‘I'm not a benchwarmer’ — Senator

MDC Alliance Senator Chief Ndlovu

MATABELELAND North MDC Alliance Senator Chief Ndlovu has come under-fire from people in his constituency who accuse him of being a benchwarmer with nothing to show for his presence in Parliament.

Ndlovu was taken to task over his alleged lack of meaningful contributions in Parliament during a sitting of the Nkayi Community Parliament (NCP) on Monday evening.

During the discussion, NCP member Lizom Ncube accused Ndlovu of being no different from other parliamentarians from Matabeleland region that he claimed are benchwarmers.

"Since you came to parliament as a senator, some people say you are just a benchwarmer like the rest of parliamentarians from Matabeleland region, what is your response to that? What have you done differently?" Ncube asked on behalf of NCP.

In response to the questions, Ndlovu said he has never been a benchwarmer.

"I would like to advise that the roles of the senators, Proportional Representation MPs and MPs are representatives, legislators and oversight and it is important for us to understand that they have no powers to implement things,” Ndlovu said.

“So it is easy that when we engage we understand this. So having said that, let me hasten to point out that I am not warming any benches in Parliament.

“I am the chairman of the Gender and Development Thematic Committee, an oversight committee."

He added: "To give an example, last year we went around the country to assess the distribution of farming inputs to Intwasa programme beneficiaries.

“There were fertilisers and other inputs given so as a committee we went around to check if it was done or if it was done along party lines.”

"Then we had a report to present in Parliament. That is why I said it's important to follow what is happening in parliament.”

NCP deputy speaker Nkosilathi Ncube said Ndlovu’s explanations were not convincing as he accused the legislator of failing to drive Nkayi’s development agenda in Parliament.

“We thought that having MPS, councillors and senators from the same party would bring development in Nkayi. It sounds like we got it wrong. It is painful to hear this," Ncube said.

Some MP’s have been exposed before for being benchwarmers, spending their whole five-year term without making any meaningful contributions.

A Research Advocacy Unit report titled: ‘What Happened in Parliament?’, an analysis of the participation of MPs between 2012 and 2013 showed that several MPs and senators “were paid sitting allowances for merely sitting, and not because they engaged with the substantive business of Parliament.”

According to the report, the silence was not limited to any single party.

There have been calls in the past to capacitate MPs and Senators to make meaningful contributions outside being seen in booing or disrupting proceedings.

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