By Staff Reporter
ORDINARY Zimbabweans are reported to be calling for constitutional amendments to allow the president to appoint cabinet ministers who are non-MPs, arrogant, and would be accountable to Parliament and the people.
This was announced Tuesday in the House of Assembly by Zanu PF MP for Makonde, Kindness Paradza.
Paradza is also the parliamentary chairperson for the portfolio on foreign affairs and international trade.
The legislator was making contributions to the Liaison and Coordination Committee Annual Report for the First Session of the Ninth Parliament.
Although Paradza admitted the new demands were constitutional, Zimbabweans and parliamentary portfolio committee members were not happy with the current arrogance exhibited by cabinet ministers.
He also conceded it was impossible for ordinary MPs in various portfolio committees to discipline errant ministers as the senior government officials were members of the powerful Politburo or Central Committee in the governing Zanu PF.
“The people were saying Members of Parliament are not effective because there is a thin line between Parliament and the Executive,” Paradza said in his contribution to the Lower House Tuesday.
“In other words, they were saying that ministers should not be Members of Parliament; that is a constitutional issue. You will find that sometimes our job as MPs and this is just a general statement, as chairpersons and also as MPs, it becomes very difficult.
“When we call some of the ministers to come to our meetings, some of them do not come. They ignore because some of them view us MPs as their juniors. Like in our party (Zanu PF), sometimes ministers are Politburo members and Central Committee members, so it is difficult for us to try to discipline them. I also got this when I was addressing about 18 of our ambassadors who were going out.”
Paradza said these were also the sentiments of ordinary Zimbabweans during public hearings held by his committee.
“The members of the public were saying there should be separation of powers so that the president appoints his cabinet outside Parliament from technocrats or whoever. That is his prerogative.
“So, when Parliament calls these ministers to come and answer for their ministries, they must know that they are coming to Parliament. There is no arrogance in that.
“I am sure Mr. Speaker, yourself included, you have also noted that sometimes our ministers bunk Parliament and those were some of the issues which the public was saying we should look into. We were telling them that it is a constitutional matter and they were saying can we not, if possible, change the Constitution.”