Speaker of parliament Jacob Mudenda has threatened to punish MPs who absent themselves from the assembly, accusing them of “short-changing” the people that they claim to represent.
In an unusually harsh statement, Mudenda said some MPs show up for a few minutes to register their presence during sessions and committees before disappearing.
It has also emerged that the errant MPs are cheating the system by claiming full allowances for sessions they did not attend or fully participate in.
Mudenda said he was considering “harsh penalties” against the offenders, who include cabinet ministers.
“Parliament will consider directing the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders to come up with penalties to deal with errant behavior by some Honorable Members. Should these penalties be enforced please never cry foul because you will have asked for it through your intransigence,” Mudenda told MPs.
He said the absence of MPs was a “matter of concern” and had disrupted parliament business on several occasions.
“On the 29th of July 2015 I raised a similar concern where I deplored a very worrying trend by some Honorable Members who only attend sittings for a short time before leaving the House. Honorable Members have not taken heed of my concerns as evidenced by the fact that for two consecutive weeks, business of the House has had to be interrupted due to lack of quorum. On both occasions there were less than seventy members present in the Chamber,” Mudenda said. The first incident of lack of quorum was on Thursday, 8th October, 2015. The order of the day that was under consideration had to fall off and was only reinstated the following week. Again, there was no quorum on Wednesday, 14th October and on Tuesday, 27th October 2015.
“This is totally unacceptable,” Mudenda fumed. “Honorable Members have responsibilities to fulfill in terms of their Representative, Oversight and Legislative roles. I also draw the attention of the House to Section 117 of the Constitution which provides for the nature and extent of Legislative Authority, specifically that the Legislative Authority of Zimbabwe is derived from the people and is vested and exercised in accordance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe. I implore Honorable Members to recognize and respect the source of their authority, namely, the people of Zimbabwe.”
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