Mr Speaker Sir, you’re offside on this one

By IAfrica
In Zimbabwe
Jul 24th, 2014
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National Assembly Speaker Cde Jacob Mudenda recently blocked legislators from  setting up a team to probe corruption in State and non-State institutions

National Assembly Speaker Cde Jacob Mudenda recently blocked legislators from setting up a team to probe corruption in State and non-State institutions

One of the traditional roles of MPs is to represent their constituents, therefore it comes as no surprise when they want to take over roles of sleeping executives of State institutions. Joel Gabbuza, the MDC-T National Assembly Member for Binga South, made an important point in the National Assembly last week when he said Parliament was being abused by debating management issues instead of policy matters due to mediocre managers at State-linked entities.

He made the remarks while debating a motion by Goromonzi West MP Biata Beatrice Nyamupinga (Zanu-PF), calling on the “Government to designate areas for the construction of vending stalls in prime marketing areas in the Central Business Districts; and regulate vending activities by the introduction of vendors’ licences”.

Gabbuza felt this was as a result of failure by management in local authorities to be innovative and identify where there is a need for vending stalls in the CBD.

He said: “To imagine the whole institution of a Westminster-based Parliament debating on how to plan and give vendors stands, how to put toilets in a city – the institution of Parliament dropping all the way from where we are as a second arm of Government, what that means is that somebody is not doing what he is supposed to do.

“We have been brought down to the level of a council administrator to plan the city. I can imagine the House of Commons or Congress debating on how to put car parks in Washington.

“My view is that Parliament must be talking about how we increase the GDP, how do we pay civil servants, how do we put a satellite in orbit or even talk about how do we go to the moon?

“Those are issues for Parliament, but we have been reduced to talk about issues of council because some people are lazy and are not doing their job. Mr Speaker, clearly this is an indication of poor administration of cities.”

What a profound observation from Gabbuza because so many a time, parliamentarians, by virtue of being people’s representatives, have felt they should take things into their own hands because someone somewhere is not doing what they are employed to do.

Some people in charge at some Government and quasi-Government institutions are just not up to the task, they are reluctant to perform their responsibilities.

MPs have never wanted to be managers at these institutions but their actions speak louder of the shortcomings of those people we have entrusted with taking responsibility of these organisations.

Interestingly, National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda recently blocked legislators from setting up a probe team into corrupt activities at State and non-State institutions arguing that it was the responsibility of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.

Constitutionally, that is a fact because there are organs of the State that are supposed to be carrying out that duty.
Said the Speaker: “The chair has looked at the resolution and found that it is void. This House cannot be seen violating its own Constitution.
“The House cannot be competing with other State agencies that are tasked with conducting such investigations.

“The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission is constitutionally mandated to do so while Parliament should play an oversight role.”
But Mr Speaker Sir what happens in the event that those who are supposed to carry out that responsibility are sleeping on duty?

Should taxpayers’ money continue to be stolen and abused just because there is a toothless constitutionally established commission? Can that commission stand up today and justify its existence?

Zimbabweans are an educated lot who know when they are being taken for a ride.
They know people who have been implicated in corrupt activities but have not even been arrested or let alone questioned.
They see these people driving flashy cars and living in palatial houses all from proceeds of corruption at a time the majority are wallowing in poverty.

All this happens right in their face and it’s only one day when they will say enough is enough and effect citizens’ arrest.
It will take a revolution to fight corruption and it is a matter of time before Zimbabwe cleanses herself of that vice.

One of the traditional roles of MPs is to represent their constituents, therefore it comes as no surprise when they want to take over roles of sleeping executives of State institutions.

As such, MPs scored a big victory albeit symbolic by moving and adopting the motion to probe corrupt activities at State-linked institutions.
At least Zimbabweans can now see that their representatives are not complicit in corrupt activities that have marred our organisations.
What is clear is that MPs would not have moved this motion if ZACC was an effective agency that performed its constitutional mandate.

For instance, there is the issue of three million litres of diesel that was paid for by CMED last year but has not been delivered up to now.
CMED reported the case to the police in 2013 but it is only of late that action appears to be taken because the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development was setting up a committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding the botched deal.
Who would blame MPs for wanting to take action on behalf of the citizens who feel helpless in such circum- stances?

Why should it take a year to prosecute the culprits if those who occupy those offices are serious about executing their mandate?
It is sad that we have had an Anti-Corruption Unit for over a decade yet they have not successfully investigated a single case leading to prosecution.

This makes people wonder if the commission was created to fight corruption or to breed it.
The commission has argued that it does not have the necessary powers to execute its mandate because of political interference where some people appear to be more equal than others.

When the Anti-Corruption Commission was first established, Zimbabweans received it with great joy and anticipation that finally the vice was going to be nipped in the bud.

But with time, they have lost confidence in the commission, knowing that nothing of substance would come out of it.
Now that there are going to be new commissioners we just pray that we will have people with the guts to perform their duties without fear or favour.

They should know that they are accountable to the people.
It is actually an indictment on the executives or those in authority at Government-linked institutions when parliamentarians debate management issues as a result of underperformance.

If they cannot stand the heat, then they must resign or be fired.
There is need for political will from those in authority if the commission is to perform its duties to the expectations of Zimbabweans.
Or better still, Government must just abolish the commission if they are not ready to live with what comes from it if it were to perform its mandate without fear or favour.

We cannot continue spending money on the commissioners and staff who are not doing anything to stop corruption.


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