via Salarygate: Parliament’s failing oversight – DailyNews Live by Chengetai Zvauya 21 FEBRUARY 2014
Security chiefs have queried why legislators were slow in detecting widespread corruption that has been exposed in State enterprises by the media.
Senior officials from air force, police, army, prisons and central intelligence organisation drawn from the National Defence College yesterday toured Parliament on a familiarisation exercise, and took the opportunity to question parliamentarians on the suppurating scandal.
The team was led by brigadier-general Thando Madzvamuse.
Shadreck Mubaiwa, a police senior assistant commissioner, demanded answers on the salarygate scandal. “We are reading several reports of malpractices by chief executive officers in parastatals as bosses are earning high salaries.
“What role does the government ministers, who are legislators, play in these matters?” asked Mubaiwa.
“Are they not accountable to parliamentary portfolio committees?
“Why were legislators failing to carry out their oversight role? Who was also appointing these board members who are corrupt?”
Jacob Mudenda, speaker of the National Assembly, admitted legislators took their eyes off the ball.
“We were sleeping on duty as MPs while corruption was happening in the parastatals,” Mudenda admitted.
“We should have acted swiftly when the parastatals presented their annual reports to parliament and we should have picked it up. Our portfolio committees should have summoned heads of parastatals to their committees, and questioned them.”
He said Parliament failed to detect corruption in the parastatals early, because their annual reports did not contain salary schedules of their heads.
Mudenda said the country’s laws must prescribe that salaries of government ministers, senior civil servants, heads of parastatals and permanent secretaries be published.
“I was involved in the drafting of the new constitution and we had captured the setting up of a remuneration commission, like what happens in South Africa, where senior civil servants’ salaries are made public,” Mudenda said.
“However, when the draft was taken to the management committee, that chapter was dropped. So we went to the referendum without that chapter.”
He blamed ministers for appointing their cronies to parastatal boards.
“The vacancy in the board members in parastatals are never made public, so we have ministers appointing people known to them with some being their school mates,” Mudenda said.
“This has contributed to all the corruption in the parastatals. However, as parliament, we are no longer going to remain inactive as we have woken up and are going to play our oversight role effectively, to end corruption.”