HARARE – Cabinet ministers who have gained notoriety for absconding Parliament will not be punished despite Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda’s threats.
In February Mudenda read the riot act in the National Assembly threatening to write to President Robert Mugabe urging him to reprimand errant Cabinet ministers who were absconding grilling by legislators on Wednesdays.
This was after MPs raised concern after only a few ministers pitched up for question time, leaving legislators fuming at the Executive for “contemptuous behaviour”.
But MDC chief whip Innocent Gonese told the Daily News yesterday that there was “lack of political will on the part of presiding officers, but we will keep on applying pressure on them to take punitive measures against members of the executive.”
However, Chitungwiza North MP, Godfrey Sithole said it was typical of Zanu PF officials not to respect the Constitution.
“They simply do not take Parliament business seriously because they don’t respect the Constitution since section 119 is clear on the duties of Parliament in terms of its oversight role on the executive,” Sithole said.
He added that it would be foolhardy for Zimbabweans to expect ministers to enjoy coming to the National Assembly because they cannot explain their failure to change the people’s lives for the better.
“Things are not okay in the country, the economy is bleeding, people can’t access cash, there are no jobs, corruption has reached catastrophic levels so to expect them to come to answer all that while Zimbabweans are watching them live on national television is a bit far-fetched because these guys are clearly clueless about what needs to be done so they would rather be truant.”
The last time MPs raised their disquiet over ministers’ truant tendencies, Mudenda said: “I have asked the officials to register the ministers, who came and when they came in.
“I shall also be writing to … Mugabe, on the issue and the violation of the Constitution by the honourable ministers,” Mudenda said.
Before he made the decision, Mabvuku-Tafara MP, James Maridadi, had stood up complaining over the non-availability of ministers to take questions from backbenchers.
Mudenda said he had had enough of ministers continually showing a contemptuous attitude towards the legislature and it was time Parliament used its powers to whip the errant ministers.