Lloyd Gumbo Mr Speaker Sir
The first instalment on this column about two years ago ruffled feathers when it raised the fact that some MPs were only attending parliamentary proceedings briefly just to mark themselves present before walking out within five minutes. By being marked present either in the House or portfolio committee sessions, it meant they could claim sitting allowances regardless of the time spent on parliamentary business.
It is on several occasions that some MPs sit in the House or committee until the register is marked, which is usually at the beginning of meetings or sessions.
As a result, some of the committee meetings or House sessions end up without a quorum, which is tantamount to sabotage, a slap in the face of the electorate.
MPs are elected to attend parliamentary business and not to mark themselves present before dodging.
The interest should be in representing those who elected them than being preoccupied with monetary benefits.
As things stand, there are high chances that Parliament could be paying or at least accumulating debt for short-time MPs who don’t actually fully represent their constituents.
National Assembly Speaker, Jacob Mudenda vindicated this position recently when he warned legislators who abscond Parliamentary sittings.
“I wish to draw the attention of the House to a very worrying trend by some honourable members who only attend sittings for a short time before leaving the House.
“Consequently, most members’ motions are debated in the absence of a quorum,” said the Speaker.
He added that it was the responsibility of all MPs to attend parliamentary business in order to fulfil their representative, oversight and legislative roles.
The Speaker cited Section 117 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which states that: “The legislative authority of Zimbabwe is derived from the people and is vested and exercised in accordance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe”.
For that reason, he said, failure by MPs to attend parliamentary sittings was a negation of their responsibility.
MPs must remember that there are people watching them as they abuse the country’s seat of power.
It is a fact that the only day that the National Assembly has a full house is Wednesday during Question and Answer sessions when ZTV broadcasts the event live.
Every MP wants to be seen to be making or talking sense in Parliament.
They all want to speak regardless of the hollowness of some questions.
Some of the MPs actually defer their motions or debates to Wednesdays during the live broadcast so that the electorate think they are fully representing them.
Normally, the moment ZTV camera people pull down their cameras after the live broadcast, the majority of MPs walk out and only a handful remain to proceed with parliamentary business.
It seems some of our MPs are only interested in being seen on television than delivery.
This is by all means, a shame.
The electorate does not deserve representatives who want to take them for gullible fools.
In all fairness, there are sessions that Parliament has allowed to go on despite not meeting the quorum of 70 MPs for the sake of making progress yet, all things being equal, such sessions should be aborted.
It is out of order for legislators who are supposed to protect the Constitution to deliberately disregard it.
Mr Speaker Sir, MPs are in Parliament to represent those who elected them.
The electorate expects its voice to be heard on every subject that is brought to the House.
But how can this be possible if MPs across the political divide walk out en masse soon after live broadcasts?
For instance, barely two hours after the Speaker implored MPs to sit through House sessions, our representatives were already busy flocking out leaving about 50 backbenchers out of about 200 debating the Joint Ventures Bill that was being steered by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa.
It is for this reason that the parliamentary administration must put mechanisms in place to monitor the attendance of MPs as a way of sniffing out short-time attendees.
They cannot take us for a ride by not attending parliamentary business, yet at the same time they want to be paid from taxpayers’ money for something they did not do.
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