CIVIL society groups in Bulawayo have blasted Parliament as toothless and allowing itself to be used to rubber stamp Zanu PF programmes at the expense of representing public interest.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI/NQOBANI NDLOVU
Speaking to Southern Eye in separate interviews following the recent passage of Constitutional Amendment Number One Bill, the civic groups said Parliament betrayed citizens, who had rejected the Bill during public hearings.
They also accused legislators of taking too long to align laws to the Constitution adopted four years ago.
“It’s not useful because it doesn’t represent the interests of the people. It’s unfortunate that Zanu PF has the majority in Parliament, hence, they manipulate others,” Women’s Institute for Leadership Development programmes officer, Mpumelelo Madhlakela, said.
He said the public hearings usually conducted by Parliament were a formality and a rubber stamp.
Centre for Public Engagement director, Samukele Hadebe, said the blame should be laid squarely on the citizens of Zimbabwe, who gave Zanu PF the mandate to do everything.
“It’s useful in the sense that it passes the laws that are affecting us,” he said.
Hadebe said there was need for people to put checks and balances to allow divergent views to prevail in Parliament.
He said Zanu PF’s actions were within the confines of the law, as people gave them power to do whatever they were doing.
Habakkuk Trust chief executive officer, Dumisani Nkomo, said political integrity of opposition parties in Zimbabwe, as well as representation in Parliament was questionable.
“I will also blame the opposition because it depleted its members in Parliament. By so doing, they allowed Zanu PF to have the majority in Parliament,” he said.
“People should make sure that they don’t vote for a missing person, people who have not been pushing for the alignment of laws to the Constitution and devolution. We need to build a culture of participatory democracy as Zimbabweans. Parliament should be responsible and parliamentarians should take it seriously. We need to have vibrant discussion in Parliament.”
Dumoluhle Phiri, a Bulawayo resident, said parliamentarians were enjoying sitting allowances in the National Assembly, but failing to align laws to the Constitution.
But, Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda said those with challenges with the functions of Parliament should approach his office.
“We are very open and visible. So those with queries should come and present their case,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gwanda residents have appealed to parliamentarians to prod government to attend to the narrow Mtshabezi River bridge that links the Matabeleland South capital with Vumbachikwe, Blanket, Bar 20 and Freda Mines.
The low-lying bridge was constructed in the 1950s by Blanket Mine and now requires to be upgraded.
Gwanda Residents’ Association (GRA) spokesperson, Bekezela Maduma Fuzwayo said they had engaged the Transport ministry on several occasions requesting that they attend to the bridge without success.
“On the Mtshabezi bridge, we visited ministry of Transport authorities in Harare early this year with video evidence of flooding and all. The ministry told us that it is a priority area and they are waiting for Treasury allocation of the funds,” he said.
“We are waiting for the parliamentary committee on finance to come for their budget consultations soon. They will have to tell us exactly when they are going to allocate funds for that bridge. We are tired of talking to them every year.”
Fuzwayo said he recently wrote to Parliament raising concern over the poor state of the bridge.
The letter read: “Residents have a huge complaint on the construction of the new Mtshabezi River bridge, which links the town with the mining community across the river. If you may remember very well, the issue of this bridge comes up at every budget consultation meeting we have in the town and it is always a priority issue from the people of Gwanda.
“Would your office probably have an idea on the progress being made towards the construction of this bridge? The bridge has been a dark (sic) spot for years, as several people have died in accidents as they tried to cross the river.”