Zimbabwe’s younger crop of techno-savvy legislators has revolutionised parliamentary debates, with some making their presentations electronically via PowerPoint in line with international trends.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Leader of the opposition in the House Thokozani Khupe, Mabvuku/Tafara legislator, James Maridadi (MDC-T), Mudzi West MP, Magna Mudyiwa (Zanu PF), Makonde West MP, Kindness Paradza (Zanu PF) and former Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa (Zanu PF) are among the few legislators, who have embraced the technology and their presentations have had lasting impressions.
Khupe was the first to introduce a motion using PowerPoint to illustrate the effects of cancer on people.
Paradza, who is chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, also used a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate the sorry state of Zimbabwean embassies.
Buhera South legislator, Joseph Chinotimba also once tried to do a PowerPoint presentation when he was contributing to a motion on sanctions.
He wanted to show pictures and videos of MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai allegedly calling for sanctions to be imposed on Zimbabwe.
However, Chinotimba was not allowed to do so.
Last week, Mudyiwa used PowerPoint to illustrate her points, while debating on a motion on veld fires.
During his tenure as Treasury chief, Chinamasa presented his budget statements electronically, to illustrate graphs and other facts to do with economic performance.
Powers of the Speaker
Maridadi last week effectively used the technology in his presentation on the powers vested in the Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, including the power to officially open Parliament.
“Precedence in this country says there is the President, his deputies and then the Speaker and the Chief Justice. When the President is officially opening Parliament, he says Mr Speaker Sir, because the Speaker is the chairperson of the presiding officers and of the Standing Rules and Orders Committee, and in the American scenario, the Speaker is accompanied by outriders and escorts,” he said.
“In Zimbabwe, we see ministers like Jonathan Moyo (Higher Education) and Ignatiuos Chombo (now Finance) with escorts and yet the Speaker has no escorts. No one would want to kill a minister. Actually, if they die, they would have killed each other,” he said.
Proportional Representation legislator, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (MDC) is always full of surprises, some of which have left her fellow parliamentarians and the Speaker awestruck. She once brought in a baby, sanitary wear and second-hand underwear to illustrate her points as she was moving motions on women’s reproductive health issues, free sanitary wear, and when advocating for a baby playroom in Parliament for use by lactating female MPs.
Last week, she was at it again when she tried to smuggle in handcuffs to illustrate a point in a motion on marginalisation of Matabeleland and other regions, but security staff at Parliament Building would not let her in.
In an unrelated matter, while Mudenda has barred unnecessary points of order, Norton MP Temba Mliswa (independent) this week raised an issue with the chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines, Daniel Shumba, whom he described as “a dictator”.
Mliswa complained to Mudenda that Shumba had “unilaterally” appointed Chiredzi North MP, Robert Mukwena to act as chairperson of the committee in his absence.
Mliswa said Shumba should have asked the whole committee to nominate a person to act as chairperson, instead of making a unilateral decision.
“It is not all of us, who have understanding and capacity at the end of the day, and I have never heard the MP (Mukwena) speak in Parliament and so how is he going to stand before you as chair and present a report? It is very worrying for the committee to send somebody who has never even spoken in Parliament to be handpicked by the chairperson (Shumba) to go and present a report for the committee. He (Shumba) is dictatorial,” Mliswa said.
Mudenda asked Mliswa if he had been chosen to be the spokesperson of the committee, adding that if the committee has a problem, they must put it in writing to the Speaker.
Senate and Bills
As usual, there were very few shenanigans in Senate and Senators debated on motions such as the Presidential speech debate.
Senate also passed the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill, which now awaits presidential assent.
Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa told senators during last week’s question-and-answer session that the auditors, looking into the whereabouts of the $15 billion diamond revenue, were finding it difficult to access information to complete the audit.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance last week also completed its pre-budget consultations, where they visited different parts of the country to get people’s views on the 2018 budget.
Most people said the biggest chunk of the budget must go towards education, health and social services, adding that Defence must not be a priority since the country is not at war.
They said the size of Cabinet and Parliament must be cut.