Source: Realign Parly rules with Constitution: Mudenda | The Herald July 25, 2016
Members of Parliament yesterday concluded a two-day retreat in Bulawayo with the Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda saying there is a need to realign parliamentary rules with the national Constitution. Addressing Members of Parliament’s Liaison and Coordination Committee on Saturday at the retreat which was also attended by the President of the Senate Cde Edna Madzongwe, Adv Mudenda said the retreat was of critical and strategic importance as it sought to review the work done by parliamentary committees and to plan for the future.
He said public hearings for proposed laws catered for National Assembly committees, but there was no provision for Senate thematic committees. The Speaker said this should be corrected by re-aligning the rules with the Constitution.
He said in South Africa, a court there invalidated four pieces of legislation on account of the fact that one of the Houses of Parliament had not fulfilled its constitutional obligation to facilitate public consultations and that must not happen in Zimbabwe.
“Indeed, this must be immediately corrected and harmonised with Section 141 of the Constitution, which compels Parliament to involve the public in its legislative processes. The standing orders as currently configured do not provide for referral of Bills to thematic committees.
“Thematic committees, more often than not, have to reply on the good will of portfolio committees for them to be involved in the public consultations on Bills through joint inquiries and public hearings,” said Adv Mudenda.
He said if Parliament has an obligation to comply with its standing orders and lead by example so that it becomes easy to question other arms of Government on accountability.
“Strict adherence on its own rules will ensure that select committees remain focused and accountable. We must not compromise on the compelling need to convene such LCC retreats more regularly,” said Adv Mudenda.
He commended the select committees for the work that they have done in exposing unethical conduct in the public and private sectors.
“In spite of our observed shortfalls in general, credit must be given to select committees for the good work they have done. They have pursued with vigour, the corporate malpractices raised by the Auditor-General,” Adv Mudenda said.
The Speaker commended the Auditor-General Mrs Mildred Chiri for being fearless in her audit reports, saying the findings should help committees.
In their recommendations, MPs resolved that there is a need for committee chairpersons to insist on ministries responding to recommendations tabled in Parliament.
They also resolved that the Parliamentary Legal Committee should continue to engage the executive on accelerating the process of realigning laws with the constitution.
The MPs also said there was a need to examine all statutory instruments that have expired and make a report to Parliament.