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Educate public before Bill debates — MPs

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The chairman of the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Human Rights, Senator Misheck Marava (MDC-T), on Saturday said Parliament and MPs should educate the general public on parliamentary Bills before consulting them for input.

Marava said government only gazetted Bills but later did nothing to ensure they were translated into indigenous languages and no information about the contents of the Bills was disseminated to the people.

He said Parliament and MPs themselves should begin to take up the task of discussing the Bills brought before Parliament by the Executive with their constituents to enable the public to contribute from an informed viewpoint.

“It is true that we have been asking people to make contributions on Bills that they do not understand and how does a rural person in Muzarabani know about it?” Marava asked.

“For example, an old woman from Mutare asked us whether whenever we referred to the word ‘Bill’, we were talking of electricity or water bills because it was difficult for them to understand that we were talking of legislation,” he said.

He said MPs were supposed to go to their constituencies and educate people about a Bill brought for crafting in Parliament.

“Government and Parliament should also translate these Bills into vernacular and make copies available beforehand, as well as embark on public awareness programmes to inform people about the contents,” Marava said.

Zanu PF Makonde MP Risipa Kapesa said it was unfortunate that people were even misunderstanding Bills and politicising them as had been witnessed during the public hearings on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill.

“This Bill is a very sensitive one because it deals with the well-being of people and that is why some of the people do not even understand that the Bill was brought by Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa and they were misconstruing what is currently in the Bill and saying it removed powers from the President and the minister,” said Kapesa.

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