By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
23 January 2014
Twenty-one questions on the Parliament’s Order Paper were Wednesday deferred, after several ZANU PF ministers failed to turn up for the Questions and Answer session, reports said Thursday. A NewsDay report said this ‘sparked an outcry’ from the MDC-T MPs who accused their ZANU PF counterparts of not taking parliament business seriously.
Glen View MP Fani Munengami set the ball rolling by raising a point of order with the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda. Munengami expressed concern over the absence of the ministers, the report said.
Munengami is said to have asked if it is ‘government policy that when MPs want to ask questions, there are no ministers to answer them in the House of Assembly.’
He added that he had no choice but to direct his questions to Mudenda since he could not see any minister in Parliament.
However Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa who, according to the report was the only minister present, chipped in to say the absence of his colleagues was ‘not a policy issue.’ Chinamasa is reported to have promised to ‘convey to his colleagues the imperative to attend Parliament.’
Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Local government minister Ignatius Chombo, Agriculture minister Joseph Made and a few other deputy ministers are said to have walked in later. However, no sooner had Mnangagwa taken his seat than he was taken to task by Kuwadzana MP Nelson Chamisa.
Chamisa is said to have asked Mnangagwa, who is the leader of the House, to explain why the ministers were not coming to Parliament to answer questions. According to the report, Chamisa added that their absence was an indication that they were underperforming in Parliament.
Mnangagwa is reported to have fired back saying it was not the duty of the MDC-T to rate ministers. He added that the ministers’ performance is assessed by President Mugabe and the voting public.
In an interview with SW Radio Africa, Chamisa confirmed the Wednesday developments. Chamisa said it was not the first time for the ministers to fail to attend parliament. “It has become a culture and a way of doing things,’ said Chamisa.
He added: ‘We have many problems in the country ranging from energy to water and the people we represent in parliament want answers from us. So how do we account to them if the ministers don’t turn up to answer our questions?’