By Anna Chibamu
SPEAKER Jacob Mudenda says the continued failure by ministers and their deputies to come to parliament has greatly affected proceedings in the august house as MPs have been denied the opportunity to raise issues of national interest with the government officials.
Mudenda said in parliament this week that ministers have developed a habit of writing to parliament making excuses about their absence, leaving minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who is leader of government business to answer questions on their behalf.
“I have received so many apologies from honourable ministers. Honourable leader of government business. While apologies are accepted, they are now becoming a habit. That habit is unacceptable.
“There are some ministers who are perpetually sending apologies. That is not good for the country and parliament at large.
“The ministers are honourable Vice President, Dr. Chiwenga and Minister of Health and Child Care; honourable Muchinguri-Kashiri, Minister of Defence and War Veterans; honourable Mutsvangwa, Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services; honourable Dr. Shava, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade; honourable Mathema, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education; honourable Edgar Moyo, Deputy Minister, Primary and Secondary Education.
“Like this one honourable, leader of government business, you cannot have the minister away and the deputy away.
“Surely, if the minister is away, the deputy should be around. Honourable Chitando, Mines and Mining Development, honourable Kambamura, also the same, why both of them away? Honourable Prof Murwira, Minister of Higher Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development; honourable Prof Mavima, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare; honourable J.G Moyo, Minister of Local Government and Public Works; and honouble Haritatos, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries, and Rural Resettlement.
“Those are the apologies; twelve of them – almost half the cabinet is not here. I know a few are with His Excellency the President, I think about two, but I am not sure about the others,” said Mudenda.
The issue of absenteeism by ministers has been a hot potato in the house as MPs with Norton MP Temba Mliswa recently suggesting President Emmerson Mnangagwa should come and respond to questions instead if his cabinet ministers are not available.
Last week, Mliswa also called on parliament to suspend question and answers sessions as per tradition every Wednesday if the cabinet ministers could not commit to the obligation.