Constitution Amendment No.2: Let’s respect the will of the people

Constitution Amendment No.2: Let's respect the will of the people
Constitution Amendment No.2: Let's respect the will of the people

HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you, Mr Speaker Sir, for affording me the opportunity to debate on Constitutional Amendment No. 2, [H. B. 23, 2019].  In particular, I hold a different view pertaining to the appointment of the Chief Justice. I think if we are going to say the President is the Head of State, let him be in control of the State, but at the same time, let him also know that there are repercussions when things happen. The Constitution also has provisions in failure of the Head of State to discharge his duties of the Government accordingly. There are provisions which are there which can lead to impeachment.  I think we must ensure that there is a smooth flow of a lot of things.

First of all, we also might as well debate why the President appoints Ministers and why he appoints Cabinet Ministers because they are also critical in terms of the running of the country. It is equally important that we also understand that the Constitution is very clear in terms of who is legible to be the President of the country. While the Constitution went to the people and the people agreed in a lot, I think it is the capacity of the President which needs to be looked at in terms of the Constitution. You cannot have a Constitution which says the President must be 40 years, a citizen registered voter and no academic qualifications.

So, the criteria for who the President must be must change and that is where the issue is. The Constitution talked about one who is 40 years, a registered voter, a citizen of the country and so forth as a President. That is the reason why anybody can be President and anybody can be an MP because the Constitution allows that. If there is anything, I would want to see a change to the qualifications of who should be the President, some level of education being there and MPs as well as councillors. If there is anything, this is what I think is critical not that one has the power.

It is dangerous to give power to somebody who is not reasonable but with the criteria that we would have come up with, at least you will safeguard the nation of certain ills which might happen. In terms of the removal of MPs from provincial councils, that is the highest degree of hypocrisy. Ministers are appointing board members and we talk about oversight and the excuse being given is that Members of Parliament have the role of oversight. Mr Speaker Sir, charity begins at home. May I have oversight in my home first before I go to the nation? We have a situation where clearly, we are not in control of our homes, but we are expected to have oversight on national issues when your house is not in order.

 So, it is a process which must be allowed and I think there is nothing wrong with Members of Parliament having oversight over resources which are as a result of devolution and all that. I could equally argue and say there seems to be an attempt to curtail the powers of Members of Parliament by the Executive. The Executive is the one which if there is anything, their power needs to be curtailed because they have evidently been abusing it. Board members change each time a Minister comes in.

 We had a very interesting workshop in Kadoma which was quite enlightening in many ways that every Minister who takes on a Ministry, they call for a forensic audit first, so that they can accuse other members of being corrupt and then he appoints his. So, you know the situation where boards are changing overnight. Why do we not have a system where Ministers are not Members of Parliament? I would like to see that. They must be independent and you also have boards appointed by Parliament like it is in South Africa.

 In South Africa, the boards report to Parliament and not to the Minister. So, when the Executive is pushing for Members of Parliament not to be part of valuation and monitoring of resource devolution, the same must also apply. The issue that is critical is this Constitution.  As you would appreciate Mr. Speaker, when you go around the world, there is something about Zimbabwe. Everybody will tell you Zimbabweans write well and they have got good documents but are they well read as Zimbabweans.

This Constitution is a great piece of work that many countries have come to look at but what lacks is the aspect of compliance in this Constitution.  There are many things and Hon. Mushoriwa hit the nail on the head when he said the issue must be of aligning the laws to the Constitution.  The issue must be compliance, even in this very House, Ministers fail to comply to basic things of just coming to this House which is a constitutional provision.  So, we lack no matter how many amendments we come up with; failure to comply with the Constitution means nothing.  This document is as good as throwing it in the bin because it has to be complied with at the end of the day.

We ask ourselves that because you are two-thirds, does it mean you must use your weight and ignore what the people are saying.  I have always said this that there is a word called meekness which is critical but despite you having the powers you are not able to use it; when people speak, let us listen to them.  You must listen to the people but because you know you have two-thirds you are changing the Constitution, we are creating a culture that whoever is in power – by the way, there is no Government or party which is in power for life so when the other party or Government comes in, they equally change the Constitution.  So, what progress is the country making by just changing the Constitution.  We can be a better country if we are known to be a country that respects the Constitution and are in compliance to the Constitution and not be selective in terms of issues which are critical. 

Hon. Chair, Ministers are failing to even superintend their Ministries, they need help, Members of Parliament can help them in doing that at provincial level through devolution.  Ministers have failed, the Public Finance Management Act makes it a requirement for Ministries to bring reports quarterly, they are not doing that so why are they not allowing others to be in provincial councils. 

The issue of money is critical in this country.  We seem to have a system which wants to remove Provincial Members of Parliament as MPs so that they can plunder more and that corruption cannot be curbed.  We know we are the eyes of the people, being the eyes of the people we want accountability, in wanting accountability we are removed.  It is just an excuse for a whole nation to use resources for an amendment for Members of Parliament not to be part of this. Not only that, you have equally shown us as Executive that you are certainly not pro-country which can scrutinise, analyse, evaluate the resources because even as we speak Mr. Speaker Sir, the Provincial Councils are paid a sitting allowances but they are not sitting.  We have asked this to the Minister of Local Government several times that, where is it in the Constitution or in any Act does it say that Provincial Councils must be paid for not sitting.  That is a waste of tax payers’ money.

Members of Parliament who are also part of the Provincial Councils have never been paid any money.  We have asked this to the Minister of Local Government to show us the law that says some can be paid for not sitting and others are not to be paid.  May we be a nation and Parliament which is known for coming up with laws which are progressive. 

Mr. Speaker Sir, look at the disabled, we have failed to even come up with building structures as per the Constitution that are able to suit their needs.  We have failed to build schools for the disabled.  Most of them are low because we are failing to comply with the Constitution of this country.  The provision is there, where resources are permitting may we prioritise.  We have failed to do this and they always want to hide with the fact that where resources are permitting but when it comes to tenders, resources are there.  When it comes to scandals that you read about, drugs and so forth, companies are created today, the money is there. 

The deals that Government is going into partnership with other countries, the prices are inflated, they are putting more money for deals which the generations to come will pay for.  It is a huge debt. 

Hon. Kashiri having approached Hon. Minister Ziyambi.

Sorry Mr. Speaker Sir, Hon. Ziyambi and Hon. Kashiri are making a lot of noise there, both are from Mashonaland West, I am sure they can have their PPC Caucus at some point.  May I be protected, I cannot speak.  He is being very destructive.

So, I will continue with my debate to say the issue which is apparent is also abuse of numbers.  Mr. Speaker Sir, there are so many good things which are needed for this country to be one.  When we all adhere to the Constitution like Hon. Mushoriwa said, the amendments which have been coming through have not been even tried. How can you say this law is not working when you have not even tried it – already the Constitution before it is done, we are changing, so how will we know that this provision was good or was not good.  May we respect the will of the people and the will of the people comes by respecting what they pushed for to be in this Constitution and at the same time be able to educate them.  The sad part is that the Constitution is only in English, sad, but again …