In its efforts to increase capacity and effectiveness of Parliament’s oversight role in the management of public finances in the course of the 9th Parliament, SAPST with support from ZIMCODD facilitated a policy dialogue meeting between Members of parliament and the Media on the 2018 Auditor General’s report. The aim of the policy dialogue was to create a platform where the media field questions to Parliamentarians on the findings of the Auditor General’s report and the action that Parliament is taking on the report’s findings and recommendations. This intervention sequentially ensures that Parliament goes beyond considering reports of the OAG’s Office as a matter of routine as well as ensuring that the reports are publicised in order to generate action.
The ZIMCODD Communications Officer Angella Mandoreba, three Parliamentarians from both the ruling and opposition political parties namely Hon Priscilla Misihirambwi-Mushonga, Hon Willias Madzimure and Hon Felix Mhona and a total of 17 Journalists from various media houses attended the event. Media representatives were drawn from the following newsrooms as follows:
Print media- Daily News, Newsday, Herald and Financial Gazette.
Broadcast TV and Radio- ZBC TV, Star FM, Zimpapers TV Network (ZTN) and Voice of America (VOA)
Online Media- Open Parly Zimbabwe, NewZimbwe.Com, New Ziana and 263 Chat and Mail and Telegraph.
Hon Priscilla Misihairambwi Mushonga attended the dialogue session in her capacity as the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption (APNAC) chairperson, an organisation which aims to coordinate, involve and strengthen the capacities of African parliamentarians to fight corruption and promote good governance. Hon Mhona is the current chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development whilst Hon Madzimure sits in the Public Accounts Committee and former chairperson of APNAC.
SAPST Deputy Director Mr Israel Chilimanzi welcomed the guests and gave the opening remarks on the objectives of the policy dialogue meeting before Angella could give a highlight of the key issues that emanate in the AG’s report and the recommendations by CSOs thereof. Members of Parliament also took turns to give an overview of their contributions on the AG’s report before the Media could ask them critical questions.
Some of the key highlights raised by Parliamentarians in their presentations and during the question and answer session are as follows:
- Government to impose mandatory disclosure of assets laws on MPs and public officials to promote transparency and accountability.
- APNAC to strengthen parliamentarians’ fight against corruption and initiate private members’ Bills to ensure anti-corruption laws are tightened, for instance, the need for a Whistleblowers’ Act.
- PAC to have a serious attitude towards corrupt people, evidenced by their recent reports which recommended firing of corrupt government officials.
- Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) will now sit in the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in a move meant to help them identify looters who will be giving oral evidence.
- Need for the Docket system to be changed to electronic so that it is not tempered with.
- Need for AG’s findings to lead to arrest of corrupt elements.
- Media should focus on reporting on developmental and factual issues rather than sensationalism
- More needs to be done in dealing with issues of the whipping system when it comes to passing of Bills in Parliament
- There is need to fully capacitate the AG’s office so that they execute their duties swiftly