MPs economic literacy rate embarrassingly low: Speaker

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Phillimon Mhlanga

Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda, yesterday flagged the current crop of Members of Parliament’s economic literacy rate saying it was shockingly low, something which deters them from contributing positively to the national dialogue processes.

More than half of the  of legislators in  in Parliament are not making any meaningful contributions  to the legislative agenda, raising questions about the  caliber of individuals sent to represent the interests  of the people.

“The level of people coming into Parliament is shocking,” Mudenda, told more than 300 delegates at the on-going CEO Africa Roundtable in the resort town of Victoria Falls.

“Most of them are not good material for dialogue processes. I once asked what a budget is, and very few understood it. I was shocked. So, these are the people I was given by the Constitution into Parliament and it’s a sad issue because they lack intellectual capacity. The Constitution of Zimbabwe allows them to be members of Parliament, because it only asks for one to be above the age of 21, a registered voter, among the qualifications,” he added.

He said Parliament was now considered the weakest of the three Chambers-the Executive, the Judiciary and Legislature-suggesting the Constitution should be amended to allow the right calibre of Parliamentarians to play a significant role to the power play of politics of the country. He blamed the political parties.

“I blame political parties who allow anyone into Parliament. That should not be the case,” Mudenda highlighted.

“They (political parties) should have better representatives in Parliament. They should chose people of substance and that remains the difference in Parliament. A motion should be raised to change our Constitution to say the minimum educational qualification for one to be a Member of Parliament should be so and so, a certain acceptable level. But, the problem is that political parties reward the politics of patronage. If they don’t like me, if they don’t like my face, they will not allow me to stand for the party in elections, that should change, through the amendment of the Constitution, because the current situation is dangerous for the country,” he added.