BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
PRESIDENT of the Senate, Mabel Chinomona has asked President Emmerson Mnangagwa to take action against ministers who have been absconding Parliament.
On Thursday, during the question and answer session, Chinomona tasked the leader of the Senate, Monica Mutsvangwa, who is the Information minister, to notify Mnangagwa that some ministers were increasingly failing to attend parliamentary sessions without providing any reasons.
Ministers are constitutionally required to field questions from senators every Thursday afternoon, but the majority of them never attend the sessions when legislators have to ask questions on key policy issues.
Last Thursday, there were only four ministers and two deputy ministers in attendance, leaving senators with no one to respond to their questions.
Senator Morgen Komichi (MDC-T) said it had become routine that the ministers would snub the Parliament business every week, hence there was need for authorities to bring the negative habit to an end.
He named Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and the Health minister, whom he said was heading a key ministry, but was not in attendance, hence it was important to ensure that if he was engaged with other businesses, his deputy John Mangwiro always attended to respond to some issues in his ministry.
“My question is very simple, Madam President. Every Thursday, we raise our complaint over the attendance of ministers, that they are not taking this business seriously,” Komichi said.
“They are not taking it as one of the duties that they should discharge to the people of Zimbabwe. On Tuesday, there was a Cabinet meeting, do we get such excuses? I think the answer is a very simple, no, because they plan that they will all attend and they are 90% present. All these ministers have their own deputies, but there are a few deputy ministers here. Does it mean that on Thursday, when we have such an important occasion in the country, all the ministers will be busy?”
Chinomona said she concurred with Komichi that ministers were taking Cabinet business more seriously than they did the Senate.
“If I may support what Hon. Senator Komichi said, it is not only the Cabinet, but the National Assembly, ministers make sure they do attend,” Chinomona said.
“That one I have noticed. Also, it is no use to have someone send an apology every Thursday yet he has never attended the Senate. If I may ask the honourable minister and leader of the House, would you please make sure that the President knows about this and he gives us an answer? We send you because you represent us in Cabinet.”