Zimbabwe's business people must actively consider running for Parliament,

Zimbabwe's business people must actively consider running for Parliament,
Published: 17 February 2019 (217 Views)
Zimbabwe's business people must actively consider running for Parliament, a former United Nations under-secretary general has said, adding it would be their only path to influence public policy as they voice stark disagreements with how the economy is being run.

Yumkella, who is running for president in Sierra Leone, said the legislative power of the Republic is vested in Parliament, and needs smart business people to make and pass sound laws, debate issues with depth, and also effectively scrutinise and oversee the actions of the Executive.

He told delegates at the CEO Africa Roundtable being held in Victoria Falls that Zimbabwe needs business people in Parliament to help it excel at all types of innovation to raise productivity, meet the challenges of globalisation, and live within its environmental and demographic limits.

He spoke after National Assembly speaker Jacob Mudenda complained that Zimbabwe was not sending the right people to Parliament, with most of the elected representatives "shallow."

Mudenda told business executives that he has sent some MPs for training through an NGO to help them appreciate Money Bills, but was flabbergasted in the subsequent meeting when they failed to answer what a national budget is.

After a national budget has been presented to the National Assembly, two money Bills have to be passed by Parliament: an Appropriation Bill, which gives legal force to the estimates of expenditure and a Finance Bill - which makes legal provision for changes in collection of revenue such as taxes, custom duties under this year's national budget, and this needs heavily business-oriented people to scrutinise.

"It's a cause for concern, really," Mudenda told the business bosses, clarifying, however, that Parliament also had highly qualified and intellectual people, but their talent is fully wasted due to the unending agitation, ego issues and the scourge of laggards in the 9th Assembly.

Yumkella said a Parliament populated by business people can easily put government on mat by asking tough questions in Question and Answer Hour and even discussions on various topics.

"Stand up and be counted," he told the CEOs.

"Someone was asking for more politicians, right, in the Parliament, please go into Parliament, let us have more businessmen in the Parliament. You can be in Parliament and run your business, don't worry. I don't know about here, you can be a consultant too, you can continue your practice.

"If you don't have the right people in Parliament, the government will misbehave big time. Parliament becomes an extension of the Executive," the former UN Energy boss said

This comes as critics have said the 9th Parliament is being blighted by nonsense agitation, failure to discuss issues coherently, with some MPs just interested in stirring chaos.

Yumkella said people must understand that Parliament is for them and that it is a critical place where the laws which decide the wellbeing and security of citizens are made, hence citizens are expected to send the most eligible candidates as their representatives.

But what happens in reality in Zimbabwe's Parliament is quite depressing, critics say.

Most of the political parties and their candidates lack ideologies, with some of them seemingly unaware what they stand for. All of them want power and an overwhelming majority aim for both power and money.

Yumkella said caste, tribalism and regionalism must not have a major role when citizens vote, but substance.

Most of the time the eligibility and quality of the candidate is not given much importance. Many voters fall for a particular leader's charisma and vote for a candidate just because he is from the party of their favourite leader.

Another important factor is, the choice of people is limited, hence the exhortation by Yumkella to get more business people running.

Independent candidates are very few in number.

Often, this selection of representatives by political parties is not based on merit.

And the public have no choice here, Yumkella said.

Voters have to elect someone from the list of candidates selected by the parties. Hence, critics say, many fools and other unwanted elements including rapists and criminals get elected to Parliament.

Malpractices such as bribing voters and giving false promises also mislead voters.

Because of these reasons, Zimbabwe ends up sending wrong people to the Parliament.

And the quality of legislators has declined over the years, Mudenda said.

And this is evident from the recent happenings in Parliament.

The only peaceful time is when they need to increase their own salaries or get new cars.

Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, a former chairperson of UN Energy and a two-term former director-general of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido), said Zimbabwe's Parliament needs highly qualified and intellectual business people to spearhead the strategic vision for the country's recovery.

- dailynews

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