NATIONAL Assembly speaker Jacob Mudenda, pictured, has chastised Cabinet ministers for failing to respond to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) delivered in October last year.
Speaking in the National Assembly last week, Mudenda expressed his disappointment at the ministers’ disregard for Parliament standing orders and rules.
“I have been very disappointed. Only the other day, I called upon the leader of government business (Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi) and the chief whip (Pupurai Togarepi) to ensure that the ministers respect first and foremost the nation to whom the Sona (was addressed to) by the president, who is also part of the legislature.
“Ministers have been hesitant to respond and very wrongly so. This is a sign of disrespect to this house, to the Head of State and the government and is a sign also of disrespect for themselves.
“I am hoping that the leader of government business Ziyambi and Togarepi will prevail on these ministers,” Mudenda thundered.
The speaker also bemoaned that in the previous session, only two ministers had availed themselves to respond to the Sona.
“In the Eighth Parliament, only two ministers responded and that was Ziyambi and the young upcoming (Tourism minister) Mangaliso Ndhlovu.
“Those were the only two in the Eighth Parliament. It was a shame and it is still a shame. I hope I will not pronounce it will be a shame in this Ninth Parliament that the ministers do not take their constitutional responsibilities exceptionally and religiously. So, I hope there will be a change this time,” Mudenda said.
Mudenda’s remarks came after independent Norton legislator Temba Mliswa had queried why the Cabinet members were yet to respond to the Sona.
“I have observed, unless I am wrong, I stand guided by you (Mudenda), the ministers have not responded to the Sona by the president.
“I tried to follow it up again last year, there was no response and if I am not mistaken, probably one or two responded.
“To date, there has been no response on the Sona, which is very important in aligning the vision of this country through his excellency.
“If ministers do not respond to that, what else are they doing in the offices? We debate on it — there must be a response to the Sona,” Mliswa said.
“So, it is something that has been a bad culture for the ministers once again.”
This comes as ministers have also been accused of failing to avail themselves to question and answer sessions every Wednesday and Thursday in the National Assembly and Senate respectively.