Boost to Parliament as EU Supports New ProgrammeMay 8, 2015
The Multi-donor Support Programme for Parliament and the Office of the Auditor General was launched on 8 May 2015 in Harare with a call to protect the Constitution and ensure that all outstanding pieces of legislation are aligned to the provisions of the new constitution.
Funded with a 1.8 million Euros from the European Union the programme will basically focus on the legislative and oversight roles of Parliament. The role of Parliament as the representative of the people of Zimbabwe will mainly be supported by a 500.000 Euros support programme to be implemented by the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust.
The Programme will be implemented by UNDP in collaboration with the Parliament of Zimbabwe.
Saying that the Constitution must cease to be just a document with lofty principles the Head of the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe Ambassador Philippe Van Damme, explained that Parliament “has to become an effective vehicle for consolidations of the democratic process, good governance and economic development”.
“It is for example crucially important that the electoral act is put fully in line with the Constitution. The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, the Zimbabwe Media Commission, the Zimbabwe Gender Commission also all need to be set up and given the means to operate in an independent way,” he stated.
The Ambassador added that some of the most eagerly awaited legislative initiatives “relate also to the implementation of the Declaration of rights, including (but not exclusively) the Criminal Procedures and Evidence Act, the Public Order and Security Act, or the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act”.
In his remarks, the UNDP Resident Representative Mr Bishow Parajuli highlighted the need to focus on training for new Members of Parliament.
“As you may agree, a significant majority of the members of parliament are new, and hence the need for strong capacity development programmes in order to ensure that the decisions of the legislature are anchored on knowledge and skills” observed the UNDP Resident Representative. Mr Parajuli is also the UN Resident Coordinator in Zimbabwe.
Describing the launch of the initiative as timely, he said the focus on enhancing Parliament’s capacities to perform its core functions, as well as promote public participation, accountability and gender equality is of paramount importance for consolidating good governance and democracy in the country.
“This is a timely and welcome imperative” said Speaker of the National Parliament Hon. ADV. Jacob Mudenda, adding that it is becoming increasingly difficult for developing democracies, particularly in Africa, to meet the financial resources required for effective oversight and scrutiny of government performance.
Underlining the role of public participation and consultation with interested parties about Bills before Parliament, the Speaker said citizen involvement would ensure that Parliament business is conducted in a transparent manner.
“We commit ourselves as the leadership of Parliament to meet these constitutional requirements by ensuring that everything that Parliament does is informed by the needs and aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe”.
This is a successor programme that builds on the Two Year Multi-Donor Rolling project that ended in 2012. The New Parliamentary Support Programme is based on priorities identified in the draft Parliament of Zimbabwe Institutional Strategic Plan 2014-2018.