Relief for Mudenda as DFID promises to fund education of MPs

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By Anna Chibamu

BRITAIN has offered to help Zimbabwe’s legislature build capacity among MPs, most of whom were elected on political grounds rather than their intellect, Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda has said.

According to Mudenda, the programme will be funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) adding the offer came after a reaserch showed lack of capacity in Zimbabwe’s arliamentary committees.

Mudenda said this after meeting with the DFID Zimbabwe Senior Governance Advisor and Head of Governance and Economic Team Catherine Weiss on Wednesday.

Weiss had made a courtesy call on Mudenda regarding the research report on strengthening MPs capacity and their roles in Parliament.

“DFID brought in some researchers to look at our committees system, they have completed that work.

“The Head of DFID is here in Zimbabwe and has brought this report which summarises the findings and also the recommendations on what should be done to improve our committee work,” the National Assembly Speaker told journalists.

“We totally agree with some of the recommendations. They refer to the capacitation of MPs and the membership of our committees that our MPs should stick to one committee and become effective.”

The Speaker added that DFID recommended that lawmakers need to stick to one committee and be capacitated until they are experts in that area.

However, Mudenda said while he was still to study the report, Zimbabwe’s committee system was structured in such a way that the country’s most rural parts are covered by the legislature.

“I will study the report. The idea to have a member in two committees at least was based on the idea that we wanted the members to be split in two groups that helped to reach out in the hinterland to cover all 10 provinces. Our system currently helps us to reach out to the whole country,” Mudenda said.

He added: “DFID will fund the programme but we will only be able to know how much we need once we come up with an action plan.”

Mudenda has not hidden his exasperation with some MPs who have shown lack of depth in debating issues.

The Speaker early this week suggested the country might need to amend the Constitution and add a clause requiring certain minimum qualifications for citizens aspiring to join the August House.

Currently, the Constitution only requires one to be over 18 years of age, be a citizen and a registered voter in a particular constituency in order to contest in elections for Parliament.