CON­STITUENCY SAY Best & Worst Mps

The Manica Post - - Front Page - Abel Zhakata Se­nior Re­porter

As we kick start the first in­stal­ment of the Con­stituency Say se­ries, which is meant to look at the work be­ing done by leg­is­la­tors in the their con­stituen­cies and rate their ef­forts, we are go­ing to zoom into the Mutare Cen­tral Con­stituency, which es­sen­tially cov­ers the core of the Mutare ur­ban set up.

The con­stituency is un­der the stew­ard­ship of Mr In­no­cent Gonese who is the MDC-T's chief whip in Par­lia­ment.

AS WE kick start the first in­stall­ment of the Con­stituency Say se­ries which is meant to look at the work be­ing done by leg­is­la­tors in the their re­spec­tive con­stituen­cies and rate their ef­forts, we are go­ing to zoom into the Mutare Cen­tral Con­stituency which es­sen­tially cov­ers the core of the Mutare ur­ban set up.

The con­stituency is un­der the stew­ard­ship of Mr In­no­cent Gonese who is the MDC-T’s chief whip in Par­lia­ment.

In­ter­viewed Sakubva res­i­dents, in­for­mal traders and busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives ex­pressed mixed feel­ings over the work be­ing done by Mr Gonese who has been at the helm for the past two terms.

Some said the leg­is­la­tor is hard to come by as he rarely hold pub­lic meet­ings while oth­ers said his ef­forts to ef­fec­tively rep­re­sent the con­stituency are be­ing over­shad­owed by pre­vail­ing eco­nomic harsh con­di­tions that are af­fect­ing the coun­try as a whole.

Mr Gonese fought in his cor­ner say­ing he has done — and is still do­ing — a great deal to cham­pion the cause of the peo­ple he rep­re­sents. Mutare Cen­tral con­stituency cov­ers Sakubva high-den­sity and the greater part of the Cen­tral Busi­ness District.

James Chidza from the Matida Flats said Mr Gonese has failed habi­tants of the run down flats that house more than 300 fam­i­lies. “For a long time now we have been call­ing on the au­thor­i­ties to come to our res­cue and im­prove liv­ing con­di­tions here but it seems our pleas are fall­ing on deaf ears. Dur­ing elec­tion cam­paigns in 2012 Mr Gonese promised us that he will take our is­sue up but up to this date noth­ing has been done. In fact the sit­u­a­tion has since gone out of hand.

“We last saw him dur­ing the cam­paigns and up to now he has not given us a feed back. We no longer know his face. We only see him on tele­vi­sion dur­ing Par­lia­men­tary de­bates that are aired live on ZTV. The views that he ex­presses in Par­lia­ment are not ours be­cause we have never sat down with him since he was elected,” he said.

A lo­cal busi­ness­man Mr Sa­muel Fun­gai Chieza had this to say: “I would rate Mr Gonese’s per­for­mance as an MP a cou­ple of points be­low av­er­age. I be­lieve my rat­ing is still gen­er­ous con­sid­er­ing very few in this whole class have had out­stand­ing work­ing.

“What he did (or is do­ing) well is rep­re­sent­ing his party and its af­fairs in Par­lia­ment but he how­ever comes short rep­re­sent­ing his con­stituency. Speak­ing in his favour though are the facts that this pass­ing term was one of the tough­est, eco­nom­i­cally and hence po­lit­i­cally for the leg­is­la­tors.

“But his ap­par­ent ab­sence from his peo­ple when it mat­tered most to them can nei­ther be ex­on­er­ated nor for­given by a con­stituency whose press­ing is­sues are still to get at­ten­tion at any form of level. I guess at a dif­fer­ent time and in a dif­fer­ent eco­nomic state he could have done bet­ter than the three out of 10 I am award­ing him.”

John Nguwa voiced the same views: “Long over­stayed and per­for­mance way be­low in terms of im­ple­ment­ing is­sues af­fect­ing our peo­ple. (He) hardly comes to where peo­ple are to hear their cries. He tried but now we need fresh blood to man­age peo­ple well.”

Mr Tendai Toto had this to say con­cern­ing Mr Gonese’s per­for­mance: “The usual and peren­nial MP who is ac­tu­ally a self de­clared life MP for Mutare has only man­aged to give MDC-T a guar­an­teed Par­lia­men­tary seat in the House of As­sem­bly. I can­not see any other cred­its to his sleeves for the con­stituency and its de­vel­op­ment largely be­cause the City of Mutare and busi­ness peo­ple do it for him or do not do any­thing ei­ther. He is alive and dead with ac­tion or in­ac­tion by the men­tioned stake hold­ers. Good time to re­flect and re­tire him pronto.”

God­win Sit­hole said the prob­lems be­dev­illing the con­stituency have noth­ing to do with Mr Gonese.

“As a leg­is­la­tor he is do­ing very well rep­re­sent­ing the con­stituency, the party and the na­tion in gen­eral. In terms of de­vel­op­ment our poor MPs can­not do any­thing with­out the aid of cen­tral Gov­ern­ment and the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. I would have rated him well in terms of de­vel­op­ment had the Gov­ern­ment con­tin­ued to give leg­is­la­tors Con­stituency De­vel­op­ment Funds.”

Ishe Mvura said peo­ple need to know and un­der­stand the roles of MPs first be­fore as­sess­ing their per­for­mance.

“We very of­ten mix the roles of leg­is­la­tors with those of coun­cil­lors. If we are fo­cus­ing on de­vel­op­ment, ser­vice de­liv­ery is­sues, we should be fo­cus­ing on lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and coun­cil­lors. In terms of Par­lia­men­tary pres­ence, In­no­cent Gonese is among the best in that cat­e­gory when you see how he has con­trib­uted to his Par­lia­men­tary port­fo­lio com­mit­tee over­sight role. Ask me again on coun­cil­lors and I will give you a the­sis.”

How­ever, Mr Gonese feels that he has done well to rep­re­sent Mutare Cen­tral. He said it was wrong for peo­ple to rate him on is­sues that do not fall within his ju­ris­dic­tion. Ser­vice de­liv­ery, he said, is the pri­mary ob­jec­tive of lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and not MPs.

“Let’s start by point­ing out what is the role of an MP. The role of an MP is to play a leg­isla­tive role and en­sure that Par­lia­ment makes laws that en­sure the good gov­er­nance of the coun­try. The other role of an MP is over­sight so that we make the Gov­ern­ment ac­count­able for its ac­tions. The third role of the MP is rep­re­sen­ta­tive which means ar­tic­u­lat­ing is­sues and con­cerns of their re­spec­tive con­stituen­cies.

“Look­ing at those three pri­mary roles, I, as the MP for Mutare Cen­tral, I have ac­quit­ted my­self very well. In terms of the rep­re­sen­ta­tive role I heav­ily give in­put to de­bates on the pas­sage of many bills and also par­tic­i­pat­ing in Par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tees that play an over­sight role. In Par­lia­ment I am very ac­tive,” he said.

Mr Gonese said peo­ple have a mis­con­cep­tion of what the MP should or is ex­pected to do. “There is this other role which you are ask­ing me which is not the pri­mary role of an MP. Most peo­ple look at MPs as peo­ple who should build bridges, roads and mak­ing do­na­tions. That is re­ally a mis­con­cep­tion in terms of the gov­er­nance ar­chi­tec­ture of the coun­try.”

He said he has on sev­eral oc­ca­sions taken is­sues up with the Mutare City Coun­cil to bet­ter the lives of peo­ple in his con­stituency, es­pe­cially hous­ing prob­lems at Matida Flats and other old lo­ca­tions in Sakubva but the lo­cal author­ity al­ways cited re­sources con­straints as hin­drance.

“We are work­ing very well with the city coun­cil but the only prob­lem is that each time we ap­proach them they cite sev­eral chal­lenges they are fac­ing which are badly af­fect­ing ser­vice de­liv­ery. Right now we have a se­ri­ous prob­lem at Matida Flats. There is no wa­ter. We have been en­gag­ing the lo­cal author­ity and they have promised to look into the mat­ter.”

Mr Gonese said in some cases where they would have made in roads to put in place ablu­tion fa­cil­i­ties in pub­lic places, some res­i­dents were un­do­ing the good work through van­dal­ism. He said the is­sue of un­col­lected garbage which is heap­ing in the streets was caus­ing headaches and coun­cil is fail­ing to play ball.

“Coun­cil at the mo­ment has not been able to col­lect garbage. We have been try­ing to en­gage coun­cil over the is­sue but as usual the lo­cal author­ity is fac­ing chal­lenges,” he said. Mr Gonese said un­em­ploy­ment lev­els were very high in his con­stituency be­cause of many com­pany clo­sures that oc­curred over the years.

He said he was press­ing the lo­cal author­ity to come up with mod­ern vend­ing stalls to ac­com­mo­date the in­creas­ing num­ber of ven­dors in the city as well as con­struct new-age sheds for those in the in­for­mal sec­tor. Com­ing to con­cerns that he is hardly seen in his con­stituency, Mr Gonese said the sen­ti­ments were grossly un­fair.

“Some of the peo­ple in my con­stituency may not be aware of the fre­quency of my vis­its in the con­stituency. Ev­ery week I will be in area and talk­ing to peo­ple. I in­ter­act with peo­ple all the time and some even come to my law firm of­fice in the city cen­tre. We have meet­ings from time to time. I am a very ac­ces­si­ble per­son.

“The only prob­lem is that we used to have con­stituency in­for­ma­tion cen­tres and un­for­tu­nately un­der the last two Par­lia­ments, we no longer have them and right now we are in the process of lob­by­ing to have them back.

To fa­cil­i­tate easy in­ter­ac­tion be­tween and MP and the peo­ple it is vi­tal for the Gov­ern­ment to pro­vide those in­for­ma­tion cen­tres.

Look­ing at the three roles, for the MP, Mr Gonese ac­quit­ted him­self well in the leg­isla­tive role by en­sur­ing that Par­lia­ment made laws that en­sured the good gov­er­nance of the coun­try. He also did well in the over­sight role of mak­ing Gov­ern­ment ac­count­able for its ac­tions. He is in­deed ac­tive in Par­lia­ment.

How­ever, the leg­is­la­tor comes short in the area of ar­tic­u­lat­ing con­cerns of his con­stituency and keep­ing in touch with the elec­torate. Mr Gonese should re­mem­ber that he is in Par­lia­ment be­cause peo­ple from his con­stituency voted him in. He must bal­ance all the three roles of an MP. He gets a 6⁄10 rat­ing.

Mr Gonese

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