EDITORIAL COMMENT: Now that Ninth Parliament is on; no time to sleep

The Chronicle

The life of the Ninth Parliament of Zimbabwe started yesterday after 340 parliamentarians took their oaths of office before the Clerk of Parliament, Mr Kennedy Chokuda in Harare.

Two hundred and seventy members constitute the National Assembly while the Senate has 80 members. This means that 10 were not sworn in yesterday — four National Assembly representatives and six from the Senate. These are likely to undergo the process on Tuesday next week when Parliament begins sitting.

On the same day, legislators in the lower chamber will elect the Speaker and his or her deputy while those in the upper house elect the president and his or her deputy.

Zanu-PF commands a clear majority in both chambers so it is obvious that the presiding officers to be elected will be members of the ruling party.

The events of yesterday mark yet another step towards the formation of a new Government after the July 30 elections that saw Zanu-PF presidential candidate, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa winning and the party taking 145 of the contested seats in the National Assembly. Based on the numbers the party got in the direct election, it contributes the highest number of members who will sit in both houses of Parliament through the proportional representation method or indirect election.

Zanu-PF will therefore dictate the legislative agenda for the next five years as it has done in all previous parliaments except in the seventh when MDCs held sway. In that parliament, between 2008 and 2013, Zanu-PF had fewer MPs than MDC-T and MDC combined which is why the Speaker was Mr Lovemore Moyo, an MDC-T representative and his deputy was Ms Nomalanga Khumalo of MDC. However, because Zanu-PF was stronger in the Senate, its deployee, Cde Edna Madzongwe was elected President of the Senate, deputised by Cde Naison Ndlovu, now late.

With the Ninth Parliament now officially in office and due to elect its presiding officers on Tuesday, we expect President Mnangagwa to officially open the first session of that Parliament in the next few days. Thereafter, the masses will expect him to announce his Cabinet, completing the process of putting in place the new, eagerly awaited Government.

Judging by the President’s well known thrust, the Ninth Parliament would preoccupy itself with business to ensure that the economy recovers and grows. It will be probably the busiest and most business-like parliament since 1980, coming up with laws to accelerate the modest recovery we have seen over the past 10 months.

President Mnangagwa has already given the direction of the next five years, that his administration will be all about economics and less about politics. It is economics that puts food on the table, he always counsels. Politics doesn’t. Actually, too much politics damages the ability of a nation to put food on the table. It will be all politics on empty stomachs. We experienced this reality over the past 18 years.

We are gratified that the new legislators, quoted elsewhere on these pages today, appreciate the need, as enunciated by the President, for them to concentrate on economics.

“It is time for less talking, less politicking and for serious delivery. It is time for people to be seen to be working to fulfil people’s expectations in terms of economic emancipation,” said Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, a senator and Zanu-PF Secretary for Information and Publicity.

“We must avoid sleeping in Parliament because this is not a place to sleep. They must go somewhere else if they want to sleep. Those who come to snore in Parliament must know that snoring is never on the Order Paper. They must know they are here to fulfil the aspirations of the people. They must not be ‘missing persons’ but members of Parliament.”

Zvimba West legislator and Zanu-PF Mashonaland West chairman Cde Ziyambi Ziyambi said:

“The expectation that we have coming into the Ninth Parliament is for a shift towards legislation that will enhance the ease of doing business and the economic development of our country. You can notice from the policy pronouncements by His Excellency that he is looking at moving Zimbabwe towards a middle income country by 2030. That can only be done by having a Parliament that enacts legislation and an enabling environment that allows business to thrive. So going into the Ninth Parliament, my hope and wish is that we have robust debate that will focus on changing those laws that deal with the ease of doing business and ensure that the economic environment is turned around.”

Zimbabwe cannot continue to be ruled by politics any longer. The people have suffered enough and are desperate for a respite. They want jobs, jobs that pay well. They want to see better infrastructure to anchor the economic take off. They want to see companies running at 100 percent capacity and starting to operate 24 hours a day, something that many children born after 2000 have not experienced. Zimbabweans want to be able to save again, after living from hand to mouth for 18 years.

Their parliament will be key in the realisation of these aspirations by coming up with laws that attract more foreign direct investment, revive industry, promote exports and so on.

Zimbabwe can do it; Zimbabwe will do it.