Source: Parly drafts code of conduct for MPs | The Herald May 27, 2016
Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
Members of Parliament will soon be regulated by a code of conduct and ethics currently being drafted by the legislature to uphold good corporate governance tenets.
This was among a raft of recommendations first made in 1999 by a parliamentary reform committee, some of which have been adopted and are being implemented.
The preamble of the draft code of conduct and ethics gleaned by The Herald says the code “establishes standards of correct behaviour which the Members of Parliament are themselves proposing to observe as elected representatives serving their country in its highest democratic institution”.
The code shall apply to all MPs, including those serving as ministers notwithstanding the fact that Cabinet ministers are also regulated by a separate set of rules.
Section 4 (1) of the draft code states that: “It is the personal responsibility of every Member of Parliament to maintain those standards of conduct which the House and the electorate are entitled to expect, to protect the good name of Parliament and to advance the public interest.
“Members should observe those general principles which apply to all people in public life.”
In line with the seven principles, MPs shall be expected to take decisions solely in terms of public interest and not to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their families or their friends.
MPs are also not expected to place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.
“In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, Members of Parliament should make choices on merit.”
In this regard, members should “be accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office;
“Be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take and accordingly give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wide public interest clearly demands;
“Have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest;
“And promote and support these principles by leadership and example bearing in mind that their primary duty as Members is to their country and their constituents,” reads the draft code.
MPs will also not be expected to undertake actions in Parliament that are in conflict with their duties as each MP has a particular personal responsibility to comply fully with all resolutions and conventions of the House relating to matters of conduct and, when in doubt, to seek advice.
Major political parties represented in Parliament, Zanu-PF and MDC-T, welcomed the development saying it was long overdue.
“Any organisation that operates needs a code of conduct to regulate the behaviour of its members. So this code of conduct and ethics will assist MPs to know the parameters as well as discipline expected of them,” said Zanu-PF chief whip, Cde Lovemore Matuke.
“This will help Parliament to produce its desired objectives because it means that MPs who are conflicted cannot sit in committee meetings where they have vested interests. It is important that we have a code of conduct.”
His MDC-T counterpart, Mr Innocent Gonese, added: “It is something that was long overdue but it is better late than never.
“This will promote transparency as MPs will declare their interests which is a development that is in accordance with good governance.”