Lack of capacity among MPs, haunts Parliament

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By Anna Chibamu

ZIMBABWE might have to amend the Constitution and add a clause requiring prospective lawmakers to hold minimum qualifications before election into the August House, Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda has said.

Mudenda was addressing journalists after meeting on capacity building with Department for International Development (DFID) Zimbabwe senior governance advisor and head of Governance and Economic Team Catherine Weiss on Wednesday.

“It will be better if MPs have certain levels of qualifications. Having said that, there are others like we have lawyers, human resources experts, accountants in Parliament but those numbers are few.

“In our case, we do not have that in our qualification requirement in terms of professional or academic competences. We have tried through induction workshops as well as seminars to upscale the competences of the MPs where some have improved in their delivery in the House or in committee work, but that is a problem I would throw back at the electorate,” said Mudenda.

Mudenda has not hidden his exasperation with incompetent MPs during debate in Parliament where some have shown lack of understanding.

He said the lack of competence and academic as well as professional qualifications remains a problem for Parliament.

“Members of Parliament come to the House through a popular vote and this popular vote takes place through their parties. There are no academic qualifications as far as competences are concerned and as such, anyone who wins a popular vote can come to Parliament and represent a constituency.

“It is the electorate that created a Constitution that does not require any form of academic or professional qualification for prospective MPs,” said Mudenda

According to Mudenda, Zimbabwe might need to follow the trend in some countries including neighbouring Zambia.

“In some countries such as Zambia for instance, they came up with a minimum qualification of ‘O’ level with credits if you want to be a Councillor, MP or President and they passed this through an amendment of their constitution in 2016 when they held elections.”

However, MPs such as Joseph Chinotimba who some people regard as uneducated and also Masango Matambanadzo who was once said to be a ‘grade two drop-out’ have shown greater work ethic than their more qualified colleagues.

Weiss told Mudenda that there is need to build capacity among MPs and suggested there might be need to confine each lawmaker to a particular committee for which they have specific competencies.

Zimbabwe’s Constitution requires one to be a registered voter in a particular constituency, above 18 years of age and are a citizen to contest as a legislator.