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Parliamentary performance and gender
Rumbidzai Dube, Senior Researcher, Research & Advocacy Unit (RAU)
November 21, 2013

This is Part 3 of 3 of RAU's analysis of the 7th Parliament of Zimbabwe

Read Part 1 - Attendance in Zimbabwe's 7th Parliament June 2012 - June 2013
Read Part 2 - Parliamentary performance and gender

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1. Executive Summary

This report is the last of a three part series of thematic reports analysing the performance of the Seventh Parliament in the last year of its tenure. While the previous two reports assessed the aspects of the Seventh Parliament to do with attendance and gender; this last offering looks specifically at the achievements of Parliament, with particular regard to issues such as Bills passed, debates undertaken and legislative performance in general. The report notes, among other things, that:

  • The levels of participation and debate among Parliamentarians were generally low, with some members spending the entire year without contributing anything to pertinent discussions;
  • Although most ministers impressively managed to participate in either House of Assembly or Senate sessions, at least two-thirds of the ZANU PF ministers never participated in either the House of Assembly or Senate sessions, a worrying trend considering that they have held ministerial positions for longer;
  • Question and Answer sessions - an important process in Parliament - were characterised by poor attendance by Ministers. Some Ministers tactfully side-stepped important questions. Some members addressed questions to the wrong Ministries. In some instances, procedural considerations in the conduct of the business of Parliament resulted in some questions remaining unanswered up to the end of the Seventh Parliament;
  • The Seventh Parliament passed a total number of 42 Bills, 13 of which were passed in the last year between June 2012 and June 2013. The ability of Parliament to pass any Bills remained at the mercy of the Presidential powers to assent to and sign Bills passed by Parliament;
  • Parliamentary Portfolio Committees were arguably the most effective mechanism of Parliament, however they remained the least visible aspect of the work of Parliament;
  • The majority of the legislation passed was related to the work of the Ministry of Finance;
  • In the last year of its tenure, the Seventh Parliament had a total of 38 vacant seats (23 in the House of Assembly and 10 in Senate) due to deaths, suspension, dismissal, or expulsion. These seats remained vacant, meaning that 10.9% of the constituencies went without representation in Parliament for years.
  • Access to the Parliament buildings remained severely limited by hostile security operatives manning the entrances;
  • Attendance to public consultation meetings was not as productive as it should have been, with numerous disruptions by suspected party representatives. None of those responsible were ever arrested or convicted despite being known.
  • There is need for greater transparency and accountability particularly in the use of Constituency Development Fund.
  • There is a glaring need for capacity building after observations of a serious skills gap in terms of analysing legislation, budget analysis and performing other key roles of legislators.

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