The Zimbabwe National Assembly representative has become a figure of much controversy and occupational vagueness. What is the role of an MP? Is it to see that roads are made and people are fed or is he there as a motor-mouth, present only to speak in Parliament?
During this time of elections many MP’s have morphed and become creatures alien to the principle and calling of their offices as they seek to please the electorate. However by so doing many have diverted from their real duties.
Equally the electorate has also lost sight and knowledge of what the legislator is there to do. So what is the role of the MP?
Zimbabwe is a constitutional democracy which is a complex way of saying we are run by a book of laws.
The mandate of Parliament is derived from Section 50 of the Constitution, which states: ‘Parliament may make laws for the peace, order and good government of Zimbabwe. This provision gives Parliament Legislative, Oversight and Representative Functions covering any and all areas of the Executive’s operations. Consequently, this gives Parliament the mandate to strengthen governance systems by calling the Executive to account for the manner it determines and executes public policy and programmes.
The Member of Parliament is there to implement the agenda of the Parliament.
As a Parliamentary representative of a constituency the MP is there to oversee government.
That means he is there to take to task the government over any programs, projects or obligations that it is supposed to be doing. On behalf of the constituency and the country at large it’s the MP’s role to see to it that government carries out its job.
If a government is supposed to make roads and build clinics it’s the role of the MP to see to it that it does just that. The MP is not obligated to put his own finances and build clinics or make roads.
The money the MP is obligated to channel towards the development of his constituency is the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) which comes through Parliament of Zimbabwe. This money is currently $50 000.
When given to a constituency it is divided and shared among the wards.
Another role for the MP involves the legislative which is about making laws. In Parliament MP’s debate various bills which after the various stages pass to the President who signs them into law. Thus the MP is a lawmaker.
The third function of the MP is about being a representative for the people back in his constituency. This implies that the MP is the voice for the people who advance their issues to the national table through him. It’s the role of the legislator to stand up for those people by defending their rights and looking out for them.
It’s unfortunate that various political misfortunes and social ills in Zimbabwe have created a false picture of what the MP is all about, and seeking an unfair advantage most of the MP’s have abused their roles to become what they are not.