Zvamaida Murwira, Harare Bureau
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa has rapped MDC-T legislators for continuously demanding that all Cabinet ministers attend Parliament despite there being deputy ministers and some ministers in the Chamber at all times.
In an interview last week, VP Mnangagwa said the public posturing by the opposition legislators was meant to please their handlers.
Question time in Parliament on Wednesdays has often been disrupted by MDC-T lawmakers who launch protests over the number of ministers in the House.
But VP Mnangagwa said there was no justification for MDC-T MPs to raise those complaints or make such demands.
“Ministers are Honourable Members of Parliament and in my view are responsible persons,” he said. “Most ministers have deputies. I have no doubt that the deputies understand the policy of the ministry for which they are deputies. So, the question time is an issue of policy and not of statistics.
“Question time is about what is the policy, the direction, the vision (of a ministry). How would you have a deputy who does not know what his ministry is doing and where it intends to go? In many cases, the ministers would be engaged elsewhere, but their deputies would be there.
“But in most cases at least six or eight ministers would be in the Chamber and above all, I come. I cover (as Leader of Government Business) all ministries, it does not matter which one, in terms of policy; I would be able to answer.”
VP Mnangagwa said the tendency to blame Government ministers was in most cases unfair.
“It is the opposition (which does that) but that is their duty; I do not blame them, that is their duty to criticise,” he said. “If there are no ministers, they can make the noise and it passes, because their constituency must know that they are talking, so they must talk, but there have been no questions that have gone unanswered.”
On his party, VP Mnangagwa said he reminded ministers during Cabinet meetings every Tuesday of the need to attend Parliament the following day.
“Every Tuesday I remind my colleagues in Cabinet that the next day, Wednesday, there will be question time, so most minsters who are able to come will do so, but those who are committed elsewhere will make sure that their deputies are there,” he said.
“But you find that members of the opposition may not want deputy ministers to answer, they want the particular minister to answer. This is democracy, they are allowed to make noise.”