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up implementation of legislators' code of ethics'
The Parliamentary Liaison and Coordinating Committee
has called for the speedy implementation of Code of Ethics and Conduct
for Members of Parliament, which will require legislators to disclose
The recommendation is part of resolutions adopted
on Monday by the committee during its retreat in Victoria Falls.
“The Committee resolves that as the Code of
Ethics and Conduct for Members of Parliament was mooted in the last
Parliament and that most Members of Parliament have had no opportunity
to study the contents of the document, the code and its related
administrative procedures be circulated to all members for their
information,” reads part of the resolution.
“It is further resolved that the Standing
Rules and Orders Committee expedites the adoption of and the implementation
of the Code of Ethics and Conduct to ensure its operationalisation.”
The draft of the code is reported to have a section
on the disclosure of assets by legislators when they assume office.
However, the information is kept “confidential”.
On Sunday, while contributing to discussions on
the subject, the Clerk of Parliament, Mr. Austin Zvoma, explained
that the idea of the code was adopted in May 1999 and a draft produced
but the SROC kept on deferring the matter.
“Before the parliamentary reforms, our standing
orders had something similar on how Members of Parliament as public
officers should conduct themselves.”
“It was felt that in order for Parliament
to ensure transparency and accountability by the Executive, it (Parliament)
needed to be transparent itself,” he said.
Mr. Zvoma said there was a need to circulate the
draft document among legislators.
“It does not pry into people’s private
lives. It has a confidential and an open section,” he said.
The Minister without Portfolio and Zanu-PF National
Commissar, Cde Elliot Manyika, said he was skeptical about the benefits
to be derived from implementing the code.
“I don’t know of cases where this has
worked,” he said.
However, the leader of the opposition in the House
of Assembly, Mr. Gibson Sibanda, insisted that it was important
to have the code so that legislators could be “exemplary”
in their conduct.
Other resolutions, which were adopted, include a
recommendation that the SROC should facilitate the creation of separate
identities for the Senate and House of Assembly through delineating
different roles and responsibilities for each House.
It was also agreed that thematic committees, that
are subject-specific, be put in place for the Senate as part of
creating separate identities for the House of Assembly and Senate.
The liaison and coordinating committee also resolved
that the resolution it adopted during the retreat in Nyanga last
year on responses to committee reports, questions and motions by
ministers be implemented.
The resolution has to do with reporting ministers
who do not respond to committee reports to their principal, President
As part of efforts to deal with perceptions by the
Executive that portfolio committees were encroaching onto the functions
of the Executive, the committee came up with a raft of recommendations.
“Committees should adopt a persuasive, rather
than an adversarial approach, to their oversight role and use appropriate
“Committees should adhere to the two week’s
notice period when inviting ministries and officials and ministers
should be invited to deal with policy issues only,” reads
part of the resolution.
“Committees should adequately prepare for
oral evidence sessions and ensure that only relevant questions are
In the past, legislators are reported to have used
strong language such as “summoning” when “inviting”
ministers to appear before their committees and this was reportedly
breeding antagonism between the two parties.
The committee also resolved that members of portfolio
committees should not “deliberate or express their opinions”
in the presence of witnesses during public hearings.
Committees were also urged not to “prematurely
disclose their findings” after public hearings except in “compelling
matters of importance” and in doing so, chairpersons of the
committees should only express committee views and not their personal
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