Executive oversight is one of the three core functions of Parliament. The other two are law making and representation. Executive oversight means that Parliament must thoroughly scrutinize and follow-up the work of ministries, government departments and public enterprises and call them to account for their actions. Parliament performs executive oversight by scrutinizing government policies, programmes and expenditure plans in order to ensure that they are in line with legislative intent, are governed by documented policies and procedures and achieve set objectives. Oversight is mainly exercised through the committee system, which is described as the engine of parliamentary work. The committee system provides an effective form of oversight in that it allows members to thoroughly scrutinize and debate policies and legislation out of the spotlight of the House sessions where the temptation to politic affects many MPs thus undermining objective debate. The committee process also helps individual members to contribute their special expertise, or to develop expertise in the areas that they are providing oversight. Parliamentary committees, especially portfolio committees in the National Assembly, have so far demonstrated the desire to assert themselves over the ministries and departments that they shadow. The inquiries into the issue of community share ownership schemes by the Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Committee, chaired by ZANU PF’s Justice Mayor Wadyajena, has been singled out as a good example of a committee delving into issues of public interest. The other committees whose activities have been making headlines include Public Accounts that is currently seized with damning audit reports from the Comptroller and Auditor General; Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs that is working on the Electoral Amendment Bill; Local Government, Rural and Urban Development that is investigating poor service delivery and rampant corruption by local authorities;  and Mines and Energy that has been asking tough questions related to transparency in the management of our mining resources and power supplies. It is interesting to see that the work of some of these portfolio committees is closely related to the motion on corruption, which arguably is one of the most important motions that the last few parliaments have ever handled. Executive oversight is to do with how public resources are managed. So we expect portfolio committees to step up inquiries and investigations into the goings on in the areas that they shadow in order to bring to the fore any suspected cases of abuse and mismanagement of the limited public resources. The recommended ad hoc parliamentary committee to investigate allegations of corrupt practices by senior public officials should be set up as a matter of urgency so that debate in Parliament does not remain mere debate. It is high time action must be taken so that the public have confidence in public pronouncements by the authorities that they are committed to fighting the scourge. While Members of Parliament must continue to highlight corruption issues reported by the media, the debates must also focus on concrete action that has to be taken to bring the culprits to book. While the committee system in the current Parliament has started business on a fairly vibrant note, a fully robust parliamentary committee system can only be realised if there is political will to implement the resolutions of these committees. I am not quite sure that the Executive has so far demonstrated that political will. It seems like business as usual in several ministries despite a huge public outcry and intense debate in Parliament on the mismanagement of public resources. The committees must therefore insist on concrete responses from the responsible ministers with clear action plans that the ministers are accountable to. We cannot continue with a situation whereby sound resolutions from parliamentary committees just gather dust. The leadership of Parliament should also look at the rules of Parliament with a view to strengthen areas that enhance committee effectiveness in holding the Executive to account for its actions. Section 139 of the Constitution empowers Parliament to regulate its proceedings through Standing Orders. These Standing Orders may provide for, among others, the questioning of ministers and deputy ministers by Members of Parliament. The same Section goes on to say that the procedures and processes of Parliament and its committees, as provided for in the Standing Orders, must promote transparency, must encourage the involvement of all political parties in Parliament and the public, and must be fair and just. This constitutional provision provides a good basis for reviewing the Standing Orders in order to ensure that the committee system, which is the engine of parliamentary work, has more teeth in its oversight functions. John Makamure is the Executive Director of the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust writing in his personal capacity. Feedback: john.makamure@gmail.com