HomeNewsThe good, the bad, the ugly of fourth session of 8th Parliament

The good, the bad, the ugly of fourth session of 8th Parliament

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BY VENERANDA LANGA

THE fourth session of the Eighth Parliament has ended and President Robert Mugabe will on Tuesday September 12 open the fifth session of the Eighth Parliament, which will be the last before the general elections next year.

Several shenanigans ensued during the fourth session and it will be remembered by Zimbabweans as a session where MPs fought, where Bills that were rejected by members of the public were passed, and the Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda and the President of the Senate Edna Madzongwe had to keep reminding ministers to attend Parliament.

Section 107 (2) of the Constitution requires that every Vice-President, minister and deputy minister must attend Parliament and Parliamentary portfolio committees in order to answer questions concerning matters for which they are collectively or individually responsible, but most of the ministers remained defiant although some heeded the call.

Bills

During the outgoing fourth session of the Eighth Parliament, Mugabe announced that about 33 Bills would be brought before Parliament for crafting, either as amendments to already existing laws or as new laws.

This was a too ambitious plan as in previous Parliamentary years, the legislature has crafted an average of 12 Bills per session.

Some of the Bills that he announced and that were never brought before Parliament during the fourth session of the Eighth Parliament were the Computer Crimes and Cyber Security Bill, Data Protection Bill, Coroner’s Office Bill to pave way for the setting-up of the Coroner’s Office responsible for medico-legal investigations, and amendments to indigenisation laws, among other laws.

The Executive failed to bring before Parliament laws to be aligned with the Constitution, except for the omnibus General Laws Amendment Bill.

Controversial Bills

The Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No 1 Bill was passed despite that during public hearings the Zimbabwean public massively rejected the Bill. It now awaits Presidential assent.

People rejected the Bill mostly on the basis that they did not want the President to have super powers to appoint the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President of the High Court.

Harare West MP Jessie Majome (MDC-T) has now raised written concerns to Parliament alleging that there was rigging of the vote to pass the Bill in the National Assembly by Zanu PF legislators, resulting in there being eight votes short to make up the required affirmative 180 votes to make up the two-thirds majority to pass the Bill to amend the Constitution.

In the Senate, there are allegations being raised that the Bill was passed after attaining 53 affirmative votes, instead of the required 54 votes to make up two-thirds majority of 80 senators.

Motions and questions

Several motions were introduced by Zanu PF and MDC-T MPs during the fourth session of the Eighth Parliament.

MPs across the political divide managed to speak in unison on motions to do with corruption.

They also stood up together to reject Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa‘s recommendations that Michael Ndudzo should take over from Mildred Chiri as Auditor-General.

However, MPs in the National Assembly resorted to the habit of calling for lack of quorum (70 members) during debate on motions in order to quash any debate they deemed critical of their political party.

This resulted in failure by the House to resolve very important matters affecting Zimbabweans.

For instance, the debate on xenophobic attacks in South Africa introduced by Mabvuku-Tafara MP James Maridadi (MDC-T) was aborted due to lack of a quorum yet it affects millions of Zimbabwean migrants working there.

Opposition MPs through their chief whip Innocent Gonese were very vocal on issues of non-attendance by ministers during Wednesday’s question and answer sessions.

Mudenda went to the extent of writing to Mugabe to rein in ministers to attend Parliament’s question and answer sessions.

In the Senate, on December 1, 2016, the situation had reached very alarming levels to the extent that only one minister, Lazarus Dokora (Primary and Secondary Education), attended the question and answer session and senators demanded that Madzongwe must read the riot act on truant ministers.

Skirmishes by MPs

While the session was characterised by walk-outs during debates, name-calling and frivolous points of order raised, the biggest skirmish of all was on October 26 when opposition legislators battled with police officers in Parliament in a violent incident which disrupted the question and answer session for almost one and a half hours.

The fracas was caused by Budiriro MP Costa Machingauta (MDC-T), who had appeared clad in a jacket emblazoned with national flag colours, resulting in Zvishavane-Ngezi MP John Holder (Zanu PF) raising a point of order demanding that Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Mabel Chinomona must chuck him out of the House.

When Machingauta refused to go out, Chinomona called in police officers to drag him out on all fours, while opposition legislators fought the police trying to block Machingauta’s ejection from the House.

The fifth session marks the end of the Eighth Parliament before the 2018 elections and MPs are expected to improve on their performance if ever they are to come back as legislators in the fifth session of the Eighth Parliament.

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