Zvamaida Murwira Mr Speaker, Sir
Legislators coming in for the Ninth Parliament should pull their socks up as expectations to meet President’s Mnangagwa’s vision of putting politics aside and developing the economy for the better of the country are high.
Members of Parliament were sworn in on Wednesday this week and the electorate expects a lot from them in terms of enacting legislation for the good governance of the country and moving motions that improve the quality of their lives.Backbenchers in their oversight, legislative and representative role carry the hope of the nation on their shoulders and their swearing-in signalled the commencement of their parliamentary business in earnest.
Portfolio committees, once constituted, should leave no stone unturned in efforts to explore ways to turn around the economy.
It is also now time for legislators both at individual level and collectively to fulfil what they promised the electorate during election campaigns which saw them promising heaven on earth to the electorate as they sought to win votes.
Backbenchers should raise motions that help in national discourse and address the plight of the people from their constituencies.
What should to be done to stabilise the economy in the context of services, cash challenges and also ways to improve productivity particularly in farms and in industry?
This comes in the context of an unprecedented price spiral of most commodities in the past few weeks, which some watchers have said could be traced to attempts by some elements to sabotage President Mnangagwa’s Government.
With the summer season around the corner, backbenchers should take members of the Executive head-on to ensure that agricultural inputs are on the doorsteps of farmers on time.
They should hold the Executive to account either during Wednesday or Thursday Question Time for the National Assembly or Senate respectively or during portfolio committee meetings where they invite members of the Executive.
Legislators should also take a leaf from President Mnangagwa’s speech when he opens the First Session of the Ninth Parliament as it should give legislative direction and an agenda.
Another thorny issue is the mushrooming of illegal settlements in urban and peri-urban areas.
This has resulted in some unsuspecting home-seekers losing their money to unscrupulous land barons.
Most of the land barons have had their lives transformed overnight from rags to riches under suspicious circumstances.
The Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement and that of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing has to put its foot forward to unravel these issues.
In Nyatsime, which falls under Chitungwiza Municipality, thousands of home-seekers with offer letters from the local authority have not yet taken occupation of their residential stands after land barons invaded the property and parcelled out the land to unsuspecting home-seekers for a song, shutting out lawful occupants.
The Nyatsime housing settlement debacle has gone on for almost 10 years unresolved and some lawful land owners have since passed on.
There is a court interdict against Chitungwiza Municipality. Three farmers who had offer letters from the Ministry of Lands to use the land for agricultural purposes approached the courts on why Government had opted to use that land for urban expansion.
It was a question of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing.
A solution that ensures a win-win outcome is required.
Government should, at the very least, look for alternative agricultural land for the three farmers and get rid of those who invaded the land to pave way for those with offer letters from Chitungwiza Municipality.
In Harare South there are also a lot of unresolved land issues which the Government has to deal with.
One of the thorny issues in areas like Stoneridge Park, Southlea Park, Retreat Farm are to do with compensation.
It is common cause that there is a Land Commission moving around the country gathering views from the people. It is the role of Parliament to ensure that recommendations by that commission are implemented and not gather dust on shelves.
The Public Accounts Committee has real work to do to ensure that ministries through their permanent secretaries submit quarterly financial returns in terms of the Public Finance and Management Act.
Ministries have been found wanting in that regard and have been allowed to get away with it, yet submission of those returns is the hallmark of financial transparency and accountability.
Another thorny issue involves laws on the ease of doing business.
President Mnangagwa has on countless times been saying that Zimbabwe is open for business and to its credit, Government has enacted laws to ensure the achievement of that objective.
It is therefore the duty of Parliament to ensure that the laws are implemented to the letter.
There have been bottlenecks for those starting new businesses. One has to move from one office to another at different ministries thereby frustrating potential investors.
It is commendable that the previous Parliament passed several laws aimed at improving the ease of doing business.
They include the Shop Licensing Act, Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act, the National Competitiveness Commission Act, the State Procurement Act and Judiciary Laws Amendment Act.
The passage of the laws would be futile if they are not implemented and it is the duty and responsibility of Parliament to ensure that they take effect.
Ease of doing business bottlenecks have been cited as one of the drawbacks to economic recovery hence the peremptory obligation for legislators in their oversight role to ensure that enacted laws are implemented.
MPs must realise that they have a fiduciary duty on behalf the electorate to ensure that their aspirations are met.