Speaker Of Parliament Criticises Absentee Ministers
National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda on Thursday chided Cabinet Ministers who are failing to attend Parliament to respond to questions from legislators.
Just a few Cabinet Minister turned up during the question-and-answer session this week prompting Mudenda to say they were abusing their offices.
Mudenda confirmed receiving apologies from more than 10 ministers, including Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who also happens to be the Health and Childcare Minister. Said Mudenda:
May I address myself to the leader of government business, there are ministers who are perennially now giving apologies and although it is their right to give apologies, that right should not be abused.
They have a responsibility to be in the House to answer questions from the Honourable Members, that is one observation.
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The second observation is that where a full Cabinet minister is absent and there is a deputy minister, the deputy minister must be available at all times in terms of Section 107 (2) of the Constitution.
Norton MP Temba Mliswa (Independent) said absentee ministers must be exposed so that voters are aware of those performing their duties and those who are not. Mliswa said:
So, I propose that there be a list of every minister’s attendance, where they would have asked for a leave of absence, be put there equally and the Members of Parliament so that the nation is able to understand who is working and who is not working.
The Question and Answer Session is a forum where Members of Parliament (MPs) can ask questions to Cabinet Ministers on matters of public interest.
The session takes place on Wednesdays when Parliament is in session and allows MPs to obtain information, seek clarification or express their concerns about government policies, programmes, or actions.
During the session, MPs submit written questions to the Speaker of the National Assembly, who then forwards them to the relevant Cabinet Minister for response.
The responses are usually given orally in Parliament and the MPs can follow up with supplementary questions to seek further clarity.
The Question and Answer session enables MPs to hold the government to account and ensure transparency and good governance.
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