HON. T. MLISWA: Thank you. Madam Speaker. The motion that I am moving is to do with the recalling of the Members of Parliament. I am glad that it is happening at a time when most Members of Parliament now appreciate it. Madam Speaker, the Section 129 (1) (k) of the Constitution has become a weapon for political parties to push their personal agendas. Madam Speaker, I will relate a lot to the House of Commons which I think traditionally we have learnt and copied a lot from and then I will come back to the situation in this country. One of the key problems in Parliament of which little is understood but which hugely undermines its effectiveness is the whip’s stronghold over the scrutiny of Government Bills. At present, members of these Bill committees are chosen by Standing Rules and Orders Committee, a Committee of which is composed of whips from the main parties with a Chairperson; currently the Chairperson of the Legal Committee who at present is Hon. Samukange and has been chosen by the Executive.
It has long been clear that this mechanism has serious disadvantages, firstly by putting the power to select Bill Committee members into the hands of the whips representing the interests of their political parties. Their choice invariably reflects the wishes of the Executive who command the majority to push their legislation through as quickly and painlessly as possible. We have Bills that come through and are in the hands of the whips representing the interests of their political party. The key issue and political parties must be replaced with representing interests of the nation but the whipping system whips Members of Parliament to follow their party. This has naturally disadvantaged the people of this country because national interests are superior to political parties. We must all be vanguards of the nation than political parties come through but we have now made political parties to be more powerful than the nation. The Government of the day looks at national interests and it is important that while they look at the national interest, everybody in the nation is considered and factored in as well.
Political parties’ agenda is political and the agenda is for their party to be powerful but again, they lose it when they do not realise that by the party embracing national issues, it becomes powerful in its sense. As you can see, they have not exercised that and as a result, there is a lot that happens. The Executive and the Chairperson of the Legal Committee is chosen by the Executive. What oversight can you have over the Executive when we in this Parliament are supposed to be having oversight of the Executive but one is appointed by the Executive? Madam Speaker, your ascendency to the throne where you are is a result of an election process – so is that of the Speaker. So why then do we not have an election process of electing these people and at times when it is about electing these people, most of them do not have capacity. It is about people who are mere cheer leaders and as a result, the country suffers. The suffering of the country is something which no generation can overturn. We now have a system of cheer leaders and now even those who have capacity, for them to be felt and to be given positions, they are being cheer leaders. Are we then pushing national interests or not yet this House is known as the National House of Assembly? It is not the political party House of Assembly – it is the National House of Assembly. How many are able to leave the political jacket out before they enter in here? It takes a lot but you can see it is a habit. With the politics of Africa which is hate politics, it is a permanent relationship which is not sustainable as and when they must use it then they come through.
The passing and through the command – the majority pushed the legislation through as quickly as possible; how many – all, the nation, us for having passed Bills here and amending laws. It is also important for the electorate of this nation to understand that the Constitution is theirs. It is not ours here in Parliament. All we have to do is to do things which are constitutional. I will throw this to the electorate or Zimbabweans at large today, that for many at times you have not taken responsibility in that the Constitution you made – 90% of the people agreed to this Constitution. If at all you did not want this Constitution to be amended, why then at the time when the Constitution was being crafted, you did not put a clause like – we do what the people want and that is what we do. There is nothing Parliament has done to abrogate its duty. We have exercised constitutionalism of the highest order.
It is incumbent upon the electorate or the Zimbabweans, to equally read the Constitution. Most people talk about it but they do not read it. If you ask the electorate in this country who is their councillor, Member of Parliament, Proportional Representative or Senator they do not know. How then will you be able to have detail that is able to assist you on how politics of this country run? You cannot ignore the councillor, Member of Parliament, Proportional Representative or Senator if you are Zimbabwean. The challenge that I throw out to the electorate and Zimbabweans, is that you need to understand this Constitution. One of the issues that you must give credit to the late former President R.G. Mugabe was that he knew that they would talk without understanding their Constitution. The powers that the President has in this Constitution are so many and they have not even used those powers.
State of emergency; the President is empowered to do that but it is the Constitution that came from the people. The military being on the streets is subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Sections 212-214 which talk about deployment of the military onto the streets to maintain law and order but being headed by the police. If the police are overwhelmed, then they can call upon the military. You will then say what are the soldiers doing on the streets? My question is – what where you also doing when you were allowing this clause to be in the Constitution? We must be able to understand that the Constitution is a sacred document of this country. What must be questioned is the constitutionalism of it – are we abiding to it or not?
This inevitably results in an unbalanced representation and exclusion of members with necessary expertise to scrutinise the Bill in detail, rigorously and thoroughly as possible which essentially ought to be the object of the Bill at Committee Stage. We come and a lot is done. We now have a situation where Parliament has become factional because there are Members of Parliament from the opposition who have been recalled and are not here and they represent people in their constituencies. Their absence in this Parliament means there is no representation in their constituencies. Why are we so cruel and not allow people to be represented? What have the constituency done because they no longer have a representative?
There is a gap now which is difficult to fill. I have seen some of the most brilliant minds leaving this Parliament because of Section 129 (1) (k). I once went through the list of the opposition in terms of who really was a lawyer; I counted 16 lawyers and I counted the ruling party having 4 lawyers and some being night school lawyers, I will not mention their names. You had 16 lawyers, who had the capacity to scrutinise the Bill in detail before it got to Committee Stage which is an important process. We pass laws and Bills in this House which end up haunting us because we would not have scrutinised and paid attention to detail.
I am not a lawyer, but I rely on people who have gone to legal school. When Advocate Chamisa was in this House I would sit next to him and ask him what the law says. When Hon. Biti and Hon Phulu were here, I did the same. I fed off their legal brilliance and it was important to me because when I then contributed in Parliament, I could talk to people who legally had an understanding of what is going on. In its present system the onus focuses more on selecting Members with sound views, who can be relied on to be loyal and supportive of the government’s position at controversial points of the legislation.
The electorate expects Bills which will become the law of this country to be critically examined by Parliament. How do you critically examine Parliament when the Executive itself has got a Chairperson who they appoint? Basically what we have is a situation where Bills pass through here and it is just rubber stamping. That is the reason why at the end of the day you do not have robust debate pertaining to Bills. At the end of the day, you ask yourself when it gets to the process of voting who really votes. The majority will have their way and the minority will have their say. I have also seen that while the minority must have their say, their contribution which is effective makes the majority think.
The opposition cannot be the government in waiting by not also contributing effectively to the Bills of this country. It is important that the government of the day and the ruling party’s policies are examined by the government in waiting. So, speaking on informed decisions is critical. There is indeed one of the central reasons of Parliament itself – it therefore sends to the august House Parliamentarians with a wealth of experience and knowledge across the whole sector of the nation’s activities. To block that repository of skills and intelligence in the interest of government convenience is a public scandal.
We have had experiences in the last Parliament when the Chairperson of the Justice Committee Hon. Jessie Majome who was at that time an opposition Member being replaced by a ZANU PF chairperson when the Constitutional Amendment No 5 was tabled. Hon. Majome was excellent in terms of executing her duties and understanding the law, but because you are opposing what the Executive wants, you are then changed again by the Executive because numbers then matter. Should we really say because you are more, you must crush every progressive initiative that comes through? That is food for thought.
Does being the majority mean you must be crushing everything that is good to just satisfy and to say this is who we are and what we want must go our way? A Bill which government side has a loyalist majority sometimes with a dissident Member to give an expression of balance though not enough to threaten the majority may sometimes emerge at the end virtually unchanged despite numerous hours of debate. How many times do we go through all this but yet by the end of the day whatever we are pushing for is not changed.
Madam Speaker, this Parliament has followed procedure and given Parliamentarians an opportunity to be able to speak and leave a legacy. The only legacy parliamentarians can leave is coming up with progressive laws that are progressive, which is critical at the end of the day. The Government chief whip is under instructions to see through the Bills unchanged at least in its bold essentials, has the power to block every amendment however, justified or well argued for, unless there is a revolt on the government side which, sadly is much rare than the case often warrants.
There are two ways in which the defects of the current system could be amended. Instead of the Committee of Selection being dominated by the whips, it could be elected by the whole House on similar basis to the method of election of the Select Committees i.e places are allotted to each party according to their proportion in the House. Members of each party then vote for their own representatives on the Committee and government has the right to choose the chairperson. It would then be for members of the House who wish to serve on a particular Committee, to make representation to the elected Committee of Selection and the later could be free to interview such applicants if they so wish.
What am I saying here? There has got to be internal democracy in the political parties. We talk about democracy a lot, but how much democracy is in the political party is. Charity begins at home. By you recalling somebody just because of Section 129(1) (k) it is not democratic enough. Have you even consulted the electorate that voted for the person? Our personal differences – if you look at most people who have been recalled, it is not because they failed to discharge their duties, but it is political personal agendas. This becomes a weapon which everybody uses, but we see again that while this weapon is being used, we also have a situation where people now hold back.
I have seen the most brilliant mind in this Parliament being quiet and I have said why are they quiet. I have seen myself talking not because I am brilliant but because I do not report to anyone, and am not put on a list by anyone. So if you are not put on a list – now there is also the issue of some in these political parties who would like to be on the list but if they do not get along with the leadership they are not on the list. How then do you expect democracy to prevail when looking at a situation where I have to lick to somebody to be in a position, which means you are compromised?
Most Members of Parliament leave this Parliament compromised. They ask why do you not speak but they find it difficult to answer. Why is it difficult for them to answer that I cannot speak because I have to go through a party system? It is because they also fear that they will be expelled. The party will also descend on you and say why did you answer like that. Parties want to be seen to be democratic, yet they are not. So, you need to now look at it and say we come to Parliament again – I have seen committee chairpersons and why doesn’t the committee sit down and elect a chairperson? The party must elect a chairperson. There must be a process because for that Member to be in Parliament they went through primary elections and a general election which is a democratic process.
However, when it comes to electing chairpersons there is no democracy. Even in the ruling party I am told that the chief whip was appointed and not elected. Let me speak Madam Chair and set the record straight. If the election of the Chief Whip was conducted, then you have a Chief Whip who represents the interests of the party but if you have a Chief Whip appointed, he will represent the interests of those that appointed him or her. It is important that we understand that and we are able to see how best we can now have this process of elections within these Committees. The advantage of this option is that it is a much more open, democratic and would eliminate the draw backs and deficiencies of the current system. The Members of the Bills Committee would no longer be largely guaranteed Government loyalists.
The scrutiny of Bills is likely to be more genuine and thorough. The full range of knowledge and expertise of the backbenchers is likely to be more efficiently deployed. Backbenchers are critical but you cannot be a back bencher if you are not being given a chance to speak. For me, I have chaired Committees and I have said being a backbencher is a more effective position one can have but you can only be effective if you are given an opportunity. How many in the political parties are known to be effective backbenchers who can be able to speak? I have seen great contributions by Members of the ruling party and there is no acknowledgement of it. I have seen great contributions from Members of the opposition but there is no acknowledgement of it. They fear being asked kuti sei wakamuomberera and that becomes a crime. Yet in this House, when something is good and an issue of national interest has been brought up which affects everybody, we must be true parliamentarians and acknowledge.
The only thing that this House has mastered is heckling to a good point. We know heckling to be done when something is not good but most are good points. I remember Hon Biti coming here and Members of the ruling party stopping him from debating the issue of sanctions yet they have been attacking him saying that he is the one who pushed for sanctions. When it was time for him to debate, the debate was adjourned. How pathetic. You have been given an opportunity to say what you want to say but when it was time for him to speak and defend himself, there was heckling and I said this is so sad. He listened to a lot which was being said about him and waited for his opportunity but he was never given an opportunity to continue. There was so much noise then I realised that they have made him more prominent than any other time because they were afraid that he would respond. Hon Biti is brilliant when it comes to issues of responses and so forth. The whole party had a caucus to stop one person from speaking. A total caucus – had lunch to say when Hon Biti gets up, you must stop him.
I am now going to the whipping system where some people are even told to do wrong things because of the whipping system. The same way in this House I would reprimand my colleagues from the opposition but they do not all walk out when the President walks in. I lamented that all the time and I would pray that why are you walking out. What do you get from walking out? If you are not happy, you can move a motion and question the President when he comes to Parliament. That was one of the most painful moments as a legislator where I would sit there and I would end up sitting alone. I would beg, why are you walking out. Most of the people who were walking out did not want to walk out and the evidence you can see it, that those who believed walking out was wrong have come back into Parliament and they are sitting well with the current leadership which is there. Those who objected to that, which was unpatriotic, which is certainly not welcome – what does patriotism and nationalism mean?
At times we invite problems to ourselves and when they descend on us, we now ask ourselves but why are we in this situation. I could see some of them struggling to stand up and walk out when the President was there. I could see the leaders of the party moving up and down so fast like a Lamborghini to say let us go back and forth – it had become a highway overtaking where the leader was in front and the other was behind to say let us go. The police were invited in this House to embarrass you. Was it really worth it? God bless the legislators of this country. It was not worth it. I saw a situation where the Chief Justice of this country was embarrassed. I reprimanded my colleagues and said you cannot do this. They embarrassed the Speaker.
This is done because of leadership. Most of the Members from the opposition are intelligent. Some are even more intelligent than me but they did things which were foolish which today they regret. To me, this is the danger of the whipping system and I would see the President sitting there, he has not come to talk but he has come to just listen but he would still get up and go. I said to myself but why would they do this to an innocent man who has come to do his duties, who is the head of the State, with three pillars of the State including Parliament where he is head. This is an example when the Budget was being passed. It is the Minister of Finance who says it and not the President. He came in just as somebody fulfilling his obligations and mandate of being President being here but yet – I then asked one of them and said if the President came kurufu kwenyu vachida kubata maoko munobva futi parufu? This is the bad part of the whipping system.
There is however a more radical alternative which has been tried and proven to work effectively in the Scottish Parliament. Instead of Committees on the present model, the membership of the Select Committees could be modestly extended and their coverage of the department they shadow could be divided into few central categories each with its own special sub-committee. While there is a full Committee, why do you not also have a sub-committee system which ultimately feeds into the Committee because the subcommittee allows people to be able to express their views but their views end up at full Committee stage where it can be debated.
When a Government Bill is published, it could then be allocated for scrutiny to the appropriate sub-committee for the particular Select Committee. Scrutiny is still there and this is what the Scottish Parliament does. Where the substance of the Government Bill stretch beyond the remit of any one sub-committee, a new sub- committee could be established by the Select Committee for the purposes of this particular Bill which combined Members with the relevant expertise from two or more Committees.
They talk about expertise. Amongst us everybody has got a different gift that they have. We have not at all utilised the resources the Members of Parliament have in this Parliament by allowing them to use their expertise. By being here, they are leaders already. Each one of them is gifted to do so much but also give them an opportunity to lead. Those sub-committees assist and also sub- committees are now done by somebody who is an expert in that field, which means whatever you are producing is good for the country. At the end of the day, it would have gone through a process which should be recognised.
Bills which combined Members with relevant expertise from two or more sub- committees; while the Bill was of high importance, it could be scrutinised by the Select Committee as a whole. There are certain Bills which you can have sub-committees but there are certain Bills depending on their importance are brought to the Select Committee to be able to deal with them. There are several advantages to be drawn from this format as the Scottish example shows; members would be chosen from those democratically elected by the whole House so that the Executive would no longer wield undue influence over who should exercise scrutiny over its own Bills.
This is critical. When the House has elected members then you know that the Executive will be on its toes and it is important for us Mr. Speaker Sir, to also follow. Benchmarking is one of the key issues of this Parliament but unfortunately, even with our remuneration they have gone for benchmarking a lot. Hon. Mpariwa, when she was Chairperson of the Public Accounts came up with a report from Kenya Benchmarking but we seem not to also follow that. So it was a waste of money going to Kenya to benchmark because at the end of the day, the benchmarking is not done. The remuneration of Members of Parliament in Kenya compared to us is a laughing stock. So what did they go and benchmark if it is not implemented? The same issues that Hon. Dr. Khupe said there are too many documents and no implementation, even this Parliament is falling prey to that. What has happened to the benchmarking, which trips were made to improve the remuneration and welfare of Members of Parliament? Nothing has come out of that.
Moreover the sub-committee members who were properly elected in the first instance, as having particular knowledge in this policy area would rapidly deepen that expertise as they continued to concentrate in their specialist areas. The capabilities of back bench members with interest and commitment to particular policy areas would be much more valuable in terms of deployment. This model would also enable the scrutiny process to be undertaken in a more open and transparent manner. The sub-committee could co-opt experts in their policy area as regular advisers where expertise is warranted. These are some of the issues but some of these committees and some of the issues that come before us, we do not know them. Why are we not bringing in expertise? Where is the academia?
We have got universities in this country, we have got researchers. How many times do we call them on an issue so that they are able to get us to do the right thing? We are not making use of the resources that we have in the country. There is no nation that can prosper without research and development and the Hon. Speaker is constantly pushing that there must be academia involvement in what we do because it is critical.
This could be several sessions with experienced witnesses drawn from both sides on controversial questions to enable the most important issues in the Bill to get a full airing so that the latter detailed scrutiny of the Bill was proper on these central matters. The wider public could be enabled to participate in these proceedings, both at the witness stage and the detailed Bill examination that follows by televising the proceedings and allowing members of the public to send in comments or suggestions which would be filtered by the clerks and forwarded to members of the sub-committee as deemed appropriate.
This is critical. There are people who are disabled who cannot get to public committees. How are they contributing? With the television being there, with the ICT improving and the clerks being there – whatever they are contributing is noted, and then it is put to the committee to consider. So we must be able to accommodate everyone but the problem is that we now have a situation where even those who are willing to participate have not participated. Why would we then be able to say that this issue clearly does not get to the people? What is the point? Parliament is a Parliament of the people and a Parliament of everyone.
Parliamentary democracy in our country is suffering a crisis of legitimacy. Support for mainstream parties is at an all time low and the Opposition has a leader of whom 80% of its members do not support. There are many reasons for this and there is no magic bullet to cure it. The whipping system is part of the problem that needs to be addressed and abolished thereof. The whipping system demands that our elected politicians first line of duty is to obey their party and not to serve their constituencies. As such, it is a potent symbol of what many perceive to be wrong without politics.
How many of us are serving their constituencies? Some of you are abandoning constituency meetings where you get power to rush to a party caucus destroying someone – that has become more important, makuhwa. Hon. Speaker Sir, gossip has become the way of getting attentively. They are prepared to leave a funeral, even hunhu hwedu tahurasa nenyaya dzemakuhwa mupolitics kuti nhasi tiri kuda kubvisa Themba Mliswa huyai, anetsa. Ndiyo language yacho, vanomhanya pakubvisa chete – [HON. MATANGIRA: Iwe uri hwani here Themba!] – So it is important, may you please protect me.
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. KHUMALO): You may proceed Hon. Mliswa.
HON. T. MLISWA: No, ndini ndavhura iyi ndakaita research ka, not zvekutamba. Pane research apa, bvunzai Hon. Dr. Khupe, vanokuudzai kuti pane research. Kana ndave kutaura nyaya dzeScottish Parliament iresearch, aah ndakashanda apa.
So you know, the constituency is suffering because you are not sticking to core issues yet the party strength is in representing people. The party must be geared on developmental programmes. I challenge any political party in this country to show me the development programme that they have of their ward, constituency and so forth where they can show me the money because political parties only fundraise during elections but never fundraise for Members of Parliament or councillors to work yet they are allowed to do so. I have never seen a budget of development issues from a political party. I have never seen a political party saying that we want to do 20 boreholes, here is the money and I have never seen a political party coming up with a sanitary wear campaign.
So now you have people involved in party politics and it is no wonder why 50% of the Members of Parliament, in most sessions do not come back. It is because they are absent from the constituency but they are present at gossip meetings for political parties. So the electorate watches and when it watches, it makes a determination pertaining to that. As such, it is policy symbol of what many perceive to be wrong with our politics that is played by internal rules of the Westminster class. When we debate and talk about the Westminster elite, it is important that it is respected without enough regard to the people we are supposed to represent.
Whipping belongs to the time when class identities were stronger and two parties took the vast majority of the votes. Then there was perhaps some justification for organising Parliament into two highly disciplined teams. This bipolar partisanship is now out of date. I repeat – the politics of not putting national interests first is out of date. No wonder why this House is the National House of Assembly, so national issues must be prioritised and not party issues. When we vote for a Bill or an amendment, it does not serve the party; it serves the nation because we do not know who the next leader will be. So we do that fully understanding that this is something for the party.
A good example is the late former President R. G. Mugabe. We moved the first amendment in this House and that first amendment was to appoint a Chief Justice but within the Constitution, there was also a section to impeach him due to misconduct, which then haunted him. So the very same Constitution that you talk about has got provisions of whoever you give power to and they fail to discharge their power – mistakes arise. The more power you have, the higher the failure rate is. So Parliament again, has got that aspect of ensuring that there is scrutiny on whatever happens.
I am never worried about giving anybody power because I know that the very same Constitution takes you out of work as well if you fail. It is like a contract at work, while you are employed to pay a lot of money and you know that most people paid a lot of money in these contracts and when the company is closing, they are the first ones to be fired. We must understand that it also comes with a price, that is why I never worry about that.
The worst perhaps, some justification for organising Parliament into two highly disputes. In this more complex political world, the idea of loyalty to a party, right or wrong, has had its day. We must get to a point where being loyal to a party stops and we are loyal to our country. This electorate is tired of party line towing loyalists who when the President walks in here, are busy singing and making slogans so that you can be seen to be the one who supports the President.
I have seen them making more noise than they can make in church when they are singing because they want to appease the President. They have to be seen. They have never said anything in Parliament, but when the President comes in, they say slogans. They have never even made a maiden speech but when the President comes, it is a maiden speech for them. If you count their votes, some of them got more votes than the President. How can you say you are loyal to the President, when you as an MP have more votes than the President? Icho! It is important that you see if you really are true to the President, get more votes for the President in your constituency or ward.
Let us not come here and try and be a loyalist without results. Be able to support your words by action. It is important that we stop this towing loyalist; preferring independently minded politicians with strong values – that is where we are going and is what upholds the home. It is your values, morals and ethics. Any political party remains what it is when the founding principles and ideology of that party which are the strong principles to be upheld. Where there is no corruption or chastising of women, abuse or rigging. So it is important that we now change that to have independently minded politicians with strong values.
This is why the most popular politicians of recent years have been mavericks of the likes of Boris Johnson where he is in the Conservative Party and he says what he wants but he is never fired. Today he is the Prime Minister because of his laws and he has spoken and the people have seen him representing people because he is independently minded and has strong values. He is the Prime Minister of Britain today. He will go against the tide, because he knows that the people are more important, but you want to go with the party and leave the people out, which mean that when it comes to elections the people also leave you and you will go with the leadership.
There is a difference between leadership and the electorate, because the leadership likes you it does not mean that the electorate likes you. I am an example of that. While I was expelled from ZANU PF, the Norton elections which are of record, in 2013 ZANU PF won with 10 500 and MDC had 9 300. In 2018 ZANU PF had 4 000, MDC 7 000 and I had 17 000 which means the majority of the ZANU PF came to me because they follow a leader who is independent and who has strong values. That is an example you must understand.
It is critical that these statistics are kept by politicians who are serious. If you look at it and add 4 000 to 7 000, it is 11 000 and I had
17 000. So the two could not even match because you have a constituency which believes in a leader who is independent minded and fast, people are becoming aware of representing and so forth. So long the leadership of the party is supreme; you cannot rely on the leadership of the party to win elections. You must rely on your own work and independent thinking. Even if you are the advisor to the President, when people now look at the electorate, they choose their leader. So positions mean nothing at the end of the day.
I have always said and have always respected the ZANU PF electorate because it is an electorate that I know is faithful, loyal but at the same time it knows when to speak and when to upset its boss because they know that if they come out in the open, they will be in trouble. Just saying the way the Members behave here, they do not want to come out because they know they will be exposed at the end of the day. Nigel is one of them and Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour cadre. He is coming from a labour movement and he is there, but he ended up there because of his strong values which were borne out an independent thinking mentality.
HON. ZEMURA: Mr. Speaker, my point of order is, are we going to sit and listen to one person the whole day?
THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Mliswa is the mover of the motion, so he has unlimited time.
HON. T. MLISWA: To adapt to those changes the Westminster somehow had to become less party managed and more accommodating of the diverse opinions. Even the Westminster itself had to adapt to the diverse opinions and that is why you never hear in the politics of Europe somebody being expelled because they have expressed themselves. Africa is far from that. Of course, there is strength in unity but when it is achieved by coerced conformity, it becomes more of a weakness. It is important to understand, let unity be natural because people are free to do what they want but let us not have unity when you are coerced. That on its own becomes a weakness and the bubble tends to burst at a certain point. The electorate is that bubble that I talk about which will burst.
The sound of the continued cracking of the whip is the crying of a failing party system trying to desperately to re-assert its authority. You do not assert your authority in a party by punishing party cadres and the whipping system we know is used for that because Hon. Matangira has grown more maize or has more cows than me, you must be expelled from the party. Akuwonererwa manje, it is an example. It is not working and it is time to try something. My advice to the political parties whipping system, it is no longer working. There is a generational consensus which we cannot ignore. Every generation has its time to dictate its future.
I have said that the generation of thirteen to seventeen years at 2018, if you want to push it from thirteen years at 2018 to 29 at 2023, so the generation of 13 years to twenty nine years at 2018, going to 2023 which will be the generation of the youths, is about 3 million and these are coming through. They are independent thinkers just like there in their homes. If you want to appreciate the independent thinking of today’s electorate it is how children are behaving in the homes. They do what they want. They are no longer reduced to the way we were brought up, and we had to be home at a certain time. They will not tell you where they are going, they are always on social media and they are always ahead of you.
So, that again has escalated to national issues. Do not think it is just in your house. You talk about politics, they do not listen to you, they are not interested, they are on the phone and you say they are being rude. However, they ask you, ‘but what do you want to talk to me about when I am a graduate and I have no job’. The thinking is critical of a generation coming; that is the way they will do things and it is totally different. That is why there has to be a shift and an adjustment in the way political leaders treat the new people coming into these parties.
No wonder why there is not any party which is growing with the youth. When you see a party celebrating people who are over 40 years to have joined them, vagumirwa. A party must be enjoying and celebrating people who are 17 years joining the party because come 2023, they will be able to vote. I celebrate young people joining a party, I never celebrate those who have their time joining a party – it does not work because young attracts young, old attracts old. The old are dying, so the young are coming through.
That is a phenomenon which we cannot stand in the way of. It is like a wave coming and you have a choice whether to stop it with your hands or to just join in. That is a determining factor for this adjustment that we are talking about; hence today’s leaders have got to be leaders who are able to relate to a certain generation.
Again, if we are going to adjust; I have a daughter who is a lawyer. She knows her rights. I say to her, my daughter you are leaving, I just wanted to know if you are coming home or not, just let me know so that I am not worried. Therefore, it is important that political parties change. No wonder why you see social media has taken over the way they dress and so forth. You also saw even the former late President, he never used to wear a cap but he started wearing caps. I saw him once kicking a ball because he was relating, he wanted to connect to a certain thing. You see us being DJ’s playing to amapiano, it is because we are relating to a younger stock. That is the modern way of adjusting and adapting. They love amapiano South African music. When you play mbira, they do not come.
The job of political parties is not to suppress the voice of the individual Members of Parliament but to unite those with a common cause towards achieving change. Our voices here combined must bring about the change that people desire. We are the hope for the people here but if we are constantly suppressing ourselves, then where are we going? What change are we bringing to the people?
If 650 Members of Parliament pursued 650 different areas of self interest, nothing will be achieved. For instance, I will perceive self interest and the other 650 are pursuing self interest, where would we go? This is something that as Parliament we must think about. Our legacy is important, we must be known. The same way we were able to push for the second amendment and the ruling party realising that they were also the opposition, that is progressive. You must also be behaving in that manner. Not to think that you can only be using the opposition.
It is important as a result for us to be able to work in unison in what we want to achieve. Look at the grid lock in the international system where whips are non-existent or effective. The Frank Underwood from the House of Card aside – this is research. I can tell you that there are a lot of American citizens who would not mind an actual whip to kick Congress into shape. Look at Congress.
The American electorate has Congress and as you know, the Republicans will invite Donald Trump to be president yet he has no position in the party. Even if you are not a Republican, they want to see what work you have to offer for the country. When are we going to reach such politics that we bring in somebody to say you are good for the country, run with the button stick. Those are the days that we yearn for in terms of us being the nation that we should be, but you cannot do that with a whipping system.
I feel sorry for the whips and I can tell you that they are strong in prayer every night because I can imagine how many prayers are prayed about them. They have a job to do and they belong to the party. Whips organise Members of Parliament to debate legislation and table amendments at Committee Stage and act as a conduit for concerns between MP’s and Government.
Eventually, yes, when all have submitted their input to a Bill, the whips demand your vote. We saw it here what was happening. That is the job of the whip. So, even in the British Parliament, House of Commons, that is what the whips do, they demand your vote because if the whip does not get your vote, they are fired.
However, when did compromise become a dirty word, especially in this increasingly divided age? If you are receiving anything you want for your constituency, someone else out there is getting nothing and that is important to think about. Remember as a former Conservative Whip, John Randolph recently reminded Members that every vote is a free vote. This is what chief whip of the Conservative; John Randolph said that every vote is a free vote. You can rebel against the whips and work with your enemies to kill the Bill, that is democracy. Something which a certain Labour Member of Essington North who voted with the Tories, 15 533 times and now leaves, the Labour Party can attest.
Right to the point that the whips do a lot of good useful works and their compromise is absolutely essential in the democracy. If 650 people all impeccably followed their hearts, that would be restful, self righteous stalemate not productive politics.
However, the issue is not whether coordination and compromise are essential but where the whipping is the way to achieve them since productive cooperation is rarely achieved under the sanctions. I cannot see that it is. We have spoken about sanctions and they can be compelled to the whipping system. Members of Parliament have every motivation to compromise, to deliver to their constituency without whips who represent a top down model of management.
Businesses have been turning their backs on that sort of structural rigidity. Parliament seems stuck with an almost Victorian system of prefects, house masters and matrons just as head teachers did a worse not a better job when empowered with caning. The good work you see done by the whips will be better done without threat of a lash. So, you see kids being whipped with a whip but here they do not do that.
The need to get business done should not be confused with the desire to marshal troops along party lines which is an optical to productivity policy making. The claim that Americans would welcome whips is old given that the problem with congress at the moment is precisely that it is too partisan already. You can see that American politics is now cracking because it has become partisan. America is now losing its ideology of ‘one America, we love America and God bless America’. It is a good example as we now know that it is partisan politics. Good Bills which are good for health care and infrastructure, people do not vote. Now you need to be the majority to be able to do that.
As much as I appreciate correction of the dark arts, it seems you are excessively downplaying the disciplinarian nature of the whipping system. Too many Members of Parliament (MPs) have reported on the strong arm cohesion and even bullying of whips over decades for us to dismiss them. MPs are constantly complaining; if the Chief Whip did not know that – I am telling you today that these are bullying tactics and we are coerced into making decisions. I have always said that after a rally, if you want to see if it was a good rally or not, you must listen to the women who are now speaking going home after a rally not when they are there. When they are there they sing for you – after that they will say ‘he just gathered us there and did not give us food. He did not even leave a cent and he is getting into his car’. To me, it is important –[HON. MEMBRES: Inaudible interjections.]- This is research. The claim that Americans would one day see a partisan thing; much as I appreciate correction, too many MPs have reported on the strong arm like I have said, and a strong arm is an arm which must be adjusted. It is correct of course that the threat of lash has no place in modern parliamentary affairs and a comparison with today’s other work place. Environment is apt – any attempt to coerce a colleague through bullying or blackmail will rightly be condemned and those same standards deserve to apply to Westminister. This Parliament too must be able to do that. Members of Parliament must be free to exercise their rights. Members of Parliament must be free to speak out, not for them to be asked afterwards – why did you say this?
Thankfully, the days of strong arm of coercion are becoming memories. No longer would you find the safe in the Chief Whip’s office containing the infamous notebooks of Members’ follies and flows done away. This is the Tories official “sheet list”. All night sittings are gone. There are social hours, crèche facilities, human resources and so on. It is critical. This is important for this Parliament to understand that there must be facilities. Today, women who have babies have a right to be in this Parliament but there must be a crèche which looks after those children.
This is the modern day of politics that we are talking about and that becomes more important. Many MPs may miss the rough and tumble age but it is a welcome evolution. That is why I champion reform over ruling. It is about reform over ruling. To me, reform is more important than ruling and we are always asking ourselves in the political parties, that is this reform or it is ruling? Are the generations to come going to say this is ruling or reform? We have that challenge and task of ensuring that we reform for other generations to also be part of this country.
That said, those men and women who served in the Whip’s office in the past, much as I agree with their mercies deserve to be consigned there. Motivations that were deeply felt and even noble – they believed in the calls of their parties. It is important. The Chief Whips believed in the calls of their parties. If you also believe that you do not believe in the calls of your party, they will be able to point you out. That is why I think parliamentarians in this country make a mistake and are going to hold the elections under a party name. The moment that you go under a party name, you are subjected to the party rules, party’s dirty tricks as well and constitution – this is not good.
It is important that when you are going towards elections, that nomination court is signed by a party person. When I was Chairman of Mashonaland West Province, I would sign; it was ZANU PF then. My reference to the congress is an acknowledgement that too many members seek only what optimistic deals they can get for their districts in times of partisan deadlock and not for the party or the country. Now, we have got politics of people feeding themselves. It is no longer for the party. You see Cabinet Ministers here – are they serving the Government, party or themselves? We now have more Cabinet Ministers becoming rich everyday because they have now forgotten why they are in those positions. They do not even care about the party. Being here as a Cabinet Minister, is representing your party but they are undermining the sanity of this Parliament – the mandate it has. They have disrespected this Parliament because they are no longer about anything; they are about opportunistic deals that they can get for themselves. That is what it has been reduced to.
Moreover, stories from the whip’s office now testify to its more professional human resource role – delaying with more pressing domestic and even emotional struggles. Chief Whips – when we come to Parliament we have issues. Do you have offices that can accommodate us and do you have time for us? Do you have a person in your office that can counsel because you may manage people but you must find the personnel to be able to do that? We have problems when we come here. Some would have driven without fuel and when they get here, they do not know how to get back. We had a situation last week when there was no fuel for Member of Parliament to go back home and now what happens? How did they get home? When it is time for you to talk to them, you are not seen. You only meet when you want your way but you are not there when it is to do with their welfare. That must certainly change at the end of the day.
Dealing with the workplace domestic or even emotional struggle – I am not saying that the whip and the stick have been replaced with kittens licking Members of Parliament into submission, but it is an indication that whatever form it takes, politics still requires collaboration between Members and a structure through which to do it. There must be collaboration. No wonder why people win through structures – that is collaboration. British theme attached to the adversarial rough and tumble of polarised debate but it seems to me our exchange might provide an opportunity to model an alternative. Can we get beyond a yes or no answer to our question and find some kind of consensus? A consensus is critical when you have national interest and it is key.
I run an organisation called Youth Advocacy Reform and Democracy (YARD) where I invite young people from political parties. I created it when I could see that politics in the youth was too much. We have no constitution, we run by objectives. The only way we agree is through a consensus because I believe the young people in YARD have got the capacity. They are educated and why can they not reason? If you believe this is black, convince the others that it is black and that becomes a way of life in many ways.
You say you champion reform over rule – I too generally prefer evolution to revolution but to push the matter further, sometimes evolution leads to the birth of a new species. I am a little bit sceptical that the Whips really have changed as much as you say they have, especially given the spate of recent claims about the bullying. This is important because political parties Chief Whips are now known for bullying rather than pushing the welfare of Member of Parliament. They are now known for having more cars and pushing for their own benefits and not Members of Parliament. If you are not right, then the only reason we do not need to abolish the whip is that it has effectively abolished itself. If that is the case, let us make it official. Words and symbolism matter. So, drop the word and rename the whips office. I would like the whips office to be named Members Coordination and support because that is what their job is. So the word chief whip must not be there because it is coersive. Rather than simply trusting, the bad old days of the whip are gone. Now will be a good time to cement positive changes you say have occurred while getting rid of the last of the prefect bullying that should remain.
This reformed office must however make sure it is concerned more with the party unity. Most chief whips come here but their party is divided. There is more factionalism and they must also deal with that because most of them do not seem to understand the effects and its united party or party which a faction has to be one representing national interest or else it will be one more hang over from the already absolute two party system. In the post chief whip era there has to be more scope for cooperating across the bench rather than keeping the gap between them as wide as possible. We believe that if we do not talk to each other we are making progress. I would love to see Members of the ruling party talking to Members of the opposition on an idea, same thing members of the opposition going there but we seem to want to keep the distance and we believe in it growing bigger and bigger. Can we walk through the lobby together on this one, I ask of Parliamentarians. Can we be together the same way that we walk into this House when we are opening? Can we be able to do that? An astute political manoeuvre where Frank Underwood says “either I give ground or to be seen as a hypocrite over my desire for a consensus.”
I am of course only kidding and gratefully accept any opportunity to take up residence in any grey area rather than accept the false binary and yes or no referendum that are imposed. I certainly do not think that the culture surrounding the whips has changed completely. Rather it is changing due to necessity and changing due to necessity is that slowly Members of Parliament are becoming vocal and they are pushing for strong values and they are advocating. This usually happens towards the end of Parliament. You saw that historically when the President was impeached, Hon. Maridadi had moved the motion and I was seconding it but it was never accepted though it was there. When the time came to then unite, there was a meeting of minds where Hon. Sen. Mutsvangwa would then move the motion and would be seconded by Hon. Maridadi.
I had to be spoken to not to second Hon. Maridadi. That has happened before. We impeached the former President because and I proudly say so that is the reason why I say to people there was never a coup but an impeachment process where we all came together. What then happens when we have come together is sad because we expected that on coming together, even when you hunt and you skin and slaughter, you must also give a piece to the one who also had a dog. In this instance however, even those that brought their dogs were never given anything. Those are tears which are not seen which people bemoan at the end of the day.
Where is that unity? Parliament came together and whenever we come together good results come out for the nation. The same as 2017 November, it was an approach for every Zimbabwean an intention to see a better Zimbabwe, but again we seem to march together but we do not march together in the corridors of power, which again is a betrayal of the people. It is important to understand how come with all things being difficult that motion was agreed upon where you had a situation where Hon. Sen. Mutsvangwa of ZANU PF moves the motion and Hon. Maridadi of MDC seconds the motion. It seems we are only there when we want to move somebody out of power but not for the good of our welfare.
I implore Members of Parliament to come together for your welfare for once because those that you came together for; their welfare has already been taken care of. It is about time to take care of your own welfare. Of course, only kidding and gratefully accept my opportunity to take up the residents start up I am talking about. An interesting reference to Corbyn incidentally whose whips must be having the right old time – Rose Wintenton, the current labour chief – you would have to adjust this because I did this research a while ago and I could not equally edit it. So, that must be taken on board. Of late, I have been the one trying to calm aggression from the wider party over a loyalist list. Diselection threaths and more is unusual case of leader office trying to whip the Members while the whips try to incorporate dissenting views. So, now the leader is now whipping while the chief whip is now trying to deal with the dissenting voice from Members. But you are right, words matter and the name whip derived as we know from the whippers in the direct from the hounds of the fox hunt. I wish Members could know where the whip name comes from. The name whip comes from the direct hounds at a fox hunt when they are hounding that is what happens is hardly helpful. Besides, branding the new department could be fun. I do not like the name whip.
Mr. Speaker Sir, there has got to be a better name for that position, coordinator and there are many titles that Zimbabwe can come up with. What about the reasonable expectation of bilateral enabling legislation. The well being of House implementation practice that certainly would not work. Whatever the future of the office, any signs however symbolic or ancient system is willing to flex and bent to represent or accommodate the public’s desire for more progressive and cooperative politics will still be recognising the value and purpose of the party. Unity as a worthy goal – I will accept your amendments in many ways to the Bills that you make and will walk through the lobby with you or better still get the whips to pay us off and go to the park.
No matter what, after a session has been done, we then go and talk about it in terms of those amendments. The whips department is made of Members of Parliament that have been appointed by the party leader in Parliament. They maintain party unity on key legislative divisions or votes. These whips receive a ministerial salary and both the Government and opposition employ them from their respective parties. Without a whip, party policies would be extremely hard to push through. For Government pursuing their programmes in Parliament requires a majority and this could be very difficult to achieve when you are not united with others. We saw what happened and it was out of unity that we came to that Amendment No. 2.
Now that every issue is up for debate, not all Members toe the line. In other words, not all Members obey the leader’s position. In order to maintain unity, a mixture of incentives and punishment are used. One of the issues which we must understand is that when you are being whipped, in most countries, there are incentives given. That Amendment No. 2 that was passed, incentives were supposed to be given but unfortunately they were not given. There is no party that has no budget for incentives when they want to pass something. Even incentives given to the Members of the ruling party; but that was never done even to say that in doing this we shall be able to show that your welfare or salary which was back dated you are paid for, you get a duty free car. All these are some of the incentives which are used because that is really what it is about. A carrot has got to be dangled.
There are various methods in luring an MP into voting for a certain issue in a certain way in Parliament. Some of these methods are listed below. Every week the whips department issues a list that goes out informing MPs of any upcoming parliamentary votes; this list is known as the whip. The most important votes are underlined. The most significant is a debate. The most important of which are donated by the three line whips which are usually crucial events and if an individual within the party refuses to obey the three line whip, they can be suspended from the party and this is known as removing a whip. A recent example here are MPs who have failed to toe the party and as a result Section 129 (k) has been used on them. However, their disobedience did not lead to major repercussions as the party was split and the issue then damages the party at the end of the day.
Many believe that the whip system is antiquated and discredited. It makes party members more of delegates for their party. Some Members of Parliament have made a name being mavericks tolerated by their party. I do not know of any Members of Parliament and I think the likes of Hon Nduna, celebrated by their party but we need more in terms of that. I recall we had people like Hon Mutseyami and Hon Munengami at the time as well who would be tolerated for doing certain things and so forth. The problem is leadership; how it can demand party unity when there are factions in the party. The factions in the party are the ones that are destroying the non- performance of the party because the whip is also suspected to belong to a certain faction. When they come here, the factions again emanate. How then do you contribute positively when you are having to deal with factional politics which is started off by leaders. There is no ways whips can be effective in that regard. The unity of the political parties amongst themselves before they unite with anyone is critical at the end of the day. Unfortunately that really is not the case.
Over US$100 million was used in the by-elections and it takes about US$5 million for a by-election. How many hospitals, schools and clinics would have been built? Today we lament all the social amenities which are poor but when it comes to one being expelled from the party, the money is there for a by-election. This is taxpayers money. Why have we decided to settle our scores using taxpayers money? This is the reason why I believe that political parties are irrelevant in the modern day politics. What we need are people who will be able to represent people for their tenure which the people would have voted for. Equally, when Section 129(k) is being exercised, the party must not have the final say in the expulsion but the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court must be able to hear both sides. There is no court or justice in political parties. I do not like you – go! Next they fear that they will be arrested in case they want to argue and so forth.
Not many can survive that politics. So it is important that we consider the money which goes towards this. At the same time we cannot have a situation where certain Members of Parliament have been expelled because Government feels it is not their stronghold and it has nothing to do with them, they suspend elections. It cannot work like that. The people in these constituencies are suffering. They need representation. Who is representing them? It is important that it is systematic and consistent the same way that the party was. So determined to have the so-called gamatox which I was said I belong to out of office and have quick by-elections must be seen of the other side because there is no democracy when people are not being represented. The Constitutional Court must have the final say in ensuring that the party constitution was followed and this person needs to be expelled.
It is my fervent hope that in those people who are debating this, if fairness has to prevail, may we not allow this section to rest in political parties but may it rest in the Constitutional Court which would then have a final determination whether one is expelled or not. People must understand that the Speaker is the one who carries the message and of late, there has been a lot of outcry to who expels who. What position should you have in the party? It is not at all written down and it not coming from them. Section 129 (k) does not talk about who has the authority to expel the other. That on its own is a problem and as a result, it has got to be attended in all aspects.
Section 129(k) says “If a member has ceased to belong to a political parties of which he or she was a member when elected in Parliament and the political party concerned, by written notice to the Speaker”. The political party concerned, it is not clear who in the political party has authority because every member of the ruling party from ZANU PF is a member of a cell. So what about a cell member who writes a letter to say, we want him expelled? How then do you stop them?
So precedence is set and there has got to be a clear position on who is the authority. It does not talk about the Constitution and it does not talk about the Secretary-General of the party or the President of the party. You could see even in South Africa, the ANC Secretary-General wrote a letter expelling the President of the party. So with the factional fights that happen, factionalism prevails at the end of the day more than constitutionalism and democracy which hurts a country and it becomes very difficult for a country to be united and for Parliament to be united when that happens. I bemoan Section 129 (1) (k) for it is a stumbling block for the democracy of this country and for the development of this country for politicians.
Politicians are in fear every day, mapoliticians arikukwira makomo avasingazive vachinamata kuti mangwana ndinogona kudzingwa. Vave kutoenda kudzin’anga kuti ndiwane basa iri nekuti mangwana mumwe anongotaura kuti ayihwa. So it also creates unfair advantages to a lot of people. Women must be protected. Other politicians demand so much from women because they say, ‘if you do not then exercise that, I am going to expel you from the party’. This is cruel and it cannot be allowed to happen. May women be free to represent their people without being compromised because of fear of being expelled. I am talking about some women and not all women – so it is important.
Young girls are being abused – ‘come, I will make you a councillor with this whole thing of 30% that has come through, of women councillors’. The question is; are they there on merit or not? Already, there is a stigma in terms of women who are on proportionational representation kuti how are you chosen? You are chosen by the party leadership because you have something that you are doing with them. It is a stigma which again comes from this and whoever is seen talking even from a developmental point of view to this woman, the party leader fires you. So how then can we allow this to continue?
So in closing, I would like to say Mr. Speaker Sir that this issue can only be resolved by the Constitutional Court and it must be clear on who writes the letter? There must be two-thirds of the members who agree to it just the same way that we have two-thirds of the members in passing that – it must be that. So it is a requirement that must see itself in there but as far as I am concerned, we do not need it there. When the electorate has chosen somebody to be their leader for five years, they mean it. May the electorate of Zimbabwe be respected by showing them that the leader that you have chosen is with us for five years and after five years they can choose another leader. So that is something that needs to be inculcated into this Section 129 (1) (k).
I want to thank you and Mr. Speaker Sir, it has been long. I had done a lot of research on this and I hope that those who believe in research and development would have also learnt one or two things. In as much as I bored a lot but when you research, you want to see your efforts going all the way. I thank you