Opinion

MPs should stop fiddling while hunger stalks

The Parliament of Zimbabwe this week resumed business after the outbreak of the coronavirus prompted a recess.

Watchdogs and civic organisations said the resumption of business was long overdue at a time there have been so many developments happening to absorb the Covid-19 shocks, with the latest being the ZWL$18bn stimulus package.

The package, announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week, seeks to extricate local industry from post-Covid-19 shocks.

Surprisingly, agriculture, once the mainstay of the economy, took the lion’s share—a third of the kitty.


Critics say unlike tourism which is probably the hardest-hit sector,
agriculture did not suffer much from the pandemic.

In fact, during the first three weeks of the strict lockdown, farmers were allowed to sell their produce at main markets dotted around the country.

Understandably, authorities would have a soft spot towards agriculture after the southern African nation embarked on a land reform programme to correct past injustices.


In the aftermath of the agrarian reform, the government would want
to project the narrative that the exercise is now firmly rooted and natives
are reaping the dividends.

Fair enough.

But looking closely, its common knowledge that most farming in Zimbabwe is self-financed and this has been the trend for years.


Now back to Parliamentary business, while many expected that lawmakers would debate on the stimulus package, the August House became a theatre
for settling political scores.

On Tuesday, MDC Secretary-General Douglas Mwonzora followed up on his earlier threat when he wrote to Speaker of the House of Assembly seeking to recall legislators seen as opposing a Supreme Court ruling which reinstated Thokozani Khupe as the leader of the country’s main opposition, in an acting capacity pending the holding of an extraordinary congress.


The legislators that were recalled for not toeing the party line are Prosper
Mutseyami (Dangamvura), Charlton Hwende (Kuwadzana East), Thabitha
Khumalo (Proportional Representation) and Lillian Timveous (Midlands
Senator).

The drama didn’t end there.

MDC Alliance Vice President Tendai Biti said Khupe has no powers to recall legislators.


While all this is happening government is yet to disburse funds to
vulnerable groups including child headed families, orphans, the elderly and
widows who are facing starvation. Just this week, Finance minister Mthuli
Ncube said the Treasury will set up a team of experts that will design the
mechanics of allocating the stimulus package yet hunger, which millions of
people are facing today, cannot be deferred.


Lawmakers, whose primary assignment is the oversight role on central
government, should wake up and smell the coffee.

Millions are facing starvation, some industries may never come back after coronavirus and lives will be disrupted.

This is not the time to fiddle when hunger is causing socioeconomic problems.


According to the World Food Programme over 8 million people, a figure
representing nearly half of the population, is in need of food aid. This is not
the time for political sideshows.

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