MP says ministers should be charged for attending a cabinet meeting instead of Parliament


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A Member of Parliament yesterday said government ministers who attended a cabinet meeting instead of being in Parliament to respond to questions from members reserved for Wednesday must be charged with contempt of Parliament.

This was after Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda said he had received communication that ministers were attending a cabinet meeting and had sent their apologies through the chief whip.

Movement for Democratic Change chief whip Innocent Gonese said the ministers could be excused “for today” but party vice-president Nelson Chamisa said cabinet was not more important than Parliament.

“Cabinet is very important but it is supposed to have its own day,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s cabinet usually meet on Tuesdays.

“Parliament is important and that is why on Wednesdays, we are supposed to dedicate it to questions. It is not our questions. These are questions from Chikomba, Mukoba, Zaka, Kuwadzana, Binga and Chirumhanzu. These are not questions from Members of Parliament. These are questions from the people of Zimbabwe who are paying those who are sitting in Cabinet. So, when we invade the space of Parliament, it is a serious issue,” Chamisa said.

“We cannot just take it as a simple issue Hon. Speaker because this is what we call invasion of one arm by the other. It cannot be allowed and we should not allow it because what it does is undermine the power of the Legislature to give oversight functions on the Executive. Ministers must be summoned and they must be told that this is the last time. In fact, we were supposed to disband their meeting and have them to answer questions in this Parliament. That is how Parliaments function across the whole country. This is not to do with MDC and ZANU PF. It is simply to do with our Constitution. Let us respect our Constitution. If it is a day to ask questions, let us ask questions because parliamentarians have a duty and a right.”

Prosper Mutseyami proposed that all those cabinet ministers who were attending cabinet must be charged with contempt of Parliament.

 

Full debate:

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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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