A local think tank, Veritas, says the meagre output of Bills by Parliament in the previous session shows government’s lack of commitment to its legislative agenda.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
In the First Session of the Eighth Parliament, nine Bills were successfully crafted from over 27 Bills during its 13 months period.
Officially opening the Second Session of the Eighth Parliament last week, President Robert Mugabe announced a new legislative agenda, saying about 14 Bills will be presented for crafting before the end of the session.
“The meagre output of Bills by Parliament over the 13 months of the First Session reflects the government’s general lack of preparedness for legislation to fulfil its legislative agenda, its election manifesto, Zim Asset, and its duty to implement the constitution,” Veritas said.
“As a result of this dearth of legislative work from the government and government ministers so often not turning up to respond to written questions and a conspicuous lack of ministerial presence in both Houses when debates affecting their ministries took place, Parliamentarians were left largely to their own devices.”
A number of ministers failed to respond to motions that were raised pertaining to their ministries during the First Session.
However, ministers like Patrick Chinamasa (Finance and Economic Development), Oppah Muchinguri (Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development), Saviour Kasukuwere (Environment, Water and Climate) and Kembo Mohadi (Home Affairs) were some of the few ministers who either responded to motions on matters pertaining to their ministries or issued ministerial statements on issues affecting the country.
Veritas said lack of commitment and poor attendance by ministers, as well as failure to generate lively debates led to very short sittings.
“Although there were some extremely lively debates on controversial motions introduced by backbenchers, there seemed to be little resulting impact. In both houses, but particularly in the Senate, the lack of government business and presence led to some very short sittings with an appreciable number of ‘afternoon’ sittings lasting for less than an hour,” Veritas said.
During his official opening speech of the Second Session of the Eighth Parliament on Tuesday, Mugabe said the interests and hopes of the people rested on the shoulders of MPs.
“Legislature will, therefore, demand total commitment and participation from all of us, from the Executive to members of the public,” Mugabe said.