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Heads of African Parliaments bemoan weakening legislature

Heads of African Parliaments bemoan weakening legislature

Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments (CoSAP) have bemoaned the weakening of the legislature into a lesser arm of government in various countries.

In Zimbabwe, legislators have often complained that the Parliament has been reduced to a rubber-stamping platform of the executive.

The executive has in most cases disregarded recommendations from Parliament on most occasions, especially from Portfolio committees.

As if that is not enough, ministers shun Parliament on days on which they are supposed to answer questions.

This has seen citizens in Zimbabwe branding Parliament as a toothless bulldog that is wasting taxpayers’ funds.

A conference of Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments that was held in Abuja Nigeria from the 9th to the 11th of May also raised concern over the issue.

In a communique shared with the media, the 14 heads of African Parliaments observed that the weakening of Parliaments affects their oversight role.

‘’Relatedly, in some countries, the legislature has increasingly been seen as a lesser arm of government subservient to the Executive. This has affected the legislature’s ability to carry out its oversight activities.  

‘’It has also led to a lack of synergy, collaboration, and information sharing between the Legislative and Executive arms of government in budget planning, development, and implementation.

‘’This needs to be addressed for good governance, transparency and sustainable peace and development in our countries,’’ read the communique.

The Solution to a weaker legislature

As part of solutions to the problems, the Speaker and Head of African Parliaments said there is a need to strengthen Parliaments through legislation.

‘’Legislation needs to be put in place to strengthen African parliaments for effective oversight responsibilities. Thus, parliamentary exchange programs must be facilitated across the continent to foster shared learning,’’ said the Parliament leaders.

The Conference of Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments is a platform initiated by the Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and the Speakers of Ethiopia, Prof. Mike Oquaye; Kenya, Hon. Tagesse Chaffo; Rwanda, H.E Donatille Mukabalisa; Senegal, H.E Moustapha Niasse; and former Speakers of Ghana, Hon. Speaker Justin Muturi; and South Africa, Hon. Thando Modise.

It aims to facilitate increased deliberation, collaboration, and cooperation between Speakers, Heads of Parliament, and National Assemblies across Africa to address common challenges, devise joint solutions, and mobilise collective action to advance Africa’s development. CoSAP was officially launched on the 12th of October 2020 after three key meetings between founding Speakers which took place on 17th August 2020, 17th September 2020, and 12th October 2020.

Zimbabwe’s Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda was also part of the conference in Nigeria

Heads of African Parliaments bemoan weakening legislature

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