MPs abandon Bills debate: House of Assembly left near empty

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By Anna Chibamu

MPs from across the political divide Tuesday filed out of the house of assembly one after the other, abandoning debate on key Bills.

Only a handful cabinet ministers remained.

In a sign of lack of seriousness with the business of the house, most MPs walked out as soon as debate on some Bills began. This was despite having been on a two week break.

Recently, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda called for Zimbabweans to change the Constitution and include an educational qualification threshold for aspiring lawmakers arguing most of them had shown lack of appreciation of issues they are supposed to debate.

On Tuesday, the Coroner’s Office Bill H.B. 5, 2019, Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Amendment Bill, H.B. 4, 2019 were tabled after being adjourned for some-time now.

The Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Bills is supposed to assist in the anti-corruption fight and give authorities power to forfeit acquisitions from proceeds of crime.

Also tabled was the Education Amendment Bill H.B. 2019 where clause 9 of the Bill was debated.

Members present agreed to have the Education Amendment Bill’s adverse report be returned to the committee for further fine tuning.

This was after the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Paul Mavima gave an undertaking that he would bring the required amendments.

Most Zanu PF MPs who were present however did not contribute except leader of Government Business in the House, Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, Mudzi South MP Jonathan Samkange, Mavima and MDC Dzivarasekwa MP Edwin Mushoriwa.

The Coroner’s Bill is due for the second reading and was adjourned to Wednesday. It is supposed to help authorities deal and investigate full causes of death.  This could assist police in the investigation of murders.

As regards the Education Amendment Bill, Mavima suggested that faith-based schools be treated the same as government schools despite the fact that the latter are subsidised by government.

But Mushoriwa argued that Clause 9 of the Bill be amended to remove the definition of “public school.”

“Madam Speaker, the challenge is from the Minister’s explanation and the mischief I believe needed to be corrected was purely the removal of the phrase ‘non-profit making faith-based’ from the definition in the previous clause.

“This is not fair to the House. The minister is trying to hoodwink us. It was not appropriate to bracket government schools, local schools together with non-profit making faith-based schools,” argued Mushoriwa.

“The minister is just removing the definition of ‘public schools’ when in reality the definition should have remained in place and just remove the word ‘non-profit’ so that the public schools refer to government or local school.