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Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Of political entrepreneurship and greed

By Blessing Vava
Lovemore Moyo:''Right now I am using a
Discovery as an off-road yet juniour
 persons like Deputy Ministers
 are driving better cars''

The demand by legislators to get exit packages after the expiry of the term of office for the Parliament of Zimbabwe cannot go unchallenged and should be dismissed with contempt it deserves. The somewhat debilitating demands by the third arm of government should be scrutinised in comparative terms with the general standards that roles which the MPs are expected to discharge during the tenure of office. These roles include but are not necessarily limited to the following

·       The law making activity

·       The surveillance activity and

·       Constituency service activity

When individuals make a deliberate decision to become part of the government’s their arm in complementary duty to the other two arms namely the executive and the judiciary, they must do so with a general appreciation that it is public call for duty rather than a narrow expectation of primitive accumulation. 
Inside the Speakers garage

Since they were elected our dear legislators have made headlines for the wrong and shocking reasons especially to the electorate who voted them into office hoping to have their grievances being dealt with in line with the afore stated three levels of activities they are supposed to fulfil.

In terms of the law making activity, the legislature has over time degenerated into a rubber-stamping institution with the MPs either sheepishly endorsing directives from the executives and in most cases sustaining a repressive law and policy regime.

 Nabbed:St Marys MP Marvellous Kumalo (centre)
accused of looting CDF Funds

At constituency development level, the majority Mps looted the people’s resources and failed to develop the poor communities. The general expectation that an MP is a people’s servant has since sublimated into abysmal nightmare by day light. In essence the current crop should go and never have the guts to claim even a cent from the treasury. It is equally true that the same MPs, with their powers to summon any person besides the president, the function of surveillance remain moribund and presents an oxymoron sense of self defeat. It seems the only purpose that is left with the legislature is transforming the august house into a begging bowl that delivers nothing except a bubble of hot air.

During the last campaign in the 2008 elections a lot of the MPs had flowery manifestos full of promises of development. Like a man proposing love to a woman, they came out sounding sweet and saying all the right things. But in reality, they are nothing more than wolves dressed in sheep's clothing promising heaven on earth and miracle galore. But deep down they have a hidden selfish agenda to benefit only themselves and their kind.

They promised to deal with issue of service delivery, health, education, clean and available water and electricity, all of which has been the most affecting to the majority of the populace. The manifestos were forgotten and slowly but surely the ideals in them were exchanged for the selfish vices of merriment, primitive accumulation and self aggrandisement.  

When Zimbabweans voted for them, they wanted the issues mentioned earlier to be addressed as a matter of urgency not packages or allowances for MPs. But alas since 2008, nothing much has been done to improve these communities mainly because of a leadership dearth, corruption recorded both at local government and  the Houses of Assembly.

Mutare West MP Shuah Mudiwa (MDC-T):
“We are approaching the end of the session
and we have no assurance that
we will be coming back.
 Can the minister tell us if he is going to
 give us exit packages and allowances?”
None will forget their demands for a car every year which left many Zimbabweans in a state of shock. The current bunch of legislators is the worst we have had since independence always looking for avenues of milking the treasury dry, while turning a blind eye to their constituencies. The lack of qualitative socio-economic and political debates in the house leaves a lot to be desired, it was neither impressive nor informed by a genuine desire to alleviate the poverty endured by the electorate: NOT impressive at all as nothing much was done as far as the legislative reform and formulation agenda is concerned.

Their affinity for luxury is regrettable. Its  sobering as it is mind boggling for an MP to claim an exit package as if they had been working for a company. Zimbabwe has no room for political entrepreneurs! Already they have gobbled enough the money from the treasury, namely their vehicles, allowances and hotel accommodation and the Constituency Development Funds they put to personal use rather than developing their constituencies.

Poverty taking its toll in many constituencies
Those who are calling for these packages know very well that they have not done anything for their constituencies during their horrible stint in parliament, they are fully aware that the electorate will not vote for them again so they want to benefit for the last time. It will be a record set in that some will leave the house after five years without uttering a word in parliament apart from the swearing-in ceremony. The other opportune time they opened their mouths was when they were either singing the national anthem, or heckling other honourable members during debates and of cause they open their mouths wide during those lunches hosted for MPs.

Since 2008, the MPs are now proud owners of two vehicles, Isuzu vehicles they were scandalously given by Gideon Gono, and the Mazda BT50 from the treasury. In Zimbabwe being an MP has since become a profession and one way of getting rich quickly as evidenced by these outrageous demands and all that they acquired during this session of parliament. But the time has now come when rhetoric and empty promises will not have space in our political landscape.

The calibre of legislators we currently have leaves a lot to be desired. It is simply mediocre!  In the previous election some became MPs mainly because of bravery at the height of political violence and not what they were capable of delivering. At least the coming in of the inclusive government has afforded an opportunity to the electorate to assess the quality of leadership we have. The coming election will not be about protest voting, it will not be about bravery, but those who are capable of delivering.  Those who are corrupt will surely be shown the exit door.

Blessing ‘Vuvuzela’ Vava is a blogger from Chipinge, who believes in the ideals of the Peoples Charter. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmaill.com