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Petition demands educational qualifications for MPs

By Daniel Chigundu

Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Tsitsi Gezi says Parliament has received a petition calling for the enactment of minimum educational qualifications for the post of President as well as for legislators.

Currently, there is no educational qualification needed for one to contest to be President or to be a legislator in Zimbabwe.

As if that is not enough, the President is also compelled by law to select his cabinet mainly from the same Parliament that is entered without educational qualifications.

Speaking in the National Assembly, Honourable Gezi said Parliament received the petition from Blessing Chamwapuwa Kudhlande on the 14 of January this year.

“I wish to inform the House that on 14th January 2019, Parliament received a petition from Mr Blessing Chamwapuwa Kudhlande requesting Parliament to amend Sections 91 and 125 of the Constitution to provide for minimum educational qualifications for election as President and Member of the National Assembly.

“The petition has since been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs,” she said.

According to Section 91(1) (a) A person qualifies for election as President or Vice President if he or she- (a) is a Zimbabwean citizen by birth or descent; (b) has attained the age of forty years; (c) is ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe; and (d) is registered as a voter.

While Section 125(1) (a) A person is qualified for election as a Member of the National Assembly if he or she- (a) is registered as a voter: and (b) is at least twenty-one years of age.

Lack of educational qualifications has limited debates in most cases to a few legislators in the National Assembly while many others have been reduced to cheerleaders or bench-warmers and spectators.

So dire was the situation even in the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe that some legislators finished their whole five-year terms without even saying a single word or let alone delivering their maiden speeches.

And in this Ninth Parliament, some legislators are struggling to keep up with processes that require them to read reports, do researches in preparation for debates.

Others are even failing Parliament procedure when making notices of motions or making correct references to the Standing and Orders of Parliament when rising on matters of privileges.

A host of them ask irrelevant questions or fail to ask meaningful follow-up questions.

It, however, remains to be seen if the petition will receive a positive response from the majority of legislators in the House especially the likes of Joseph Chinotimba a self-confessed Grade 7 drop-out.

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is a journalist in Zimbabwe and has been practising since September 2009. He used to be the editor for The Business Connect (newspaper) in Harare, has his own website Tourism Focus which is biased towards the tourism sector. Daniel is also working with Magamba Network as news editor for their project called Open Parliament where they do live coverage of Parliamentary activities on Twitter and Facebook. He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum, is a member of Zimbabwe Small Broadcasters Association and a board member of Digital Communication Network. He holds a Diploma in Communication and Journalism from the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), a certificate in Youth leadership training from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a certificate in Citizen Journalism from Magamba Network and is currently a first-year student at Zimbabwe Open University studying for a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Ethics and Organisational Leadership.

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