THE president of the Senate, Cde Edna Madzongwe, has urged the media and civil society organisations to name and shame corrupt public officials to foster accountability in the use of public funds.
She said the media and CSOs must work closely to promote transparency in the use of public funds through exposing corrupt activities in councils and state institutions.
Cde Madzongwe said this while addressing a joint capacity building workshop for journalists and members of civil society in Bulawayo yesterday.
The workshop was organised by the Parliament of Zimbabwe with the aim of capacitating journalists and civil society organisations with requisite skills to foster accountability when it comes to public funds, especially in local authorities and state institutions.
Cde Madzongwe’s call comes amid growing concerns over rampant abuse of funds in such institutions.
“CSOs and the media must name and shame corrupt public officials serving in our local, national authorities, as a preventative measure to deter recurrence of the same.
‘‘Our Committee meetings, including those of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), are open to the media. This has ensured greater press coverage, thus enhancing public awareness and stimulating debate,” she said.
Cde Madzongwe also encouraged the PAC to work closely with the press and civil society for it to succeed in exposing graft and malpractices by public officials.
“While the law provides that the State and all agencies of Government at every level are accountable to Parliament, I believe that we are all accountable to the people of Zimbabwe and this is where the role of the media and CSOs come in”.
Cde Madzongwe said participatory democracy, which is enshrined in section 141 of the Constitution, demands that all interested and affected parties must get the ear of Parliament whenever they have issues they want to raise.
“Our revised Standing Rules and Orders now have a simplified procedure of how to petition Parliament and expect a response within 21 working days to the petitioner or petitioners,” she said.
The Senate president said Parliament is cognisant of the important role that both the media and civil
society play in connecting the legislature to its key stakeholders, particularly the public.
“The media is not only an indispensable bridging institution between Parliament and the public, but must also serve as a ‘watchdog’ against all kinds of financial misappropriation. How well the media fulfils these functions is vital. Civil society on the other hand, does not just refer to non-governmental organisations, but a body of active citizens, working together in many different ways to solve the common problems of the people [of Zimbabwe] and to defend their interests,” she said.
Cde Madzongwe challenged journalists and CSOs to familiarise themselves with the legal framework governing financial reporting by local authorities.
More importantly, she added, they must also analyse the Auditor General’s Reports and publicise them in the court of public domain.
The Clerk of Parliament, Mr Kennedy Chokuda, highlighted the legal provisions governing the running of Parliament, the role of the media in Parliamentary reporting as well as the duties of the PAC. chronicle