Both houses of Parliament will resume sitting today after a month’s break. Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda and President of the Senate Edna Madzongwe issued a strong warning against errant ministers when the two houses adjourned on 24 July.
Mudenda and Madzongwe warned ministers and their deputies that parliament would take stern measures on those who continued to neglect their parliamentary duties including charging them with Contempt of Parliament.
They cited constitutional provisions which stipulate ministers’ and deputy ministers’ duties, including one which states that: “Every Vice-President, Minister and Deputy Minister must attend Parliament and Parliamentary Committees in order to answer questions concerning matters for which he or she is collectively or individually responsible."
“The Chair would, therefore, like to serve notice to all hon. Ministers and Deputy Ministers that the Senate will not allow this situation where some of them neglect their parliamentary duties to continue unabated,” Madzongwe said in her version which was identical to Mudenda’s.
“The Senate will reprimand Ministers and Deputy Ministers who persistently prioritise other duties above their Parliament duties. The Chair wishes to further give notice that; should this not produce the desired effect, the Senate will be left with no option but to invoke other constitutional powers at its disposal including Contempt of Parliament.”
Tomorrow could provide a crucial test on whether ministers and their deputies have heeded the request from leaders of the two houses as question time for the House of Assembly is on Wednesday and that of the Senate is on Thursday.
Right now at least six key ministers are in China with President Robert Mugabe. These are: Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Transport Minister Obert Mpofu, Industry Minister Mike, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made and Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi.