In the National Assembly, Wednesday 28th October 2015
STATEMENT BY THE SPEAKER ON
ATTENDANCE BY MEMBERS IN PARLIAMENT
THE SPEAKER: I have to draw the attention of the House to a matter of concern relating to attendance by Members in Parliament. On the 29th of July 2015 I raised a similar concern where I deplored a very worrying trend by some Honourable Members who only attend sittings for a short time before leaving the House, Honourable Members have not taken heed of my concerns as evidenced by the fact that for two consecutive weeks business of the House has had to be interrupted due to lack of quorum. On both occasions there were less than seventy members present in the Chamber. The first incident of lack of quorum was raised on Thursday, 8th October, 2015. Consequently, the Order of the Day that was under consideration had to fall off and had to be reinstated the following week. No sooner had it been reinstated, than another Point of Order drawing the attention of the chair to a lack of quorum was raised on Wednesday, 14th October, 2015. This was hardly a week later. As if this was not enough, on Tuesday, 27th October 2015 the house had to adjourn prematurely as it had become clear that there was no quorum and proceedings under consideration could face the same fate as what happened last week. This is totally unacceptable.
Honourable Members have responsibilities to fulfil in terms of their Representative, Oversight and Legislative roles. I also draw the attention of the House to Section 117 of the Constitution which provides for the nature and extent of Legislative Authority, specifically that the Legislative Authority of Zimbabwe is derived from the people and is vested and exercised in accordance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe. I implored Honourable Members to recognize and respect the source of their authority, namely, the people of Zimbabwe.
Honourable Members of this August House have been clamouring for Ministers and Deputy Ministers to attend Parliament. It therefore follows that as Honourable Members we should be leading by example through religiously attending sittings of Parliament and Committees. I also appealed to Honourable Members to demonstrate respect and appreciation of their constitutional obligations in serving the nation through Parliamentary duties which require respect of the legislative authority that is derived from the people and the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Honourable members have been on record stating that Parliament business is paramount and needs to be diligently and conscientiously considered. Criticism has been levelled by Honourable Members at the Executive whenever they failed to attend Parliament to answer questions concerning matters for which they are collectively and individually responsible. Your truancy flies in the face of all such criticism and negates your sincerity as it turns out that you are also not that duty conscious yourselves as Honourable Members.
In taking oath of a Member of Parliament, you solemnly swear that you will bear true allegiance to Zimbabwe, observe all other laws and perform your duties to the best of your ability but your continued absence from the chamber constitutes dereliction of duty. In this respect you are short changing the very people that you purport to be representing.
In view of the foregoing, Parliament will consider directing the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders to come up with penalties to deal with errant behaviour by some Honourable Members. Should these penalties be enforced please never cry foul because you will have asked for it through your intransigency. The chair must protect the Legislative authority of the people of Zimbabwe and our Constitution, the Supreme Law of the land.