Zimbabwe: 'Whipping System Reduces MPs to Rubber Stampers of National Budgets'

4 September 2019

Mutare — Parliamentarians are failing to critically scrutinize national budgets due to the current whipping system which has reduced them to a mere rubber-stampers who tow their political party position, a public finance expert has said.

Tafadzwa Chikumbu from the Zimbabwe Coalition of Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) said due to this archaic system, parliamentarians have been reduced to the duty of merely rubberstamping the national budget without critical scrutiny.

Chikumbu made these remarks at public engagement meeting aimed at reviewing the 2018 Auditor General's report which exposed serious government graft, misappropriation of funds among a litany of financial blundering.

He said while portfolio committees are seized with exposing corruption and financial mismanagement, their hands were tied by their political parties.

"When the national budget is presented, the parliament's role is just to rubberstamp what comes from the Minister of Finance.

"If a member of parliament is not respecting the political party he or she belongs to, what happens is that they are recalled by their political party, once they are recalled by their party it means they are also recalled from the parliament.

"As a result, members of parliament more often than not, do what their party wants instead of what they are supposed to be doing.

"So, the issue is on the whipping system, which is a constitutional issue, an issue that is in the constitution that we all celebrate it has that provision which does not protect members of parliament from their political party, on that basis their effectiveness is compromised," he said.

Chikumbu called for the establishment of a robust consultation systems focused on soliciting public priorities on the use of public funds.

"They have to go out and consult citizens on their priorities, let's put our efforts to ensure that we have robust systems in setting up priorities rather than focusing on the post mortem of the use of funds to look for misuse.

"We need to change that narrative where citizens are not engaged people should engage with authorities to interrogate recurrence of issues, in as much as we complain that some issues have not been done.

"Frameworks are there but they are not sufficient it needs a people that respect the constitution and the setting up of a system that employs human rights based approach with consideration of vulnerable members of society, not a system that thinks of itself at the expense of the country," said Chikumbu.

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