BY VENERANDA LANGA
ZANU PF chief whip Pupurai Togarepi has proposed changes to the Constitution to allow the President to appoint all ministers outside Parliament to avoid a situation where Cabinet ministers holding senior positions in the ruling party look down upon committee chairpersons.
In a report presented in Parliament yesterday on the performance of MPs in portfolio committees, Togarepi said some ministers looked down upon portfolio committee chairpersons, and this had affected Parliament business.
“There should be separation of powers so that the President appoints Cabinet outside Parliament so that there is no arrogance,” he said.
There have been cases where ministers have refused to appear for grilling in Parliament, with others accusing committee chairpersons of using their positions to pursue personal agendas.
Togarepi also proposed that MPs be barred from being members of several committees, as this compromised their performance, leading to delayed finalisation of reports.
The recommendation was supported by Foreign Affairs Portfolio Committee chairperson Kindness Paradza, who revealed that some MPs were in the habit of attending committee meetings only to sign the attendance register and then leave.
Paradza added: “We experience difficulties in committees where most of the time, it is only the chairperson talking and other MPs do not contribute, they just sit and listen or they come in and register, and then they go. We need interaction and capacity-building workshops for our MPs so that they are able to contribute.”
In his report, Togarepi said: “Of concern is that committees are taking time to conclude enquiries and to submit reports to the House and we recommend that no committee should embark on new activities before reporting on the second activity.
“During the Second Session of the Ninth Parliament, the Standing Rules and Orders Committee seconded each MP to two or more committees to allow expediting the huge workload of committees, but MPs had many committees which they did not attend.
“It is our recommendation that going forward, MPs must only belong to one committee so that their performance is better.”
He said his report had a record of MPs’ attendance and contributions to various meetings, which would be sent to their respective political parties for scrutiny.
The report also revealed that out of the 30 Bills announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa while outlining the legislative agenda, only 21 were brought before Parliament at the tail end of the session, hence delays in their crafting.
“Some of the delays were from the Attorney-General’s drafting office. There is need for Parliament to be capacitated in the analysis of Bills as well as budget analysis.”