SPEAKER of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda, has disclosed that some parliamentary committee chairpersons are living in fear after receiving various threats mostly from Cabinet ministers angered by their oversight duties.
by VENERANDA LANGA
Speaking at the 10th anniversary of the Southern Africa Parliamentary Support Trust (Sapst) in Harare last Friday, Mudenda hailed Sapst for helping capacitate the committees to carry out their duties without fear or favour.
“We shall continue to protect the Constitution which stipulates that all institutions and agencies of government at every level are accountable to Parliament. This places an onerous responsibility on MPs,” Mudenda said.
“Some of my chairmen of committees have been threatened by ministers who say to the chairman you want to take over my ministerial responsibilities — why is your committee so inquisitive? My answer is that it is not the committee that is inquisitive — it is the Constitution that is inquisitive and says all State institutions and agencies must be accountable to Parliament, and if you do not like that then let us amend the Constitution.”
Mudenda said he gets disgusted by some ministers that do not have the humility to accept recommendations by parliamentary committees.
“Some ministers do not have the humility to accept recommendations of parliamentary committees. We are now at the crest and members of the Executive are beginning to gel in now and are working very closely with Parliament.
“Last Monday, I got a letter from the Ministry of Justice saying it is indeed the responsibility of Parliament to uphold the Constitution. They said they admit that there has been a slow process of alignment of laws and even suggested that their ministry’s committee on alignment of laws meets with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice so as to speed up the process of alignment,” Mudenda said.
Sapst executive director, John Makamure, announced that they will soon introduce a certificate in legislative studies.
“In the next 10 years, Sapst will be an established key institution in Southern Africa and will diversify its funding base. We have formed an endowment fund for the organisation to be self-financing so that we do not continue to rely on donors. Sapst will introduce a certificate in legislative studies,” Makamure said.
Clerk of Parliament, Kennedy Chokuda, said Sapst is currently looking at strengthening the Public Finance Management Act, and has been providing MPs with budget guidelines, as well as assisting in taking Parliament to the people through supporting public hearings on Bills.