The Executive continues to trivialise the Legislature with Senate last week issuing another stern warning to cabinet ministers who continuously evade Parliamentary business.
By VENERANDA LANGA
Senate President Edna Madzongwe on Thursday threatened to charge ministers and their deputies with contempt of Parliament if they continued to abscond the question and answer sessions.
Madzongwe told senators that she had noted with grave concern failure by ministers to respond to motions raised by senators.
“Since the beginning of the First Session of the Eighth Parliament, the Chair has observed a very worrying trend of some ministers and deputy ministers prioritising other commitments to the detriment of the business of Parliament,” she said.
“Consequently, most members’ motions have been on the Order Paper since last year and have not been concluded because there have been no responses from the relevant ministers.”
Madzongwe said in addition, a number of members’ questions had been deferred for up to three months due to the continued absence of the relevant ministers.
Madzongwe said she would not allow the situation to continue and appealed to ministers and MPs to respect their constitutional obligations to take Parliament business seriously.
The problem of the absence of ministers and their deputies in Parliament has not only affected Senate, but recently in the National Assembly MPs have complained that ministers had “made it a hobby” to dodge the question and answer sessions.
According to section 107 (2) of the constitution, “every Vice-President, minister and deputy minister must attend Parliament and Parliamentary Committees in order to answer questions concerning matters for which he or she is collectively or individually responsible.”
The section further stipulates that “ministers and deputy ministers have an inescapable obligation to attend to their Parliamentary duties as an integral part of the functions the President assigns to them”.
Madzongwe’s statements came at a time when Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda also read the riot act on truant ministers saying the Parliamentary Standing Rules and Orders Committee was going to meet to discuss how best truant ministers could be chastised.
Since the inception of the First Session of the Eighth Parliament, only two ministers have responded to issues raised in motions adopted by MPs in Parliament.
These are Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa who responded to the motion by MDC-T Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure on corruption and the need for a corporate governance framework, and Women, Gender and Community Development minister Oppah Muchinguri who responded to a motion by Harare West MP Jessie Majome which called for stiffer penalties on rapists.
These ministers acted on the recommendations made by Parliamentarians although there has not yet been implementation.