CLERK of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda yesterday warned legislators against making inflammatory statements that can cause violence during parliamentary public hearings.
by VENERANDA LANGA
Chokuda said this at an induction workshop for the newly-elected MPs after being asked by Mutasa South legislator Regai Tsunga (MDC Alliance) to explain the safety measures during public hearings which he said were characterised by violence, as well as explain evacuation measures available when the situation becomes volatile.
“In the past, violence during public hearings was not a problem until the Eighth Parliament.
But before then committees conducted the business of Parliament without any measure of violence,” Chokuda said.
“Even in the Eighth Parliament, the committees that were affected by violence were not many, and it was because MPs at times inflated the situation by making contentious statements, and whenever there were contentious Bills and political parties were staking their ground, there were problems.”
Chokuda said the bad behaviour by MPs such as heckling also caused their supporters to behave in a similar manner at public hearings.
“Supporters take a cue from their parties, particularly the manner in which MPs treat each other in the House.
The public also copies the behaviour. For example, the Mutare public hearing (on Electoral Amendment Bill) was violent,” he said.
He said during the Ninth Parliament, 16 portfolio committees will oversee the 16 ministries, and six thematic committees.
During the Eighth Parliament there were 19 portfolio committees.
Chipinge Central MP, Raymore Machingura (Zanu PF) asked Chokuda to explain why some parliamentary committees received more support than others.
He cited the Higher Education Portfolio Committee which almost failed to get funding to visit universities in the previous Parliament.
“When they were eventually allowed to go, they picked anomalies such as the Zimdef (Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund) scandal by former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo,” Machingura said.
Chokuda said there was no favouritism, adding that donors that sponsor parliamentary programmes had preferences when it comes to which committees to support.
Speaker of the Zambian National Assembly Justice Patrick Matibini made a presentation on the roles and functions of Parliament.
He said Parliament should protect the Constitution.
Matabini said although separation of powers of the three arms of government must be maintained, the Judiciary can review all laws passed by Parliament.