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MPs complain that ministers are snubbing Parliament ‘question and answer sessions’

By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |

MPs in Zimbabwe have protested against some cabinet ministers who are continuously not coming to the National Assembly to attend to pertinent questions that people need answers to.

Temba Mliswa
Temba Mliswa

Wednesday is a designated day for cabinet ministers to come to Parliament to be asked questions by MPs in relation to their respective ministries. But on the day, ten ministers sent apologies that they were not coming while others did not communicate.

The leader of Parliament, minister Ziyambi Ziyambi also came late, way after he had been considered absent.

Norton legislator Temba Mliswa was the first person to raise complaints saying there was no need to convene when ministers were not there. He also took to task the deputy speaker of Parliament on why they would resume the business of the day when the leader of the National Assembly was not there (he later on arrived).

“On a point of order Madam Speaker. Good afternoon to you Madam Speaker. I counted 10 Ministers who sent apologies and the Leader of Government Business is not here. Equally, there is no Minister appointed as Leader of Government Business – again, it has never happened.

“The truth of the matter is that it would be a waste of time to carry on. If there is anything, can we adjourn and get the ministers here. Madam Speaker, we have to be serious about this.

“The whole world is watching. There are only ten ministers and there are no Deputy Ministers. Where are they? The Leader of government business is not here. How can you transact parliamentary business when the Leader of government business is not here? It is beyond the government chief whip. This is unacceptable, we cannot do this,” Mliswa said.

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Opposition MDC-T vice president Thokozani Khupe also said it was pointless to ask questions to deputy ministers who did not attend cabinet meetings where important issues were discussed.

“Madam Speaker, with due respect, the problem that Hon. Members have today is because the Leader of government business is not here. Substantive ministers are not here. The reason why when we ask questions and ministers are not around and then the Leader of Government business responds is because he sits in cabinet.

“Most of those issues are debated in cabinet, so he would know the answers. Even cabinet ministers would know because they debate most of these issues. Unfortunately, today we have got deputy ministers who do not sit in cabinet and they would not know some of these things.

“They would only know what pertains to their ministries. If there was a substantive Minister, we would be asking questions because we know that he will answer questions authoritatively because he sits in cabinet,” Khupe said.

Zanu PF chief whip Pupurai Togarepi defended the ministers who were absent.

“With all due respect, looking at the issues being raised by other Hon. Members that they expected some ministers to be here and they are not here, we already have four ministers with us who can answer some of the questions.

“They have come here to take questions and during this time, as Government chief whip, I will contact these Ministers to see what could have been the challenge. For those who have given excuses, we should expect that because the Standing Rules and Orders provide for that.

“I think we will get from the Leader of Government Business, the details why so many of our Ministers are not here. Otherwise, for us to adjourn would be unnecessary if we have ministers present,” he said.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Tsitsi Gezi refused to suspend parliamentary proceedings and appointed Zanu PF MP David Musabayana acting leader of the National Assembly.

“Unfortunately we are not adjourning the House, we are going to proceed. Hon. Musabayana will be the Leader of Government Business,” she said. Nehanda Radio