PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday challenged parliamentarians to be accountable to the people who elected them into office and help to push forward the country’s vision.
President Mnangagwa officiates at the new Parliament Building ground-breaking ceremony, while Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi, China’s Acting Ambassador to Zimbabwe Cde Zhao Baogang, Cabinet ministers and Government officials look on in Mt Hampden yesterday.
Speaking during the ground-breaking ceremony for the new Parliament building in Mt Hampden, Harare, Mnangagwa also warned MPs against bunking parliamentary sessions as they had a critical role to play in the country’s development.
“I urge all parliamentarians to understand that they have a critical role to play as they enact and pass laws that will propel attainment of our national vision 2030. As such, hard work, diligence and commitment to duty must be embedded in all parliamentarians. In the Second Republic, non-attendance of meetings and dereliction of parliamentary duty should not be tolerated,” he said.
Mnangagwa said it was critical for legislators to ensure the smooth and efficient passage of laws while demonstrating accountability to the electorate.
“In undertaking your duties, I exhort you to be mindful that the law, as an instrument of development, must enable, facilitate and promote development and change. As such, I challenge you to demand urgency to the pace that the various legislative reforms are being implemented,” he said.
“In addition, Members of Parliament must be accountable to the people, both individually and collectively, as they have the onerous burden to truly represent the people that elected them into office.”
The President said citizens should hold their legislators to account with regards to their activities in the august House.
The sentiments come at a time when several parliamentarians have been accused of absconding parliamentary sessions and not taking the business of the House seriously.
During a parliamentary workshop held in May last year, Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, blasted MPs for failure to take Parliament business seriously after they came late to a budget orientation workshop.
“We want to contribute towards the turnaround of the economy, and as a leading institution we have to respect time because Parliament is doing serious business; we are not playing kids’ games, and the title of honourable has to be respected,” he said.
Last week, Mudenda repeated the same sentiments and said Parliament was crafting stringent rules and regulations to deal with legislators who did not behave honourably in Parliament.
This came in the wake of MDC MPs being ejected from the House for refusing to stand up in honour of Mnangagwa during the National Budget presentation. The opposition party has refused to recognise Mnangagwa’s legitimacy
Mudenda warned that in future “unruly” MPs will be barred from Parliament and lose their allowances.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa said the new building was conceived as government sought to decongest the old Parliament building that had become too small to accommodate the current 350 legislators and a special grant from China had enabled work to begin.
“Chinese President Xi Jinping allowed the release of new funds for Zimbabwe projects after my visit to China in April this year, including funding – the $1,5 billion for Hwange 7 and 8 expansion project, the $153 million Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport rehabilitation, then the third is the grant, not a loan, to build a new Parliament,” he said.
“The new Parliament building will address congestion challenges at the old Parliament building, the project was mooted many years ago, but resource constraints delayed it and relocation of Parliament will be a catalyst for development around Mt Hampden.”
Mnangagwa said the construction of the new Parliament will create employment opportunities for Zimbabweans.
“The majority of workers during construction will be local; they will be partnering those from China,” he said.
The President said the development will see the construction of modern residential areas in line with a world class city. He dared local developers to claim a stake in the project before foreign investors jumped in.
Construction of the new Parliament building is to be undertaken by Shanghai Construction Group and is expected to be completed within 32 months.
Mnangagwa expressed gratitude to the Chinese government for supporting the country’s development programmes.
Senate president Mabel Chinomona, said the new development will help deal with challenges associated with congestion at the current Parliament building.
“Currently, we are having challenges, not a day passes by without the mentioning of the inadequacies of the present Parliament building,” she said.
The proposed 650-seater multi-million-dollar Parliament building will include the Parliament office building, congress hall, a square and roads on the
33 000-square metre site.