By Anna Chibamu
INDEPENDENT Norton MP Temba Mliswa has accused government ministers of being disrespectful to President Emmerson Mnangagwa by continuing to abscond Wednesday’s House of Assembly Ministers’ Question and Answer sessions.
The outspoken MP added the snub was also “embarrassing and humiliating” for the legislators.
The Question and Answer sessions are broadcast live by the state broadcaster, ZBC-TV, and it is an opportunity for MPs to quiz ministers on key government policy issues.
However, for years, most ministers have been absconding Wednesday’s sittings and two weeks ago, Mliswa demanded Mnangagwa should be summoned before parliament and explain why his ministers were not attending the crucial sessions.
Last week Wednesday, only three ministers attended the House of Assembly for the Question and Answer session. Cabinet has 20 ministers.
This further infuriated Mliswa who described the snub as “embarrassing and humiliating” before asking House of Assembly Deputy Speaker Tsitsi Gezi to scrap the sessions.
“You will recall Madam Speaker, last week I brought this issue that it is now in ICU (intensive care unit); this issue of ministers not coming. It is embarrassing and humiliating,” he said.
“Is it because you are the Madam Chair, you are a woman so they do not respect you? This country knows very well that the calendar of Wednesday for any minister is for them to be here. What real reasons are so pressing (for not attending)?
“The President is at the (Zanu PF) Politburo today (Wednesday) and most of them are not in the Politburo. We ask, why are they not here? It has become a way of life. They just do not have respect for the work that they are given by the President.
“They are disrespectful to the President who has appointed them to discharge their duties. They are disrespectful to Members of Parliament and the entire nation.
“I say this issue has now gotten to a point where we ask; what is the point of Question Time when we have got three Cabinet Ministers? We are always referring everything to the Leader of Government Business (Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi). He is certainly not in any way able to answer some of the specific questions which relate to ministries.”
He added: “It is better for us not to have Question Time until they (ministers) are ready because it is a waste of time. I have said (before) the Speaker (Jacob Mudenda) and yourself must approach the President on these issues. The leader of government business must answer. Where are his foot soldiers?”
However, Gezi, defended the absence of the ministers saying they were on government business in Bulawayo where Mnangagwa was the guest-of-honour at the Bulawayo Arts Festival.
“You have raised a very valid point but unfortunately, I have heard that several ministers are in Bulawayo on government business. I think that is the reason why they are not here. Also, I do not think that they do not respect the Chair,” Gezi replied.