PARLIAMENT is in the process of establishing a budget office whose function, among others, will be to conduct analysis and research on social and economic policies passed by cabinet in a bid to increase its oversight role on the executive.
Speaker of the House of Assembly Jacob Mudenda told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the budget committee would take special interest in public finances and the budget process.
“We hope that before the end of this third session of the eighth parliamentary session, the budget office would have been established and will look at the best way to improve the legislative process on a comparative basis of best practises obtaining in various jurisdictions,” Mudenda said.
“In that budget office, we should also be able to introduce the new concept of development evaluation practice, which will assess qualitatively and quantitatively the outcomes of the budgetary allocations as undertaken by various line ministries and government entities such as parastatals and municipalities.”
Mudenda said in that regard, parliament will have to increase programmes on human capital development for legislators under Institutional Strategic Plan 2014-2018 so that MPs become effective high-profile representatives of the electorate.
The world over, parliament’s oversight work is directly related to the independence of the institution and ability of members to raise a critical voice against shortcomings identified in other organs of the state, particularly the cabinet.
Meanwhile, Mudenda also said the process of re-alignment of legislation to the new constitution adopted in May 2013 is taking long because of lack of capacity and under-funding at the Attorney-General’s (AG) Office.
He said the AG’s Office was incapacitated because of a lack of drafters, hence the slow pace of aligning the country’s laws to the constitution.
At least 400 Acts of Parliament are yet to be aligned to the new charter two years after it was adopted. By June this year, only 158 laws had been tabled before parliament for re-alignment.
“The re-alignment of laws has been on the slower pace in the first and second session of parliament and one of the major reasons is that the Attorney-General’s Office is understaffed in the drafting department,” Mudenda said.
“However, the Ministry of Justice is also attending to the impediment as a matter of course.”
He said parliament had made suggestions to the Justice ministry that the Faculties of Law at the University of Zimbabwe, Midlands State University and Great Zimbabwe University be roped in to do the ground work of the re-alignment process in order to ease pressure in the AG’s Office.
The Law Society of Zimbabwe, he said, could also be approached for assistance.
Last month, a leading research institution, Research and Advocacy Unit (Rau) said the first session of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe, which ended in October last year, performed dismally as legislators failed to ensure the harmonisation of the country’s laws with the new constitution.
Parliament only passed six bills.