BY VENERANDA LANGA
TRUANCY by Cabinet ministers during Parliament’s question-and-answer sessions every Wednesday has continued despite pleas by the Speaker Jacob Mudenda that the Executive should take business of the House seriously.
On Wednesday, Mudenda was embarrassed when he announced that ministers Joram Gumbo (Energy and Power Development) and Paul Mavima (Primary and Secondary Education) had sought leave of absence and were out of the country, before the pair walked in a few minutes later.
This resulted in MDC Alliance chief whip Prosper Mutseyami demanding to know why Mudenda was being given a phantom list of ministers who would have sought permission for leave of absence.
“Ever since we started the Ninth Session of Parliament, the absence of ministers in the House has become a song,” Mutseyami said.
“Last week, we had names of ministers that gave apologies announced, but after two minutes, the same ministers then jetted in, and right now (Wednesday) you have announced names of ministers that have apologised, including Mavima and Gumbo, but they have just come in and it shows that someone is taking this House for granted by giving you (Mr Speaker) names of ministers on the assumption of apologies that do not exist.”
On average, only 10 out of the 46 ministers and their deputies avail themselves for the question-and-answer sessions in Parliament.
Section 139(d) of the Constitution and Parliament Standing Rules and Orders compels ministers and their deputies to appear in the House and answer questions from MPs.
Mudenda said it was not his fault that he had announced apologies for some ministers who later turned up in the House.
“The chair is given names and I cannot refuse them. I only accept the list in good faith. I think this matter of absence of ministers should be impressed in Cabinet because question-and-answer sessions should begin at 2:15pm,” he said.
“Ministers have a national duty to perform and the Leader of the House (Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi) must advise them accordingly, so that we avoid such embarrassment where someone is announced as having given an apology, but they turn up.”
Meanwhile, Zanu PF legislators have made an attempt to try and quash a motion to be introduced by the MDC Alliance on rape of women during the January 14-16 disturbances.
They wanted to have the whole motion on rape of women by soldiers changed to debate only on sanctions.