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Circus reigns supreme in Zimbabwe parliament

by Staff reporter
15 Mar 2020 at 17:45hrs | Views
This aptly sums up what characterises most sessions of the National Assembly.

Usually, on Wednesdays the National Assembly will be packed to the rafters as MPs get a chance to raise questions with Cabinet ministers affecting the nation during live television coverage.

Because of the love of cameras, most legislators are active on this day, but their contributions are next to zilch.
On Wednesday last week, the deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Tsitsi Gezi, had to warn errant MPs, who were behaving like kindergarten children, that she would kick them out of the august House.

"I remember yesterday the Speaker (Jacob Mudenda) said that in this House, our behaviour, the manner in which we carry ourselves, should be respectful and honourable.

"We should respect ourselves so that the world will see that we are serious and we are working hard. Today, there is live broadcasting, so if you ask your question, the minister will respond but you should not continue asking irrelevant things because you want to be seen on television. At the end of the day, the public will see that you are wasting time and taxpayers' money," Gezi said.

On Tuesday, an infuriated Mudenda had read the riot act to noisy legislators, but old habits die hard or in this case may never die.

"It is a challenge for me to inform elderly people like you to be quiet. You should also consider the fact that you are adults and you should find it in yourselves to keep quiet without being told," the speaker reprimanded the lawmakers.

Interestingly, legislators spend most of the time quarrelling on petty issues, which do not improve the country's social and economic well-being.

On Wednesday, debate was suspended for minutes after MP for Glen View South Vincent Tsvangirai, son of the late Morgan Tsvangirai, had his speech drowned out by jeers and whistles as Zanu-PF legislators challenged him to take over from current MDC leader Nelson Chamisa.

Zanu-PF MPs started to shout "pihwa chinhu chako mfana, chinhu chababa vako."

This resulted in a stoppage in the business of the House for some minutes as equally excitable MDC MPs fired back.

Last week the debate was also stopped for some time after opposition legislators demanded that Justice minister

Ziyambi Ziyambi remove a badge on his jacket which had President Emmerson Mnangagwa's signature.

Some legislators have said they were not happy with the unruly behaviour of some of their colleagues.

"When we are talking about issues of finance and the economy, we are talking about everyday issues that affect everyone in this country, including us as members. So, when we are discussing these issues, we must be serious and the level of lack of seriousness that I have seen this afternoon is really shocking. Do we discuss issues of finance out of a context of reality on the ground or not?," Hwange Central MP Daniel Molekeli questioned last week.

After the baptism of fire, Tsvangirai, who is usually calm, also let rip at his fellow MPs.

"Members, I would like to point out that, remember how people are struggling. I am sure all of us have been to our committee hearings and we have been around the country and seen how much people are suffering on the ground and they are expecting solutions from this House.

"However, this kind of behaviour is not going to get us anywhere," he said rebuking fellow MPs
During the same week, Norton Independent MP Temba Mliswa said the tendency by ministers not to attend the question and answer sessions was indicative of their disrespect for Parliament.

"This is turning into a circus, people think we are a joke at the end of the day because issues which are affecting people on the ground cannot be addressed by the Leader of the House. Where are those ministers, I ask again?

"We are the House that has oversight over government. This is becoming a waste of time, a circus every day. We cannot continue with this circus when we are busy suffering. People want answers on the ground, what do we say to them?".

There was commotion on Tuesday when MP for Buhera South, Joseph Chinotimba, walked into the House with a 10kg packet of maize meal which was branded Buruwayo.

Asked why he had brought the maize meal to Parliament and about its curious name which looked like bastardised Bulawayo, Chinotimba said his father was named Buruwayo and he had come to show fellow legislators how he is fighting hunger in his constituency.

After observing the behaviour of adults who behave like early child development learners, Mudenda challenged the relevant authorities to set minimum qualifications for one to eligible to be an MP.

"Our Constitution is bambazonke, it's a problem in terms of comprehension of Parliament business … Right now you only need to be above 18 years to be a registered voter and a citizen.

"Zambia changed their constitution and one has to have an "O" Level certificate to stand as a councillor or MP and we want that in Zimbabwe. Varikutatarika (they are struggling) in Parliament and you know what it means," Mudenda said in 2018.

Source - dailynews