Covid-19: Lazy ministers find fresh excuse to dodge parliament

By Nkosana Dlamini

Sloth cabinet ministers who have often riled MPs through continued failure to attend parliament to respond to questions on key government issues have found a fresh excuse in Covid-19 to continue dodging the house.

Outspoken Norton legislator Temba Mliswa described the ministers as the country’s worst cabinet ever.

Ministers are, every Wednesday supposed to attend parliament to respond to questions on policy issues by backbenchers.

Most of them have absented themselves from the house without any credible excuse, often inviting scorn from MPs who feel the government officials were being disrespectful to parliament.

On Wednesday, led by Vice President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga, eleven ministers did not come to the house claiming they were quarantining themselves after allegedly coming in contact with Covid-19 positive persons.

Speaker Jacob Mudenda said he had been inundated with notices of Leave of Absence from ministers F. Mhona (transport), F. M. Shava (Foreign Affairs), Anxious Masuka (Agriculture), J. G. Moyo (Local Government), Winston Chitando (Mines), Sekai Nzenza (Industry), Mangaliso Ndlovu (Tourism), V. Haritatos (Deputy Minister – Agriculture), D. Garwe (National Housing) and E. Moyo (Deputy Minister – Education).

Said Mudenda, “A number of these honourable members were in contact with people who had tested positive, so they have been advised to quarantine themselves in their respective homes.”

MDC Alliance MP Innocent Gonese who has always quarried the continued absence of ministers from the business of the house asked the Speaker to compel the ministers claiming Covid-19 isolation to participate virtually as has been the case with some MPs during the current Covid-19 menace.

“For example, someone might be in self isolation, but they are actually physically fit, have not tested positive and so are in a position to participate, answer and respond to questions from the comfort of either their offices, homes or wherever they are self-isolating,” said the legislator.

In his response, Mudenda said “when someone has been told by the doctor to be at home under quarantine and observation, that person is likely to be a patient”.

“So, they follow the doctor’s advice. I do not think that they can be engaged virtually but those who think they can do so on the advice of their doctors may proceed accordingly and we will accept their virtual attendance.

Mliswa singled out July Moyo for rebuke, claiming the minister was behaving like the country’s Prime Minister.

“So, he is never here and like I said, he behaves like a Prime Minister and maybe he is a de facto Prime Minister, I do not know but him being a senior Minister must lead by example,” he said.

“This becomes the worst cabinet ever, some of them in terms of their performance, the Auditor General’s office and from the people point of view; from the constitutional view, they have let the President down and the people and they have let the Constitution down, shame on you.”