BY RICHARD MUPONDE
SPEAKER of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda yesterday said apathy had hit most public hearings conducted by parliamentary committees amid indications that the public generally thinks their views will not be incorporated into Bills.
Addressing journalists and civic society organisations during an outreach programme in Chinhoyi yesterday, Mudenda said some of the suggestions made by the public were incorporated into the 2019 and 2020 national budgets by Treasury.
“I am acutely aware that the disconcerting apathy towards public hearings in general and public hearings on the national budget in particular is partly a result of the unfortunate misconception that your input is ignored and does not find its way into either the Finance Bill or the National Budget purse,” he said.
“Nothing can be further from the truth. For instance, informed by the public consultations, Parliament made 239 recommendations to the Ministry of Finance in the 2020 budget covering a broad spectrum of issues. Out of the 239 recommendations, 115 were incorporated in the 2020 national budget, representing 48%.”
The Speaker said in 2019 a total of 77 out of 139 recommendations were taken on board, which translates to 55,4%, while in 2018, a total of 59 out of 102 recommendations were adopted representing 57.8%.
Mudenda urged journalists and civic groups to critique Bills passed in Parliament and send their views to the relevant committees.
He said Zimbabweans should embrace the doctrine of constitutional patriotism which compels every citizen to put the Constitution above all else to achieve the rule of law and observing the Bill of Rights which guarantees equality before the law.
“Thus it is clear that Zimbabwe is a unitary, democratic and sovereign republic, founded inter alia on the supremacy of the Constitution, the rule of law, good governance and respect of the people of Zimbabwe from whom the authority to govern is derived,” Mudenda said.
“The obligations imposed by this Constitution are binding on every person, natural, juristic, including the State and all Executive, Legislative and Judicial institutions and agencies of government at every level, and must be fulfilled by them.”
The Speaker of the National Assembly said Zimbabweans could not hope to influence the work of Parliament or to hold their Members of Parliament to account when they were unfamiliar with the work of Parliament.
“Informing citizens about the role of Parliament and parliamentarians individually and collectively is not just the concern of the media, but also Parliament itself must facilitate the interface with civil society organisations as enjoined by section 141 of the Constitution,” he said.
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