LUSAKA—PARLIAMENT HAS FAILED THE NATION
As MMD youths, we have keenly followed the parliamentary debates and we can emphatically state that the current crop of Members of Parliament have failed the Zambian people.
We are shocked that the MPs including those from the opposition are agitating for the increase in their salaries and allowances.
Our analysis shows that those supporting the motion are doing so to embarrass President Edgar Lungu and his administration.
These MPs fully understand that any increment in their allowances will be rejected by Zambians thereby alienating President Lungu from majority Zambians.
Our appeal to President Lungu is that he should not entertain the Bill to increase emoluments for Constitutional Office Holders including Mps.
By tossing out that Bill, President Lungu will be siding with the poor people of Zambia who voted for him in the January 20 election.
We are further disappointed that the Speaker has allowed shallow debates to continue dominating proceedings and uninformed questions appearing on the Order paper.
We fully agree with UPND Bweengwa MP Highvie Hamududu who stated in his recent debate when contributing to a motion on the report from the Committee on Education, Science and Technology that Parliament has over the years been failing Zambians.
To quote his words, Mr Hamududu said, “Mr Speaker, this House is the apex body in this country. All the 14 million Zambians chose 150 hon. Members to make decisions for them. This House has, over the years, been failing Zambians. So, we must question what education really did to us. If education cannot make us sit together and sort out national problems, then, we should question our education, as hon. Members here.
Mr Speaker, look at the issue of the Constitution, for example. We cannot make a Constitution. The problem is that people cannot forego partisan political interests and sit across a table.
Everyone is partisan. Who said that the Constitution is a partisan issue? It is a national issue. It is always, “My party this” and “My party that.” My friend, Zambia is bigger than the party.”
From Mr Hamududu’s debate, we are able to deduce some things which are worth noting.
The majority of men and women who gather in that August House do not deserve to even enter that House. They are of low calibre and merely interested in serving their bellies.
Late President Michel Sata often referred to his Members of Parliament as useless. He also lamented how weak the opposition had become in his absence. As we celebrate his legacy, we are left with no option but to agree with his sentiments that most of the MPs sitting in Parliament are not adding value.
Over the last few months, we have taken strong interest to monitor Parliament Radio and follow proceedings in the House. As young politicians, we have found the quality of debates in the House uninspiring. The current crop of MPs does not seem to understand their role.
Most of the debates lack national character. They are usually individualised and are approached with a certain lack of seriousness. We have also heard the Speaker at pains to educate his MPs on the need to be serious when they are in the House.
By the time this House is dissolved, we can confidently predict that it would have passed the fewest number of bills in the history of Parliament.
The lack of seriousness is further exemplified by the fact that the House normally adjourns around 18 Hours because there are usually fewer items on the order paper.
A further examination of the order paper reveals something even more shocking. How in the world does an MP bring into the House a question about when Government will rehabilitate a blown off roof at Police Post in Lukulu or when Government will finish the construction of the two toilets at a Market in Nakonde?
If we reduce Parliament to debating community issues, what then will the Council chambers be debating? We know that one of the crucial roles of Parliament is to appropriate funds in the national budget for various programmes but we also know that MPs have a greater role in the implementation of the Constituency Development Funds. Why don’t they channel these issues to the District or Provincial Development Committees or even use CDF to replace blown off roofs and doors at the Headmasters House?
Our colleagues in other democracies use Parliament to push legislation that will shape the future of their nations in the next 50 or 100 years.
Recently, Commerce Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe proudly told the House that foreign investors are free to run block making businesses in Zambia. We expected the opposition MPs to take Mrs Mwanakatwe to task and force her to move a motion to ban foreigners from operating businesses that can ordinarily be done by local Zambians. Alas, our opposition MPs were dozing as usual and that question passed without further debate.
As MMD youths, we can confidently tell the nation that there are less than 15 MPs that are able to debate intelligently with depth of key issues facing the nation.
The rest of the MPs are either dozing or busy counting down to Friday to receive their weekly allowances. We further challenge the Speaker to clamp down on absenteeism and late coming which has become so endemic among the current crop of MPs.
It is a common feature to see our MPs loitering around Manda Hill and Arcades shopping centres as Parliament is sitting. We also know that most questions on the order paper are forced to lapse because the MP who might have filed the question is either absent or running late. We find this practice unacceptable and an abuse of national resources.
The National Assembly of Zambia is one of the well funded public institutions. It therefore follows that it should be producing services that will aid the development process of the nation. It is laughable that MPs who themselves have fallen victims of the draconian and archaic Public Order Act have failed to successfully move a motion for its amendments.
As MMD youths, we wish to place it on record that this current crop of MPs is the most uninspiring. We further urge Zambians to critically analyse the quality of the men and women they are sending to Parliament because that has a direct effect on the quality of debates and the overall conduct of parliamentary business.
We also advise Zambians to take a keen interest in the proceedings in Parliament for them to have an informed basis to judge this Parliament. We also call on young politicians to start positioning themselves to take up parliamentary duties in 2016 if we are to see a change in the manner Parliament is governed.
OFFICE OF THE MMD NATIONAL YOUTH SECRETARY
Contact: Bowman Lusambo
National Youth Secretary