MPs should up their act

HARARE - Reports that debates in the Parliament and Senate which by their nature are supposed to be lively, intellectual and informative are a bore as legislators fail to raise quality questions towards cabinet ministers, make a sad reading.

Sad because news items coming out in newspapers on debates in the Thematic or Portfolio committees, point to a lack of seriousness among members of Parliament who are in the habit of tabling issues without undertaking adequate research.

It seems there is no preparation for intelligent, well thought out debates and most of the arguments are not supported by facts and enough data or statistics.

This sad development has thus seen cabinet ministers going unscathed in several question and answer sessions over critical matters, with others opting to bunk the processes altogether.

But given that the current legislators enjoy parliamentary privileges where we have sound representations from both the ruling Zanu PF and MDC, everyone expects robust debates in the august house.

But alas, some of the legislators in Parliament have turned out to be too pedestrian to be able to peddle the pressing constituency issues that range from shortages of clean water to unavailability of jobs.

Zimbabwe’s roads and bridges are in such a bad state both in urban and rural areas. The rural communities are crying for medicines, maize seed, land and machinery.

These are the debates we expect in Parliament and they should not just be ordinary debates, but those which are well supported by empirical data and other corresponding facts.

Legislators should learn to interlink their work, especially which requires thought and research, with professional people that include lawyers so that they are assisted with producing detailed presentations.

The civic society has always been open to such collaborations and in recent months, they have facilitated working workshops with legislators whom they introduced to computers and their role in Parliament.

It is from such encounters like working workshops that legislators are able to create and formulate synergies with a wider range of professionals from various backgrounds who can help with research and preparatory work before it is tabled in Parliament.

It is also important for legislators to upgrade their educational qualifications once voted into office, like embarking on short basic courses in management, governance and computers. This will help them run offices and be able to coordinate humanitarian and rehabilitation projects for their constituencies.

Parliamentarians should be alert to local and global opportunities as they represent society in all its diversity, hence a lot of expectations from different groups and communities who have special pressing needs.

The legislators should be reminded that Parliament is one of the three arms of the Government, the others being the Judiciary and the Executive; hence they have to be sharp and intelligent enough to relate to such high authority.

Members of Parliament’s immediate tasks are to ensure that the use of state power is not abused. Their main focus should be to put together a system of checks and balances on state power.

As is expected, Parliament should act and police good governance and democracy, hence creating a socially accountable government that protects and fulfils the civil, economic, social and cultural rights of all Zimbabweans.

Comments (2)

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we d - 4 August 2014

The solution is to make it one of the requirements to demand 5 ordinary level subjects for one to qualify for public office.Period.

Christabel Walker - 6 August 2014

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