. We are now talking about artificial intelligence and if we did not have this kind of unit, we would not be anywhere near what others are doing.


Madam, it is a pity that some people do not seem to understand what this unit is doing. However, it is an institution which looks at all the areas of the Government. It may not have cleaned up everything, but it is cleaning up some things. Last year, it reported that it removed 800,000 ghost farmers from the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP). It went ahead and removed many ghost workers from the payroll, and it will keep doing this. We must appreciate this kind of effort because it is not easy to do this. Before this institute was created, it was not possible to know where a ghost worker was and who was a ghost worker. Recently, many teachers were removed from the service because they did not have proper certification –


The Chairperson: Order!


(Debate adjourned)




[MR SPEAKER in the Chair]

(Progress reported)


The House adjourned at 1657 hours until 1430 hours on Wednesday, 28th October, 2020.