All systems go at new Zimbabwe Parliament building

Spread the love

The Parliament of Zimbabwe is preparing to relocate to the US$100 million state-of-the-art New Parliament building in Mt Hampden constructed through support from the Chinese government. Our Correspondent Sharleen Mohammad (SM) spoke to Clerk of Parliament Mr Kennedy Chokuda (KC) on a variety of issues, as the august House prepares for its new home.


SM: Can you give us an outline of the major developments that happened in Parliament this year?

 KC : Parliament passed several Bills that have an important bearing on the nation. These include the Marriages Bill, Independent Complaints Mechanism Bill, State Universities Amendment Bill, Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Bill, Health Services Amendment Bill, Finance (Supplementary) Amendment Bill and Appropriation (Supplementary) Amendment Bill. The House managed to comply with the Constitution by conducting public hearings on all the Bills before it. Input from the public was critical in informing many of the amendments that were proposed by Committees on the Bills. This also included recommending allocation of additional resources to several institutions during the passing of the Supplementary budget.

SM: Parliament scored some positive goals on the international front this year. Please, give us some of the highlights.

KC : Parliament signed a cooperation agreement with the State Duma of Russia. This will strengthen relations between the two Parliaments. The Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda had the rare opportunity to address a sitting of the State Duma. Parliament continued to fly the Zimbabwe flag high at the international level as it hosted the APU 44th Conference in Victoria Falls, attended by over 150 delegates from 22 countries. It hosted the African Network of Parliamentary Budget Organisations.

In addition, Members of the Parliament of Zimbabwe were appointed to serve on various international organisations, thus allowing for the Zimbabwean viewpoint to be heard at the international level. The Speaker served on the Executive of the International Parliamentary Union (IPU), President of Senate Hon Chinomona was appointed to be President of the APU for the next 12 months and Chief Charumbira was elected President of the Pan African Parliament for the next three years. Mrs Hove, Assistant Counsel to Parliament, was elected President of the African Colloquium of Legal Counsels to Parliament.

SM: How do you assess the performance of Parliament this year against your targeted deliverables?

KC : Parliament continued to effectively discharge its constitutional mandate. This included passing laws for the good governance of Zimbabwe, holding state institutions to account for the use of public resources and implementing public policies and representing the public. In respect of its legislative role, Parliament managed to influence amendments on most legislation brought before Parliament.

Parliament also managed to consider petitions presented to it by the public. In this respect, Committees of Parliament have been engaging with petitioners and the public at large to address issues of concern to the public.

In its representative role, Parliament continued to involve the public in its work through the conduct of public hearings on bills, petitions and topical national issues. The public relations department of Parliament managed to interact with 16 000 students in Mashonaland East province as part of Parliament’s outreach programme.

SM: The New Parliament building was completed recently. When is Parliament scheduled to relocate to the new facility?

KC : As soon as the new building is handed over to the Government. Then we can move into the New Parliament building.

SM: Can you give us an outline of the uptake and use of the Constituency Development Funds this year?

KC : Thanks to support from the Treasury, Parliament managed to disburse at least $2,4 billion for various projects in the constituencies. The projects include building of school blocks, construction of clinics, mothers’ waiting shelters, construction of dams, purchase of school furniture and books, and the drilling of boreholes. The projects are community-driven and speak to the needs of the various communities. Masvingo province has the highest performance with 97 percent, followed by Mashonaland Central with 88 percent and Manicaland with 84 percent. The uptake has been good.

SM: Parliamentary rules compel legislators to publicly declare their wealth. Have all the legislators in the current Parliament declared their wealth?

KC: It is one of the requirements that as soon as one is sworn in, we advise them to declare their assets. In this case, all members declared their asserts. If one does not declare their assets, there are punitive measures for such behaviour.

SM: Parliament was recently flagged for alleged procurement transgressions. What is your office doing to ensure procurement systems are tightened?

 KC : We are awaiting a report by the Public Accounts Committee. As an institution, we are guided by the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority Act in terms of our procurement. We have to make sure that we are compliant. We had our staff go through refresher course training with the regulatory authority and we will ensure that we constantly send our staff for refresher courses to strengthen our procurement department.

SM: How far has Parliament gone in setting up its television station?

KC : The New Parliament building already has a provision for a television studio and we have already engaged with the relevant authorities on the matter. That is work in progress. Once we move into the new building, then we are good to establish our television channel. – Sunday Mail