Zimbabweans believe the current crop of parliamentarians have failed to live up to expectations as demonstrated by their failure to push for the repeal of draconian laws.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
President Robert Mugabe will officially open the fifth session of Parliament on Tuesday but opinion leaders and ordinary citizens canvassed by The Standard in Harare said the august house had lost direction.
Most of the people said they were not happy with the way MPs handled the Constitution of Zimbabwe No. 1 Amendment Bill.
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa railroaded through Parliament the Bill that gives Mugabe the sole right to pick the country’s top judges despite the fact that Zimbabweans were clear during the hearings that they were against the proposed law.
Former student leader, Pride Mkono said taxpayers were not getting value for money from MPs.
“MPs, especially from Zanu PF let the nation down because they failed to utilise the fourth session of the eighth parliament to push for progressive legislative reforms such as free and fair elections as provided for in the constitution,” he said.
“What Zimbabweans will remember most is the ugly assault on the constitution through the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No.1 Bill, which was passed during the outgoing session.”
Sophia Mubaiwa from Harare’s Malbereign suburb was saddened to see taxpayers’ money going down the drain due to MPs who have clocked four years without uttering a single word during debates.
“When Parliament is live on television, we see MPs engaging in a lot of childhood pranks,” she said.
“They are wasting taxpayers’ money because they are in Parliament to solve economic, political and other problems affecting Zimbabweans.
“If the childish behaviour continues, we the people will ensure some MPs do not bounce back in 2018.”
James Katso, the administrator of Union for Democracy, an advocacy non-governmental organisation, said the previous parliamentary session failed to craft any meaningful legislation to advance good governance or the economic interests of Zimbabweans.
“The country’s ease of doing business continues to be ranked among war-torn countries like Somalia and Sudan, largely due to red tape,” he said.
“Decisions are made by the executive, who have failed to bring before Parliament Bills that will assist to attract the much-needed foreign direct investments.
“The indigenisation law remains intact without amendments to attract capital.”
Politically, he said only one political party, Zanu PF, had been influential in the law making process because of their two-thirds majority, resulting in controversial amendments to the constitution.
“Zanu PF seems to be committed to abusing its parliamentary majority and they have been fast-tracking any legislation that will continue their dominance in the political and social landscape,” Katso said.
Another Harare resident, Gilbert Kagodora said he was concerned about failure by MPs to support progressive motions moved by legislators from the other side.
“I think this has everything to do with the whipping system which is being abused by political parties,” he said.
“For example, the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No. 1 Bill was passed against the consent of the generality of the public.
“On the level of debates, I can single out very few MPs who have been objective. Kuwadzana East MP Nelson Chamisa is one of the top MPs in terms of objectivity and participation.
“Among the female MPs, I think Harare West MP Jessie Majome was outstanding. Buhera West MP Joseph Chinotimba [Zanu PF] can also be applauded for being objective at times.”
Kagodora said discussions of issues that were pro-people were not dominant during the fourth session of the eighth Parliament.
Zimbabwe United Nations Association youth advisor Mcleo Mapfumo said he was disappointed that most MPs failed to raise motions and questions to promote sustainable development goals.