MPs’ selection criteria needs revisiting

editorial comment

MDC leader Nelson Chamisa’s recent call for the electorate to choose competent representatives who will be able to effectively represent them in Parliament by articulating their aspirations is very pertinent.

Indeed, the quality of debate in Parliament and the level of leadership in the country have continued to deteriorate as the electorate is often influenced by the popularity of individuals without taking into consideration the leadership qualities of the people they chose for public office. This issue needs to be seriously considered ahead of the 2023 elections if ever the country is to graduate from the mediocre legislators and councillors who are proving to be worse that circus clowns.

If ever we are to witness development in this country, we must elect quality representatives at all levels. It is shocking, if not scandalous, that we have MPs going the full term without making a single contribution in Parliament simply because they are lights out on the many issues debated and discussions would just fly over their heads. This reduces them to mere benchwarmers who do not bring any value to the legislature or their constituencies.

In fact, there may be need to revisit the entire Parliamentary system and perhaps relook the minimum qualifications for potential MPs, and perhaps another system where the level of their contribution in Parliament will determine the allowances they get. This may help in inducing the necessary shock for legislators to understand that they are in Parliament to work and not to play and warm benches as we have seen over the years. Of course, there are some exceptionally rare people who are popular but with little formal education such as Joseph “Chinoz” Chinotimba and Masango “Blackman” Matambanadzo who make contributions in Parliament.

These characters need to be commended for effectively representing their constituencies because the role of Parliament is to hold the Executive to account, but we have rarely seen this happening, and it is indeed a cause for worry. With such high levels of education in this country, our Parliament is a big let-down. It would appear as if the majority of our parliamentarians are in the august House just for the perks and benefits. To them their contributions are immaterial and secondary. This is something that needs to be looked at and the necessary adjustments and realignments made.

In fact, it is scandalous that only 20 out of a total of 270 MPs actually make contributions during parliamentary debates. Such substandard and mediocre leadership is unhelpful to the cause of the citizens they are supposed to represent. And this should also demonstrate to the electorate that they need to look beyond the charisma of those who come to seek their votes when its election time, and go for people who will get the job done. Why continue to vote for an MP who never makes a contribution during parliamentary debates?

Right now the cost of living has shot through the roof and parliamentarians who are supposed to represent citizens are quiet! Why should it take activists to go onto the streets and raise concern over issues that legislators, as representatives of the people, should be seized with? It is sad. It is tragic.

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