HARARE – Parliament offers its members many platforms to speak on diverse issues.
A member can rise on the floor to table a petition, a private members’ Bill, raise a matter of national importance, ask a question or provide information on a pertinent matter.
Parliamentarians may also stand on the floor to raise a point of procedure or point of order in addition to contributing to the debate on the floor.
Despite all these platforms available to members of Parliament, some legislators have not uttered a single word in the august House.
Others only get alive when opportunities to jeer fellow parliamentarians present themselves.
So widespread is the problem that the Speaker of the House of Assembly Jacob Mudenda was forced a few months ago to publicly rebuke mute MPs.
“In the House it is very easy, we will carry out an audit, those who remain silent perpetually, we will advise their respective parties because you are not representing the interests of that party,” said Mudenda.
His wise words appear to have escaped the attention of lawmakers who include Newton Kachepa (Mudzi North), Ephraim Gwanongodza (Chivi Central), Martin Khumalo (Lupane West), Denford Masiya (Chiredzi East), Albert Nguluvhe (Beitbridge East), Edmond Mhere (Masvingo Central) and Miriam Chikukwa (proportional representative), among others, who have barely contributed anything meaningful in the legislature.
When it comes to the mute brigade, party lines are blurred because the condition afflicts legislators from both the MDC and Zanu PF.
According to parliamentary records, the aforementioned MPs are among those who have either only made very few and negligible contributions or did not utter a single word at all. A huge number of the legislators won their first term this year while some were re-elected in July.
Interestingly, some of the least educated MPs have shined brighter than their schooled counterparts.
Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba, Bindura South parliamentarian Remigius Matangira and Kwekwe Central MP Masango Matambanadzo are arguably the most visible ones albeit on the noise makers’ side.
The most active lawmakers include independent MP Temba Mliswa (Norton), Innocent Gonese (Mutare Central), Tendai Biti (Harare East), Settlement Chikwinya (Mbizo) Tapiwa Mashakada (Hatfield), Murisi Zwizwai (Harare Central), Amos Chibaya (Mkoba), Happymore Chidziva (Highfield West), Lynette Karenyi (proportional representative), Dexter Nduna (Chegutu West), Simbaneuta Mudarikwa (Uzumba) , Felix Mhona (Chikomba Central) and Kindness Paradza (Makonde).
Mliswa is arguably the most vocal legislator; the Mines and Energy committee that he chairs has, in particular, hogged the limelight for attempting to make the executive account for missing diamond revenue.
In the last Parliament, Mliswa’s committee tenaciously probed the $200 million Gwanda solar project which was controversially awarded to businessman Wicknell Chivhayo in addition to recommending the dissolution of the Zesa Holdings board and that of its subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC).
The outspoken independent legislator, who was reappointed to chair the committee, has started his new term on a high note with a series of high profile investigations, notably the Hwange Colliery Company saga.
So far senior Zanu PF officials, including Mines minister Winston Chitando and former Mines deputy minister Fred Moyo have been probed for their role in the problems faced by the coal miner. Interestingly, Zanu PF members of the Mines committee have been trying to scuttle the Hwange probe and are reportedly getting instructions from ruling party bigwigs.
MPs from the opposition MDC have introduced a number of motions which mainly touch on the country’s ailing economy and other allied issues. Some of the motions include the economic challenges affecting Zimbabweans, the disputed July 30 polls, the absence of holistic solutions addressing the issue of vendors, urban poverty and illegal urban settlements sprouting throughout the country.
The main motion on the economy was raised by Mashakada who urged government to immediately bring sanity to the financial and liquidity situation by scrapping the bond note and strengthening the regime of multiple currencies.