SPEAKER of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda has called on the Finance ministry to allocate a reasonable budget to Parliament as well as prioritise the construction of the new Parliament building in Mount Hampden near Harare.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Addressing MPs during the 2019 pre-budget seminar in Bulawayo last week, Mudenda stressed the need for a well-resourced Parliament which can accommodate 270 MPs in the National Assembly and 80 Senators, saying it was not decent for legislators to stampede for chairs in the House.
Quite often, during the National Assembly sittings, MPs fight for chairs, and at times they trade barbs as well as push and shove each other, disturbing the flow of debates in the House.
During the Eighth Parliament, female MPs even complained that they were not comfortable with the overcrowding and seating arrangements where they were squashed in between their male counterparts.
“The sovereignty of our Parliament demands that Parliament be allocated a reasonable budget vote, which it should manage so that it can transact its constitutional mandate without material challenges,” Mudenda said.
“A well-resourced Parliament is a dignified institution and in the same vein, there is an urgent need for government to prioritise the construction of the new Parliament building in Mount Hampden in order to accommodate the huge demand for office space by MPs and Parliament staff.”
Mudenda said the fact that MPs were stampeding for seats in the House was a shame as it detracts the decorum of Parliament.
“I call for the relevant government departments involved to burn the midnight candle and ensure that there is speedy progress in the construction of a new Parliament building. This stance can only be realised if MPs desist from allowing the 2019 budget to pass through instead of passing it after some incisive debate,” he said.
In the 2018 budget, then Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa allocated $57 million to Parliament yet MPs had bid for $100 million. The Parliament budget was later increased to $90 million.
Mudenda also challenged parliamentary committees to come up with solutions to deal with the fiscal deficit and also proffer solutions to government’s employment costs, which have been gobbling the biggest chunk of the budget.
“Committees should come up with measures to control the ballooning domestic and external debt of $16,9 billion and $5,6 billion, respectively. Committees should stimulate debate on how the budget can be used as a tool for the industrialisation of our economy in order to create jobs and thereby increase the revenue base,” Mudenda said.