By Daniel Chigundu
LEGISLATORS have attributed their early exit from Parliament during debates to nonpayment of sitting allowances since 2013 and delays in getting fuel allocations.
Speaking recently the Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda had raised concern over the issue of quorum in the house adding that it was affecting debates and house business on several occasions.
Most MPs usually leave the house from around 4 o’clock and this on several occasions has forced Parliament to adjourn owing to lack of quorum. According to the Zimbabwe Constitution, Parliament requires about 70 legislators to constitute quorum.
The Speaker said there was no point in legislators claiming to be playing their representative role when they are running away from business.
However, speaking on behalf of legislators Binga North legislator Prince Dubeko-Sibanda said MPs are still committed to playing their roles but their lives are made difficult by nonpayment of allowances and delays in fuel allocations.
“Honourable Speaker we general do appreciate your point of view, but the reason why there is a problem of quorum is that members will be trying to go out to try and look for something in order to irk their own living and for their families.
“Some who stay in Harare or nearby will be trying to catch transport to go back to their homes on time because as you also appreciate Parliament is not so much resourced we have sat since 2013 up to date we have not received a single cent in terms of sitting allowances.
“We have gone for weeks without fuel coming to Honourable Members, so as much as we have got a representative role it is important that the executive should also adequately resource MPs for them to do their responsibilities,” Honourable Sibanda said.
While acknowledging the challenges raised by Honourable Sibanda, the Speaker however said the onus to change the situation lies with legislators as they are the ones who approve the budget.
“The intervention is most appropriate and very representative but I throw the spanners back to you, you are the ones who approve the budget, since I have been Speaker I have not seen serious debate calling upon the minister of Finance to state your case, I only hear no debate on each and vote,” he said.
Despite its huge financial needs, Parliament only got about US$30.7 million from the 2017 National Budget, which represents 0.75 percent of total budget.