ZIMBABWE – The year 2012 saw some of the worst performances by sitting MPs and ministers who failed to contribute meaningfully to Parliament’s legislative processes, question time and debate.
Parliamentarians’ main responsibility is to craft legislation and debate issues affecting their constituents.
During the 2012 Parliamentary sittings, some of the worst performances in the House of Assembly came from ministers who failed to turn up to answer questions raised on the Order Paper and those without notice by MPs.
Research by NewsDay on Hansards (verbatim reports of debates in the House) and Order Papers showed that the worst performing minister in Parliament in terms of responding to questions on the Order Paper was Security minister Sydney Sekeramayi (Zanu PF).
In September 2011, Sekeramayi was asked by Mazowe Central MP Shepherd Mushonga (MDC-T) to explain to the House why Central Intelligence Organisation operatives had been allowed to become Zanu PF central committee members whilst they were still on the government payroll.
To date, he has not answered the question.
Other ministers who failed to turn up to take questions without notice from MPs included Media, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu (Zanu PF).
This resulted in most questions raised during Wednesday’s questions without notice in the House of Assembly being answered by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.
Home Affairs co-ministers Theresa Makone (MDC-T) and Kembo Mohadi (Zanu PF) and Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo were the worst performers on that front.
In terms of truancy, Tsholotsho North MP Jonathan Moyo (Zanu PF) and Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu (Zanu PF) topped the list after they both failed to attend Parliament for 21 consecutive days between September 6, 2011 and March 28, 2012. Section 41 (1) (d) of the Constitution stipulates that if an MP is absent from the House for 21 consecutive sittings without the leave of Parliament, their seat should be declared vacant after a resolution by half of the House.
Other contenders for the bunking title were Mount Pleasant MP Jameson Timba (MDC-T) (29 days), Binga MP Joel Gabbuza (MDC-T) (19 days), Beitbridge East MP Kembo Mohadi (Zanu PF) (29 days), Bulilima West MP Moses Mzila-Ndlovu (MDC) (27 days), Mount Darwin South MP Saviour Kasukuwere (Zanu PF) (24 days), Hatfield MP Tapiwa Mashakada (MDC-T) (25 days), Mutoko South MP Olivia Muchena (Zanu PF) (28 days), Masvingo North MP Stanislaus Mudenge (now deceased) (Zanu PF) (28 days), Headlands MP Didymus Mutasa (Zanu PF) (28 days), Chegutu East MP Webster Shamu (Zanu PF) (22 days) and Budiriro MP Heneri Dzinotyiweyi (MDC-T) (26 days).
Apart from absenteeism by ministers, almost a quarter of legislators in the House of Assembly only warmed up benches and failed to contribute meaningfully to any debate.
Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya (MDC-T) and Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese (MDC-T) were the only outstanding contributors throughout the year after they raised topical motions and private member’s Bills before the House.
Chikwinya brought before the House a motion that stirred controversy on unconstitutional statements by the country’s service chiefs, among others, while Gonese brought before the House a private member’s Bill to amend the Public Order and Security Act deemed suppressive of freedom of expression.
Committees that excelled include the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy chaired by Guruve South MP Edward Chindori-Chininga (Zanu PF), the Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion Committee chaired by Goromonzi North MP Paddy Zhanda (Zanu PF), the Public Accounts Committee chaired by Makoni West MP Webber Chinyadza (MDC-T) and the Media, Communication and Information Technology Committee chaired by Chikwinya.
The list of dormant MPs from the MDC-T side included Gutu Central MP Oliver Chirume, Matobo MP Cornelius Dube, Hwange West MP Gift Mabhena, Chipinge South MP Meki Makuyana, Chirumanzi MP Maramba Phase Hakuna, Bikita East MP Edmore Marima, Gokwe Kabuyuni MP Costin Muguti, Buhera South MP Naison Nemadziva, Gweru Urban MP Rodrick Rutsvara, and Binga North MP Patrick Sibanda.
Zanu PF had its own warmers and these included Tsholotsho North MP Jonathan Moyo, Hurungwe North MP Peter Chanetsa, Gokwe Nembudziya MP Flora Buka, Chiwundura MP Kizito Chivamba, Chipinge Central MP Alice Chitima, Muzvezve MP Peter Haritatos, Mudzi North MP Newton Kachepa, Mudzi West MP Aqualinah Katsande, Lupane West MP Martin Khumalo, Gokwe Sesami MP Dorcus Maposhere, Mwenezi West MP Neddie Masukume, Muzarabani North MP Luke Mushore, Maramba Pfungwe MP Washington Musvaire, Gokwe-Kana MP Busy Ngwenya, Harare South MP Hubert Nyanhongo, Murewa South MP Biggie Matiza, Zvimba West MP Nelson Samkange and Gokwe Chireya MP Sindi Cephas.
The MDC (Ncube) MP who did not contribute to any Parliamentary debate according to the index is Gwanda Central MP Patrick Dube.
In the Senate, MDC-T legislators who did not contribute anything included John Masaba (Kariba), Samuel Tsungirirai Muzerengwa (Buhera), and Josiah Rimbi (Chipinge).
Senators from Zanu PF who never contributed anything in the House included Gladys Mabhiza (Chikomba Seke), Jason Machaya (Gokwe South), Henry Madzorera (Kwekwe), Titus Maluleke (Masvingo Governor), Reuben Marumahoko (Hurungwe), Angeline Masuku (Matabeleland South Governor), Simbarashe Mumbengegwi (Shurugwi Zvishavane), Mashonaland East Governor Aeneas Chigwedere and Manicaland Governor Christopher Mushohwe.
Chiefs who have been mum in the Senate since 2008 include Manicaland Chief
Revai Chiduku, Mashonaland Central Chief Daster Chisunga, Masvingo Chief Felani Chitanga, Masvingo Chief Veterai Mabika, Matabeleland South Chief Silandilizwe Masendu, Mashonaland West Chief Wilson Nebiri, Mashonaland Central Chief Clemence Nembire, Midlands Chief Milton Ntabeni and Matabeleland North Chief Jonah Shana.
Although all of the listed MPs failed to contribute to debate in both Houses of Parliament since 2008, some of them were very active in Parliament Portfolio and Thematic Committee business. NewsDay