via MPs demand live parliamentary coverage March 19, 2014 by Veneranda Langa NewsDay
LEGISLATORS yesterday called for live television and radio coverage of Parliamentary sessions and committees, in a motion introduced by Kuwadzana East MP Nelson Chamisa (MDC-T).
Chamisa said it was a constitutional right for Zimbabweans to get information about Parliament through live radio and TV coverage.
He said a 1997 report on parliamentary reforms made it clear that Zimbabweans wanted live coverage so that they could see and hear what their MPs were contributing in the House.
“People should be given the right to see who is converting Parliament into a bedroom and which MPs are doing work so that non-performing MPs can be exposed because gone are the days when Parliament was a mere mortar and brick building where it was excluded from the glare of the public,” Chamisa said.
“Failure to televise Parliament is denying people knowledge and information and there is need for our citizens to vote on the basis of knowledge, but due to lack of information they do not vote on the basis of quality of debates by MPs, but they vote on the basis of mere slogans.”
The motion was seconded by Mabvuku-Tafara MP James Maridadi (MDC-T) who said broadcasting live Parliamentary sessions would not be difficult as that would only require a small office, an antenna and an amount of about $50 000.
“Even countries like Mozambique have live parliamentary coverage and what Parliament simply needs to do is to apply for a radio and TV licence, partner with ZBC to use channels like Radio Four and even TV2 which is not making profit so that we inform our people,” Maridadi said.
“If there is live Parliamentary coverage those ministers who do not attend question time will be exposed and people will demand to know why they did not attend.”
The motion was also supported by Zanu PF legislators Oliver Mandipaka (Buhera West), Dorothy Mhangami (Gokwe), Sarah Mahoka (Hurungwe East), Obedingwa Mguni (Mangwe), Irene Zindi (Mutasa South) and Bulawayo Central MP Dorcas Sibanda (MDC-T).
They urged government to set up radio and TV signals accessible to even at remote rural areas to ensure that people have access to information.
Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya (MDC-T) queried why President Robert Mugabe’s birthday bash and his daughter Bona’s wedding were given live coverage while Parliament, an important institution, was being denied the same.
“Hunger for live parliamentary sessions was seen when Alpha Media Holdings took a 22-minute video of the debate on corruption and posted it on YouTube and it had more than 567 000 hits, including on WhatsApp,” Chikwinya said.
Meanwhile, Acting Speaker Rueben Marumahoko yesterday ordered Mkoba MP Moses Chibaya (MDC-T) out of the House for use of un-parliamentary language.