Nicola Watson MDC legislator from Bulawayo province, won her way into Parliament through proportional representation (PR) quota system, which gave 60 women a ticket into the National Assembly.
By Nicola Watson
The following are excerpts of an interview between NewsDay (ND) correspondent, Nizbert Moyo and Nicola Watson (NW) MDC-T proportional representation MP for Bulawayo province. She has assisted the socially disadvantaged in the province by feeding the elderly, paying school fees for students and assisted in acquiring birth records for the above people. Watson says the social problems are too much in the province, caused by lack of fiscal policy that deals with how to grow the economy and has caused a suffering to the people.
ND: Who is Nicola Watson and how did you join politics?.
NW: I come from a family with a political background. My mother was an MP, I joined opposition politics in 2000, after seeing the decay in the economy and wanted to correct it.
The budget does not cater for social services, but instead a large portion of it goes to security. I worked my way up to becoming provincial treasurer.
In 2013 I became the proportional representative MP for women in the National Assembly.
I am an aspiring MP for Bulawayo Central constituency in the forthcoming national elections to be held on July 30. I think I have done a lot for the constituency and have gained experience.
ND: What have you offered to the province as a PR MP?
NW: We do not have a specific budget for PR MPs such as the Constituency Development Fund, but there are a lot of social problems in the constituency such as poverty.
I feed the elderly people at Cabatsha village, paid school fees for a medical student at University of Zimbabwe and other children in the constituency.
I assist the socially disadvantaged in acquiring birth records such as birth certificates. As this is so important in order for one to identify himself or herself.
In this regard, I have engaged Zimbabwe Lawyers Association. To assist in assessing the kind of documents these may require and explain to them how important these documents are and have taken these issues to parliament.
There are so many vendors on the streets, as this is the survival of the fittest. We need to come up with a fiscal policy that deals with growing the economy. There is a lot of potential in this country, we need to deal with the issue of corruption and restore confidence in the rule of law rather than talking about Zimbabwe is open for business.
We need to build confidence in the banking sector in order to deal with issue of long queues in the banks.
One of the backbone of the economy is a National Railways of Zimbabwe, this is part of the infrastructural tool of the economy.
Lack of such infrastructure has resulted in a decline of industries. Imagine if all those people employed by National railways and others in the industries pay taxes to the government. The government will take a lot of money.
The demand for cash is higher than supply, we need to have more exports and more nostril dollars like exporting tobacco.
Most of our foreign currency goes to fuel and electricity. Have raised these issues in parliament. People need action, they do not eat rhetoric things they want to move from being individual owners of businesses to become owners of supermarkets in order to employ many people.
The defence budget is too big, the biggest budget must go to education, but this is not the case. The allocation that is given to education only go to teachers’ salaries, because it is insufficient.
I was a member of the parliamentary portfolio committee of Education, Arts, sports and culture. About 27% of children are not going to school, others do not have birth certificates due to financial constraints.
Education is one of my priorities, I am concerned about the decline of standards in the education system in the country, one can find that about 600 pupils in a school can have only six classes including ECDs.
The government says a minimum of 40 students per teacher in which this is not feasible.
The solution is that the government must stick to the Constitution, it should grow fiscal space for instance the new curriculum was introduced without resource base.
No classes, books and teachers this is what must be corrected. PR MPs were not given specific roles, one ended up finding what needs to be done on her own.
I made a lot of noise about the issue of police throwing spikes to vehicles, I fought hard about this issue in Bulawayo until these cases came down.
Bulawayo is also not doing enough in terms of recycled water due to outdated pipes we are loosing a lot of water as waste although we have got the best water. We need to recycle a lot of plastic that is found in Ngozimine to make a lot of money.
ND: Since you do not have a specific constituency, how do you meet people ?.
NW: I was born here in Hillside and grew up in Bulawayo, people come to me and I meet them through the councillors and party programmes. I also visit them in their communities. I have an open door policy.
ND: What can you say of the five years that you have been in Parliament?.
NW: It was a learning experience. I have learnt that the administrative system is cumbersome to say the least.
The Parliament building is small it can no longer accommodate all the legislators at once making it difficult for other legislators, to be visible during debate sessions. It needs to be extended from within, as there is enough space.
Accommodation is a burden to the Parliament budget this is why we need a bullet train, so that one can travel in the morning and back in the afternoon, we need to plan big.
ND: What can you tell other aspiring women politicians ?.
NW: Women learn to be servants of people, they need to humble themselves and work very hard, not to be better than anyone else.