Are Zimbabwe’s MPs cheating the electorate?


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Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda has lamented the poor attendance of Members of Parliament and has accused some of “cheating” by attending sittings for a short period before leaving the House resulting in most of the members’ motions being debated in the absence of a quorum.

He said the quorum for the National Assembly had been raised from 25 to 70 members, which means motions are being debated when nearly 200 legislators are not in the House.

“I wish to emphasise the provisions of Sections 117 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which states as follows: ‘the Legislative Authority of Zimbabwe is derived from the people and is vested and exercised in accordance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe’.

“It is therefore evident that failure by hon. members to attend sittings of the House is a negation of their responsibility. Hon. members must recognize and respect the source of their authority, namely the people of Zimbabwe,” Mudenda said.

“Section 119 subsection 1 specifically states that, ‘Parliament must protect the Constitution and promote democratic governance in Zimbabwe. It therefore behoves all hon. members to take the provisions of the Constitution seriously and attend the sittings of the House as per the adopted sitting calendar which was circulated to all members at the beginning of the year.

“As Parliament, we expect Ministers and Deputy Ministers to attend Parliament and hence, we should also lead by example, through religiously attending sittings of Parliament and committees.

“The Chair is therefore making an appeal to all members to demonstrate respect and appreciation of their constitutional obligations in serving the nation through their parliamentary duties of respecting the legislative authority derived from the people of Zimbabwe and our national Constitution,” Mudenda told Parliament.

Members of Parliament have complained about the poor attendance of ministers, especially for question time on Wednesdays, and have asked the executive to act.

But the complaint by Mudenda shows that the MPs are not attending to their duties either. Three quarters of the 270 members of the national assembly are from the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

 

Mudenda’s full statement:

 

ATTENDANCE OF MEMBERS IN PARLIAMENT

MR. SPEAKER: This concerns the attendance by members in Parliament. I wish to draw the attention of the House to a very worrying trend by some hon. members who only attend sittings for a short time before leaving the House. Consequently, most members’ motions are debated in the absence of a quorum. As hon. members are aware, the quorum for the National Assembly is now 70 members and not 25. Hon. members have a responsibility to attend Parliament in order to fulfill their representative, oversight and legislative roles.

I wish to emphasise the provisions of Sections 117 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which states as follows: “the Legislative Authority of Zimbabwe is derived from the people and is vested and exercised in accordance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe”. It is therefore evident that failure by hon. members to attend sittings of the House is a negation of their responsibility. Hon. members must recognize and respect the source of their authority, namely the people of Zimbabwe.

Section 119 subsection 1 specifically states that, “Parliament must protect the Constitution and promote democratic Governance in Zimbabwe. It therefore behoves all hon. members to take the provisions of the Constitution seriously and attend the sittings of the House as per the adopted sitting calendar which was circulated to all members at the beginning of the year.

As Parliament, we expect Ministers and Deputy Ministers to attend Parliament and hence, we should also lead by example, through religiously attending sittings of Parliament and Committees. The Chair is therefore making an appeal to all members to demonstrate respect and appreciation of their constitutional obligations in serving the nation through their parliamentary duties of respecting the legislative authority derived from the people of Zimbabwe and our national Constitution.

(504 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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