At least 20 cabinet ministers snubbed the Senate’s question and answer session Thursday, a development that did not go down well with senators who have always complained about the untoward behaviour of some members of the Executive.
In August Senate president, Mabel Chinomona ruled that the matter of ministers who continue to boycott the Senate session be taken to the head of State.
Before the question and answer session began, Senate deputy president, Mike Nyambuya, read a long list of apologies from a total of 21 ministers and deputy ministers. “I must say the list is very long and I do not know why,” bemoaned Nyambuya.
Senators were however not amused by the development and voiced their concerns. “This is quite pathetic and very unfortunate for the people of Zimbabwe,” said MDCT senator, Morgen Komichi.
“This is one of the serious abuses which the Senate can endure. A few days ago, they could just absent themselves without giving any reason. After the Senate had made a vehement complaint against their behaviour, they have now found a solution and the solution is to simply send an apology. My question still stands Hon.
President; can these Ministers give apologies on Tuesday when there is Cabinet, the answer is no because it is planned from the schedule of the year that every Tuesday they go to Cabinet. It is also known according to our Constitution and our Parliamentary practice that every Wednesday and Thursday, Ministers do come for question and answer sessions, which therefore means they can put it on their plan as well.”
He said it was important that ministers and their deputies plan in advance and prepare accordingly to attend Parliament sessions on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
“Their work plans should always leave out a day like Wednesday and Thursday. Surely, this means a lot as far as the value and importance of Senate is concerned,” said Komichi. “This means a lot when we look at ourselves and say why are we here, what are we doing yet the people outside there, the taxpayers and ordinary people expect us to oversee Government activities but here today we have only four ministers.”
He added: “Hon. President, this is quite unfortunate and we have complained for a long time about this behaviour. In my view, it is a sheer waste of time to go through this session but however Hon. President, you have the final say.”
Nyambuya said he was equally disappointed by the behaviour of ministers. “Thank you, Hon. Sen. Komichi. I totally agree with your sentiments,” said Nyambuya. “I feel the Senate is getting a raw deal from what is supposed to be a constitutional obligation. We will take it up with the relevant authorities. In the meantime, I suggest we go ahead with what we have. We have the Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Ziyambi; the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Hon. Musabayana, the Deputy Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities, Hon. Simbanegavi and the Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Hon. E. Moyo.”
Senator Morgan Femai however called for the cancellation of the session. “I saw it fit that I contribute,” he said.
“If this was happening in our rural areas and if people are supposed to converge and drink beer in our rural areas and there are few relatives, we would cancel the whole event.”
He added: “My point is that this is a futile exercise for the few Cabinet Ministers who are here. I believe that there might be need for the cancellation of the question and answer segment so that we demonstrate our seriousness.”
However, Senate deputy president objected to that.
Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology