Parliament must hold Ministers accountable – Tsvangirai

HARARE – Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday said Parliament should hold government ministers in check and ensure those who abuse state funds are brought to book.\r\n

Addressing Parliament for the second time since he was sworn into office last February, Tsvangirai also urged the country’s major political parties to remain united for the country to prosper and ensure political stability.

"I look forward to this House to play an important role here too, by tracking and questioning ministries on their performance. Where ministries under-perform, they should be held to account," he said, adding; "If state resources are allocated, misspent or misappropriated, those responsible should be brought to book by this House. In this you will have my full support."

Tsvangirai, whose MDC party agreed to share power with President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF after signing the power-sharing agreement or Global Political Agreement (GPA) last year, told the House that the pact was centred on making the government accountable and transparent.

"Improving accountability is the key part of the GPA, the implementation of which is currently the subject of negotiations by the parties involved in negotiations, guided by the SADC Troika resolutions of November 5 this year," Tsvangirai said.

The Prime Minister’s call for accountability comes after the auditor general last month issued a damming report which showed that funds allocated to various ministries were either abused or assets misappropriated. The report also showed that 10 000 youths were recruited into the public service without authorisation during last year’s June presidential election.

Responding to questions from MPs after his address to the Second Session of the Seventh Parliament, Tsvangirai said once the current round of talks are finished, the MDC-T and ZANU PF would be able to speak uniformly about “sanctions” and other issues bedevilling the country.

“We might belong to different parties, but when it comes to national issues let us be one to get us go forward. These issues (of sanctions) will be tackled by the negotiations. Once that is done, we will be able to speak with one voice, not the current situation where you hear one person saying this the following day on television and the other one saying this,” said Tsvangirai in response to a question why he does not condemn sanctions.

Negotiators from the three political parties in the coalition government are involved in talks – under the watchful eye of South African President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team – after a summit of SADC’s special organ on defence and politics last month asked Zimbabwe’s political leaders to engage in dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues in the implementation of the GPA.

On agricultural inputs, Tsvangirai said commercial farmers would be able to go to the banks to get loans while communal farmers would benefit from a government scheme targeting about one million families.

The MPs raised the issue of their low salaries saying they were too little for them to be called “honourable members”. In response Tsvangirai said: “I know you are not being properly remunerated. I know you cannot survive on $100 a month, but our greatest burden is to take care of the plight of our people. Some do not even get that $100.”

The MPs also complained that most ministers were not attending to parliamentary business.

“Your ministers – with the exception of (Nelson) Chamisa, (Joseph) Made, (Giles) Mutsekwa and (Obert) Mpofu when he is not in Chiadzwa, come, the rest they do not come,” said Simbaneuta Mudarikwa – ZANU PF MP for Uzumba – drawing laughter from the house. – ZimOnline