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Ministers and their deputies who continue snubbing parliamentary business will soon be referred to President Mugabe and charged with contempt of Parliament if changes to the standing rules and orders of Parliament are adopted. This was said by Speaker of the National Assembly Cde Jacob Mudenda, while responding to a concern raised by Harare Central representative Mr Murisi Zwizwai (MDC-T) on the continued absenteeism of ministers and their deputies from parliamentary business.

“Mr Speaker we have raised this issue before and we raise it again that the ministers and their deputies continue not to attend and carry out their duties.

“If you look at the situation today we are being led by the Chief Whip (Cde Joram Gumbo) when he is also a backbencher like us,” Mr Zwizwai said.

In his response the Speaker said the Standing Rules and Orders Committee had met last month and discussed the issue and agreed that parliament’s standing rules and orders be amended to include penalties for ministers and their deputies who abscond from parliament.

“Let me report to this august house on the decision that was taken by the SROC on the 9th of February 2015, and the decision was among others that the standing rules and orders as has been amended shall include penalty clauses on the issues being raised by Honourable Zwizwai and on the contempt of parliament for non-attendance and drawing from the constitution on Section 107 (2), which clearly states that vice presidents, ministers and deputy ministers attend parliament which is compulsory,” Cde Mudenda said.

He added that he would soon meet with head of Government business in the Parliament, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to discuss the matter.

“The second announcement to that is I have organised a meeting with the leader of Government business in Parliament and there are several issues we will discuss and among them is the issue raised by Honourable Zwizwai.

“Once we have had our standing rules and orders adopted by this house then we shall proceed with contempt.

“We have to follow our constitution provision in Section 107 (2) but also Section 119 where we are required to protect the constitution of Zimbabwe and if there is no improvement we shall bring this to the attention of the highest office in the country and document instances where the ministers would have been found to have constitutionally been in dereliction of parliament duties,” he said.

Legislators have since last year complained of the lackadaisical attitude exhibited by some ministers when it comes to parliamentary business with some questions on the both the National Assembly and Senate Order Papers going for months without being answered.

Currently ministers and their deputies can bunk parliament as the standing rules and orders does not oblige them to attend.

Source : The Herald