Speaker of Parliament to charge ministers who fail to turn up for question time

Jacob Mudenda
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Zimbabwe Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda has promised to charge ministers who fail to turn up for question time in Parliament with contempt of Parliament.

Question time in the National Assembly is held every Wednesday while that for the Senate is held the following day.

Mudenda said this after reading the list of ministers who had submitted apologies for failing to turn up but said they must now be charged with contempt because this was becoming a nuisance.

He said he had written to President Emmerson Mnangagwa more than once complaining about the failure of ministers to turn up for question time.

“Once I write, Hon. Ministers troop in.  After two sessions they disappear and then they are reminded,” Mudenda said.

“I am aware that they are reminded in Cabinet through the Leader of Government Business and they have not taken Parliamentary business seriously in terms of section 107 (2) of the Constitution.  So we will have to move accordingly and charge those that will not appear in contempt of Parliament in terms of our Standing Orders.”

Full debate:

APOLOGIES RECEIVED FROM MINISTERS

THE HON. SPEAKER:  I have received the following apologies from Hon. Ministers:

Hon. O. C. Z. Muchinguri-Kashiri, Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs;

Hon. Prof. P. Mavima, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare;

Hon. Sen. M. Mutsvangwa, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services;

Hon. M. N. Ndlovu, Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Tourism and Hospitality Industry;

Hon. Amb. Dr. F.M. Shava, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade;

Hon. Dr. A.J. Masuka, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement;

Hon. E. Moyo, Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education;

Hon. Z. Soda, Minister of Energy and Power Development; and

Hon. Prof. A. Murwira, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development.

However, the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care said he should be here at 4 o’clock.  Hon. Leader of Government Business, is there any explanation of other Ministers who are not here?

HON. T. MLISWA:  On a point of order Hon. Speaker.  I think for the benefit of others, it would be proper for Hon. Ziyambi to explain your question to us Members why the Ministers are not here.  I think it would be proper for Hon. Ziyambi to explain to us Members why the Ministers are not here when you asked the question.  It is us who should know why they are not here.  You are well informed that he is the Leader of Government Business and he should respond to that.

THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI):  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  Mr. Speaker, I know the Ministers who have travelled and have commitments.  Hon. July Moyo has travelled outside the country.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Minister, you are not connected.

HON. ZIYAMBI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  I know some who are out on duty.  Hon. July Moyo is not around, Hon. Masuka travelled, Hon. Murwira also travelled, Hon. Sen. Mutsvangwa travelled also, Hon. Muchinguri-Kashiri has commitments. She sent her apology, otherwise she would have been here.  I am not very sure about the Deputy Ministers, why they are not here.  I cannot speak for them.  I hope the others will come. I am not sure why they are late but the message is very clear that we should be attending Parliament sessions and be able to discharge our constitutional duty  to be in Parliament on Wednesdays to answer questions.  I thank you.

HON. GONESE:  Thank you very much Mr. Speaker.  I am indebted to the Hon. Leader of the House and the Leader of Government Business and also the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for his attempt to explain the absence of the other Hon. Ministers.  However Mr. Speaker, in terms of our Standing Orders, it is my submission that for those Hon. Ministers who are away on duty, as the Hon. Minister has indicated – they are Government officials, they are Ministry officials and I believe that if they take their responsibilities seriously, they would have endeavoured to send their applications of leave of absence to your office.  Over and above that Mr. Speaker Sir, we have other Ministers for whom the Hon. Leader of Government Business cannot explain as well as Deputy Ministers.

Mr. Speaker Sir, for those who come late, that is a different story, but for those who will not come at all, it means that they have shown disdain and contempt for this institution and my humble request is that by the end of today, with the administration of Parliament, I believe that there should be a follow up so that those who would not have been able to come, who have not given an explanation, who have not sought  leave of absence, that a motion of censure be put forward and it can only be done if we have those details at the end of the day.  I think it is about time Mr. Speaker.  It is something which we have been talking about over and over again.  Those would be my submissions Mr. Speaker Sir.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Thank you Hon. Gonese for your accommodating observation.  We will wait until towards the end of business and then the Clerk with his officials will then come up with a list which we can use to charge for contempt of Parliament because I have written to His Excellency more than once.  Once I write, Hon. Ministers troop in.  After two sessions they disappear and then they are reminded.

I am aware that they are reminded in Cabinet through the Leader of Government Business and they have not taken Parliamentary business seriously in terms of section 107 (2) of the Constitution.  So we will have to move accordingly and charge those that will not appear in contempt of Parliament in terms of our Standing Orders.

Source: ZimInsider