SPEAKER of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda yesterday blasted MPs for failure to take Parliament business seriously after they came late to a budget office orientation workshop.
by VENERANDA LANGA
Mudenda did not mince his words as he sternly told about 30 MPs who attended the workshop to behave honourably, adding Parliament work could not be treated like child’s play.
“We want to contribute towards the turnaround of the economy, and as a leading institution we have to respect time because Parliament is doing serious business; we are not playing kids’ games, and the title of honourable has to be respected,” he said.
Mudenda said the budget office would deepen MPs’ legislative roles so that they would be able to be analytical of policies behind any pieces of legislation with financial implications, budgets and monetary statement and reports. Currently, only two officers run the office.
The Speaker said Parliament’s teeth must begin to bite and urged chairpersons of committees, through Parliament supporting staff, to do follow-ups on recommendations that they would have made in their reports to ensure they were implemented.
“When you have made recommendations in committee reports, can you do an administrative audit to find out if they have been implemented by ministers? If nothing is taking place, then you have to call that minister and say you will charge them with contempt of Parliament. Let us have those charges coming.”
He gave an example of recommendations by the Mines and Energy Parliamentary Portfolio Committee which produced a report on diamond mining which showed the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe was being run by a one-man board.
“The committee must ask the minister if he has dissolved that board, and for proof in writing. Your (Parliament) teeth should bite for the sake of the people. Section 119 of the Constitution clearly states that we must ensure all agencies of government are accountable to Parliament,” Mudenda said.
Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda said there was need to increase professional staff in the fields of accounting, economics, law and others in order for the budget office to come up with good reports and analyses that would enrich the quality of debates by MPs in Parliament.
Southern Africa Parliamentary Support Trust director John Makamure said there was need for Zimbabwe to come up with enabling legislation for the core functions of the audit office.
Makamure said it must be an independent, professional, objective and non-partisan unit that provides technical support to Parliament and its committees on budgetary and economic development issues.