HARARE – Newly-elected parliamentarians’ commitment and sincerity to represent their constituencies in the legislature has been called into question following antics that leave a lot to be desired.
This comes as some of legislators who have been in Parliament for more than three five-year terms have failed to lead by example.
They are failing to push forward the developmental and reform agendas they were mandated by their constituencies.
Instead, most of them, especially the more seasoned ones, have made a circus of the August House, concentrating more on trivialities than the core business of the house.
With the seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe going down as arguably one of the worst ever-having pushed very little in terms of the legislative agenda thanks to the perpetual heckling that characterised the inclusive government, expectations were high that the eighth Parliament would be more progressive.
However, barely two months after their inauguration, the new legislators already look tired and disinterested in the proceedings of the house.
On Thursday, Bulawayo MP Eddie Cross of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC was thrown out of Parliament after being found reading a novel during a debate on the President’s Speech.
The previous day, Zanu PF MP for Mberengwa East, Makhosini Hlongwane had also been ejected, caught busy with his cellphone and even taking incoming calls during parliamentary proceedings.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mabel Chinomona had to interrupt a speech by Zanu PF’s Kariba lawmaker Daniel MacKenzie- Ncube to call Cross to order.
“Order! Honourable Cross is reading a novel, can you please stand up and I will send the Sergeant-At-Arms to escort you so that you read the novel outside this House,” Chinomona said.
In embarrassment, Cross slowly paced down the stairs as the Sergeant-At-Arms escorted the veteran opposition lawmaker out, much to the satisfaction of the House.
The failure by legislators, even those who have been in the game for quite some time to adhere strictly to the House’s etiquette and decorum, is baffling especially given that there are chief whips who should be helping newly elected members with proper orientation.
Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda on his part has done well to strictly emphasise seriousness in the House as well as warning members against breaking the rules, but that seems to be falling on deaf ears.
“May I make this other announcement, Honourable Members, do not test the patience of the Chair and the Chair’s accommodation, especially when we advise that members should switch off their cell phones before business commences,” he told MPs.
“I don’t want to see a repeat of what happened yesterday (Wednesday ). I will not make further announcements about switching off cell phones when we next sit. It must be taken as a Standing Order.”
In contrast, however, junior members seem to be more knowledgeable about what is expected of them in Parliament than their more experienced counterparts.
Even the usually clownish Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba has since the start of this parliamentary term surprised many with the lucidity of his debate contribution.
The Zanu PF lawmaker, making his maiden speech following his election on July 31, had some serious contribution to make — away from the histrionics that accompany his delivery.
“Buhera is experiencing extreme poverty, the MP said, and the Agriculture ministry must be given more money “without wasting time debating it”, he demanded.
Delivering his speech in vernacular, the self-styled commander-in-chief of farm invasions said: “In Buhera, the terrible, potholed and impassable roads now have names. Ndinoona dzimwe nzvimbo dzirikuiswa tara pamusoro peimwe tara (Yet if you go to some parts of the country they are putting tarred roads on top of tarred roads),” he said, in a contribution delivered in Shona.