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Parliament blasted over public hearings



HARARE residents have blasted legislators for allegedly not taking people’s views on Bills seriously. They complained that their views were not being incorporated in the laws that are finally crafted by Parliament.

The issues were raised during a public hearing on the Consumer Protection Bill in Harare recently, where different people that contributed took advantage of the time they were given to attack the Joshua Sacco-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Industry and MPs’ behaviour during public hearings.

David Chenhamo, Harare Residents Trust Kuwadzana branch chairperson, alleged MPs were only interested in sleeping at lavish hotels during public hearings. He claimed public hearings were a waste of resources, because in most Bills where Parliament gathered information from members of the public, their views were not incorporated in the final law.

“MPs must not only enjoy sleeping and being fed at hotels when they are conducting public hearings,” Chenhamo said.

“Those public hearings must produce results and incorporate the people’s views, because we have seen it happening that our views have not been included in some laws that have been crafted,” he said.

This did not go down well with Sacco, who said it was irrelevant to attack MPs. He urged people to contribute necessary points to improve the Consumer Protection Bill.

“Let us desist from controversy and grandstanding or insulting the committee. This is the time that you should be giving relevant information on what you want included in the Bill,” Sacco said.

Another Harare resident, Makumbi Imbayarwo, blasted MPs saying they should show the same enthusiasm and zeal they exhibit at rallies by urging people to attend public hearings in their numbers.

“Whenever MPs want to woo us to vote for them, they make every effort to gather multitudes of people to listen to them. However, we are not seeing that happening with Parliament public hearings. The same modalities that MPs use to woo people must be used to ensure they attend public hearings on important pieces of legislation.

“This Consumer Protection Bill is a very important piece of legislation, but you find that it is not well attended. It is the same with public hearings of several other Bills, one finds that MPs fail to gather many people to come and participate and yet these are issues that affect citizens,” Imbayarwo said.

Some public hearings on different Bills by Parliament have on several occasions turned violent or suffered low turnouts.

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