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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • New Parly should not be another bedroom
    Tangai Chipangura, NewsDay

    September 03, 2013

    Parliamentarians take the oath of office today and also elect the Speaker of the House, president of the Senate and their deputies, all four of whom are expected to be from Zanu PF party on account of their majority numbers in both Houses.

    Notwithstanding the fact that the House is largely expected to flow in one direction, without any effective dissent when it comes to passing of laws, we still expect lively debate spurred by logical thinking and the spirit of national interest.

    The danger parliamentarians should spare us is that sleeping sickness that has invariably afflicted many of our legislators for as long periods as the entire five-year life of Parliament.

    This disease is very likely to turn into a real scourge in the life of this Parly unless our honourable men and women who have been mandated with the task of representing the interests of all of us, the ordinary citizens of this country, really put an effort to keep awake to the reason for their presence in the august House.

    There is a real danger those MPs from Zanu PF may not feel the urge to stay awake because whatever the party wants will pass on the strength of its two-thirds parliamentary majority.

    By the same spirit of indolence, that same urge may prevail over the few opposition MPs who will want to reason, “there is no point straining oneself with debate or argument when it is clear a Zanu PF position will carry the day”.

    Zimbabwe should pray that lawmakers do not sleep on the job lest this country will be doomed.

    A country without a meaningful legislature is rudderless and exposed. It becomes vulnerable to the excesses of Cabinet, exploitation of all sorts and virtually no protection of the interests of the general populace.

    What should be expected of the new Parliament is a healthy scenario such as prevailed in the House in the 80s and early 90s when, even as we had a one-party-state government and a one-party majority in Parliament, we still had life in the House.

    Those unforgettable days of the Lazarus Nzarayebanis, the Sydney Malungas and other brave men of the people in the backbenches when Parliament was not just a rubber-stamping institution.

    We need MPs that will stand by the people that put them in the House; putting the interests of their people ahead of everything else.

    If MPs are going to the House to protect their individual interests by bootlicking the party even where the policies and laws the party may be pushing go against the interests of the ordinary people, then that will be a big betrayal of the people’s vote.

    The opposition MPs are expected to continue to keep eyes and ears open and to bring to the House issues that seek to serve the interests of the country and its people.

    They should not go there just to sit and wait for the benefits that come along with being MPs. They are there to defend, with all they have, the Constitution and to act as the mouth, the eyes and the ears of the people. It does not matter that they may be in the minority and therefore without the numbers to push through their ideas.

    There will be many in the ruling party that will buy good ideas and that will support them. But, if they are going to act like the proverbial three monkeys, the people will judge them accordingly.

    The appeal to those within the ruling party that feel they must ever be controversial – even vindictive in their victory – out to push into the minds of their opponents, the MDCs, the reality that they have been defeated — is that they must exercise restraint and refrain from falling to the temptation of tampering with the Constitution for no reasonable reason but to spite their political opponents.

    The new Constitution is a product of the people and playing around with it on the strength of parliamentary majority would not be right.

    Already there are indications the ruling party intends to amend parts of the Constitution to suit their selfish party needs.

    We hope this does not happen.

    The people would view them as a party of betrayers and deceivers.

    But most of all, as the new Parliament opens, Zimbabwe expects sensible contributions from the MPs, both new and old.

    The people expect Parliament to be a place where serious national issues are debated in the interest of the people – not some of the petty discourse that we have suffered through the last session of Parliament.

    Whatever the case, let us have a vibrant Parliament where intelligent and lively debate takes place - not a House where Honourable members think they can just come to sleep and snore!

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