Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Some former ministers, who were recently dropped from Cabinet, are reportedly struggling to come to terms with life outside Government and are suffering from stress-induced ailments like hypertension, legislators have heard.
Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda said he had a relative who was dropped from Cabinet recently and was failing to adjust to life outside the luxurious style that goes with being a member of the Executive after he lost his job. President Mnangagwa named a leaner 22-member Cabinet to cut Government expenditure.
Adv Mudenda made his remarks on Tuesday to support Musikavanhu MP Mr Prosper Mutseyami (MDC-T) who had said there was need to capacitate Parliament’s clinic to offer counselling services, particularly to former ministers who had suddenly become backbenchers. Mr Mutseyami said some of them were suffering from stress-induced high blood pressure and trauma.
“I think that is a valid point to some extent. I have a cousin who lost his ministerial position and he became so stressed up that in the end, he could not recover from the stress.
“So, we will make some arrangements but there are some very serious stresses that might come when you do not win at your constituencies. Now for that one, unfortunately we may not provide services because you will not be part of the system,” said Adv Mudenda, drawing raucous laughter from the floor. Mr Mutseyami had risen on a point of order to say he was concerned with Parliament’s health centre which ought to be adequately equipped.
“My bigger issue is to do with our clinic here. Maybe for the Ninth Parliament as we go along, if we could have this clinic well equipped with regards to managing of stress and all that — the counselling department is not there.
“Currently, we have had challenges as Parliament, as the Eighth Parliament whereby we have had people who have been moved from positions and all that and people have gone through a lot of challenges, pressure, stress and blood pressure,” said Mr Mutseyami.
“It is very professional for this arm of Government of Parliament to have an institution to deal with these challenges or these kinds of trauma in terms of stress through a counselling department so that people will understand that once they lose positions, they are supposed to be backbenchers. As we speak, there are some people who cannot understand why they are in new positions and they do not understand that they are backbenchers, due to lack of counselling. So, it is important to address the counselling department.”
In the Upper House, former Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi had the House in stitches when he reminded Senate President Cde Edna Madzongwe that he was no longer a Cabinet minister. This was after Cde Madzongwe addressed Cde Sekeramayi as “Honourable Minister” in requesting him to adjourn debate.
“Thank you Madam President, I am a former minister,” said Cde Sekeramayi courtly before Cde Madzongwe apologized. Not only have some ministers lost their posts to realignment, but some chairpersons of portfolio committees have also been reduced to ordinary committee members.
They include Chegutu West MP Cde Dexter Nduna who was replaced by Muzarabani South MP Cde Christopher Chitindi. Masvingo Central MP Dr Daniel Shumba lost the chairmanship of the portfolio committee of Mines and Energy to Norton MP Mr Temba Mliswa (Independent).