HomeEditorial CommentParliamentarians short-changed citizens

Parliamentarians short-changed citizens

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THE coalition government parliament will go down in the country’s history as the worst legislature due to poor participation by law-makers, according to a report carried by this newspaper yesterday.

About 25% of the legislators from Zanu PF and the MDC formations in the Seventh Parliament never uttered a single word between July 2012 and June 2013.

The report, produced by the Harare-based Research Advocacy Unity (Rau) entitled: What happened in Parliament? An analysis of the participation of MPs 2012-2013, showed that several members of the House of Assembly and Senate “were paid sitting allowances for merely sitting and not because they engaged with the substantive business of parliament.”

“There were some members who never spoke, not even once for the whole year between June 2012 and June 2013. Others spoke, but with little substantive value addition to the discussions at hand or merely seconding motions. Nearly a quarter of both bodies (House of Assembly and Senate) had members that did not speak at all,” said the report.

At least two-thirds of Zanu PF ministers never participated in either House of Assembly or Senate sessions, the Rau report discloses.

Question and Answer sessions, an important process in Parliament, were characterised by poor attendance, amid revelations some ministers “tactically side-stepped” important questions, resulting in some questions remaining unanswered up to the end of the Seventh Parliament in June last year. Basically the report shows that legislators failed in their role as representatives of the people to keep the executive on its toes.

It does not surprise us that executives of the country’s parastatals looted these entities with impunity while legislators snoozed in the august house. Instead of being the true voices of the people on the ground, a quarter of legislators from both sides of the political divide chose to keep remain, but were happy to pocket undeserved sitting allowances.

The report confirms that the Parliament has been the weakest link in the exercise of the principle of the separation of powers between the executive, the judiciary and the legislature.

Zimbabwe citizens deserve better than this, but with Zanu PF now enjoying a huge majority in Parliament it is likely it would be more of the same during the Eighth Parliament — deafening silence in the house.

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