via Clip Zvoma’s wings March 3, 2014 NewsDay Editorial
IT appears Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma has grown too big for his boots.
We say so because Zvoma reportedly diluted a motion on corruption duly raised by Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya in the latest alleged incident of the Clerk overstepping, according to a report published in this paper last Saturday. The motion was supported by MPs across the political divide.
Chikwinya said: “. . . we are entitled, through the Constitution of Zimbabwe, to represent the people, and not the administration of Parliament. The institution has been weakened by individuals despite that we are protected by the Parliamentary Immunities and Privileges. I can tell you we travelled so many times between the office of the Clerk of Parliament and the Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda to have this motion tabled before Parliament, but we were told this was the prerogative of the Executive and, therefore, we cannot discuss the matter in Parliament.”
First, one begins to wonder if Zvoma has a vested interest in thwarting the debate on corruption.
“This Parliament must demand to know how much the Clerk of Parliament earns because MPs travel in economy class when they are going out on parliamentary trips, but the Clerk of Parliament travels in business class — why?” Chikwinya said. This is a legitimate question which must be answered in full. Everything should be seen to be done above board. Who pays for Zvoma’s business class travel?
Second, Zvoma ought to be reminded that he is Clerk, not Speaker, of Parliament. He should stick to his administrative duties and leave control of debate in the House to the Speaker. He should not be seen to be an interested party. Instead of being at the service of MPs, Zvoma appears to be ordering them about.
For all intents and purposes, MPs are actually his bosses because they make his job, not the other way around. They come first; he comes second. If he has outgrown his role, he must resign and throw his hat into the political ring to compete with them toe-to-toe in chamber debates instead of doing so under the guise of Clerk of Parliament.
Third, tenures of top civil servants and, tied to this, State-owned company heads should not be unlimited. Zvoma has been in the post for nearly three decades. If they are there for life, they tend to become all-powerful and untouchable because of the political capital they would have accumulated through being in office for decades, much to the detriment of the national interest.
Performance ceases to be a factor; only loyalty counts. Such loyalty comes at a monumental cost as seen in the rot in government ministries and State-owned firms. The raging corruption in Zimbabwe is largely a result of appointment and retention of individuals on political, not professional, grounds to high posts carrying heavy responsibility.
Fourth, the system has also panel-beaten initially performing, ethical individuals into connivance in corruption because being squeaky clean is not tolerated as this would shine the light on crooks in high office and stop their self-enrichment. There has been criminal syndication of corruption organised and co-ordinated on a national scale through strong political connections.
The emerging consensus that corruption — not sanctions — is the number one public enemy provides hope for the future. Zanu PF MP Joseph Chinotimba, among others, deserves honourable mention for this.
That said, both Zanu PF and MDC-T MPs should be commended for pointing out the anomalous conduct of Zvoma and ensure his wings are clipped.