Ministers Shun Tsvangirai's MPs Retreat

Tsvangirai said this showed a lack of cohesion between the Executive and the Legislature.

Ministers Obert Mpofu, Nelson Chamisa, Elias Mudzuri, Henry Dzinotyiwei, Eliphas Mukonoweshuro and the two deputy prime ministers Arthur Mutambara and Thokozani Khupe were some of the few members of cabinet who turned up for the retreat.

Tsvangirai told the MPs that he will soon present a Government Work Plan for 2010 in Parliament which “clearly sets out what the government intends to do and how it will be done and financed.”

He said over the past weeks he found himself in an “unenviable position of being caught between Parliament and the Executive” as the former exercised its oversight role.

He said he had received complaints from Parliament relating to the reluctance by ministers to submit themselves to on-going enquiries conducted by Parliament as well as complaints from Ministers who feel that Parliament is overstepping its oversight role and subjecting them to “unnecessary scrutiny and enquiry”.

“While this is not a pleasant situation, I am nonetheless able to derive a certain amount of comfort from it. For it shows, without a shadow of doubt that both MPs and the members of the Executive are actively engaged in fulfilling their respective mandates,” he said adding that the tensions between the two arms of government will subside.

Among the clashes are the ones between the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy and the mines ministry over the MPs investigations into the controversial diamond mining by Mbada Diamonds and Canadile Miners at Chiadzwa. The Mines Minister is said to have prevented the heads of the two diamond companies to appear before the parliamentary committee to answer allegations of corruption. The committee has again called the two heads to appear at a parliamentary committee hearing on Tuesday.

Speaker of Paraliment Lovemore Moyo appealed to cabinet ministers to take the business of the House seriously and avail themselves to take questions from back benchers during question time on Wednesday.

“I have witnessed incidences where Ministers leave the chamber when it is about time respond to question on the Order Paper. As such, I am appealing to the Prime Minister to encourage Ministers to take the business of the House seriously, for they are MPs first before they are Ministers,” said Moyo adding that out of the 48 questions that were on the Order Paper last Wednesday not even a “single of those questions was responded to by the Front Benchers”.

Tsvangirai also came out to support a Private Member’s Bill brought to Parliament by Mutare South legislator Innocent Gonese arguing that the move was catered for in the country’s laws.

Tsvangirai said MPs should strive to come up with laws that are a “true reflection of the type of society that we wish to build for the good of all our peoples”.

“Legislation is a key instrument of public policy and is instituted either by the Executive or through Parliament via the Private Members’ Bills. Both routes are catered for in our laws and therefore must be respected. Indeed, it is the content of the bill and its impact on our citizens that is of prime importance, not necessarily its origin,” said Tsvangirai.

Gonese, through a private member’s bill, recently introduced a number of amendments to the draconic Public Order and Security Act (POSA) which did not down well with most Zanu PF MPs. They argued the amendment will weaken police powers thereby creating lawlessness.