By Daniel Chigundu
Kadoma Central legislator Muchineripi Chinyanganya says most of the new legislators fail to make contributions to debates or deliver their maiden speeches in the National Assembly, not because of intimidation but because they are not given the floor.
Zimbabwe’s National Assembly has about 270 legislators (210 directly elected and 60 for proportional representation) but most of them are yet to make their maiden speeches 4 months into the First Session of the 9th Parliament.
Some analysts have attributed it to fear and intimidation brought about by the complex Parliamentary procedures and processes as well as language.
However, the Kadoma Central legislator trashed the intimidation factor and instead blamed the Speaker of Parliament for always preferring the old guard at the expense of the various new legislators in the National Assembly.
“I don’t think the environment in Parliament is intimidating. They (legislators) fail to contribute because of other reasons. I personally am not intimidated by the environment.
“Another issue is that the majority of the new MPs especially MDC Alliance are failing to be recognised by whoever will be sitting in the Speaker’s chair. They give preference to the old guard which is really frustrating because we all have contributions to make,” he said.
With regards to his maiden speech Honourable Chinyanganya said “I’m yet to make my maiden speech because when we started, the first session was debating the Presidential Address of which we were not allowed to debate by the party (MDC Alliance legislators did not debate the President’s Speech because their party doesn’t recognise Emmerson Mnangagwa as President of Zimbabwe).
“Then we had the budget debate of which a maiden speech was not allowed. I’m prepared to make my maiden if given the opportunity. I’m sure by the mid-February I would have given my maiden speech,” he said.
Asked on whether what he has so far experienced in Parliament is what he was expecting before elections, Honourable Chinyanganya said he expected better but is hugely disappointed
“I expected Parliamentarians to behave in an honourable and dignified manner and making contributions that take our country forward. I expected to see meaningful and constructive debates. But I must say I was disappointed.
“The heckling and some contributions that are made, make you really wonder what on earth were the electorate thinking when they elected some of these MPs. Some do not want to be told the truth about the issues that have destroyed our country. Instead, they choose to have their minds poisoned by their political ideologies and lies that their leaders tell them.
“If all MPs could be objective I’m sure this country will move forward and the laws that will be passed will make our citizens happy and proud of us as their representatives,” he said.
He added that if legislators are to make meaningful and effective contributions to national development, then they must be allowed to operate freely without being gaged or whipped by their political parties.
Zimbabwe uses the whipping system where legislators are restricted to have their own views on issues but must debate based on political party views and interests in the matter.
“MPs should not be gaged,” he said.
“At times MPs are whipped and this undermines their performance. They should debate freely and objectively.
“Parliamentarians need to be financially equipped so that they can undertake developmental projects as well and they also need to have research assistants to help them make meaningful contributions”.
Most legislators, when elected into office, have a tendency of abandoning their constituencies and relocate to Harare and they do not even hold feedback meetings.
However, the Kadoma Central legislator is still residing in the mining town and says he has done feedback meetings in some wards and is hoping to have finished all the 17 Wards that make Kadoma Central Constituency in March.
“I have done feedback meetings in 3 Wards so far. I have also had 3 feedback meetings with the leadership of vendors in Kadoma.
“And by end of March I would have finished all the 17 Wards,” he said.
In terms of fulfilling the election promises, Honourable Chinyanganya said he hasn’t done much as it is only 4 months into the term and added that some promises will come into effect as soon as the 2019 National Budget start to be implemented.
“I haven’t done much because this is just the 4th month since I started but I have already set the ball rolling in fulfilling some of the election promises.
“The issue of having a tertiary institution in Kadoma is already underway and some issues will be addressed as soon the 2019 budget is effected,” he said.
Some of the major challenges bedevilling Kadoma Central Constituency include unavailability of institutions of higher learning and students are forced to relocate to Kwekwe, Gweru or Harare which end up being too expensive for parents.
There is also the issue of high levels of unemployment as most big companies in the town closed due to viability issues and these include David Whitehead, Dairibord Plant and scaling down of operations by Zimbabwe Spinners and Weavers among others.
David Whitehead during its days was arguably the biggest employer in the town employing about 700 people directly and thousands more indirectly.
Kadoma Central is currently hamstrung by water reticulation challenges which have seen many residential and industrial areas going without water for many days among many other issues.