'Ministers shun Parly for small houses'

MDC vice president Nelson Chamisa has sarcastically accused Cabinet ministers of avoiding Parliament business to attend to their “small houses”.

While the issue of members of the executive bunking Parliament especially Wednesdays’ Question Time has been a cause for concern with National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda threatening to take the matter up with President Robert Mugabe, Chamisa made light of it.

Before his submission, Chamisa made sure he drew that attention of fellow MPs and ministers present when he asked acting Speaker Godfrey Beremauro “if you could ask ... (Patrick) Chinamasa and…(Joseph) Made to listen to what I am about to say because it concerns government.”

Chamisa said in terms of our Standing Order Number 63 as read together with Standing Order Number 26, ministers who are not able to come to Parliament are supposed to seek the leave of the Speaker and that of Parliament. 

He demanded to know, after Beremauro read out a long list of ministers who were not present, if they had sought his permission and if leave was granted as well as whether they explained the reasons.

“I am just asking you…Speaker so that we are clear because as Parliament, we do not want a habit of ministers who just come here to say I am not coming to Parliament.

“It is not adequate; it is not sufficient. If they are not coming to Parliament, they must give us a reason because we know that some ministers abandon this august House for small houses, which may be where-ever they are

“We want this august House to be respected,” Chamisa said.

This prompted Beremauro to demand clarification asking; “What do you mean by small house?” In response Chamisa cleverly ducked and dived saying; “A house in Cabinet is a small house compared to this august House. So, it is very important. You heard what I said.”

“Why I am saying this is — this provision (Parliament standing rules) is not there for the mere asking. It is there to make sure that ministers who do not come here because they have chosen to go to other pursuits or their own frolics, are censured and reprimanded.”

But Beremauro insisted that the fact that he had a list of the apologies meant that they had been granted the leave they sought from Parliament.

This comes as opposition MPs have also raised concern that there was no political will to make sure that bunking ministers are punished.

In February, Mudenda read the riot act in the National Assembly threatening to write Mugabe seeking him to reprimand errant Cabinet ministers who are absconding grilling by legislators every Wednesday.

MPs had raised concern after only a few ministers pitched up for question time, leaving legislators fuming at the Executive for “contemptuous behaviour”.

However, until now no action has been taken and the practice continues unabated. —Mugove Tafirenyika



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