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LOOKING at the manner that services are delivered in the country and some of the recent happenings, I thought who is to blame for the whole mess?

We complain about non-availability of drugs in hospital, closure of learning institution, bad roads, and non-provision for increase in salaries for civil servants, meagre amounts given to the elders as an allowance, laws not being passed, security forces enjoying a large share of the budget, and so on. Is a person or institution to blame for all these problems?

The drama with the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill (SODV Bill), however, took me to another level of thinking about the problems. Our parliament is sick. But why? Where on earth will a chairperson of portfolio committee decide to go against the decision of the committee and remove clauses in a Bill that is to be debated in Parliament? Is the chairperson aware of his duties and what he has powers to do and what powers he does not have? It was not surprising to me that the chairperson had difficulty to even motivate his own motion.

When you try to do something that you know is wrong and not supposed to be done but you are forced to do so because you are pleasing someone, then you will have such problems. You have no conviction in what you are submitting but you are just doing it for the sake of pleasing someone.

I then wondered why was the chairperson doing this and my thinking took me to the Constitution to try and respond to the question and I realised that we will be blaming the sick Parliament yet the Constitution is also not giving the people the power and therefore the parliamentarians are to please whoever they want to please.

I will start with the Cabinet where the laws are crafted and should be implemented. Section 69 (2) provides that Cabinet is responsible to Parliament and not the people. This to me means that whatever Cabinet does, they simply have to please Parliament and must not care whether the people are happy or not.

To me this means that because parliamentarians have a medical aid and can afford to buy medication from pharmacies, they will not feel the pain of going to hospital and come back with no drugs. As long as Cabinet makes sure those parliamentarians medical aid is paid, then Cabinet is safe as the people whom they are responsible for are happy. Who will then speak for the general populace?

It is not disputed that section 84(1) mentions that the people are to be represented by their freely chosen representative in government. But from what we have experienced this far, are the people of the country truly represented in government? A representative is someone who carries out instruction of the person who gave him or her a mandate. Now the question, do our parliamentarians carry out the mandate of the people who elected them? If I were to ask, was the chairperson of the portfolio committee carrying out instructions of the people of his constituency when he decided to unilaterally scrap out some provisions of the SODV Bill?

Or was it the mandate of the committee he is heading? Why then was one member of the committee and the DPM out crying that they are not aware of the changes in the Bill? Who then mandated him to withdraw the Bill? In my opinion this demonstrates that the man was on a frolic of his own and trying to please whoever he was pleasing by doing this and unfortunately it backfired.

Who is to blame for all this? I then got an answer that the chairperson of the portfolio committee is not to blame for all what he did. I was also blaming him and feeling he was wrong in doing that. Reading through section 79 of the Constitution I came to the conclusion that the chairperson was not wrong in doing what he did. The section 79 provides that the basis for election in our country is on an individual merit. That applies to appointment as well.

To then act as an individual without the involvement of others is what guarantee’s one an election or appointment into public office. So the Chairperson was acting on his individual merit and that is what would guarantee him going back to parliament. This section removes the responsibility of the elected person to the people because if the does not have individual merit he is out of parliament.

It is this individuality that causes all the problems. If as an elected person I receive instructions from my constituency which instruction does not guarantee me a merit then I should not carry out those instructions as I may not be elected or appointed for lack of merit in what I do. I think it was the same reason Matsanjeni North Member of Parliament decided to renegade against his own submission.

Such submission was not going to give him a merit. So is the chairperson of this portfolio committee. Cabinet is responsible to parliament and parliamentarians must act on individual merit, why then do we expect them to do what is beneficial to the people of the country. So who is to blame?

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