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Failing ministers dodge parliamentary grilling

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POORLY performing ministers in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration have resorted to dodging parliamentary sessions, fearing a grilling from unimpressed legislators from across the political divide who have been constantly demanding answers on the falling economy and shambolic service delivery.

MOSES MATENGA

Lawmakers from across the political divide have been demanding answers and challenging ministers, particularly those responsible for economic clusters, to show leadership and stop peddling the propaganda that all is well in the country.

This also comes as senior Zanu PF officials based at party headquarters are said to be unhappy with the ruling party’s representatives in government, particularly those appointed by Mnangagwa. The party grandees say the behaviour and inconsistent policy pronouncements of such ministers will cost the ruling party in the 2023 elections.

MPs are supposed to be grilling the ministers every Wednesday on key issues mainly on policy, but are now tired of explanations as the cabinet ministers are avoiding them, often nudging juniors to answer key questions.

Norton MP Temba Mliswa has been vocal in calling for ministers to take parliamentary business seriously.

Harare East MP Tendai Biti challenged Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda to make an order compelling the truant ministers to change their ways.

We are all aware that the country is burning with so many issues. Inflation in May was 132%, the cost of bread is now about ZW$900, the cost of cooking fat is US$7, school fees have gone up,” Biti said while asking why the ministers were conspicuous by their absence in the House during important question-and-answer sessions.

“Hospital fees have gone up. So we would like ministers to be here so that we exercise our right to ask them questions. The country is burning so we need members of the executive to be sitting on your right so that we can ask questions,” Biti said.

Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya demanded that Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga be summoned to Parliament to speak on the increase in hospital fees beyond the reach of many.

The government this week increased hospital fees, with adults expected to fork out US$12 in consultation fees while children are expected to pay US$6.

The government has been found wanting in addressing key issues, particularly around the economy, with inflation, cash shortages and failure to adequately pay civil servants wreaking havoc.

Education minister Evelyn Ndlovu recently conceded that the government’s failure to address the headache of teachers’ salaries has seen many quitting the profession while others opt to work outside the country in search of greener pastures.

“Of course, low remuneration is a challenge.  I have tried since I joined the ministry, to negotiate with government to improve the salaries.  We have got a challenge, government is trying, resources are limited but we are pushing for continual improvement of remuneration of our teachers,” she conceded.

Civil servants are also pressing for a salary increment as their pay has been eroded by chronic high inflation that continues plaguing the country.

But while the country is faced with severe challenges, ministers have resorted to propaganda to paint a rosy picture of the state of affairs, with Zanu PF insiders and MPs saying the lies will cost the party dearly in the coming elections.

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