Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
President Mugabe yesterday said ministers should lead by example and attend to parliamentary business, adding that those absconding lacked the conduct expected of them. President Mugabe said this while officially opening the Fifth Session of the Eighth Parliament. “We, therefore, expect robust and well-informed debate from all members who should always be present, punctual, disciplined, professional and of impeccable Parliamentary conduct,” he said.
A number of MPs then shouted that several ministers were not attending Parliament. President Mugabe then said: “Those who don’t attend, lack impeccable parliamentary conduct. Much more is even expected from ministers who should lead by example.”
The ministers’ absence from Parliament was raised by backbenchers several times during the previous session, with Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda at one time writing to President Mugabe to raise Parliament’s concerns on the issue.
Meanwhile, Zanu-PF Chief Whip Cde Lovemore Matuke welcomed President Mugabe’s speech, saying it had set out the work for them.
“We welcome what the President has said, especially on the ministers’ attendance because there is no way they can deal with issues affecting the people when they do not come to Parliament,” he said.
“The proposals to deal heavily with rapists and child marriages are also welcome because this scourge is threatening the fabric of our society.
“President Mugabe also talked of improving the Command Agriculture initiative which has brought us enough food this season which I also believe will trigger growth of the economy.”
Mudzi West representative Cde Magna Mudzingwa said President Mugabe’s speech was straightforward, adding that the onus was now on parliamentarians to deliver.
“The President was straightforward and to the point,” he said.
“He pointed out the Bills that need to be debated and they cover a cross section of society and the economy.
“I am particularly happy that Bills on improving the welfare of children that were long overdue will now be debated, while the importance of research and innovation has been recognised through the crafting of a Bill to deal with that because research and innovation are the basis for any economic growth.”
MDC-T Chief Whip Mr Innocent Gonese said the speech did not touch issues affecting the people. This was despite that the President’s speech clearly outlined the legislative agenda which will deal with several Bills and other business that directly have to do with the well-being of the people and how they can smoothly go about their business.