Our MPs are sleeping on duty

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IF it is, indeed, true that Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi dribbled the country’s civil society organisations (CSOs) by completely ignoring their contributions to the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) Amendment Bill, it would be most unfortunate.

We also hear that even contributions from the grassroots, which were collected during the parliamentary committee outreach programmes, may also have been excluded during the drafting process, meaning that Parliament’s efforts were most probably a mere waste of time and national resources.

If this development is, certainly true, then it is a serious indictment on the second republic.

It is quite dumbfounding how the second republic has such an exceptional knack for squandering clear opportunities to shine as a government of the people and by the people.

This new dispensation is proving to be driven by some strange insatiable desire to destroy constitutionalism.

Crafting of laws, especially contentious ones such as the PVOs Bill, should have been the biggest chance for the Zanu PF government to prove that it respects the country’s Constitution and that the laws it helps create are for the good of every Zimbabwean.

The process of making the country’s laws is naturally contested, but it should never be a one-sided affair whereby those in the majority in Parliament and their colleagues in government railroad their ideas and wishes.

In fact, if legislators in our current Parliament are there to simply rubberstamp and be yes persons to instructions not coming from their constituencies, then they have no right to be in Parliament.

They should be ashamed to even be seen in the Senate and National Assembly that make up the Parliament of Zimbabwe.

It is very sad that our Members of Parliament appear to be completely lost as to why they were elected into Parliament, where they are now been turned into poodles of the Executive, yet they are supposed to be watchdogs over it so that they do not ride roughshod over the country’s laws, especially the Constitution.

The Parliament of Zimbabwe’s roles and functions unequivocally state the following, albeit abridged: “The Constitution states that the Legislature has power to amend the Constitution and to ‘… make laws for the peace, order and good governance of Zimbabwe’ … Even the Presidency as a State institution is not exempt from accountability to Parliament … For instance: ‘The President has power to declare war and make peace, and must advise the Senate and the National Assembly within seven sitting days after exercising such power …’ This means that Parliament should not just rubberstamp Bills, but should interrogate them to ensure that they are not only constitutional, but also address matters of national interest. Put differently, Parliament is obliged to thoroughly debate and scrutinise Bills so that there is value addition.”

This means that both Zanu PF and opposition MPs are not in Parliament to warm benches and be zombies of their parties as the ruling party legislators are evidently doing at the moment, while allowing Executive shenanigans by the likes of Ziyambi, who is now reportedly wont to dictating what and what not becomes law.

It would be an abomination of the highest order if our current MPs railroad the PVOs Bill and all other contested Bills into Acts without scrutinising them and incorporating concerns from their constituencies, one of these being the CSOs.

If the legislators dare to do this, then we are afraid to say they are no good to this nation and are shameful betrayers of those they purportedly represent in Parliament. It would be a real disgrace to our troubled democracy and would undoubtedly prove that our Parliamentarians are fast asleep on duty.