Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
SPEAKER of the National Assembly Cde Jacob Mudenda has bemoaned the limited academic qualifications of some legislators, saying this contributes to their failure to grasp key parliamentary processes.
He said this while addressing students from the National Defence College at Parliament Building last week.
The students were drawn from the ZNA, AFZ, ZRP, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance and the President’s Office. “To be an MP, there is no basic academic or professional qualification requirement.
“They come by popular vote. The only requirement is that you should be over 18 and be a registered voter. So, you get people who are so popular for some reason and come to Parliament but they do not have the basic academic tools to understand some of the Bills,” he said.
“Some of the Bills address complicated and technical issues and they get lost (during debate).” Cde Mudenda said Parliament administration was in the process of crafting a strategy to capacitate parliamentarians so that they make informed debates in the House.
“We are in the Eighth Parliament now and we are seized with the idea of paying attention to bills. If you listened to my acceptance speech, I indicated that we shall not be a rubber stamp Parliament and it is my intention that we shall not rubber-stamp Bills.
“We have just come from Mutare where we have concluded a framework of our strategic plan and one of the things is to enhance capacity of MPs to interpret what the intended laws are all about. We will enhance our research portfolio so that when MPs are not well informed about that particular Bill they will be advised from a researched paper so that they will be able to adequately debate on the Bill,” Cde Mudenda said.
The strategy is expected to be completed by the end of March. Observers have criticised Parliament for failing to properly play their oversight role due to the incapacities of some legislators.