By Alois Vinga
SPEAKER of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda has urged his MPs to develop a habit of scrutinising trade agreements negotiated by the executive on the country’s behalf so that they could knowledgeably approve deals that will not burden generations to come.
Mudenda made the remarks this week while addressing parliamentarians at a Harare function called to deliberate on trade-related matters.
He underscored the importance of the legislature and other stakeholders in actively participating in trade agreements in order to guide the country against “bad deals”.
“It is important that all key stakeholders in trade are consulted in the negotiation of trade agreements,” Mudenda said.
“The role of parliament, according to the constitution, is to approve international agreements that the executive would have negotiated and entered into but my disappointment is that we have not been microscopic in the analysis of these agreements.”
Mudenda said his MPs have not been able to actively play their role as most of them do not have enough competencies to understand the often complex agreements.
He urged them to accept that they did not know and seek assistance from parliament’s research department.
“Where you do not understand, go the research department. My philosophy is to learn to accept ignorance,” Mudenda said.
The speaker said it was key even before the deal approval stage, for parliament to be kept abreast of what the intended agreements entailed, adding that this will simplify and accelerate the approval process.
He also said the nation’s universities need to focus on trade and investment research in order to prepare the country’s trade stakeholders to come up with meaningful agreements.
The remarks come as President Emmerson Mnangagwa continues to travel the world signing agreements that have not been given due approval by parliament.
Last year, government cancelled the agreement between Geiger International after two years of waiting as the company failed to commence dualisation work on the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Road.
Two ZISCO trade agreements entered by government with some foreign investors also suffered stillbirth.