via Upper House struggles to bring issues for debate | The Herald by Zvamaida Murwira October 24, 2013
SENATORS are struggling to come up with motions affecting their constituencies, a situation that has seen the Upper House sitting for less than an hour successively over the past week. The Senate debated the Presidential speech yesterday, the only item that was on the Order Paper, with the debate lasting less than an hour.
The situation is different from the National Assembly which has about 12 items on its Order Paper.
Even on questions with notice, the National Assembly has 29 that are due to be responded to by Government Ministers, while the Senate has only 10.
On Tuesday, Senate sat for only 18 minutes after it exhausted dealing with items on the Order Paper.
Zanu-PF Chief Whip Cde Joram Gumbo said the Upper House needed to do more in bringing issues that affect their communities for debate.
“Most of them are coming to Parliament for the first time and we have not had enough time to assist them in coming up with motions that affect their constituencies,” he said.
“I am going to call for a caucus soon to assist members to do that. It happens when people are new. They need to come up with motions that affect their areas. We will give them samples of the kind of motions that they need to bring so that they have an appreciation of how it is done.”
MDC-T deputy chief whip in the Senate, Sen Sithembile Mlotshwa had a different view.
“We are not in charge, we are not the ruling party,” she said. “We have had some of our motions rejected, while another was deferred after the minister responsible assured us that he would bring a Bill to address the issues raised in the motion.”
Sen Mlotshwa said their motion on elections was rejected by Parliament leadership, while another motion calling for the re-alignment of laws with the Constitution was deferred at the instigation of Justice and Legal Affairs Deputy Minister Fortune Chasi.
Speaker of the National Assembly Cde Jacob Mudenda dismissed as unconstitutional last week a motion by MDC-T that sought to debate the validity of the July 31 harmonised elections.
Two MDC-T senators moved two motions yesterday, bringing total motions for debate to three in the Upper Chamber.
Midlands Senator Lilian Timveos gave notice calling upon Government to come up with a policy on cancer treatment and levies to mitigate the effects on the patients.
Bulawayo Metropolitan Senator Spiwe Ncube moved another motion calling upon Government to come up with measures to mitigate road carnages.
During debate on the Presidential speech, Harare Metropolitan Senator Cleveria Chizema (Zanu-PF) said sanctions had caused a lot of suffering to the majority of people.
Senate President Cde Edna Madzongwe reprimanded them MDC-T senators after they disrupted business by shouting down Sen Chizema.
Cde Madzongwe said while the MDC-T senators were allowed to interject, it should not be done in a manner that resembled a beerhall environment.
She also warned Sen Chizema to avoid provoking others.