10 November 2013

Zimbabwe: MPs Were 'Occasional Visitors' to Parly

MOST MPs and senators who served under the Global Political Agreement (GPA) were "occasional visitors" to parliament and did not contribute to any meaningful debate, a local advocacy group has said.

In an analysis carried out by Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), which accessed the performance of the Seventh Parliament, noted that the legislators did not attend sessions.

"The patterns of non-attendance in the Senate are shocking. Out of a possible 50 sittings in the Senate, the average rate of attendance was only 33%," read part of the first of a three part series of an intensive analysis on the performance of the Seventh Parliament running from June 2012 to June 2013.

RAU said the shortest sitting in the House of Assembly lasted five minutes, while the shortest in the Senate lasted four minutes.

This scenario cast a shadow on the competencies of the legislators, more so when a baseline survey on Specific Capacity Building Requirements for Committees of Parliament revealed that the Seventh Parliament had a 70% skills gap.

The study revealed that it failed largely to deliver its full mandate to the general populace.

"Beyond civil and political reforms, there was an expectation for improvements to the social and economic status of citizens, including improvements to access to health care, education, housing, and food security," said RAU. "Expectations for visible development in communities, such as improvements to roads and other infrastructure also existed among the population."

The lobby group noted that the larger part of the role of the parliamentarians would have been to represent their constituencies by attending sessions and contributing effectively.

"Parliamentarians thus have a duty to be available to represent the communities that elect them. Such representation is possible if they attend parliamentary sessions, participate effectively, and seek to influence policy in ways that respond to the needs of their constituencies," read the RAU statement.

The analysis also looked into the issue of then having a technocratic government. A technocratic government is a government in which the ministers of government are not career politicians, and, in some cases, they will not even be members of political parties.

Individuals appointed are skilled, capable, and perform their duties in an objective, unbiased, and non-partisan manner.

Currently, selection of ministers is based on their political affiliation and their loyalty to the president of the party.

This is despite the fact that it contravenes the selection criteria set out in the new Constitution, that ministers must be chosen for their "professional skills and competence", with considerations made to regional and gender balance.

"Instead of their level of loyalty to the political party nominating them and their seniority within the party".

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