SPEAKER of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda yesterday challenged academics at different institutions of higher learning to use their skills and thinking to critique Bills and come up with innovations that will develop Zimbabwe.
By Veneranda langa
Addressing academics at Midlands State University (MSU) in Gweru during one of his stakeholders’ meetings in Midlands, Mudenda said despite the high standards of education in the country, he was yet to see an institution of higher learning critiquing different Bills during public hearings, or even law departments offering themselves to draft pieces of legislation in order to speed up alignment of laws with the Constitution.
“When Bills come out at Parliament, I have not received any comments from our institutions of higher learning and yet big brains reside there, and a Bill is a proposed Act which needs quality input to become useful law,” Mudenda said.
“Perhaps the academia is ashamed to be seen with the crowds during public hearings, but academia can comment on Bills by making written submissions as scholars,” he said.
The Speaker also challenged higher learning institutions to come up with scientific innovations that will see value-addition of products such as tomatoes produced in Mutoko and Murehwa so that they could be canned and exported instead of rotting at Mbare and other markets.
The academia was also encouraged to take interest in politics and joining the Legislature as MPs to enrich the quality of debate in Parliament.
“If a professor is an MP and chairs a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, he/she will be very useful because of his/her educational background. The 2018 elections are coming, so come and give flesh to our Parliament. The Zambian Parliament has resolved that no one will become an MP without Ordinary Levels. The concentration in Parliament will be better if we put minimum standards like the Zambians,” he said.
Kwekwe Polytechnic College was praised for its scientific innovations and inventions that were currently being utilised by Mimosa Mine, Macdonald Bricks and others.
MSU was also commended for coming up with self-reliant mechanisms to raise money for infrastructural development at the university.
“MSU is planning to set up a medical department with a hospital which will use an Indian model of setting up a hospital at the college that will treat people at minimum charges. When that university is established, let it be an example of self-reliance and innovation,” Mudenda said.
Southern Africa Parliamentary Support Trust executive director John Makamure said law faculties at universities must use their technical resources to work with Parliament to come up with model laws.
“They must be able to assist the Attorney-General’s department to draft laws so that we speed up alignment of laws with the Constitution,” Makamure said.
Universities were also encouraged to be instrumental in translating the Constitution into indigenous languages and instilling the culture of constitutionalism in students.
MSU Student Representative Council president Joram Mukono said the students on their own initiative had decided to contribute $100 each towards the building fund.