Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda yesterday expressed displeasure at the budgetary vote for Parliament and the Ministry of Health and Child Care, describing them as paltry and implored Treasury to reconsider the allocations. Adv Mudenda challenged legislators to exercise their oversight role diligently by asserting their authority in terms of the Constitution to ensure Treasury prioritised allocation of resources to important arms of the State as Parliament.
He said this while addressing Members of the National Assembly during a post-budget seminar following the 2018 National Budget statement presented by Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa last month. Adv Mudenda said Parliament was allocated $57,2 million against a proposed $100 million, adding that the budget vote for the Ministry of Health and Child Care did very little to ensure an improvement in the health delivery system or to comply with the 15 percent threshold under the Abuja Declaration.
“With the meagre $57,2 million, it will not be possible for Parliament to execute its constitutionally enshrined responsibilities. This has severe implications on the tripartite principles of constitutional democracy, legality and rule of law,” said Adv Mudenda. He said in terms of Section 299 of the Constitution, Parliament was empowered to monitor and oversee expenditure by the State and Commissions and institutions.
“Giving effect to this peremptory provision is not a desk exercise. It is a mammoth task that requires adequate funding which must be timeously released to Parliament. It is therefore vital to highlight that failure to comprehensively fund Parliament amounts to a violation of the cardinal principle of the separation of powers as enunciated in section 3 (2) (e) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” said Adv Mudenda.
The relevant provisions stipulate that all institutions and agencies of the State and Government at every level are accountable to Parliament. Adv Mudenda said MPs should not rubber stamp the National Budget as what used to happen in the past, but closely interrogate it. “That will have to stop. You have the constitutional leverage in making the demand as sometimes we forget about this constitutional leverage. I am appealing to you to exercise it in this last lap of our Eighth Parliament,” said Adv Mudenda.
“Sometimes I feel very sad when some MPs say we are a poor cousin of the State; we are allowing ourselves to be poor cousins of the State because we don’t stand up to the demands of the Constitution which clearly says all organs of the State at every level are accountable to Parliament. Hakuna simba rinopfuura ipapo.” On the Ministry of Health and Child Care allocation, Adv Mudenda said Treasury must consider revising upwards its budget.
“This ministry should have the highest allocation at most or at least comply with the 15 percent benchmark set by the Abuja Declaration. This proposal is informed by the current deplorable state of our public health delivery system,” said Adv Mudenda.
“Without life you cannot do anything. I say this from practical experience. I have had two relatives admitted at United Bulawayo Hospital. They were supposed to go for some operations and guess what, there were no morphine and swabs and on two occasions I had to send money to get the necessary medication,” he said.