Tuesday, 13th April, 2021

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Tuesday, 13th April, 2021


The House met at 1430 hours


[MR SPEAKER in the Chair]










Mr Speaker: The hon. Member for Liuwa, please, move the Motion for adoption of the Report of the Committee on National Economy, Trade and Labour Matters.


Dr Musokotwane was unavailable.


Mr Speaker: Is there any member of the Committee to move this Motion?


Hon. Miti?


Mr Miti was unavailable.


Mr Speaker: Very well. We will revert to this report later.




Mr Imbuwa (Nalolo) was unavailable.


Mr Speaker: Hon. Member for Chifubu, you have indicated.


Dr Ng’ambi (Chifubu): Yes, Mr Speaker, I am a member of the Committee. I can move the Motion.


Mr Speaker: Which Committee?


Dr Ng’ambi: Sir, I can deputise the hon. Member for Nalolo.


Mr Speaker: Very well. Move the Motion.


Dr Ng’ambi was inaudible.


Mr Speaker: Are you still with us, hon. Member for Chifubu?


Dr Ng’ambi: Yes, I am Mr Speaker.


Mr Speaker: Move the Motion.


Dr Ng’ambi: Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me this opportunity to move the Motion on behalf of the chairperson of your Committee.


Mr Speaker, I beg to move that this House do adopt the Report of the Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technologies for the Fifth Session of the Twelfth National Assembly, laid on the Table of the House on 26th March, 2021.


Sir, in accordance with its mandate, as contained in the Standing –


Mr Speaker: Before you proceed, the Motion has to be seconded.


Is the Motion seconded?


Ms Kucheka (Zambezi West): Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.


Mr Ng’ambi: Sir, in accordance with its mandate, as contained in the Standing Order No. 156(2), the Committee undertook a study on investigative journalism in Zambia. The background to this inquiry is that the Committee, among other roles, plays a watchdog role through the provision of information that sheds light on the activities of those in public office, crime and corporate wrongdoing. By so doing, the media promotes accountability. Therefore, accountability can be achieved, at least, to a certain extent through investigative journalism.


Mr Speaker, investigative journalism is a form of journalism in which reporters deeply investigate a single topic of public interest. A topic of investigation may cover issues such as crime, corruption or corporate wrongdoing. This investigation may take days, weeks and, sometimes, months of tedious work.


Mr Speaker, the media is sometimes accused of not carrying out detailed investigations into matters of public interest. This is because in Zambia, corruption allegations, crime and corporate wrongdoing are rarely investigated to give a detailed account of any alleged misconduct. It is also apparent that the cost of investigation and the time required to produce evidence that is admissible in the courts of law is beyond the reach of most media houses. While most allegations of corruption, crime and corporate wrongdoing in the country are concluded in the courts of law, the general public remains sceptical about court verdicts.


Mr Speaker, to acquaint itself with the topic under review, your Committee interacted with several stakeholders who tendered both written and oral submissions before it. As I am aware that hon. Members have already had access to the Committee’s report, I will endeavour to highlight only a few pertinent issues that emanated from the Committee’s deliberations.


Mr Speaker, the Committee notes with great concern that journalism training schools in the country have not emphasised legal education. This is despite concerns that a number of provisions in the Penal Code, Cap 87 of the Laws of Zambia, are often cited as being inimical to journalism work. It is the Committee’s considered view that familiarity with the law and how it affects reporting is of utmost importance if investigative journalism is to flourish in Zambia. In this regard, the Committee recommends that the Executive ensures that training institutions revise the journalism training curriculum in order to strengthen legal education in the study of journalism.


Mr Speaker, let me also state that a Session of the House hardly concludes without the Committee receiving complaints of journalistic work being constrained because of the absence of access-to-information legislation. It is regrettable that stakeholders continue to bemoan public officers’ unwillingness to provide information to journalists, rather opting to use bureaucratic red tape to frustrate journalistic efforts. The Committee is of the view that if access to information legislation is enacted, public officials will be compelled to provide information within the required time frame. It will also be easy for investigative reporters to obtain information from members of the public, who will also be helpful when journalists request for information from them. Further, the legislation will not only facilitate the work of the media fraternity or investigative journalists alone, but also enable members of the public to have access to information of public interest. In this regard, and in light of the findings of its study, the Committee implores the Executive to speed up the process of enacting access-to-information legislation in order to enable investigative journalists to have access to information.


Mr Speaker, in conclusion, let me take this opportunity to thank you for your guidance to your Committee during the Session. I also thank the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly and her staff for the invaluable support and services rendered to your Committee during its deliberations. Lastly, but not the least, my gratitude goes to all the stakeholders who rendered both oral and written submissions to your Committee.


Mr Speaker, I beg to move.


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


Ms Kucheka: Now, Mr Speaker.


Mr Speaker, I thank you for according me the opportunity to second the Motion moved by the chairperson, that this House do adopt the Report of the Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technologies for the Fifth Session of the Twelfth National Assembly, laid on the Table of the House on 26th March, 2021.


Sir, in seconding the Motion, let me take this opportunity, on behalf of your Committee and, indeed, on my own behalf, to thank the chairperson for the able manner in which he presided over your Committee’s deliberations.


Sir, let me echo the sentiments raised by most stakeholders that the laws applied to conventional journalism also govern investigative journalism, and that most of those laws are found in the Penal Code, Cap 87 of the laws of Zambia. The laws are inimical to the practice of investigative journalism and severely limit the practice of journalism in general. Stakeholders argued that some laws force journalists to shun investigative stories because such stories are likely to result into costly litigation. In agreeing with the stakeholders who observed that journalists must be skilled enough to get around some legal constraints, the Committee is of the view that it is difficult for journalists to find the will to investigate if they are doing so with a lot of fear. In this regard, the Committee recommends that some provisions in the Penal Code be repealed in order to allow journalists to write investigative stories without fear of abrogating the law.


Sir, while acknowledging and commending the efforts the Government is making to promote the growth of the media industry in Zambia by putting in place a media development policy, the Committee notes that the policy has not addressed issues relating to investigative journalism training and practice. Instead, it focuses on conventional journalism. In this regard, the Committee recommends that the Executive develops a mechanism for ensuring that the investigative aspect of journalism is also promoted.


Mr Speaker, in conclusion, allow me to join the chairperson in thanking all the stakeholders who appeared before the Committee for their invaluable contributions. Lastly, but not the least, the Committee also expresses its gratitude to the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly for the services rendered to it during its deliberations.


Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.


Mr Ngulube (Kabwe Central): Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me this opportunity. Allow me to add my voice to the issue relating to investigative journalism.


Mr Speaker, we are aware that in Zambia, almost everyone has become a journalist because of the advent of social media. Whereas most publications are believed to be operating lawfully, there are also so-called online investigative journalists, who are actually hell-bent on scandalising individuals, threatening the security of the nation and putting everybody at risk.  


 Mr Speaker, I do not think there is any law in Zambia that hinders the development of investigative journalism. I am aware that in the Daily Mail and Times of Zambia newspapers, there are segments and columns on the environment, for example, which cover issues of how, for example, mining giants on the Copperbelt did not follow the law on protection of the environment. Journalists investigated the matter and published it.


Mr Speaker, in Zambia, when you talk about investigative journalism, some people think it is just about accusing everyone who look good, every Government officer or every politician of being corrupt. So, only those people who do not know the law on defamation can complain about the laws in Zambia restricting investigative journalism. What would the journalists fear if their stories are factual? If they are sued in court, they will definitely prove that their statement was made in good faith or put up the defence of justification. However, to call someone a thief and being corrupt or something like that and hide behind investigative journalism is what hinders the journalists’ progress.


Mr Speaker, it is not acceptable that there are publications whose authors are not known. It is illegal to just wake up and start publications, all in the name of investigative journalism, when one cannot be traced. So, as much as journalists have the right to inform and educate the public, it is also their duty to be factual and truthful, and to present facts as they are. In the recent past, we have seen publications where people have come up with fabricated stories. For instance, some publication came up with the story that Zambia’s ratio is at US$52 billion and ran with it to the market. If you challenge the publishers, you will find that there is no truth in what they wrote.


Mr Speaker, I know that the State Proceedings Act, the Zambia State Security Intelligence Services Act and other laws restrict access to Government documentation. One does not just wake up and say, ‘I am a journalist. Can you give me the proceedings of the Cabinet.’ The law is very clear. One cannot divulge the proceedings of the Cabinet. Further, if one came across a classified document, one cannot publish it. The country cannot risk its integrity and security simply because a few individuals think that investigative journalists are being smothered. As far as I am concerned, there is no law in Zambia that restricts journalists from being investigative and reporting factually.


Mr Speaker, I am alive to the fact that some journalists are politically inclined to the Opposition. So, whenever they report something, even if it is positive, they portray it in a very negative sense. As a result, such journalists, who do not want to follow media ethics, always complain. As far as I am concerned, there is nothing in Zambia that can stop people from developing their investigative skills or publishing factual information.


Mr Speaker, having made those few remarks, I congratulate the Hon. Chief Whip, Hon. Given Lubinda, Hon. Yaluma, Hon. Dora Siliya and the hon. Minister of Finance on being part of the Central Committee of the Patriotic Front (PF).


I thank you, Sir.


Oh, sorry, myself, too. I almost forgot to congratulate myself.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.      


Mr Muchima (Ikeleng’i): Mr Speaker, thank you very much for according me this chance to contribute to the debate on this Motion.


Mr Speaker, investigative journalism is important, and your Committee has urged the Government to relook at the prevailing laws. Is the environment conducive for investigative journalism? The answer is no. When this Government was in the Opposition, it used to urge the then Government to enact a law to give access to information. However, since it came into power, it has done absolutely nothing. So, how does it expect a journalist to report accurately when he/she has limitations to accessing information?


Mr Speaker, investigative journalism depends on the environment. Is the environment in Zambia conducive? I would say –


Mr Ngulube: On a point of order, Sir.


Mr Speaker: A point of order is raised.


Mr Muchima: Is the environment in Zambia conducive?


Mr Ngulube: On a point of order, Sir.


Mr Speaker: A point of order is raised.


Mr Ngulube: Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me this opportunity to raise this very important Constitutional point of order. I apologise most sincerely to my elder brother, the hon. Member for Ikeleng’i, for disturbing his line of thought.


Mr Speaker, yesterday, 12th April, 2021, apart from being my birthday, was a day on which the nation was treated to a rude shock by hearing that one of us in this Chamber, the hon. Member for Sesheke, Mr Romeo Kangombe, was convicted by the Chinsali Magistrate Court and slapped with a two-year jail sentence, which was suspended for two years. We are also informed that he was also fined K10,000, which he paid.


Mr Speaker, my point of order is based on the provisions of Article 70(2)(f) of the Constitution of Zambia. In my understanding, when a person is convicted by a court of law, he becomes a convict and, as such, is disqualified from being a Member of Parliament. Therefore, is the hon. Member of Parliament for Sesheke, Mr Romeo Kangombe, in order to remain a Member of this august House after being convicted by the honourable court in Chinsali?


Sir, I seek your seriously ruling on this matter.


Mr Speaker: I will reserve my ruling so that I render a measured response.


The hon. Member for Ikeleng’i may continue with his debate.


Mr Muchima: Mr Speaker, before I was interrupted, I was saying – (inaudible). 


Mr Speaker: Are you still on air, hon. Member for Ikeleng’i?


Hon. Member for Ikeleng’i –


Mr Muchima was unavailable.


Mr Speaker: I will revert to you later.


The hon. Member for Mazabuka Central, you may debate.


Mr Nkombo was unavailable.


Mr Speaker: the hon. Member for Serenje, you may debate.

Hon. Member for Serenje –


Mr Kabanda was unavailable.


Mr Speaker: I will move on to the hon. Minister for Northern Province.


Mr Bwalya was inaudible.


Mr Speaker: Hon. Minister for Northern Province, you are not audible. We seem to have a network problem. I am afraid I have to move on.


Mr Simbao (Senga Hill): Mr Speaker, there seems to be a problem with the system, but anyway, I do not want to waste much of my time.


Mr Speaker, thank you for allowing me to contribute to the debate on this very important topic.


Sir, I want to start by saying that I am not really sure whether we really carry out investigative journalism in this country, and I am aware that one of the problems we seem to have is that in most cases, the owners of newspaper are not journalists. So, when a trained journalist presents a report to them, they change to it to their liking, and it is for this reason that I thought my voice should be heard.


Mr Speaker, does the journalism fraternity has a body similar to the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ), which ensures that only those who are qualified are allowed to be journalists? As things stand, it seems the practice is free for everyone. People do not need to have papers, per se. I do not know whether this is because of a shortage of journalists or not. However, it leads to our wondering whether there is investigative journalism here. We also wonder whether the fault is with the people in the field or those in the offices. I say so because at times, the things that are reported are really shocking. If the story involves you and you question it, it is retracted, leaving you to wonder what really happened and why the story was reported without anyone establishing what really went on. So, I would like to find out from the hon. Minister whether there is a body for journalists similar to LAZ.


Mr Speaker, I also would like to find out if there is a special training school on investigative journalism or do people just decide to carry out investigative journalism as they wish? I want to be clear on this. In many cases, most journalists only talk to you if there is something you are willing to give them in return. If you do not, you will be ignored even if you might have a story to share. So, I wonder if there is any training on investigative journalism because it is important that journalists get stories from everyone, not from the same people they follow always.


Mr Speaker, in most cases, some newspapers put very ‘splashy’ headlines for stories that do not deserve such headlines. Of course, it might be a way to sell their newspapers, but is that the way it is supposed to be done? One wonders what kind of stories some people want to present.


Mr Speaker, I want to say one thing that is saddening. With the up-take of the Internet and social media, the journalism I used to know or many people used to know is dying, and I do not know how it can be saved. Everyone will now become a journalist, and people will just be getting funny stories or those that of no use. When The Post newspaper was still in circulation, I once complained and I asked whether there was any way we could report on things that advanced the interests of the country instead of just politics all the time, but I did not get a proper answer.


 Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Mr Nkombo (Mazabuka Central): Mr Speaker, thank you very much. Am I audible?


 Mr Speaker: Yes, you are audible. Go ahead.


 Mr Nkombo: Mr Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity you have given me. I also thank the Committee for coming up with this report.


Sir, my view is that the Government has a duty to perform in terms of put into action what the Committee is saying.


Mr Speaker, the Committee system has always been the heart and soul of any Parliament, and there is something that this report seeks to achieve. One thing that came out very clearly is that the Committee has lamented the delay in enacting the Access to Information Bill, which has been gathering dust for a very long time under this Government. The Government must come out clearly on when it intends to present that Bill, considering that we are only remaining with a few weeks before we go to seek another mandate from the people of Zambia. Further, the hon. Minister must explain why it has taken long for the Government to present the Bill. Remember, it is said that when the State is wrong, it becomes very dangerous to be right.


Mr Speaker, the report also seeks to address the existing laws that may circumvent or prohibit leverage on investigative journalism. Further, it speaks about fear. That is an ill that needs to be cured. Why is it that journalists are scared? What are they scared of? Has it been this way ever since Adam and Eve? I think the answer is no.


Sir, we need to address the issues in this report and stop glossing over the very salient points that it brings out. The Government needs to provide a platform for investigative journalism to flourish because an uninformed nation is a very dangerous nation. This whole essence of investigative journalism lies in enlightening society so that citizens can understand what is going on around them. I will give you one story, or maybe two, that are clear examples of investigative journalism. The first is the one on the redevelopment of the Kangaluwi Mine in the Lower Zambezi National Park. We all are aware that the public rose because people did not want that investment restarted. So, some journalists took it upon themselves to go in and find out the nitty-gritty of the pros and cons of re-establishing that mine, the effects that it would have on the flora and fauna, and the devastating effects on nature. That is a typical example of investigative journalism, as against what I am hearing now from hon. Colleagues who are talking about libel and scandalising people on social media. This report is not about social media; it is not about the Zambian Watchdog, Zambian Intelligence News or Smart Eagles. It is about investigative journalism, whereby somebody dedicates themselves to a developing story, which they will unfold in stages in order for society to know it fully.


Mr Speaker, the other example that I will give is that of the devastation that has happened in the Lusaka East Forest Reserve No. 27. The News Diggers reporters dedicated themselves to that story until the Government started jittering around and calling the newspaper names. That was because its reporters went in and demonstrated that there was a certain level of impunity on the part of the Government and that Government officials only, to be specific, some people from a particular political party, the Patriotic Front (PF), had acquired land in that forest. The News Diggers went to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and collected records of people who had benefitted from that treasured forest reserve. That is an example of journalism that is investigative. This report seeks to give that a platform to exist and exist peacefully.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Mung’andu (Chama South): Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to debate your Committee’s report.


Sir, it is clear that your Committee recommends the creation of an environment in which investigative journalism can take root. For that to happen, however, first, we have to understand the professional background of the key players in the journalism sector in our country.


Sir, if you look at a number of radio stations, both those owned by individuals and those owned by public institutions like the churches and many other organisations, you will discover that many of the people who man them are not trained journalists. As long as they can speak good English, which is a language, people have called themselves journalists. No wonder, as a country, we have been requesting for a good regulatory framework to be developed by journalists, themselves, and supervised by the Government. Only then can we talk about fair and transparent investigative journalism. Currently, this is not the case, if you look at social media, and I will give a very typical example. A list was circulating on social media that a number of us did not have the School Certificate, but the list was fake. Unfortunately, according to research, 80 per cent of the people believe the content they come across on social media. That is how it is.


Sir, for us to enhance investigative journalism, we first have to request for proper regulation in terms of the qualification of those who can practise journalism. The lawyers have the Law Association of Zambia (LAW). Equally, we, surveyors, have the Zambia Institute of Quantity Surveyors (ZIQS), and many other professions have regulatory bodies, including the purchasing and supply, which has the Zambia Institute of Purchasing and Supply (ZIPS). Therefore, what is wrong with journalists coming up with a regulatory framework to guide them? We do not want to have investigative journalists who are politically inclined. Instead of investigating stories in the public interest, such journalists will target individuals and investigate people’s private lives.


Mr Speaker, your Committee’s report is on point, but we, the hon. Members of Parliament, are requesting, on behalf of our electorates, that we first have a proper regulatory framework for journalists in order for investigative journalism to thrive. Currently, it is very difficult for what is called investigative journalism to thrive because most journalists are not impartial. As long you have resources, they will toll your line. For instance, you can tell them to praise you, and they will do just that. You can even tell them not cover an opponent, and they will obey. As long you do not like the way the hon. Member of Parliament for Chama South speaks, for example, you can instruct them not to cover him, and that will only stop if we encourage our colleagues in the journalism sector to be fair. No wonder, His Excellency the President advised them to not allow every Jim and Jack to practise journalism because if they did that, they would be the ones to lose.


Mr Speaker, with those few remarks due to a time constraint, I support your Committee’s report.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Kabanda (Serenje): Mr Speaker, I thank the Committee for ably articulating the issues contained in its report, save for its failure to indicate the fact that there has been a lot of misinformation when it comes to investigative journalism in Zambia. Quite often, reporters have stepped on the toes of innocent citizens and engaged in libel because they often wanted to report what they want the community to hear. Quite rarely do they submit written enquiries for them to get written answers. They would rather ask you to explain certain things on the phone and once that is done, they will twist the story to their liking.


Mr Speaker, the Government has institutions that handle classified information. So, one cannot go to a Government institution and obtain such information as one wants it. There are secrets the Government is supposed to preserve, and the Government has a duty to run the country in a manner that cannot attract hate speech and similar issues. Further, every institution has a mouthpiece that is supposed to speak for it. For instance, there are public relations offices in almost every institution that are supposed to disseminate information to the media. However, the media do not want to use these mouthpieces; they would rather get information from people who are not authorised to provide it and then tailor the information they get to their liking.


Mr Speaker, there have been newspapers in this country that have had ill-qualified editors because the people who run the newspapers are equally not qualified journalists. So, when journalists do their work and take it to the editors, the editors edit the work to suit their political interests or how they want the story to come out. We cannot allow that to continue because we need informative information, and information that is verifiable and factual.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Mr Speaker: I will try the hon. Minister for Northern Province again, in case he is audible now.


Mr Bwalya was inaudible.


Mr Speaker: It seems he still has difficulties connecting.


The hon. Minister of Finance may take the Floor.


The Minister of Finance (Dr Ng’andu): Mr Speaker, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to say a few words concerning the report from the Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technologies.


Mr Speaker, I want to start by stating that investigative journalism can be a very important pillar in a developing democracy. As you know, democracy has many aspects to it, and I think that journalists who are committed and have the discipline to search for the truth can contribute a lot to building a strong democracy. However, ‘investigation’ suggests a search for truth; that one must go out to search for what is true because truth helps the people and helps in making officials accountable. Investigation does not include sitting in your room and creating fantasy or fiction and then presenting it as if it were the truth. That is a problem. Investigative journalism can be compared to research by scientists. Those of us who had the opportunity to carry out disciplined research either in the hard sciences or the social sciences know what is required in research. One sits and works one’s way through it carefully with a commitment to one thing, which is that at the end of the day, one establishes what it true from what is not true.


Mr Speaker, I can say that we, as the Executive, have absolutely no problem with supporting the emergence in this country of an enhanced capacity and capability to investigate the truth in journalists who commit themselves to the process and the duty of investigation. I must say that to be viable, investigative journalism requires those who want to do it to have personal integrity and honesty in the way they approach the task ahead of them. They must also have respect for other people because investigative journalism is not an excuse for one to malign other people or say things about other people that are not true. It is about presenting what is true, not an opportunity or excuse to abuse other people’s rights. I know that we talk a lot about freedom of the press, which I think that is important, and I support it. However, freedom of the press is not to the exclusion of the freedoms of all other people; it must be understood that in a democracy, everybody else has rights, and that those who want their rights to be respected must also respect the rights of others.


Mr Speaker, I am fully in support of all the effort that we can make in this country to support capacity in investigative journalism. If it requires our increasing training for those who need to be trained, so be it. I also think it may require, at some point, teaching basic morality to those who take on the responsibility of carrying out investigative journalism. Such people need to learn that their duty requires them to be honest, above board and fair to the people they investigate. At the end of the day, they must only be interested in producing a result that reflects the truth. If that is the kind of investigative journalism we are going to have in this country, then, the country will go a long way in the right direction. However, if we are going to use investigative journalism to, probably, drive a political agenda, it will not work.


Mr Speaker, with those few words, I support the report.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


The Minister of Information and Broadcasting (Ms Siliya): Mr Speaker, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to contribute to debate on the Motion to adopt the report of the Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technologies.


Mr Speaker, first of all, I want to take this opportunity to thank the Committee. It really did a good job in terms of the study on the subject of investigative journalism.


Sir, it is said that the news reflects society. What is in the news reflects the values and culture of the society. It also reflects the premium that a society places on education.


Mr Speaker, today, with the evolving technology, the media is not synonymous with the press. Today, the media is a technological platform with many activities. My ministry, together with other Government departments, is responsible for a wide range of activities on media platforms. For example, in terms of broadcasting, we have the regulator, the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), and we passed the Media Policy to ensure that the media house in this country flourish as businesses so that they can provide jobs to many citizens in the country.


Mr Speaker, films are also part of the media platforms, and my ministry is responsible for film development in the country. In this regard, we are talking to stakeholders in the film sector on the issue of self-regulation.


Sir, my ministry is also responsible for Government communication, and this is why we are talking to public relations practitioners about self-regulation.


Mr Speaker, the Constitution of Zambia guarantees press freedom, which is an extension of freedom of expression in the country. In a democracy, it is very critical to have journalists as the interface between an elected government and the people. Through the practice of journalism, the people are able to hold their government accountable. In particular, investigative journalism, which is the issue at hand, holds accountable not only the Government, but also the private sector. It also takes issues to the public so that the people are also accountable in terms of their votes in a democracy. Further, it raises and highlights issues among journalists, themselves, so that they uphold the high standards to which they hold everybody else in society. That is why investigative journalism is a very important cornerstone as far as the practice is concerned.


Sir, there are no laws in Zambia that hinder the practice of journalism, and I am very pleased with the report and the kind of study the Committee undertook because it provides for clear recommendations on how things can be improved.


Sir, at the foundation of the Committee’s recommendations, I think, is training. Unless we put a premium on good journalism training, it is a bit difficult to even talk about access to information, and that is why we have had a challenge; we had not pronounced ourselves as a country in terms of Government communication and who the contact points are in terms of access to information. Now, we have made a lot of progress with the recruitment of public relations practitioners, the professional communicators who will interface with journalists in the dissemination of information from the Government. All Government agencies and organisations should have public relations practitioners or communicators. We are now going through the processes. The public relations professionals are talking to us about putting in place the right legal framework for the Access to Information Bill to become a reality. However, that is like putting the cart before the horse because before all that is done, the important issue is the training of journalists, and the report has really highlighted this issue. Unless we separate the trained journalists from masqueraders, we are not going to be able to have the kind of investigative journalism we want in this country.


Sir, let me take this opportunity to congratulate the practitioners of journalism in this country because they have come together, for the first time after a long time, and are clear on the need for them to self-regulate in terms of the training they are going to have, the entry point to practice, accreditation to practice in the country, how they are going to deal with those who bring the profession into disrepute, how they are going to interface with various Government and private media houses, how they will deal with media houses that abuse journalists, and the kind of standards and ethics they are going to put in place so that the issues raised by various hon. Members today can be addressed, such as bad journalism, investigative journalism, fake news, badly-investigated or politics-influenced stories, because what we all seek from investigative journalism is the truth.


Mr Speaker, Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world, says that when media practitioners are well trained and educated in a country, it is good for society. We, as a country, want to place a premium on the training of journalists so that we get what is commensurate with that training for the benefit of this country. So, the Government is working with the practitioners to institute self-regulation in this country so that we can be set on the path to having access to information and everything else that comes with it for the benefit of the country. At the centre of all that is good training for journalists.


Sir, I think that an important point was made, which is that when we talk about journalism practitioners, we are talking about professionalism. So, the current technological aids do not mean, for example, that a publication on the Internet does not need to follow the ethics, and this is why we are coming up with new laws, including cyber laws. All these laws are not working independently; they are working together to provide an environment in which the practice of journalism will be professional, respected, have ethics and standards and, most important of all, respect privacy, the public interest and national security. This is because journalists do not operate in a vacuum.


Mr Speaker, once again, I thank your Committee for the great job done in its in-depth study of investigative journalism in this country and its shortcomings. I think that in essence, we all agree that training and the lack of a professional body that can regulate the practice of journalism in the country are the key issues to be addressed. As the Government, we are working hand-in-hand with the practitioners to address these issues.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Dr Ng’ambi: Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me this opportunity to thank the hon. Members who have supported the Report of the Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technologies.


Mr Speaker, I extend special gratitude to Hon. Tutwa Ngulube; Hon. Muchima; Hon. Chungu, the Minister for Northern Province, for attempting to support this report; Hon. Simbao; Hon. Garry Nkombo; Hon. Mung’andu; Hon. Kabanda; Hon. Bwalya Ng’andu, the Minister of Finance; and Hon. Siliya, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, for supporting the report of the Committee.


Mr Speaker, before I conclude, let me thank and congratulate His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu on being elected President of the great Patriotic Front (PF) and Presidential candidate for the general elections that will be held on 12th August, 2021. Lastly, I thank your Office for the wonderful support.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Question put and agreed to.




Dr Kopulande (Chembe): Mr Speaker, I beg to move that this House do adopt the Report of the Committee on National Economy, Trade and Labour Matters on the Impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic on Zambia’s Economy for the Fifth Session of the Twelfth National Assembly, laid on the Table of the House on Friday, 26th March, 2021.


Mr Speaker: Is the Motion seconded?


Mr Chali (Nchanga): Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.


Dr Kopulande: Mr Speaker, in carrying out its important task of examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Zambia’s economy, your Committee sought both written and oral submissions from, and interacted with, various stakeholders.


Sir, from the outset, allow me to state that on the macroeconomic front, Zambia was already faced with a deepening fiscal deficit and an associated rise in debt, inflation and a depreciating Kwacha even before the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the pandemic has exacerbated the country’s gloomy macroeconomic picture, and contributed to an estimated economic contraction of 4.2 per cent in 2020.


Mr Speaker, let me now highlight some of the salient issues observed by the Committee during its deliberations and interaction with the stakeholders.


Sir, the COVID-19 crisis has revealed that Zambia’s main constraint to the response to the economic effects of COVID-19 is the limited fiscal space from which the Government can tap resources to effectively support the economy and the health sector. This is largely due to the high public debt arising from the external debt servicing obligation and the continued depreciation of the Kwacha, as can be seen in the unfavourable exchange rate. In light of this, the Committee strongly urges the Government to guard against misapplication of public resources in order for it to be able to support critical sectors during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Committee further strongly urges the Government to critically examine the current debt situation and devise realistic measures and strategies for restoring debt sustainability and, ultimately, lessening the debt burden.


Mr Speaker, the Committee also observes that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of the Zambian economy, particularly the manufacturing sector, due to a high dependence on imported production inputs. At the same time, the crisis has provided an opportunity for domestic manufacturers to increase productivity, and revealed the need for public policy makers to adopt new industrialisation strategies, such as import substitution of many foreign products being imported into the country today.


Sir, in order to promote full economic recovery and realise the full potential of manufacturing, the Committee urges the Government to provide incentives like those that were in the Multi-Facility Economic Zone (MFEZ) Policy to the sector in order to support local manufacturing of production inputs and reduce the importation of inputs that can be readily produced locally. Related to this is the point that while the Committee commends the Government for the directive that chain stores stock locally-produced commodities in order to meet the local demand, it also contends that such measures should not be instituted and limited to the times of crisis or pandemics. Instead, they should be the norm at all times. Therefore, the Committee strongly recommends that the Government ensures that chain stores prioritise local products at all times and allows importation of commodities only in circumstances where local producers are unable to meet the demand or the commodities are not produced in the country.


Mr Speaker, the Committee notes that the severity of the impact of COVID-19 is more pronounced on businesses and household income. While acknowledging the measures that the Government has implemented to unlock liquidity, the Committee is still concerned about the level of debt owed to businesses that have supplied goods and services to the Government. In this regard, the Committee strongly urges the Government to prioritise the payment of monies owed to local suppliers in all sectors in order to support the survival of firms, safeguard employment, and support the recovery and growth of businesses which, essentially, underpin the growth of any economy.


Sir, as I conclude, allow me to render my sincere gratitude to you and the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly for the services rendered to the Committee throughout its deliberations on this matter. I also place on record your Committee’s gratitude to all the stakeholders who provided it with invaluable information and opinions that formed the basis of the report before the House today.


Mr Speaker, I beg to move.


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


Mr Chali: Now, Sir.


Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me this opportunity to second this Motion.


Sir, in seconding the Motion ably moved by Hon. Dr Kopulande, I would like to highlight a few points that he has not have covered.


Mr Speaker, the impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has demonstrated that this is not a crisis in human health only, but also one that presents an unprecedented flex on education, employment, and investment and other economic sectors.


Sir, let me talk about tourism, which is one of the sectors that have been adversely affected by this pandemic.


Sir, the international travel bans and local measures aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 have negatively impacted on the tourism sector. Cognisant of the fact that the sector has largely benefited from the 2021 National Budget measures, the Committee contends that the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak has set an immediate decline in business activities, and this requires a review of measures in order to preserve employment and prevent the sector from total collapse. In this regard, the Committee strongly recommends that the Government, through the Zambia Tourism Agency (ZTA), develops aggressive strategies that will market packages for tourists to visit Zambia and entice the locals to participate in the tourism sector.


Mr Speaker, the information and communication technology (ICT) sector is one of those that have been impacted positively by the pandemic, which has led to an increase in the demand for Internet services and ICT equipment aimed at reducing contact among people through measures like holding virtual meetings, electronic learning (e-Learning), use of digital financial services and encouraging employees to work from home. These measures have made the ICT sector to expand and benefit from the pandemic. In light of the foregoing, the Committee strongly urges the Government to expedite the expansion of the ICT infrastructure to all parts of the country in order to increase access to and use of telecommunication services by all Zambians.


Sir, related to the need for the Government to expand the ICT infrastructure is the requirement to invest in ICT equipment in the education sector, which was disrupted by the pandemic because of the type of education system we have in the country, which was very vulnerable to disruptions by disease outbreaks. The improvement of ICT equipment will enhance computer literacy levels among learners and teachers and the unreliability of Internet connectivity will be dealt with if the ICT infrastructure is expanded. In this regard, the Committee strongly recommends that the budgetary allocation for the provision of education through the traditional means be directed to the procurement of the ICT equipment in learning institutions.


Mr Speaker, with those remarks, I beg to second the Motion.


I thank you, Sir


Mr Ng’ambi: Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to air my views on this very important report.


Sir, I want to begin by thanking the mover as well as the seconder of this Motion for ably bringing out the important issues they have brought out to the House.


Sir, I want to talk about the interventions this able Government has made in response to the challenges of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the economy of this country. When you look at the report, you will see that very important interventions were made by the Government to insulate the economy from the effects of COVID-19 in this country. Most of those interventions have so far had positive results for the enterprises of this country and ensured that COVID-19 does not negatively affect the economy in totality. As you may be aware, one of the interventions was the provision of a K10 billion medium-term refinancing facility, which has saved many corporate institutions from collapsing. You may be aware that the fund was meant to provide particularly for those who had loans with financial institutions. The facility has assisted all the organisations that had access to it to remain afloat in the economy and continue to contribute to the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as ensuring that the economy keeps growing.


Mr Speaker, one of the challenges that have been mentioned by the would-be participants or those who have accessed the funds is the lack of sensitisation on how the funds can be accessed, bearing in mind that the Ministry of Finance has not come out strongly in sensitising would-be beneficiaries so that the funds can continue providing leverage to the operations of organisations.


Sir, another issue that is raised by those who have accessed the funds is that they do not understand whether the initial one-year period agreed between most of the companies that accessed the funds and the financial institution will be extended. As you are aware, initially, most Zambian people did not know for how long the COVID-19 would affect the economy. Now that it is very clear that the effects of COVID-19 will remain a major challenge to the economy, even with the introduction of the vaccine, it is my sincere hope that arising from the Committee’s highlighting of these important and pertinent issues to this nation, the hon. Minister of Finance will come out very clearly on how the K10 billion will continue providing economic leverage and mitigating the shocks in the economy.


Mr Speaker, finally, with those few words, I thank you and wish His Excellency the President, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, a victorious 12thAugust, 2021. As you are aware, he is going to have a landslide victory when the elections are held this year.


Mr Mung’andu: Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the report of the Committee on National Economy, Trade and Labour Matters.


Sir, there are three issues I have seen in this report. The first issue is that the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has had a great impact on our economy. The other issue observed by your Committee is the impact at the micro level, that is, the inflationary pressure that COVID-19 has put on our economy. The last issue that has been acknowledged is the fundamental issue of the interest rates in the financial sector, which is also at the micro level of economic outlook. These are the issues that our colleagues, particularly those in the opposition, do not want to acknowledge in their debates. Your report has indicated that our economy, particularly at the micro level, is dependent on imports, meaning that we export less and that most of the things we consume are imported, some from our neighbouring countries like South Africa, but the majority are imported from China, and that has had an effect on our economy. As you know, China and many other developed countries were under lockdown, and that affected the economy of this country in terms of revenue generation. These are the things on which the Opposition, particularly the United Party for National Development (UPND) and its Chairperson for Economy Affairs, in debating, have not told the truth to the people of Zambia.


Mr Speaker: Order, hon. Member for Chama South!


Do not debate the chairperson of the Committee.


Mr Mung’andu: Mr Speaker, thank you for that guidance.


Sir, I want to stress to the people of Zambia that this Committee, which is chaired by the hon. Member for Liuwa, has acknowledged that the 2021 Budget put in place by the Government led by His Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, who will be sworn in either on 13th or 14th August, 2021, –


Mr Speaker: Order, hon. Member for Chama South!


You are lacing your debate with issues that are not supposed to be a part of it. Either you debate the report or discuss something else, assuming you will be permitted to.


Mr Mung’andu: Mr Speaker, I thank you for the guidance. I was trying to stress the point that this report has acknowledged that the 2021 National Budget addresses the financial challenges that have arisen due to COVID-19. Therefore, I will be very right in my debate to conclude that only the Patriotic Front (PF) Government has a solution to the many financial challenges the country is going through, as can be seen in its interventions that have already been put in place. Therefore, I will go further and urge all Zambians to support the PF Government and, in particular, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, who is our candidate for the elections on 12th August, 2021, so that all the measures that have been highlighted in terms of taking care of the economic fundamentals, are to bear fruit.


Sir, with those few remarks, I support your report.


The Minister for Northern Province (Mr Bwalya): Mr Speaker, firstly, I commend the Committee for the job well done. Secondly, I congratulate His Excellency the President, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, on having been elected party president and our candidate for the forth-coming general elections.


Mr Speaker, the report raises quite a number of pertinent issues insofar as the economy is concerned.


Sir, it is very true that the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has had very devastating effects, and we are yet to see very serious negative effects of the pandemic. We need to brace ourselves as a country and as part of the global village because it is going to be quite tough going forward given the fact that most economies are suffering from the negative effects of COVID-19.


Sir, the depreciation of the Kwacha is a result of a number of factors. Among the factors is the fact that the availability of convertible international foreign currencies in the economy of Zambia is cardinal. As long as there is no inflow into the economy of the country, the inflow of the international convertible currencies like the United States (US) Dollar, the British  Pound and the Japanese Yen will also cause many shocks on our currency, the Kwacha. Therefore, , because of what is happening globally, it has been very difficult for us, as Government, to secure the much-needed dollars in order to service the debt we contracted, which we are applying very effectively and prudently to a number of projects Zambians are able to see. Zambians have appreciated because the Lusaka Decongestion Project has now become visible. 


Sir, everyone is able to see the number of flyover bridges under construction. We are also constructing the Kazungula Bridge, and the expenditure on all those projects, put together, amounts to the debt we contracted and which we have to pay back. Since most of the international debts, if not all of them, are quoted in dollars, at the time of repaying either the interest or principal amount, we need a lot of Kwacha to get the dollar. In terms of simple economics, we all know that when a commodity is in short supply and the demand is high, its price goes up. The opposite is also true; when the commodity is in high supply and the demand is low, obviously, we will see prices go down. The same thing happens with the dollar. So, it is important that we accept that we are in a global village where liquidity is very tight in every economy.


Mr Speaker, it is also true that the Government has tried as much as possible to inject liquidity into the economy by beginning to address the challenges. If my memory serves me well, not too long ago, the Government released money for paying local contractors. That was an effort to increase liquidity in the economy because the more the money paid to the local contractors, the more the liquidity in the country. By the way, if we continue paying the local contractors, firstly, we will build their capacity; secondly, we will raise liquidity levels in the economy; and, thirdly, we will promote job creation in our country.


Sir, this report takes us into the realm or the framework where we, as the Government, are trying to address the issues of liquidity by making stimulus packages available in various sectors. The House might remember that there was the youth empowerment stimulus package. The musicians were also among the beneficiaries. That was aimed at addressing the issue of liquidity.


Sir, we know that the hospitality and tourism industries have suffered the most because people were not coming into the country, which means that we lose out on the dollars that they were supposed to bring into this country, which we are supposed to have in our reserves. Therefore, it is true that the report has highlighted important issues, and we appreciate your Committee for the job well done. I think that this is as it should be and that we will move forward together as a country.


 I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Mr Speaker: We will wind up this report as follows: I will have the hon. Member for Liuwa, the hon. Minister of Information and Broadcasting and, lastly, the hon. Minister of Finance.


Dr Musokotwane (Liuwa): Mr Speaker, I thank you for giving me this opportunity. Greetings from Liuwa.


Sir, it was not my intention to debate, but I have been provoked to do so by the deliberate efforts of some of the hon. Members who have debated and tried to distort the contents of the report to suit their political interests. I feel that it is my responsibility to correct the misconceptions created and distortions.


Sir, the previous debater said that the Committee, of which I am the chairperson, has categorically accepted that the problems Zambia is currently going through are due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, yet the statement read by my colleague says very clearly that most of the problems we are currently going through were there even before COVID-19. That statement is in line with what many other analysts, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Economic intelligence Report, are saying. Many economic analysts and experts in Zambia are all saying that COVID-19 merely exacerbated the problems, for that matter, serious problems, that were already there. So, it is very sad that people are in denial mode, and this is one of the problems that are making us fail to come out of the serious economic problem we are in. They want to project the excuses that are there and forget about the mistakes that we, as a country and, especially, the Government made. They want to hide the serious errors of judgment they made.


Sir, the fact is that for the past five years, people have been warning the Government to slow down on debt accumulation because the nation had no capacity to deal with the debt mountain the Government was creating. However, the people on your right kept saying that there was no debt crisis and that everything was fine. Today, we are making the same mistake in the Government’s wanting to project secondary issues and forget the fundamental issues the economy is facing due to its having over-borrowed. Today, the Government cannot fund its departments because most of the money must go to servicing debt, and shops are closing. If you go to shopping malls, there are many empty spaces not just because of COVID-19, but also because there is no purchasing power in this economy to support the shops. The money comes in and goes out to service debt. So, this is not just about COVID-19; it is also about the fact that we over-borrowed.


Sir, I urge the Government to be truthful and accept what everybody else in this world, including the experts who understand the economic situation of Zambia, is saying, which is that we should deal with the debt problem. That is where the critical issue is. As long as we keep skirting this issue, we will not get to a solution.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Ms Siliya: Mr Speaker, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to contribute to the discussion on this report. I also thank the mover and seconder of this Motion.


Sir, the previous debater made the important point that the Committee made the observation that there was already some economic stress even before the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. However, it is important that we remind ourselves what we have been dealing with in the last ten years. There have been droughts and floods in this country, and the Government came to the rescue of many citizens. We give due credit to Her Honour the Vice-President, whose office has been working tirelessly through the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) to address these issues.


Mr Speaker, as a result of the drought we faced, we also faced power outages that placed a lot of economic and financial stress on the nation, and infrastructure challenges. It is said that chance favours the prepared. In this regard, the Government, through borrowing and other measures, provided the necessary foundation and basic infrastructure for us to be able to grow the economy. Then, COVID-19 and other external shocks of which we were not in charge came.


Sir, what can we correct? I think that in the last few years, we have also been dealing with the kind of political culture that creates hatred for our nation. One of the debaters talked about our need to compete for the few tourists in the world during this pandemic. However, we are not going to be able to do that if we have a political culture that is always promoting hatred for our nation. We are not going to deal with financial stress and economic challenges if we do not have a mindset that promotes success or wants to see people succeed. This is why, a few months ago, the whole country was talking about a Bugatti that arrived at the airport. We must be proud of citizens who have done well and learn from them so that we can help ourselves and the whole economy, and that must start at the personal level.


Mr Speaker, we need to change our attitude of wanting to bring people down, which has an extension that connects to economic progress in the country. For instance, we know that the discourse on corruption has been so politicised that it is now even difficult to truly appreciate the fight against corruption. In the end, the politicisation has even exacerbated the problems I am talking about. If a Zambian goes to a Zambian bank manager to borrow money, the bank manager will be terrified to give him/her a loan because, tomorrow, he/she will be called corrupt in the newspapers. However, if a foreigner goes to the same banks in Zambia, they will be given money and they will participate in business. So, we need to refocus because the youths of this country are eager to see us get over our challenges.


Sir, we need to focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and we are only going to do that if we place a premium on education. That is why on Saturday, at our party convention, His Excellency the President urged all of us to find ways of reducing the cost of higher education in this country; we need a critical mass of skills that will lead us into production and manufacturing. Unless we are focused, we are not going to be able to do that.


Mr Speaker, through the COVID-19 initiative, the Government responded by supporting households, businesses and the vulnerable. However, all we have been hearing is that we are giving people stolen money. This Government has said that during these difficult times, it will hold the hands of the citizens of Zambia because that is what every government around the world is doing. However, due to the attitude of self-hatred in this country, all we are hearing is that the Government is giving out stolen money. During these unprecedentedly difficult times, how can an elected government just sit and let the people starve instead of holding their hand? This is why a group of men and women in the Government decided, not matter what the challenge is, to find resources to share with the citizens, including the young people, through empowerment programmes, so that they can survive this period.


Mr Speaker, we are already a resilient country and a resilient economy, but we just need to get over this hill; this pandemic, and it is unfortunate that some people, for their political interests, are bent on saying that this is not the right thing to do. We know that Zambians will choose the right side because they know who is helping them during this difficult time.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Dr Ng’andu: Mr Speaker, I thank the Committee for producing a very elaborate report on the impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the Zambian economy.


Sir, my comments centre on the key recommendations in the report, the first of which is that the Government implements the Economic Recovery Programme of 2020 to 2023 in order to achieve economic resilience and realise economic stabilisation, as envisaged through the pillars of the programme.


Mr Speaker, the House will recall that immediately we were hit by the pandemic, the Government went into action and implemented a number of measures intended to particularly address the challenges that various people were facing, especially those who are least able to look after themselves and, more importantly, to address the challenges that businesses were facing. In this respect, the House will recall that the Government announced the COVID-19 bond; through the Bank of Zambia (BoZ), the Medium-Term Refinancing Facility; and a number of tax measures. All that was intended to support the various sectors of the economy, particularly those that were hit the most, such as transport and tourism.


Sir, the Economic Recovery Programme goes beyond the initial reaction of the Government to the challenges of COVID-19, as it takes the view that COVID-19 will have to end at some point, and that we have to address the issue of how we will run this economy in the post-COVID-19 era. In this respect, the programme outlines a trio of pillars that we intend to implement. The pillars include attaining macro-economic stability, and debt and fiscal sustainability. One of the hon. Members who spoke earlier said that we have denied that there is a challenge in these areas but, if you go through the document, you will see that it is very clear on the steps and measures that this Government will take to create the conditions necessary for the economy to grow.


Mr Speaker, the third pillar is that of reinvigorating the economy and expanding the economic activity based on us, as a people, producing more for ourselves so that we consume more of what we produce. In other words, we have to become more of an inward-looking economy. We cannot be an economy that feeds on what other people produce. The experience we have learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic is that the supply chains can be disrupted and that when that happens, there are challenges to be faced, and we faced the challenges.


Sir, it is important that when there is a disaster like this, people learn a lesson, and I think we have learnt the lesson that it is important for us to build the internal capacity to respond and build an economy that can stand on its own feet. In this respect, we have taken a very clear approach to transforming the agricultural sector through moving away from using simple tools to highly mechanised agriculture. We also want to move away from rain-fed agriculture by developing elaborate irrigation systems. All these strategies are in the programme and, as we implement them, we will see transformation take place. We also seek to diversify the products in the agricultural sector.


Mr Speaker, with respect to manufacturing, the vision is to go back to where we were before; we have to begin the process of re-industrialising this economy, and all is laid out in the programme. Mining is another very important sector that we are paying a lot of attention to, and we, as a Government, have made a deliberate decision to not be bystanders and watch other people exploit our mineral resources. We will take active interest in the exploitation of mineral resources so that we can benefit from them to the extent that we should. Many people will agree that we have not gained as much as we should have from the exploitation of our mining resources because we privatised the mining companies. So, clearly, we need to change our approach, and that is what we are doing.


Sir, the foregoing are some of the things in the programme that the Committee acknowledges as an important effort that we need to implement, going forward. I also need to inform the House that we have set up a very robust monitoring mechanism for the implementation of the programme, based on the issuance of quarterly reports aligned to the national plan. The progress report for the first quarter of 2021 will soon be submitted to the Cabinet for approval and, thereafter, disseminated. The report will give us an exact sense of what we are doing in the immediate term following the launch of the programme.


Mr Speaker, the House may also wish to note that to support economic recovery, the Government is putting in place appropriate structural and legal reforms primarily in the areas of fiscal and debt sustainability, and dismantling of domestic arrears. This stresses the point I made before, which is that we are not blind to the problem in this area. We have been very candid, open or honest about it, and I was surprised to hear an hon. Member of this House say that we have been denying that we have a debt problem. We have acknowledged it and we are doing something about it.


Mr Speaker, the other important recommendation made is that we invest in the creation of a robust digital financial infrastructure aimed at bringing about growth of partnerships between financial technologies (FinTechs) and financial service players in order to facilitate access to and use of affordable digital financial services.


Mr Speaker, in order to expand infrastructure and network coverage to enhance financial inclusion, especially in the rural areas, the Government, through the Ministry of Transport and Communication, has continued constructing and operationalising communication towers that will enhance digital financial systems in unserved areas. The Government Service Bus also continues to enhance the linking of citizens to Government systems through information and communication technology (ICT) platforms.


Sir, the third recommendation I want to comment on the one about the Government taking advantage of the opportunities presented by digital financial services, including giving consideration to paying rural civil servants, such as teachers, through mobile money accounts, which are more accessible. It is important that civil servants take advantage of the products that banks have to offer. For example, it is now possible to transfer money from a bank account to a mobile money account and vice versa. The Government is discussing with mobile phone operators how that can be done without interfering with the audit trail. This is because a key aspect of the work we do is retaining and maintaining audit trails so that if at some point transactions have to be audited, the trail is there. That is the challenge being faced currently.


Mr Speaker, regarding the recommendations on the Loans, Grants and Guarantees (Authorisation) Act, the Ministry of Justice has returned the Loans, Grants and Guarantees (Authorisation) Bill of 2021 to the Ministry of Finance for resubmission to the Cabinet. However, before the Bill can be resubmitted to the Cabinet, there is a need to further review it in view of the passage of time, since it was initially drafted in 2017. The further review of the Bill aims at strengthening debt reporting systems to be mandated by law in order to promote public debt transparency and strengthening the management of contingent liabilities, such as sovereign guarantees, among other objects. The Ministry of Finance is in the process of organising a two-week stakeholder consultative workshop scheduled to begin on 26th April, 2021. The workshop will facilitate the repealing and replacement of the draft Loans, Grants and Guarantees (Authorisation) (Amendment) Bill.


Sir, in conclusion, the Ministry of Finance has taken note of the recommendation of the Committee for it to address the challenges resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Zambian economy. In this regard, I assure the House that a detailed report on how the challenges have been addressed will be submitted to this House at an appropriate time.


Mr Speaker, I thank you.


Dr Kopulande: Mr Speaker, thank you very much for allowing me to wind up this debate.


Sir, let me start by thanking the seconder, Hon. Chilombo Chali of Nchanga; the hon. Member for Chifubu, Mr Frank Ng’ambi; the hon. Member for Chama South, Mr Mung’andu; the hon. Minister for Northern Province, Mr Chungu Bwalya; the hon. Member for Liuwa, Dr Musokotwane; the hon. Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Ms Dora Siliya; and the hon. Minister of Finance, Dr Bwalya Ng’andu.


Sir, allow me to take this opportunity, on behalf of the people of Chembe, to pass our sincere condolences to Hon. Dr Ng’andu on the passing of his father, Chief Makasa of the Northern Province.  We mourn with you, Hon. Dr Ng’andu, and the entire family.


Mr Speaker, allow me to appreciate the hon. Minister for stating that we have learnt our lesson. That is a very important statement. As far as the Committee is concerned, as a country, we must focus on stimulating our productivity because we cannot continue being a country that consumes goods produced by other people for much longer. We must produce our own products.


Sir, we have signed up to the African Free Trade Area –


Mr Speaker: Order, hon. Member for Chembe!


This time is for you to merely wind up the debate.


Dr Kopulande: Mr Speaker, as I conclude, allow me to congratulate His Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu on his election as President of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and being endorsed as the party’s candidate for the elections on 12th August, later this year. Allow me to also congratulate all my fellow members of the PF who have made it to the Central Committee of the party.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Question put and agreed to.











THE ACCOUNTANTS (Amendment) BILL, 2021


Clauses 1, 2, and 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.


Title agreed to.




Clauses 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.


Title agreed to.






[MR SPEAKER in the Chair]


The following Bills were reported to the House as having passed through the Committee without amendments:


The Accountants (Amendment) Bill, 2021


The Zambia Institute of Marketing (Amendment) Bill, 2021


Third Readings on Wednesday, 14th April, 2021.








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


Question put and agreed to.




The House adjourned at 1636 hours until 1430 hours on Wednesday, 14th April, 2021.