Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda says he will soon be writing to President Robert Mugabe seeking him to reprimand errant Cabinet ministers who are absconding grilling by legislators every Wednesday.
Source: Mudenda pleads with Mugabe over bunking ministers – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 10, 2017
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Mudenda announced the decision in the National Assembly on Wednesday after only a few ministers pitched up for question time, leaving legislators fuming at the Executive for “contemptuous behaviour”.
“I have asked the officials to register the ministers, who came and when they came in. I shall also be writing to His Excellency, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, on the issue and the violation of the Constitution by the honourable ministers,” Mudenda said.
Before he made the decision, Mabvuku-Tafara MP, James Maridadi, had stood up complaining over the non-availability of ministers to take questions from backbenchers.
Mudenda said he had had enough of ministers continually showing a contemptuous attitude towards the legislature and it was time Parliament used its powers to whip the errant ministers.
“I think that is the stage we have reached now and we cannot proceed accordingly. The honourable ministers, as representatives of the Executive, should be in the frontline of respecting the Constitution,” he said.
As he was making the announcement, a number of ministers walked into the House led by acting leader of government business in Parliament and Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa.
Chinamasa told Mudenda that all ministers had been instructed to attend the question time without fail. He said ministers who did not attend and had not sought leave from the Speaker were in contempt.
“As honourable minister Chinamasa was coming in, he had come to excuse himself because he is dealing with the Finance Bill in the Senate. He has told me that honourable ministers were enjoined to make sure that they are present today by Vice-President [Emmerson] Mnangagwa. So, there is some element of defiance there definitely,”
Mudenda said, as some lawmakers shouted: “Reshuffle, reshuffle!”
MDC-T chief whip, Innocent Gonese said Mudenda should invoke Parliamentary rules and charge those who were not in the House without apologies.
Mazowe South MP Fortune Chasi and Zanu PF chief whip, Lovemore Matuke tried, without success, to plead with Mudenda to first investigate why the ministers were not in attendance, before escalating the issue to Mugabe.
“I would want to suggest that we must not treat this matter hastily, as I think we are almost about to do, to treat all the ministers as being in contempt without giving each minister an opportunity to explain. It is improper to hold all of them en masse to be contemptuous of the House without giving them an opportunity to answer,” Chasi said.