PARLIAMENT is a very important institution in the constitutional democracy of Zimbabwe. It’s a strategic institution. It can be anything; a weapon to attack enemies of the state, a shield to protect vulnerable citizens, an enabler of business, a force that keeps the government on its toes for the good of the nation. Like any other institution, whether it achieves its objectives or not depends on the quality of human resources it has. The parliament of Zimbabwe needs a revolutionary shake up. The quality of debates is appalling! The issues raised and issues not raised, the manner of the issues raised and the context and content of the issues raised shows that by-and-large our parliament is operating way below capacity.
It is quite varied; educated and uneducated, logical and idiotic, passionate about serving voters and ‘oh the end is I am on the payroll, I am an MP, and that’s it!’ The majority of the lot have never travelled or lived outside Zimbabwe. 99% of them cannot draw a demand and supply curve; they have no knowledge of basic economics whatsoever. Some like Didymus Mutasa ‘won’ seats by violently declaring ‘their’ constituencies’ no-go-areas for other contestants.
Common WhatsApp joke: School drop-outs rule Africa
In Africa, the smarted students become doctors and engineers, the second brightest, become lawyers and MBA graduates, who will manage the smartest. The third smartest, go into politics and rule the engineers, the lawyers and the MBAs. The school drop-outs and failures become religious prophets and control every one ‘smarter’ than them!
This joke is true of Zimbabwe. Parliament has been reduced to a house of buffoonery; a dancehall of non-thinkers and the lazy that look out only for themselves; an unethical lot that has had no shame in demanding higher allowances and wages for itself.
CDE Chinos: the best so far!
The butt of all jokes; you might as well call him Simon Muzenda jr! But I admire the man. If ever there was a prize for the best performing MP, and if CDE Chinos was not awarded it, that would be out-right foul. A Zanu PF MP, he aggressively attacked corruption and the salary-gate scandal in parliament notwithstanding the fact that those he accused were Zanu PF members. He has fought for his Buhera constituency in Parliament.Advertisement
Chinotimba has gone ‘astray’ and has gone ‘national’; he attacked maHwindi who abused woman at bus ranks in Harare. He led the call for national cleaning day! He asserted that “the City Council of Harare must focus on creating employment and repairing roads rather than playing cat and mouse games with young men who are trying to earn a living by operating taxis, albeit ‘illegally’”. The media follows him! I am strongly persuaded to believe that if we gave money to CDE Chinos, thanking him for his performance, in and outside parliament, he would spend it on a community project in Buhera. Aren’t they lucky, the voters of Buhera!
CDE Chinos: a passion stifled by limited specialist knowledge
I have followed my favourite MP very closely. CDE Chinos, a child of ZANU’S liberation spirit and values-ideology. His first contribution was quite ‘fired-up’. He meant serious business. His starting shot was demanding that Parliament makes a call to denounce sanctions. I thought, ‘oh how naïve and how so, untechnical!’ But I admired his energy. His Zanu PF chief whip failed him; the lawyers in Zanu failed him. The First Secretary of Zanu PF- a lawyer, failed him! Old school Zanu failed, but that’s expected. You approach Parliament with specific bills to make law, the reality you desire for your country. Western governments and the now-opposition party feared that Zanu PF would use its two-thirds majority to make law and even change the constitution. But they must be pleased by the ignorance and ineptness of the ruling party to exploit Parliament to rule Zimbabwe. Zanu PF is grossly underutilising Parliament and so are the other parties too.
BITI and midget intellectuals
99.9% of the times Tendai Biti is only and only a sloganeer of ‘pasi naMugabe, pasi naTsvangirai’. It was only once that Biti offered specific economic solutions! I was excited, I loved it! Our politics was maturing to actually offering and debating specific economic policies, so I thought. But the policies that Biti offered were embarrassingly poor, pathetic really, but I admired the effort. We have many such economics ignorant MPs in parliament.
GUTU the ‘Spokesman’
He reminds of me ‘spokesman Ali’ and Hitler’s Goebbels. As the USA advanced into Bagdad, Spokesman Ali spiritedly assured Iraqis that Saddam was winning the war, so did the German. Gutu is quite spirited. I admire his bravado! The forever-cheer-leader! In his writings for the MDC, all you see is a rumble, abusing ZANU and endless sloganeering type-writing. No economic policy is ever debated or offered. You can’t offer what you don’t have or don’t know!
For Zimbabwe to reach its potential we must improve the performance of Parliament
It’s simple! Every MP must have Parliament-paid advisors; employed by Parliament but hired by the MP. If the MP loses his seat, the staffers also go. The following minimum advisers would be crucial; a legal and political adviser to research the law, advise and or draft bills or parliament questions for the MP; an economics and business adviser; a social issues researcher; and a personal assistant and public relations officer. Education-wise we are rich in Zimbabwe; we have graduates in law and economics who would be glad to help their MPs – and for $350 a month! Parliament is too special and it is stupidity to not support it this way.
The Taxman of Zimbabwe wants to reduce the size of Parliament to solve Zimbabwe’s economic problems and I think that is unwise. In the first place, it is no place of the Taxman to advocate for a change of the constitutional order to suit temporary budget problems. He has got to think of solutions within the constitutional framework. We must employ our MPs.
We can afford it
Freeze army recruitments for short period; do with a teacher-student ratio of 1:60, that is freeze teacher recruitments and divert money to parliament. The quality of contributions will enable the country to, within a short period of time, easily reduce the teacher-student ratio and also allow the army to recruit. Or transfer civil servants to this kind of parliament service; after all, we have too many civil servants and 50% of the positions in government are not needed at all. The UK with a way bigger population than that of Zimbabwe has less than half the civil servants Zimbabwe has!
With tax-payer funded staff, the activities of the MP must be made public. It is ‘weird’ that 99% of the ZANU and MDC MPs have no websites to engage with their constituencies! But I am generation 40, I am ZANU wafana-wafana and so it really weird that MPs do not have online offices. Law must be made to require every MP to have an online office and the tax-payer must fund it. It is good news that Prof Moyo now has a Facebook account and he now twits on twitter; it is embarrassing that he is so behind in time! It makes us a third world country in the truest and most negative sense of the term!
Some will argue that people in rural constituencies have no internet and so there is no need for establishing an online office but that would be deliberate blindness. Every village in Zimbabwe, including the poorest has children in cities and these children are in constant communication with rural folk via, whatsapp, viber, and SMS. And so Buhlebenkosi, who left the village for work in Bulawayo, will access Facebook or whatsapp and inform her Gogo in poor Gwanda, the works or lack of work by the Gwanda MP.
Discussion on compulsory MP online offices might seem out of topic, but the fact is, where public funds are used, the public must have a clear opportunity to be informed of the MP’s activities and determine whether to vote for him again or not.
Political Party Support Act
The funding that political parties get through that Act will have to be significantly reduced or be abolished. How political parties are using the money they get through this Act is not known and there are rumours that some use it on personal desires. This is just far from being ideal in a democracy.
A better Zimbabwe
Every MP needs quality support and with this kind of support we can be assured of quality contributions in parliament and well researched economic views. Our media will have economic debates to cover. Our politics will no longer be about personalities and empty slogans but real and meaningful economic views and economic theories.
My biggest fear:
I believe that all MPs would agree that such additional support is crucial. But when you introduce accountability measures, their response will be, ‘oh no we are fine the way we are’.
Re-engineering our politics through a systems approach and change
A Zimbabwe where citizens can, by a click online, see what their MP is doing or not doing, where the contributions of the MP staffers are available to the Public will get us to focus on those crucial nitty-gritty details required for building a better Zimbabwe. It’s that simple.
At your service
I am available to develop this idea into a draft bill, and I would work with any MP, including the MDCs whose politics I loathe. I benefit when MDC MPs contribute meaningfully to Zimbabwe, and are not conduits of imperialists. As of now the MDC relies on a white MP based in Bulawayo for economic policy development and the writings of those white men are unhelpful and most always emphasise the return of land to white farmers and nothing more. A strategic ZANU will help improve the capacity of its arch rival to generate many economic policies and it is definite that with such support the MDC will create many options and some of those options will not derogate from the mission of the liberation struggle.
We need to re-engineer our politics through such a systems change. Icho!
Patriotic Jukwa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. https://www.facebook.com/pages/ZANU-wafana-wafana-PF/155666333457575
Patriotic Jukwa is G40 ZANU generation. He thinks that Mugabe has been a warrior and that he won elections in 2013 but nonetheless he respectfully requests Mugabe to retire sooner rather than later because he has done his best and that the current needs of Zimbabwe require new energy at the helm.