Revolving of Parliament Can Provide Opportunities

Recent calls in the print and electronic media for the Parliament of Zimbabwe to be moved from its colonially-established base in Harare have been welcomed in other regions of the country as a move that will provide opportunities for democratic development, better local governance and improved service delivery.

While other schools of thought would procrastinate on the symbolism of the state’s legislature being permanently grounded in the capital city, other social and economic considerations point to the wisdom of such a move.

The Parliament in any modern-day electoral democracy is where power resides, where decisions affecting every corner of the country are made and the people’s elected representatives, with the power to influence any national process, meet regularly to deliberate on the state of the nation and the future.

The national budget and its consequent implementation can be equated to a bakery that manufactures the national cake. Is it any wonder then, that a majority of the country’s civic, administrative, economic and political activities are located in the same city as the Parliament?

Every company manager wants to be near the political leaders (whether ethically or immorally) who have a say in tenders. Every government office is, by necessity rather than preference, bound to be near the August House for ease of government processes.

National events are undertaken in Harare for the reason that honorable members of Parliament, some of whom are members of cabinet, all reside in the capital city for the duration of Parliament’s seating hence any organizer will cite the logistical advantage of having the event in the capital city. National commemorations, conferences, seminars and state funerals all take place in the city mainly because of the location of Parliament.

Harare is the overcrowded urban slum nicknamed “Bambazonke” today because all the three arms of government are permanently stationed there while other sectors such as the arts, economics and administrative have followed suit.

As a consequence, people from all walks of life converged on the company in the knowledge that where there is power, there is money due to the functions, processes associated with the August house. Hotels, restaurants, fuel stations, beverage companies and other attendant businesses have also set up camp in Harare.

Local government experts and development practitioners all concur that the service delivery catastrophe bedeviling Harare is a result of not only rural-urban migration but also urban-urban migration as people crowd in the city in search of opportunities, only to burden a service delivery system created in the colonial-era for a limited population. The relocation of Parliament, either permanently to another city or on a rotational basis, shall decongest the capital city and relieve its already strained service delivery sector.

Other regions are being deprived the opportunity to fully take part in the country’s governance processes because Parliament is grounded in Harare. The principles of democratic developmental practice stipulate citizen participation as a means for residents to monitor and evaluate national policy and practice which finds best expression in Parliament.

Residents attending a seating of Parliament get the opportunity to assess whether their concerns are being dealt with by the legislative body and also whether their representatives are representing their concerns. Since the legislature was set up during colonial times, the right to participation has only been a privilege for Harare citizens, to whom it is geographically and economically possible to attend. Other citizens from other regions have to fork large amounts in travel and accommodation fares to be able to see Parliamentarians debating, in Harare, policy that affects people in Old Luveve or Esiphezini.

It has to be also noted that the international community resident within the borders of the country has noted the trend and have consequently set up all the embassies in Harare. This has led to most aid or funding opportunities going to Harare or areas surrounding because of the proximity to these offices.

All across the country, people are not aware what the foreign community is doing for Zimbabwe, or against Zimbabwe, simply because all the consulates and embassies are crammed into Belgravia, Mount Pleasant and Avondale, far away from residents in other parts of the country who could benefit from their largesse. The call for the relocation of Parliament then is a call, not for the national cake, but for the bakery that makes the cake. Only that way can communities and regions in Zimbabwe develop equitably.

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