Members of Parliament from the two MDCs yesterday blasted President Robert Mugabe for delaying the official opening of a new Parliament session, describing the move as tantamount to gagging the legislature.
Report by Veneranda Langa
The Fifth Session of the 7th Parliament was supposed to have been officially opened in July, but that has not happened. Committees for the current Fourth Session of the 7th Parliament were stopped from sitting in July when the life of the current session was expected to have ended.
As a result, no committee is sitting to, among other things, make members of the Executive accountable to Parliament.
Parliament is currently sitting on an ad-hoc basis to deal with urgent business that Cabinet needs to tackle like passing of Bills and ratification of loan agreements. MPs can also debate motions they find important. The MPs were yesterday debating a motion moved by Silobela MP Anadi Sululu (MDC-T) calling upon the House of Assembly to bring to book ministers who failed to take parliamentary business seriously. Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya (MDC-T) said Mugabe had literally crippled Parliament.
“Today, we are now getting into the fourth month sitting on an ad-hoc basis and this is undermining the authority of Parliament,” said Chikwinya. “It means there has been a systematic shutdown of Parliament by the Executive so that it does not play its oversight function, yet we are supposed to be halfway into the Fifth Session of the Seventh Parliament,” he said.
Insiza MP Siyabonga Ncube (MDC) weighed in: “The current Fourth Session of the Seventh Parliament expired in July and now we are going to November without a new session being opened. I understand Parliament notified President Mugabe to open a new session, but it seems the paper is just sitting in his office.”
Nkulumane MP Thamsanqa Mahlangu (MDC-T) said it was unfortunate the life of Parliament was in the hands of one person.
“If that person does not want this Parliament to open, that means we are stranded,” Mahlangu said. Legislators across the political divide also spoke in unison against ministers who played truant and those who failed to answer MPs’ questions. Sululu singled out the Minister of State for State Security in the President’s Office, Sydney Sekeramayi, for failure to answer a question tabled in the Order Paper since October 2011 on whether members of the Central Intelligence Organisation were allowed to hold political party positions.
“The minister responsible attends Cabinet regularly, but he is not seen in this House. Some MPs do not even know him,” he said.
MPs agreed no minister should be an MP and suggested that Cabinet ministers should be non-political technocrats in order for parliamentarians to be able to hold them to account without fear of victimisation at political party level. The motion was adopted and the House adjourned to November 15.