Lloyd Gumbo: Mr Speaker Sir
With the next harmonised elections coming up next year, one is tempted to feel sorry for the majority of Members of Parliament who might find it difficult to make it to the next Parliament for various reasons.When the electorate votes for MPs, there are clear benchmarks set for the representatives and failure to deliver on those normally spells doom for the legislators.
Mr Speaker Sir, one of the major benchmarks is MPs’ developmental roles in the constituencies. Never mind that constitutionally or their terms of reference do not require MPs to construct dams, build schools, provide fees for pupils in the constituency or to provide food for the constituents.
Unfortunately, the electorate does not rate MPs according to their Constitutional mandates, which are lawmaking, playing watchdog role on the executive or representative role.
The majority of the voters have no idea about those roles or do they care, all they want is to see a road that has been constructed by their MP, food that has been provided by the MP or money to assist during funerals in the constituency.
And can one blame them for thinking these are the duties of the MPs when the same representatives are the ones who promise them during campaigns that those are the things on top of their priority list.
Mr Speaker Sir, the day of reckoning for some of the MPs is almost here, especially those who were “Missing People” in their constituencies and dead asleep in Parliament during debates.
Some voters were wondering whether their representatives got lost when they got to Harare or they had simply forgot about those who voted for them.
Some of the MPs have nothing to show for the time they have been in the August House, they were not seen on television asking questions on Wednesdays, neither were they heard on live radio debating from Tuesdays to Thursdays.
But there are some MPs who have been a joy to watch in playing their watchdog and representative roles. They have outshone others in every facet by far.
Talk of Joseph Chinotimba, Justice Mayor Wadyajena, Daniel Shumba, Biata Nyamupinga, Dexter Nduna, Jessie Majome, Masango Matambanadzo, Paurina Mpariwa, Prosper Mutseyami, Remigio Matangira, Irene Zindi and Joseph Mapiki.
For the record, this list is not exhaustive of all the MPs who I think justified their existence in Parliament. But these have done very well whether in parliamentary committees, during debates in the House or in their constituencies. Yet this does not mean they will have it easy at next year’s polls because the jury is still out there.
Even if they do not make it back, they can proudly point their contributions during their tenure. For those who have been missing in their constituencies, maybe it is time they pay for their “sins”.
It’s possible that some of the MPs have been selling fuel coupons they get from Parliament to travel to and from their constituencies whenever the two Houses were sitting.
They do not go to their constituencies, yet they would have received their allocation, though, admittedly, sometimes they do not get the fuel coupons regularly as Treasury may delay releasing funds.
Whenever funds are available and they get their backdated allocations, some MPs still sell the coupons instead of going to their constituencies.
Proceeds from the sale of the fuel coupons are diverted to personal use. Mr Speaker Sir, sometimes it’s not really how much development an MP has brought to the constituency that matters, but visibility.
So, there are some MPs who, when the House is not sitting, find time to be in their constituencies, listen to the constituents and take them to Parliament or directly to ministers when they are back in Harare.
Unfortunately, some of the not so rich MPs run away from their constituencies for fear of sponsoring funerals or meetings. Oftentimes, it has been proved that missing MPs in their constituencies rarely make it back to Parliament, having lost either at party primary elections or to candidates from other parties at the general elections.
It is inevitable that the axe will fall on the majority of the missing MPs next year. But there are some MPs who have not misappropriated the fuel coupons who unfortunately are affected by the irregular disbursement of the fuel coupons.
Normally, MPs should be getting fuel according to their official vehicle’s engine capacity and distance to the constituency, as well as the vehicle’s running costs, but the major challenge is the fact that the allocation is fixed at a certain price, meaning that if fuel prices go up, they end up getting less fuel.
Mr Speaker Sir, the major problem is that some of the MPs have not been innovative during their tenure. They have been hoping that the Constituency Development Fund would be availed, but given Treasury’s financial constraints, that can only be a dream.
But there are some MPs who have not sat on their laurels, as they have found ways of making themselves relevant in the constituencies by sourcing support from different companies or organisations.
Look at Cde Chinotimba, he has been to several companies looking for sponsorship to help his constituency and for that reason he endeared himself to the voters.
Feedback: [email protected]