28 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Parly to Punish Errant Ministers

A parliamentary committee has called for Government ministers who fail to respond to portfolio committee reports on time to be penalised.

Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy chairperson Cde Edward Chindori-Chininga (Zanu-PF) said on Tuesday that there was a need to revisit Parliament's Standing Orders, to invoke sanctions on Government ministers who fail to respond to committee reports for the legislature's oversight role to be effective.

He was speaking while presenting the committee's report to the House where he said four ministers failed to respond to the committee's report on Shabani Mashava Mine on how the mine could be revived and save 4 000 jobs.

He accused Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa of failing to respond to issues related to Reconstruction of State Indebtedness Companies and Insolvency Act.

The Government relied on the law when it took over SMM after it felt the firm was heavily exposed.

Cde Chindori-Chininga said co-Ministers of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi and Theresa Makone failed to respond to the committee's report on the implementation of the Prevention of Corruption Act, while Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu failed to respond to issues to do with the Mines and Minerals Act.

The committee gave the responsible members of the Executive more than one year to respond to the report but up to now, no feedback had been given, he said.

Cde Chindori-Chininga said there was a need to revisit the Standing Rules and Orders as, while it compelled a Cabinet Minister to respond, it did not give time frame and sanctions. In any normal functional democracy, there should be checks and balances between the three organs of the State, namely the Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature, said Cde Chindori-Chininga.

From the manner in which the Executive has responded to this report and many other reports it appears as if Parliament cannot effectively hold the Executive accountable for its actions. This is unacceptable.

In other countries like South Africa, said Cde Chindori-Chininga, it was mandatory for members of Cabinet to provide Parliament with full and regular reports concerning matters falling under their control and the Legislature in Pretoria could even pass a vote of no confidence.

This puts pressure on members of Cabinet to perform and to be more accountable to Parliament. However, this was not the situation in this country, he said. The committee recommended that there be dialogue between Government and former shareholder of SMM Mr Mutumwa Mawere to find a solution which would be for the benefit of the workers. The Reconstruction of State Indebtedness Companies and Insolvency Act, said Cde Chindori-Chininga, should be amended so that it is consistent with the draft constitution.

Cde Chindori-Chininga noted the hesitancy by legislators to debate on SMM, yet it touched a very important national resource which had the potential to generate substantial revenue.

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