Arrest Mphoko, truant ministers: MPs

HARARE - Opposition MPs last week raised the red flag on Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko and other Cabinet ministers who are in the habit of bunking Parliament business, calling for them to be charged with contempt of Parliament.

In the wake of a corruption scandal that has sucked top government ministers, opposition MPs were looking forward to grilling Mphoko who has been shielding Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo but the vice president did not pitch up.

On a point of order MDC chief whip Innocent Gonese asked acting National Assembly Speaker Mabel Chinomona why Mphoko has almost become a habitual absentee from the house.

Gonese noted that  in terms of Standing Order Number 26, as read with Standing Order Number 63, as read with the provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Section 107 (1);  in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe — it is the obligation of all vice presidents, ministers and deputy ministers to attend Parliament.

He also argued that the obligation was reinforced by Standing Order number 26 which reiterates the position in the Constitution.

In terms of the provisions of Standing Order Number 63 no minister, vice president or deputy minister can absent themselves without the leave of the Speaker.

“I believe madam speaker, that in line with good practice, good corporate governance, the chair should inform us of all the ministers, deputy ministers and vice presidents who have applied for such leave in writing.

“The provisions of the Standing Orders are very clear that this application for leave must be done in writing.  We cannot rely on assumptions.

“We have to know which of the ministers have sought leave of the Speaker so that we know those who are playing truant.  We know those who have bunked Parliament.  If we do not have this information, we do not know and we cannot distinguish between those members,” Gonese demanded.

“We know that...Mphoko only comes here when it is official opening and probably on the presentation of the budget.  We also know that the minister of Foreign Affairs (Simbarashe Mumbengegwi) only comes during the official opening.  We need to know which of the ministers have complied with the Standing Orders and have written to the Speaker.  We would like that evidence to be provided.”

He said in the absence of evidence it will be assumed that the ministers absented themselves or have played truant.

“More importantly, it would mean that they have not been granted that leave of absence and they are in contempt of Parliament as provided for in the Standing Orders.

“We have raised this point before and the Chair has simply said we have taken note, we have taken note.

“The time has come Madam Speaker; we will no longer accept a situation where the Chair will tell us that they have taken note or that the matter will be attended to.”

In response, Chinomona said only Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and two other ministers had informed her.

MDC vice president Nelson Chamisa who is also MP for Kuwadzana East added that while Parliament across the whole world is supposed to be taken seriously by ministers and MPs “because we are on the taxpayers roll” ministers did not.

“We have to read the riot act invoking the statutes of our Parliament.  This is nothing vindictive or personal.  It is all in the national interest to make sure that the monies that are being paid by taxpayers are accounted for,” Chamisa said.

“We are going to request and place on record that the following ministers be put on notice and be charged for contempt of Parliament,” he threatened.

Chamisa went on to name some of the chief culprits including Mphoko and Mumbengegwi while exalting Mnangagwa for “religiously” attending Parliament.

“I will start with the one who is notorious for not coming here...Mumbengegwi.  He has never been here.

“We want to appreciate minister Mike Bimha who has been coming.  He is like...Mnangagwa, he always comes to Parliament.  We appreciate them.

“We appreciate you minister (Joseph) Made.  We want to name and shame the truant ministers who are not coming,” he said amid inaudible interjections from the Zanu PF side.

‘‘Let me just rush through minister of Economic Planning, Obert Mpofu, Saviour ‘Tyson’ Kasukuwere, Local Government minister,  Pagwesese  Parirenyatwa, minister of Health ….

“I just want to continue and highlight and mention these names for the record and for posterity, ministers who, unlike the VP (Mnangagwa) and other ministers like Made, come here to dutifully present themselves to Parliament.

“We have Nyasha Chikwinya, minister of Women’s Affairs, she has not been coming here; Lazarus Dokora, comes here and there but he has not been coming, he should also be charged for contempt of Parliament.

“Douglas Mombeshora, minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement; the minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Jonathan Moyo who has been driving this important programme, STEM,  has not been coming; the minister of Home Affairs,  Ignatius  Chombo has not been coming; the minister of Energy and Power Development,  Samuel  Undenge, in fact we last heard of him long back. I do not know if he is still around but he has been missing in Parliament.

The former ICT minister acknowledged Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri who was also present while slating her Indigenisation counterpart Patrick  Zhuwao.

“He has even gone to harass our portfolio committees; he must be dealt with by Parliament because his behaviour is untoward to this Parliament; Mumbengegwi, I have already mentioned that this one is number one in terms of his delinquency. This one is foreign to this Parliament. His understanding of foreign affairs is to be foreign to Parliament and we must correct that. We appreciate Made, he comes almost every Wednesday. We appreciate you because you give seriousness to Parliament. We really thank you

“Makhosine Hlongwane, we have seen him. Maybe you are young — you have tried your best. Thank you very much. We appreciate that Walter Mzembi is not around because he is campaigning. That we appreciate,” he went on as Zanu PF MPs continued to interject him.

“All the deputy ministers do not come to Parliament yet Parliament is very important.

“So let us charge them. Let us deal with members who do not want to work for this country. We are ready; we will have those names and we will charge them with contempt.”

Comments (1)

The zanu pf stooges disguising as ministers have no time for attending parliament because they will be busy stealing, plundering and scouting around for prospective loot whilst others will be busy trying build the economy.

Janana wa Bikaz - 17 October 2016

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