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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Crisis Report - Issue 217
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    September 03, 2013

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    A cross section of expectations on the 8th Parliament

    Zimbabweans from different walks of life expressed their expectations on the 8th Parliament of Zimbabwe as parliamentarians who were elected in the disputed 2013 harmonized elections went through the swearing-in formalities on Tuesday, September 3, 2013. The Parliamentarians, who are predominantly from the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front, ZANU PF which commands a two-thirds majority in both the House of Assembly and Senate, will constitute the Legislative Arm of Government for the next five years.

    The effective dominance of ZANU PF in Parliament, and also the fact that the party will constitute the next Government, has got some Zimbabweans worried about the ability of Parliament to be effective in providing checks and balances on the Executive, as prescribed by the new constitution and natural dictates of separation of power and independence of the different arms of the state from each other.

    The worries have in some instances been accompanied by a hope that the 8th Parliament embraces the additional independence and powers granted to it by the Constitution of Zimbabwe as passed at referendum on march 16 2013. The foregoing expectation embraces the subsidiary expectation of Parliament fully appreciating its role, embracing robust debate and asserting its autonomy and oversight functions over other arms of the state and government, instead of “rubber stamping” decisions and dictates of the Executive.

    Vimbai Chandaengerwa, a 27-year-old career woman from Gweru intimated that it was difficult to be excited by and have too many expectations of the 8th Parliament:

    “The 8th parliament for me comes with a lot of fear. Fear that the country has gone back to state where there is conflation between the party and the state. The dominance of ZANU PF in Parliament and the fact that they will be the effective Government may mean that the country returns to a place where parliament and other arms of government are captured institutions, at the mercy of the ZANU PF Central Committee and Politiburo.

    “I however hope and expect that Parliament will be more efficient in its conduct of business, especially getting the country out of the legal challenges that it faces from having a set of laws that are largely not in sync with its constitution. In the same way we viewed with disdain the emasculation of 7th Parliament by the so called “ principals”, we also do not expect and will view with disdain any attempts to emasculate the House by the ZANU PF higher echelons”

    Gideon Chitanga, a Zimbabwean Political Commentator, expressed his worry that the new legislators were likely to kowtow to the Executive, which was likely to be dominated by ZANU PF party heavy weights.

    “The 8th Parliament has a responsibility to ensure that the executive arm of government is held accountable and that the principle of separation of powers is reinforced.

    “I would prefer that parliament continues to open political space by continuing to pursue issues left outstanding from the GPA. That is, to continue with media reforms and pass legislation that fosters transparency in all institutions of governance,” Chitanga said. Mary-Jane Ncube, the director of Transparency International-Zimbabwe (TIZ), said she expected 8th parliament to continue with the Bills that were left by the 7th parliament for purposes of legislative continuity as well as facilitating work in various critical areas to start. Ms Ncube also added that “We expect that there will be less partisanship and more consensus and that parliamentarians will be more representative of their constituencies,” Ncube said.

    Ncube said that the new Constitution stipulated that parliament should also seat in areas outside the capital city, Harare, adding that she expected that to happen as well as enhancing general accessibility of the legislative arm of government to all citizens.

    “We expect parliament to be accessible to the public. We do not only expect to see the debates happening, but we expect to contribute to them,” she said.

    Michael Mabwe, the Secretary General of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO), said he expected the 8th Parliament to work towards improving the lives of the general populace, emphasizing that “the people must come first not partisan interests”.

    “It is our hope that there will be meaningful debates that will not end in parliament, but will be translated into tangible programs that lead to concrete development of the country in different spheres.

    “We pray that there be less hackling and that parliamentarians be selfless and not engage in activities that just line their pockets whilst the ordinary citizens are wallowing in abject poverty,” Mabwe said.

    A social commentator working in the Midlands Province, Mzwandile Ndlovu, said despite the legitimacy issues around the 8th Parliament he expected that it would align laws to the new Constitution.

    “My biggest expectation of them is to consolidate the new constitution and expedite the process of ensuring that they craft legislation that is in line with the constitution. My expectation is also that ZANU PF does not abuse its two-thirds majority to stifle debate and return the country to the dark days.

    “I expect the wounded MDCs to come back strongly in the House, playing a vicious backbencher role taking the executive to task over governance issues,” Ndlovu said.

    Glannis Changachirere, the director of Institute for Young Women Development, said she expected the 8th Parliament to look at issues affecting the poor and women.

    “We would like to express the need for the government through Parliament to ensure constitutionalism in line with the new constitution which has many guarantees for civil rights. “We expect parliament to push for the crafting of gender-sensitive and pro-poor laws to facilitate policies that address maternal health especially in rural areas,” she said.

    Zivanai Muzorodzi, the programs manager of the Masvingo-based Conflict Transformation Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD), said the 7th Parliament “was characterized by looting, and marred with corruption” in terms of handling the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). Muzorodzi said the new legislators must use the fund to develop the country.

    Tawanda Moyo, a student at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), said the new parliament should repeal laws such as the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act which has strict provisions which bar criticism of the President where that criticism is deemed as insult.

    “I hope that the Parliament will push for more funding to tertiary institutions, protection of students on attachment, and a truly national debate on indigenization.

    “Parliament should ensure that there is a strong and effective anti-corruption commission, resuscitation of industries, better labor laws and infrastructure maintenance,” Moyo said.

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