August 2, 2013
ZIMBABWE should be braced for the largest National Assembly with 270 MPs since independence with limited financial resources and working space at a parliament building that was designed to accommodate only 100 members.
Report by Paidamoyo Muzulu
The increase occasioned by the creation of 60 new seats in the constitution reserved for women who are elected through proportional representation on party lists will further strain the national fiscus.
However, analysts argue that parliament’s enlargement was meant to accommodate political allies from across the political divide. Political analyst Ricky Mukonza said the decision was made for political expediency and patronage without considering its financial implications.
“Zimbabwe has a relatively small economy which is struggling and therefore cannot sustain such a big number. I think what motivated politicians is the need to accommodate each other,” Mukonza said.
The last parliament witnessed MPs failing to find sitting space in the august house forcing some members to sit on extra chairs placed in aisles especially on ceremonial occasions like official openings and budget days.
However, analysts do not see how the enlarged parliament will qualitatively improve debates and accountability besides acquiescing to pressure for gender equality in both private and public spheres.
The new constitution further allows the president to appoint ministers from persons outside parliament thus creating extra seats in the house.
Legal analyst Petina Gappah said the new constitution was clearly a “politicians’ charter”.
“The failure to specify a maximum number of ministers would be fine if we had an austerity-minded president,” said Gappah. “But I fear this will be used to reward the party faithfuls. I see a more bloated cabinet on the cards. I am very disappointed by these sections.”
Political commentator and international relations specialist Jonathan Gandari said these developments will spawn unnecessary expenditures and waste of public resources.
“I think an enlarged parliament and unlimited cabinet is a big let-down and misrepresentation of the aspirations and dreams of the nation,” Gandari said. “It’s a scandal and unbridled greed meant to create jobs for politicians when 90% of this nation is unemployed.”
Public officials are showered with luxury vehicles and allowances, and stay in posh hotels when on official business locally and internationally.