Editorial Comment: Parly too needs to reform, Mr Speaker Sir!

via Editorial Comment: Parly too needs to reform, Mr Speaker Sir! | The Herald December 10, 2015

SPEAKER of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda, in a report carried by The Herald Business yesterday urged Government to undertake reform initiatives that ensure economic growth and attract both domestic and foreign direct investment.

Adv Mudenda made the remarks while addressing the post-Budget seminar for parliamentarians in Harare on Tuesday.

We concur with sentiments shared by Adv Mudenda that Government needs to fully undertake reforms to turnaround the economy.

It is our firm belief that judicious implementation of Government policy programmes will help speed up recovery of the economy as well as attract investment.

Most of what Adv Mudenda pointed out are problem areas or issues Government has grappled with, discussed at various fora and even came up with strategies to address. We believe the Speaker was just spot on. He was also on point when he made a rallying call to legislators, urging them to push for good corporate governance within Government.

Zimbabwe’s economic problems are well documented, so too is the need for structural adjustment and reforms in the way Government operates. Policies and economic blue-prints have been crafted, brilliant documents at that . . . but somewhere along the line due to various reasons, implementation is always a problem. Government is at fault, but so too is Parliament as it does not hold the former to account over this.

Parliamentarians have let the nation down by not vigorously seeking to ensure Government sticks to its own policies. By virtue of their position and mandate, Members of Parliament must interrogate, evaluate and monitor implementation of Government policies and hold ministers accountable who fail to deliver targeted policy objectives.

Instead, our Parliament often spends a lot of their time bickering along political party lines and not looking at the merit of issues to achieve outcomes that best serve the nation and not an individual party.

Zanu-PF too, the ruling party, is at fault as it is using its majority muscle to turn committees into compliant cheerleaders of Government policies and legislation. Adv Mudenda at the post-Budget meeting said it was the duty of parliamentarians, regardless of party affiliation, to hold Government to account.

The few instances that a committee has gone all out to question certain transactions have degenerated into personal or factional fights.

There is definitely need for some introspection; what exactly is the Parliament’s role. Are the various portfolio committees doing the kind of in-depth probing or clause-by-clause examination of the different kinds of legislation that pass through them? Or do we have toothless legislators who help to create a weak system of accountability.

In our Herald Business yesterday, we also carried an article which quoted an official from the Office of the President and Cabinet speaking against the rationale of the Sovereign Wealth Fund. The official also identified loopholes in the SWF Act. Yet this is an Act which went through scrutiny and various readings in the National Assembly and MPs passed the legislation.

Parliament should move away from rubber stamping legislation, but should create ripples enough to impact on Government agenda.

This is why we are moving Parliament to play its oversight role diligently.

In his address, Adv Mudenda encouraged parliamentarians not just to pass the 2016 Budget.

“I shall not belabour our role as Parliament in the budgetary process, but would like to urge you to thoroughly scrutinise and cut into this Budget. I encourage you to do more than just pass the Budget, but, to analyse it as an instrument of policy implementation and to ensure that it meets the developmental values and principles enshrined in the Constitution.

“It is trite to mention that as Parliament, our responsibility as far as the Budget is concerned does not end with its adoption. Our oversight and audit functions should be rigorously pursued and executed,” said Adv Mudenda.

He also said MPs had a role to play in making 2016 a year of economic growth and success.

It’s up to the MPs to follow through what was said.