Parliament urged to involve public in legislation

Parliament must stick to the new constitution in making sure members of the public are involved in crafting new laws, amendments and repeals, a top Southern Africa Parliamentary Trust official has said.

In a side interview at a workshop for parliamentary reporters in Gweru recently, John Makamure, the director of SAPT, said processes should be people-driven.

In November last year, the Zanu (PF)-led cabinet came up with bills to go to parliament in January for debate and subsequent voting by MPs. The bills included the Sovereign Wealth of Zimbabwe Bill; Electoral Amendments Bill, and the Biological and Toxic Weapons Crimes Bill.

The Sovereign Wealth of Zimbabwe Bill when passed into law will compel firms, especially those in the mining sector, to make contributions to the government in form of royalties. The money is earmarked to fund projects under the economic blueprint, Zim-Asset.

The Electoral Amendment Bill seeks to make numerous changes to the legislation guiding the country’s elections. Some organisations, including the Election Resource Centre, have said that some of its clauses are unconstitutional and are likely to worsen how polls are managed.

Johane Gandiwa, the assistant clerk of parliament, said it was unlikely that parliament could involve the public in its business because it had no money to do so.

“At parliament we do not generate money. It is government that gives it to us. We are having difficulties in paying MPs their allowances and in giving them fuel coupons on time. So the practicability of consulting members of the public on things like promulgating new laws is unlikely,” he said.

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