9th Parliament: Working for the common good
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.