By Sij Ncube
HARARE, AUGUST 19, 2015 – A latest independent report scrutinising the operations of the First Session of the 8th Parliament of Zimbabwe reveals Zanu (PF) legislators are eclipsing the MDC T in attendance and in essence contributions to debate, a development critics say gives credence to assertions the opposition is in the august house to make up the numbers.
The report by the Research and Advocacy Unit (Rau), entitled Occasional Visitors Re-visited: Attendance in the First Session of the 8th Parliament of Zimbabwe, released Tuesday indicates that the top ten individual performers were all from Zanu (PF).
Critics of the opposition point out that the findings of the report come hardly a day reports indicated the legislators from both the opposition and the ruling party rubber-stamped amendments to the Labour Bill despite it being rejected by the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
The critics are adamant the current composition of the bicameral parliament, in which Zanu (PF) enjoys overwhelming majority in both houses, is ill-equipped to keep checks and balances on the executive, saying at most times ruling party legislators are whipped into line to railroad even flawed legislation.
Gokwe-Nembudziya law-maker Justice Mayor Wadyajena is ranked the best in terms of attendance followed by Sylvern Ricky Nelson Mawere (98%), Molly Mnkandla (98%), Mathias Siqhoza Ndlovu (98%), Monica Chikudu (97%), Lucia Chitura (97%), Raymore Machingura (97%), Tapiwa Felix Mhona (97%), Manoki Mthokozisi Mpofu (97%) and Anna Rungani (97%).
“In the 7th parliament this (top ten attendees) was overwhelmingly MDC-T party members. In the 8th parliament, this has altered completely, and Zanu PF parliamentarians are the most frequent attendees,” reads part of the Rau report. “This is a remarkable change and clearly deserves move investigation.”
The Rau report attributes the “enormous change in the motivation of Zanu (PF) MPs to several public statements by senior ruling party officials demanding better performance from its legislators.
It added that the decline in the performance of the MDC-T to inter-party conflicts and factional fighting which led to a damaging split which saw former secretary general Tendai Biti breaking away from leader Morgan Tsvangirai after controversially losing to President Robert Mugabe in the July 2013 polls.
Ironically Biti is ranked by the Rau report as one the bottom ten attendees of the current parliament.
“The most startling change is that Honourable Tendai Laxton Biti, who has gone from being a star performer in the Seventh parliament despite being a Minister and with the additional burdens of being secretary general of his party and one of the facilitation team. It might be added that his portfolio as Minister, Finance, had to have been one of the more onerous posts of the inclusive government,” the Rau report adds.
But the report is quick to add that it is worth-noting that women members of MDC-T were more frequent attendees than their counterparts in Zanu PF.
Gladys Hlaytwayo, a political analyst who works as the executive director of Zimcet, said as the opposition are in the minority and it might be difficult to register a strong presence in parliament.
“But to a larger extent it’s a question of direction, strategy and vision. It is a fact that the quality of leadership has hit rock bottom in the opposition. The decision to recall those MPs that were siding with Biti and (Elton) Mangoma was ill advised and a demonstration that opposition politics is now preposterous,” said Hlaytwayo.
MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu said his party is studying the report by Rau.
“We treating the analysis contained therein very seriously. Naturally, where appropriate, the leadership of the party will take remedial measures. We are a democratic political party that is determined to bring positive and sustainable development to the nation,” said Gutu.
But Jacob Mafume, the spokesperson for MDC Renewal Team, said opposition legislators appeared to be lethargic in parliament because the speaker gives more time to ZANU PF members to sing praises to the president for one thing or the other.
“They (Zanu pf) control parliament and their numbers are more but then our comrades (MDC-T) made it worse by chasing away the thinking half of Parliament,” said Mafume.