Lifeline for parliament bench-warmers

ZHOMBE MP Daniel Mackenzie Ncube (Zanu PF) this week introduced a motion which enables MPs to debate issues raised by President Robert Mugabe when he officially opened the Fifth Session of the Eighth Parliament last week.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Now that this is the final session that will mark the end of the Eighth Parliament before the 2018 elections, MPs are expected to jostle to debate on this motion, taking advantage of the fact that it is an open motion where one can discuss different issues raised by Mugabe.

In the past years, several Zanu PF MPs who contributed to debate did not do justice to the motion as they regurgitated issues already highlighted by Mugabe in his speech, merely thanking him for reading it.

But MPs are expected to critique the speech and advocate for policy changes to the advantage of their constituents, basing on issues raised by the President when he mapped out the legislative agenda.

For MPs that have never said a word in Parliament and have been bench-warming and mum during the four years of the Eighth Parliament, the motion on the Presidents’ speech is a good chance for them to do their maiden speeches and try to impress the electorate that they are worthy to be voted back to Parliament in 2018.

The mover of the motion on the Presidential speech, Ncube, and his seconder, Ntandoyenkosi Mlilo (Luveve MP, Zanu PF), indeed managed to raise pertinent issues regarding what the President said in his speech.

Ncube said the announcement of the Cyber Crime and Cyber Security Bill was very welcome as it would adequately deal with those in the habit of upsetting others and invading other people’s privacy using the Internet and social media.

“The importance of this Bill cannot be overemphasised as it will deal with online pornography that has been used to shame others,” Ncube said.

He said the other Bill which was welcome was the Land Developers Bill, adding it must severely deal with land barons who have been cheating unsuspecting people and selling land illegally.

“Some MPs are land barons, and we are happy that such people will now be regulated,” he said.

Mlilo described the Labour Law Amendment Bill as timely as it would protect employees from being short-changed by their employers.

“The Teaching Profession Council Bill will bring dignity to the teaching profession,” he said.

Being Zanu PF MPs, it obviously would be too much to expect them to criticise the President’s speech.

Opposition MPs have not yet begun to debate on the motion, but Norton MP Temba Mliswa (independent), who has already done so, managed to bring out an important issue that the President claimed in his speech that only 30 Acts now remained to be aligned with the Constitution.

“Someone must have misled the President because he said only 30 Bills are outstanding to be aligned with the Constitution. That is misleading because we have 455 pieces of legislation that need alignment and out of that number we have not even done 50 Bills. This is serious, and I do not know who misinformed Mugabe,” Mliswa said.

In his speech, Mugabe said there were only 206 pieces of legislation that were identified as requiring alignment to the Constitution, adding that only 30 Acts remained outstanding.

Mliswa raised the issues of corruption, saying that there was need for the government to show seriousness to tackle it.

Bills

Already one of the Bills to tackle corruption, the Public Entities and Corporate Governance Bill, which was announced by the President, was brought before Parliament on Wednesday by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa.

“The Bill will provide for the governance of public entities in compliance with Chapter 9 of the Constitution, to provide a uniform mechanism for regulating the conditions of service of members of public entities and their senior employees; and to provide for matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing,” Chinamasa said during its First Reading Stage.

Committees

The only committee that sat is the Finance Committee led by David Chapfika, which gathered views from members of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) on the forthcoming 2018 National Budget.

The ZNCC suggested that government should curb its spending and ensure they deal with smuggling at border posts and come up with efficient revenue collection mechanisms.