BY VENERANDA LANGA
ANTI-GRAFT lobby group, Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) has blamed Parliament’s whipping system for stifling debate on corruption, with MPs ordered to blindly rubberstamp party positions and avoid raising sensitive issues in the House.
In a recent paper titled The effectiveness of Parliament in the fight against corruption: Is the whipping system to blame, TIZ said Parliament had been reduced to a rubber-stamping institution where MPs would interrogate corruption at committee meetings, but remain mum when the issues are taken to the House for debate.
“TIZ avers that corruption in Zimbabwe has become endemic due to laxity in the implementation of the existing legal frameworks, notwithstanding issues of impunity,” the TIZ report
“Parliament has been reduced into a rubber-stamping institution instead of being a platform where the members represent citizens and exercise their legislative and oversight roles without fear or favour due to the whipping system, and section 129(k) whose bias allows political parties to recall MPs,” the TIZ said.
The anti-corruption body said for fear of victimisation, MPs remain guided by the position of their political parties with oversight from the party’s chief whip.
“The whipping system has thus been reduced to a protectionist instrument where individual and party interests are protected at the expense of national interests.”
TIZ noted the continued defiance of section 299(1) of the Constitution which stipulates that Parliament must monitor and oversee expenditure by the State and all commissions and institutions and agencies of government at every level, including statutory bodies, government-controlled entities, provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities in order to ensure that all revenue is accounted for.
“Sadly, corruption remains rampant in these institutions as highlighted by the AG [Auditor-General Mildred Chiri] in her annual reports. Despite the numerous exposes by the AG in her annual reports, Parliament remains incapacitated to deal with corruption.”
“The whipping system has remained a disincentive in the anti-corruption agenda. For example, while all political parties seem to agree on the need for legislative frameworks protecting whistleblowers and guiding asset declaration by public officers, there seems to be no urgency on the part of Parliament to initiate the enactment of such provisions.”
“The whipping system remains a major challenge institutionalised through the Constitution. However, it is imperative that Parliament reaffirms its position in fulfilling the triple roles (legislative, oversight and representation) as provided in the Constitution,” TIZ said.
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