Legislators in the Ninth Parliament of Zimbabwe — which will be formed after the July 30, 2018 elections — will have their attendance recorded by a biometric register.
Presiding officers will also record the number of contributions MPs make.
The changes are forecast to improve attendance and participation by MPs, as many have long been accused of coasting along silently throughout the life of a Parliament, or regularly absconding sittings and thereby short changing constituents.
At the end of each year, Parliament will compile a list of those who abscond the most and those who contribute the least to debates.
Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda told The Sunday Mail recently that the measures were adopted by the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders, Parliament’s main policy-making body.
“On a few occasions, we had to adjourn debates in the National Assembly and we now concluded with the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders — the policy body which manages Parliament — that we are going to introduce biometric registers so that when a Member of Parliament … is clocked in and clocked out as well.
“That way, we will be able to trace which Member of Parliament has the habit of sneaking in and out. Further, we have agreed with the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders that we have an attendance and contribution audit.
“In other words, the presiding officers see which members just come in, sit and say nothing. After a year or so, we will come up with recommendations to their sponsoring parties; we say you have given us these MPs but they are not contributing anything in terms of the three roles that they must undertake.
“In that way, the sponsoring parties will have to recall them because they will not be representing the responsible parties,” said Adv Mudenda.
Political analyst Mr Godwin Mureriwa said the move was a step in the right direction.
“Parliament represents over 15 million Zimbabweans; thus if someone is absconding Parliament, they are actually thwarting the voice of the people and the desires of the people are not being captured. Parliament should not be a place where people get vehicles and allowances while the people are not being represented,” he said.