Makoni Central Member of Parliament (MP), David Tekeshe has called for the setting up of Constituency offices particularly in rural areas to make it easy for them to engage with their constituents. Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Tekeshe said it is now three years since the MPs were promised constituency offices.

“In 2018, we were promised constituency offices which were to be manned by degreed people and everybody clapped hands in here. Now, three years down the line, zero,” said Tekeshe. He said in rural constituencies it is very difficult for the MPs to operate without an office.

“Some stay very far and for that person to travel from that far to come to my home, is difficult. So, we should have constituency offices, even if they are not manned by degreed people, we do not mind. We will put our people so that when I am here and someone visits my office, he will speak to whoever is there, then when I am back to the constituency, I will attend to that,” said Tekeshe.

“I know you as an urgent person Mr. Speaker but I do not know why on this one. I am appealing to you, sir. It is two years, yes but we need those offices. I propose that Parliament engage the Minister of Local Government who superintends over all councils so that we get offices from councils,” he said.

However, the Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda said they are seized with the matter and have also engaged the private sector who might have some available buildings which can be used by the legislators in their constituencies as their offices.

“Only last week, I was discussing with the Clerk of Parliament to say even if we do not have sufficient funds, let us start with prototype offices for constituencies, at least one office in each province. I like the idea of approaching local authorities, but we have gone further to also approach the private sector, they might have some buildings which they can make available to Members of Parliament for use as constituency offices,” he said.

Mudenda, however, encouraged the MPS to utilise digital platforms to engage with the people in their constituencies. “Meanwhile, even if we establish these constituencies, you are talking of distances. The distances will still occur, even if you put that structure centrally in your constituency, people have to travel.”

“Now we are in a digital economy, I urge you to create platforms using your cell phones and the gadgets that Parliament gave you so that you are online with members of your electorate from wherever they are. That is feasible, you do not have to wait for the structure. That is a moving office in any case and it is very successful if properly constituted,” he said.

“There may be challenges here and there where there are problems with the internet; but if you create those platforms, meanwhile, I am sure you should be in conversation with the electorate except for areas where the internet may be a problem and for the elderly as well.”

Mudenda said before the end of the Ninth Parliament, they would have established at least one constituency office in the country’s ten provinces.

“When budget time comes, I hope you will be so vociferous in ensuring that we have a very healthy budgetary allocation for constituency offices in the Tenth Parliament,” he said.

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology