News / Africa

Zimbabwe Lawmakers Face Seating Shortage

Lawmaker Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, shown here on Oct. 23, 2013, wants Zimbabwe's parliamentary sessions to be held outside the chamber because the facility is too small to house all the members of parliament. (VOA/Sebastian Mhofu)
Lawmaker Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, shown here on Oct. 23, 2013, wants Zimbabwe's parliamentary sessions to be held outside the chamber because the facility is too small to house all the members of parliament. (VOA/Sebastian Mhofu)
— A Zimbabwean lawmaker is proposing that parliament start holding meetings outside its chamber in the capital, Harare.  She says that will solve the problem of crowding in the chamber, which is now too small to house all the MPs. 

Those 270 Zimbabweans might have won parliamentary seats in the July elections, but the fight for a place to sit in the House of Assembly is far from over.  The House was designed to hold only 160 members, giving rise to a seating shortage every time parliament meets.

Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga is one of the MPs tired of scrambling for a seat.  She has proposed a motion that would allow parliament to meet outside the chamber, anywhere in Zimbabwe.

“The very main [point] is that there are too many of us, therefore we are not able to fit in parliament," said Misihairabwi-Mushonga. "The last point is that we had our independence in 1980; why do we still have a parliament that looks like we are in United Kingdom?”

The parliament, which was built during the colonial era, was never expanded when Zimbabwe won its independence from Britain in 1980.  Since then the number of MPs has increased from 90 to the current 270.

In a telephone interview, Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said he was aware that MPs were complaining about the limited space in parliament.  He said the Zimbabwean government had no money to construct a bigger building.

Austin Zvoma, the clerk of parliament, told journalists the same thing ahead of parliament's opening.

“We expect a very good attendance, but it [the chamber] can only accommodate the maximum that it can.  The others might have to sit in the gallery, or standing in the passageway, or waiting just outside the chamber to go in and debate," said Zvoma.

Misihairabwi-Mushonga is not convinced that Harare has no money to build a bigger parliament.

“I think it is just an excuse, we have seen the same government spending resources on other things.  I think it is a question of just prioritizing and saying what is important.  In this instance, if you really believe that parliament is important, you certainly find resources to do so," she said.

Resource allocation is certainly an issue in Zimbabwe, where state ministers drive around in luxury vehicles while about a quarter of the population survives on food aid.

For now, parliament members will have to hurry to grab a seat, or do their legislating while standing.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Shamwari
October 26, 2013 8:33 AM
Somehow people just get the priorities wrong, seating ? how does that affect the ordinary citizen.? I am sure there are far more serious problems confronting ordinary people in Zimbabwe, such as unemployment, food shortages, health and the economy to mention just a few. Please Priscillia remember the people, dont worry too much about the seating.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid