Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Cabinet Ministers and their deputies who disrespect the business of the Legislature by dodging the question-and-answer session risk having contempt of Parliament charges preferred against them, Parliament has said.Speaker of the National Assembly Cde Jacob Mudenda and Senate President Cde Edna Madzongwe fired the warning in their respective chambers last week.
They said there was a deliberate failure by members of the Executive to treat the business of Parliament with the seriousness it deserves.
Cde Mudenda also warned backbenchers who are in the habit of attending Parliament briefly just to register their names before they disappear.
The presiding officers said the Executive had a constitutional obligation to attend Parliament and respond to questions that fell within their portfolios.
“The Chair would, therefore, like to give notice to all Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers that the House will not allow this situation where some of them neglect their parliamentary duties to continue unabated.
“The House will reprimand Ministers and Deputy Ministers who persistently prioritise other duties above their parliament duties,” said the presiding officers, while extensively quoting the Constitution.
“The Chair wishes further to give notice that should this not produce the desired effect, the House will be left with no option but to invoke other constitutional powers at its disposal including contempt of Parliament.”
Members of the Executive were implored to demonstrate respect and appreciation of their constitutional obligations in serving the nation through their parliamentary duties.
On backbenchers, Cde Mudenda said he had observed a “worrying tendency” by some Members of Parliament who neglected to take charge of their motions and questions in the House.
“Some Honourable Members are in the habit of abandoning or failing to move motions or absenting themselves from the House during question time after their notices of motion or questions for oral answer appear on the order paper,” he said.
“The chair has also been observing that some Honourable Members either constantly miss sittings of the House or attend for just a few minutes to have their names marked.”
He warned that he would soon name and shame those offending MPs including those that were not attending portfolio committees.
Cde Mudenda gave example of one portfolio committee where all members failed to turn up but witnesses they had invited and the committee clerk were in attendance.