Mr. Speaker, His Excellency the President emphasizes good governance as being key to the attainment of our economic objectives of accelerated development and reducing poverty. Mr. Speaker, we cannot achieve these objectives if we do not strengthen our democratic institutions and in particular the institution of Parliament.
Mr. Speaker, I find it very worrying and
if you permit me, I would want to refer to the Committee's Report that there is a huge gap of over ¢94 billion shortfall as was requested by the Office of Parliament. Mr. Speaker, if we want to achieve and deepen good governance, Parliament is the institution that we must focus on. Mr. Speaker, my greatest worry is, and with your kind permission, I would like to refer to article 71(1) of the 1992 Republican Constitution, because Mr. Speaker, some of the issues that have arisen have to do with the fact that, in the last five years, the President has failed in keeping faith with the requirement of article 71 of the Constitution, yet the President and all Members of Parliament have sworn to uphold the Constitution.
The Constitution mandates the President to determine the conditions of service of Mr. Speaker and his Deputies and all Members of Parliament, including members of the Judiciary. Five years running, His Excellency the President has not obliged to this constitutional provision. We may be given assurances in Budget Statements that it is being addressed. Mr. Speaker, our predecessor Parliament and Members of Parliament still do not know their fate. Many of them do not know
Mr. Speaker, unfairly, if you talk about accommodation, if article 71 was given meaning to, Members of Parliament (MPs) will not complain about decent or indecent accommodation because a comprehensive arrangement would then be made for Members of Parliament. If Members of Parliament are supposed to look for their own accommodation for the State to bear it, rightly so.
But Mr. Speaker, for five years, we hear people saying ‘rule of law'; Rule of law is about the supremacy of the law, yet the law says that determine conditions of service. Five years, you have not been able to determine it and then we do not know what we are doing as Members of Parliament.
Mr. Speaker, may I now refer to your Committee's Report specifically item (IV), and with your permission I quote:
“Mr. Speaker, the Committee observed that the renovation of the Chamber block is still underway and requires a total of ¢13,100 million.”
Mr. Speaker, this is a very vague arrangement. If you look at the investment budget, you are talking about ¢26 billion. We ought to know how much of the ¢26 billion is going into the renovation of the Tower Block. If you say ¢13 billion is required, you have said nothing. We do not know whether the money has been catered for or it has not been catered for. Because out of the ¢26 billion, you have other items listed as investment.
Mr. Speaker, we need to know because we cannot keep running our activities in the vehicles of Members of Parliament or in the corridors of Parliament, as Members
of Parliament; that is wrong. We must show respect to the work that we do as Members of Parliament. We do not have offices and my hon. Colleagues have already reiterated that position.
Mr. Speaker, if you look at another item (VII), it is commending the Government. It is commending the Government for what? Because you are sourcing funding, you have not even come across the funding and yet you are saying that - [Laughter.] Mr. Speaker, while the Committee commends Government for the effort -- what effort? If your effort yields result in the form of secured funding, then we can hail and praise the Government but the Government is still in an effort, whether it will be like another IFC loan which may not be obtained, we do not know; yet we say we should commend Government for sourcing funding -- [Laughter.] I have a serious difficulty with that.
Mr. Speaker, if you would also permit,
finally, in supporting this motion, to make a comment on the investment expenditure of Parliament once again.
On accommodation for Members of Parliament, we spend millions, huge sums of money to accommodate Members of Parliament in hotels, simply because we do not even have a strategic thinking that look, we ought to have anticipated that 230 Members of Parliament would come to Parliament, how much was required, we go and spend money which otherwise could construct permanent buildings to be owned by Parliament for the purpose of housing Members of Parliament - Permanent buildings.
Mr. Speaker, I think that in supporting
this motion, this House must be taken seriously and must be adequately funded if we are to give meaning. I am told that many Members of Parliament do