9th Par­lia­ment: Work­ing for the com­mon good

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

ex­ploits its re­sources - whether un­der­ground or above the ground - to en­sure that the provin­cial economies are lever­aged to en­hance ac­cel­er­ated eco­nomic devel­op­ment.

Par­lia­ment, there­fore, will en­sure that Chap­ter 14 of the Con­sti­tu­tion is cleaned up to the ex­tent that the gov­er­nance at that level is lean but ef­fec­tive, and that the Ministers of State are grounded on a le­gal frame­work that will give them clear au­thor­ity to link the eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties of each province with those of the na­tional eco­nomic pol­icy frame­work.

To that ex­tent, Par­lia­ment must come up with a new Provin­cial and Metropoli­tan Coun­cils Act that will stream­line the de­vo­lu­tion frame­work as mat­ter of ur­gency.

In­deed, there is also room to re­view ex­ist­ing leg­is­la­tion. Where cur­rent leg­is­la­tion is not friendly to eco­nomic growth, such laws must be re­viewed.

Par­lia­ment will also, through its com­mit­tees, en­sure that there is rule of law.

One can­not in­vest in a coun­try where there is no rule of law.

Through Par­lia­ment over­sight, rep­re­sen­ta­tion and leg­isla­tive role, we will have to make sure that there is rule of law, there is respect for hu­man rights and free­doms.

Be­cause we are talk­ing of at­tract­ing in­vest­ment, one is­sue Par­lia­ment must look at is the respect of prop­erty rights, those that in­vest must be in a com­fort­able zone that the money they in­vest and prof­its they make are pro­tected at law.

And as far as the prof­its are con­cerned, that the law must al­low free ex­pa­tri­a­tion of those prof­its to the coun­try of ori­gin of the in­vestor with­out in­hi­bi­tion, ob­vi­ously tak­ing into ac­count that the in­vest­ing com­pa­nies, both do­mes­tic and for­eign, must pay their taxes.

We also need to put in place some laws that en­cour­age in­vest­ment in the fi­nan­cial ser­vices like in­sur­ance and stock ex­change so that we widen the base for in­vest­ment.

Re­lated to that, we need to tap into the Di­as­pora range of stake­hold­ers.

Cur­rently, we do not have a clear Di­as­pora pol­icy.

The Di­as­po­rans who have come to in­vest here have done so be­cause they have con­fi­dence in Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa’s pro­nounce­ment.

That pol­icy must be but­tressed by a very sound le­gal frame­work that pro­tects the rights of the Di­as­po­rans who in­tend to in­vest.

In the Eight Par­lia­ment, I had to com­mu­ni­cate with the then Pres­i­dent, Cde Mu­gabe, to bring to his at­ten­tion that some Ministers were not com­ply­ing with Sec­tion 107(2) of the Con­sti­tu­tion, where it is pro­vided that ev­ery Vice Pres­i­dent, Min­is­ter and Deputy Min­is­ter must ac­count to Par­lia­ment and its com­mit­tees.

We be­gan to see some im­prove­ments in at­ten­dance, but then there was some re­lapse.

I then took it upon my­self to write in­di­vid­ual let­ters to Ministers, bring­ing to their at­ten­tion that it was oblig­a­tory for them to at­tend to Par­lia­men­tary busi­ness and that they also re­spond to the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Par­lia­men­tary re­ports tabled in the House.

We saw huge im­prove­ment; in fact, all the rec­om­men­da­tions of our Par­lia­men­tary re­ports were re­sponded to by the Ministers and their Min­istries to the ex­tent that cer­tain changes were ef­fected and our sug­ges­tions through these re­ports had been im­ple­mented with­out any fail­ure.

We then be­gan to see writ­ten apolo­gies to the Speaker about Ministers who, for one rea­son or an­other, were un­able to at­tend.

We have also now in­tro­duced par­lia­men­tary li­ai­son of­fi­cers who rep­re­sent the Min­is­ter and the Min­istry and li­aise with Par­lia­ment on what is go­ing on in Par­lia­ment, in­clud­ing the re­ports that would have been tabled.

Apart from that, we have agreed with the Chief Sec­re­tary (Dr Misheck Sibanda) and I have in­formed the Pres­i­dent that Ministers will go through an in­duc­tion sem­i­nar so that we cre­ate some aware­ness of their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as far as Par­lia­men­tary pro­cesses are con­cerned, in­clud­ing their pres­ence in the House, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing ques­tion time.

Ab­sen­teeism also doesn’t re­late to Ministers only, we have had Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment who bunk Par­lia­ment; in that sense, short-chang­ing the elec­torate.

In any case, Sec­tion 117 states that Par­lia­ment’s leg­isla­tive au­thor­ity is de­rived from the peo­ple of Zim­babwe, so ev­ery Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment must respect that.

To that ex­tent, we are in­tro­duc­ing bio­met­ric ac­cess sys­tems, so that when a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, in­clud­ing Min­is­ter, comes in, they clock in; when they go out they, clock out as well - and it’s all recorded.

This way you get to see who has been in Par­lia­ment for five min­utes or those that have been there for three hours or four hours.

We have al­ready pro­cured the sys­tem and what re­mains now is to in­stall. We hope that should en­cour­age Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment to at­tend.

We are also re­ly­ing on the cau­cuses and whips to whip in mem­bers of Par­lia­ment and Ministers, par­tic­u­larly for the rul­ing party, that they are whipped into re­spect­ing their pres­ence in the House.

We have ZTV cov­er­age ev­ery Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day in the Na­tional Assem­bly and the Se­nate re­spec­tively. We also have ra­dio cov­er­age of de­lib­er­a­tions.

We have also al­lowed, and will con­tinue to al­low, the pub­lic to at­tend com­mit­tee hear­ings, ex­cept where we are deal­ing with sen­si­tive se­cu­rity mat­ters.

I have in­tro­duced the out­reach pro­gramme, where the Speaker has gone around to speak to stake­hold­ers, civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions and the academia to im­press upon them that they must con­trib­ute to the leg­isla­tive agenda by giv­ing their views on pro­posed laws.

We need to en­sure that Min­istries com­ply with re­quire­ments of the Fi­nance and Man­age­ment Act that they pro­duce quar­terly re­ports on how they used money al­lo­cated to them in the bud­get.

That is se­ri­ous re­quire­ment of all min­istries.

Se­condly, Par­lia­ment has al­lo­cated the Con­stituency Devel­op­ment Fund.

We have done this guided by prin­ci­ples of good gov­er­nance and pro­bity, but I now re­alise that in the ab­sence of a law that helps us to man­age the CDF, we may have prob­lems.

So, we shall push for a law that will des­ig­nate how best the CDF is op­er­a­tionalised by Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment and where there has been some malfea­sance, that Act must in­di­cate what type of cen­sure must be in place to take cor­rec­tive ac­tion.

The re­port will be pre­sented to the Com­mit­tee on Stand­ing Rules and Or­ders, which is the pol­icy and ad­min­is­tra­tive body of Par­lia­ment, and where there are short­com­ings, the com­mit­tee may have to in­voke its pow­ers to bring in, for example, the police to in­ves­ti­gate where there is rea­son that money has not been prop­erly ex­pended for its in­tended pur­poses.

Pre­lim­i­nary re­ports so far in­di­cate that the CDF has so far been ex­pended to the best ad­van­tage of the peo­ple in the var­i­ous con­stituen­cies.

We have the pre­lim­i­nary re­port of the CDF now and the fi­nal re­port will be com­pleted and tabled be­fore the SROC by the Clerk of Par­lia­ment.

I want to dis­abuse the no­tion that pre­vi­ous par­lia­ments have not done enough.

It was dur­ing the Fourth Par­lia­ment that the late Dr Cyril Nde­bele started a mas­sive par­lia­men­tary re­form pro­gramme in an ef­fort to strengthen par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee sys­tem.

Ev­ery­where in the world the en­gine of Par­lia­ment are the com­mit­tees.

So, he did ex­tremely well by do­ing some re­search, stag­ing con­fer­ences, invit­ing speak­ers from other Par­lia­ments to come and de­bate on how to come up with a strong sys­tem here.

The sub­se­quent Par­lia­ments ben­e­fited tremen­dously from his ef­fort.

Also, the Sev­enth Par­lia­ment must be ap­plauded for hav­ing worked so hard by es­tab­lish­ing a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee to start with a new con­sti­tu­tion - Copac.

It was the Sev­enth Par­lia­ment that worked tire­lessly to come up with a new Con­sti­tu­tion that com­pares very well with other con­sti­tu­tions in other democ­ra­cies.

We are happy that this Con­sti­tu­tion is so com­pre­hen­sive, par­tic­u­larly on the ques­tion of the Bill of Rights. So they have done some­thing out­stand­ing.

We con­tinue to take off from where they left. In the Eighth Par­lia­ment, we started off from where they left in terms of re­align­ing the laws to this new Con­sti­tu­tion and I think we are at 95 per­cent suc­cess.

This Ninth Par­lia­ment must com­pete the task of align­ing all the out­stand­ing laws.

The leg­isla­tive agenda will carry on in terms of Sec­tion 141 of the Con­sti­tu­tion, where Par­lia­ment is en­joined to have pub­lic hear­ings on all pro­posed Bills.

We are also en­cour­ag­ing - in terms of Sec­tion 149 of the Con­sti­tu­tion for civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions to pe­ti­tion Par­lia­ment - any cit­i­zen to pe­ti­tion Par­lia­ment to en­act a new law (or) to abol­ish or to amend an ex­ist­ing law.

In the last Par­lia­ment, we be­gan to re­ceive a num­ber of pe­ti­tions re­lat­ing to is­sues of na­tional in­ter­est, and these have been dealt with by the rel­e­vant com­mit­tees.

The Ninth Par­lia­ment should be re­mem­bered for:

Com­ing up with leg­is­la­tion that pro­motes the ease of do­ing busi­ness and ac­cel­er­ated eco­nomic devel­op­ment;

Must demon­strate that its com­mit­tee sys­tem has come of age by com­ing up with strong sense of over­sight on the ex­ec­u­tive;

Com­ing up with very stout leg­isla­tive agenda and en­hanc­ing the rep­re­sen­ta­tive role of Par­lia­ment in which Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment have been seen to be ac­count­able to the elec­torate in all re­spects of pub­lic of­fice; and

Com­ple­tion of the align­ment of laws to the Con­sti­tu­tion.

If we achieve those, I would like to be­lieve the Ninth Par­lia­ment will be re­mem­bered for hav­ing achieved some­thing in pur­suance of the com­mon good of the peo­ple of Zim­babwe.

The beauty of this is that we have very, very in­tel­li­gent per­son­nel in Zim­babwe. And some­times, if you go to South Africa, you go for a spe­cial­ist op­er­a­tion, you go and see a neu­rol­o­gist, for in­stance, you find out that the neu­rol­o­gist is Zim­bab­wean.

Those are the type of peo­ple we want to bring in. We are very ca­pa­ble.

Like I have said, I landed in a cholera en­vi­ron­ment.

The thing is, where I was work­ing be­fore, that was also a cholera area and we came up with so­lu­tions on how to pre­vent cholera.

You should never have any­one dy­ing of cholera, it should not be al­lowed.

So, we need to put our sys­tems in place. I need to work with the Min­is­ter of Water, the Min­is­ter of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment. We need to work with the polic­ing agen­cies, the lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to be able to deal with this prob­lem.

It starts with fail­ure to pre­vent. We should be able to pre­vent. What are the causatives?

The causatives are lack of col­lec­tion of garbage, burst sew­er­age pipes, ven­dors sell­ing their wares - fish and meat flies all over the place.

We want to cre­ate a clean en­vi­ron­ment in Zim­babwe.

From where I stand, I would like us to work to­gether (with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties) to en­sure that we also ed­u­cate them. We have to ed­u­cate them.

I was just dis­cussing with the Min­is­ter of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment; he is very keen to en­sure that we all move in one line. We are all mov­ing in that di­rec­tion.

So, it’s a mat­ter of in­still­ing the con­fi­dence in the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. It’s a mat­ter of be­ing or­gan­ised and be­ing able to in­sti­tute the poli­cies.

It’s all there in our Acts. Our Pub­lic Health Act states it very clearly.

We just have to fol­low the Acts and be able to come up with a Zim­babwe that is clean, cholera-free, ty­phoid-free. We can achieve it.

What has to hap­pen is that the water sys­tem has to be im­proved. We will have a sys­tem where there will be proper co-or­di­na­tion of these ser­vices.

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