Members of Parliament are stealing from each other important and sensitive documents right inside the august House, a Zanu PF senator has sensationally alleged.
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
Damian Diamonds Mumvuri, who is Mashonaland Central Senator, made the claims while contributing to debate in Senate on Wednesday on the Report on the First Africa Legislative Summit which took place in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2013.
While debating on the motion, Mumvuri said there was need for the Parliament of Zimbabwe to bring back Parliamentary Constituency Information Centres (PCICs) or even provide offices for each legislator because of the prevalence of “stealing” at the MPs’ pigeonholes.
Most Parliaments worldwide have pigeonholes which are small open-fronted compartments (like letter boxes) in a wall cabinet where deliveries of individual MPs’ letters, documents, papers, notices and even other small items are made.
“Madam President, there is need to resuscitate the PCICs for all MPs and these offices have to be fully equipped and manned by staff paid by Parliament in full,” said Mumvuri.
“Even in this Parliament building, we should have offices, and not only pigeonholes which are not safe to keep our vital information sometimes because
people steal from each other’s pigeonholes.”
Mumvuri added: “This is informal (sic), but it is happening. You find things missing there.”
He was asked by the President of the Senate Edna Madzongwe to withdraw his statements that “MPs steal”, and he complied and withdrew it opting to use the words “ things go missing”.
When NewsDay later asked Mumvuri to further clarify the allegations, he said the “thieving” at pigeonholes was not related to stealing of each other’s valuables, but that some MPs had complained of missing important documents or files that would have been placed in pigeonholes.
Mumvuri said at one time he missed “sensitive” important documents from his pigeonhole.
“It is an allegation, and I have heard some MPs complaining that they have missed their important sensitive documents, Bills and even files that would be put in their pigeonholes,” he said.
“The problem is that these pigeonholes are open and any MP who misplaces their documents or files might be tempted to then take those files from other MPs’ pigeonholes. Maybe lockers or offices for individual MPs are the way to go instead of open pigeonholes.”
Masvingo Senator Misheck Marava (MDC-T), however, said there were no strong cases of valuables that had been stolen from pigeonholes. He said it was impossible for MPs to place valuables there since they were open spaces without lock and key.
“I have heard talk that people take documents from each other’s pigeonholes. However, when a document is missing from a pigeonhole, it is difficult to prove whether it has been stolen or if it was omitted and nothing was placed in that particular pigeonhole in the first place.
“What I can say is that perhaps the incidents where documents might go missing call for security where MPs must have pigeonholes that can be locked so that they can maintain their privacy. The best way to approach this issue is security and maybe the pigeonholes can be designed in a manner that there is a small opening where Parliament orderlies can place the documents inside the locked pigeonhole,” Marava said.
MPs in Zimbabwe used to have PCICs, but these were suspended a few years ago due to financial constraints.
Mumvuri said PCICs were imperative because they enabled Parliament to be accessible to the people as stipulated in Section 141 of the Constitution.
He said a Centre of Parliamentary Studies was necessary as other countries like Nigeria had established such an institution where MPs, staff of Parliament and journalists could be capacitated with information about Parliament.
“In respect of capacitating Members of the Senate and National Assembly, the concept of the Constituency Development Fund should be revived and be fully resourced. It should be accessed by both Senators and Members of the National Assembly and not biased for one person only.”