Some Ministers were also censored for failing to submit financial reports to Parliament in violation of the Constitution and standing rules and orders of the legislative assembly.
During the 2019 fiscal year, only 15 percent of ministries furnished portfolio committees with their quarterly reports while very few monthly and annual reports were tabled. On the other hand, some MPs never attended a single session of parliamentary committee hearings out of the 28 that were conducted.
The revelations come out of Parliament’s Liaison and Coordination Committee (LCC) retreat which started in Bulawayo last Friday and ended yesterday.
The LCC, which comprises all committee chairpersons, party whips and their deputies as well as the chairperson and vice chairperson and is the custodian of parliamentary reforms was meeting to review the performance of the first and second sessions of the 9th Parliament.
Adv Mudenda addressed the retreat last Friday and President of the Senate Mabel Chinomona delivered the closing remarks yesterday, with both expressing disappointment on the conduct of some members. Adv Mudenda said the power of the legislature is derived from the people and can be taken away anytime by the citizenry if they fail to perform.
“It is shocking that some members have zero attendance, while some have one or two out of 28 sittings. You have got to be ashamed of yourselves because you are not performing up to the expectations of the electorate nor to your oath of office that you will do your very best and work for the people of Zimbabwe in the context of the demands of the Supreme law and the general legislation,” he said.
“I was very disappointed to see that analysis and some of these members. I think it is best that as a measure of corrective action, a list must be compiled and given to the political parties where they belong so that we say here are your people whom you sponsored as a party but they are not performing. Forewarned is forearmed. We shall report to those responsible for sponsoring you to ensure that they take collective action.”
Yesterday, Chinomona said it was worrisome to note that some committees are driven to do their duties by monetary incentives more than the sacred mandate that they hold as the people’s elected representatives. She said MPs should remember that they are chosen by the people not for self-enrichment but to stand for the hopes and aspirations of Zimbabweans.
“It is sad that a committee will refuse to participate in an activity that will improve the lives of the people simply because there is no per diem that will line the members pockets. Do not get me wrong, while every effort will be made to provide allowances for committee activities, this must not and should never be the focus of our efforts as parliamentarians,” said the President of the Senate.
She said MPs have been doing the country a disservice by abdicating their responsibility to follow up with ministries to submit and then subsequently analyse reports
Earlier on Friday Adv Mudenda had said there is a need for LCC to act decisively and must not allow the behaviour by some Ministers not to table reports to continue unabated. Standing order 26 (2) of the National Assembly explicitly notes that failure to respond to the reports constitute contempt of Parliament. He said the Ministers’ conduct is an illegality which attracts severe censure.
He said during the 2019 fiscal year, only 15 percent of ministries furnished portfolio committees with their quarterly reports while very few monthly and annual reports were tabled. Adv Mudenda also challenged MPs to ensure they call for accountability on resources mobilised for the Covid-19 pandemic. The LCC is meeting to review the performance of the first and second sessions of the 9th Parliament.
Adv Mudenda said there is a need for LCC to act decisively and should not allow the behaviour to continue unabated. “It is sad to note that ministries do not comply with these constitutional statutory obligations. During the 2019 fiscal year, only 15 percent of ministries furnished portfolio committees with their quarterly reports and very few if any monthly and annual reports were tabled before the committees,” he said.
“Even those that were submitted had insignificant information to allow honourable members to fully carry out their oversight function. The Parliamentary Budget Office analysed 18 reports and presented 14 analysis reports before the committees in 2019.”
Adv Mudenda said no report on the budget performance was tabled before the House in the first session.
“This is unacceptable and unforgivable dereliction of duty by the LCC. The superintendence of the LCC should always remain clinical in this regard. Section 107 (2) of the Constitution as read in conjunction with Standing Order 36 of the National Assembly places a brutal obligation on Government to respond to the reports and recommendations made by portfolio committees,” he said.
He said he had to write to President Mnangagwa appealing for his intervention so that Ministers and their ministries could respond to recommendations contained in parliamentary committee reports and there was some good positive response. Adv Mudenda said Zimbabwe like the rest of the world, is facing a protracted deepening crisis owing to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, which has created an unprecedented health crisis and stifled economic growth.
“The nation looks to us as Members of Parliament to address these challenges in close liaison with the Executive so that they are able to respond robustly to the multifaceted impact of the pandemic,” said Adv Mudenda.
“That response has to be stubborn and resilient. Parliamentary committees must therefore be prepared to address mitigatory measures that call for innovation in pertaining to the devasting consequences of the pandemic including the employment of indigenous knowledge systems that may lead to the discovery of the vaccine to cure Covid-19.”
He said it was important for Parliament to continue with the daunting task of aligning laws to the 2013 Constitution.