THE government has declined to issue diplomatic passports to Members of Parliament, saying the legislators did not have a right to own them.
Legislators, represented by Buhera South MP, Joseph Chinotimba (Zanu PF), complained over President Robert Mugabe and Foreign Affairs minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi’s refusal to issue them with diplomatic passports.
National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda said Mugabe told them diplomatic passports would only be given to MPs seconded to the Sadc Parliamentary Forum.
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa said: “We went to Mumbengegwi and he refused, saying those MPs with diplomatic passports were former ministers and they were still valid for five years and they cannot renew them after expiry.
We said we should reduce the number of people to get them, for example, to chairpersons of committees. A diplomatic passport is not a right, there is nowhere in the laws where it says MPs must be given diplomatic passports.”
Meanwhile, Parliament has launched an audit of ministers’ performance to ensure they religiously attend parliamentary sessions and respond to questions raised by backbenchers.
Mudenda announced the move yesterday after Kuwadzana East MP, Nelson Chamisa (MDC-T) complained over ministers’ continued bunking of parliamentary sessions and refusal to respond to motions in breach of Parliamentary Standing Rules and Orders and the Constitution.
Chamisa said despite being paid handsomely with good perks, such as multiple vehicles, ministers were underperforming in Parliament, with the majority failing to table annual reports of their ministries and parastatals under their respective ambits.
“As administration of Parliament, we have begun an audit of those ministers who are due to respond to not only reports, but also motions raised by MPs before the mover of that motion can wind up because this has not been happening,” Mudenda said.
“The audit, that has started, has indicated half a dozen ministers have not been doing that, and we have written to them in person, saying they must come to Parliament, particularly in the National Assembly, to comply with the provisions stated by Chamisa.”
Mudenda said he had written to the Chief Secretary to Cabinet and President’s Office, Misheck Sibanda, to advise ministers that they should liaise with their permanent secretaries in crafting answers to questions raised in Parliament.
“Parliament must protect the Constitution without fear or favour, and that the State and all its agencies must respond to provisions of the Constitution without fail,” he said.
Recently, opposition legislators expressed anger over Mumbengegwi’s failure to attend Parliament and respond to questions relating to the trafficking of women to Kuwait. newsday