MDC legislator Tendai Biti has condemned the adjournment of parliament at a time when the nation is battling with COVID-19, citing that Members of Parliament are no longer involved in some of the key decision-making processes.
He revealed this during a virtual Public Finance Indaba hosted by Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) on Thursday to discuss public resources management in the era of COVID-19.
Parliament immediately adjourned after the President declared COVID-19 a State of National Disaster on March 17, 2020.
However, it briefly resumed sitting this week with a few MPs in attendance.
Speaking during the meeting, Biti said the absence Parliament gives the Executive powers to make certain decisions without their involvement.
“The absence of Parliament allows the executive to do whatever they want, as you can see right now from January 2020 up to now there are now 102 Statutory Instruments (SI) that have been issued on Covid-19 alone. I as a lawyer I am even battling to read and understand the plethora of SI that have been issued on COVID-19 alone from SI 77 of 2020 to SI 83 of 2020.
“The parliament is the only body in Zimbabwe that can make laws, closing Parliament in a time of disaster does not make sense, Parliament can meet virtually we are on this platform Zoom, Zoom can accommodate a thousand people,” he said.
Biti added that Parliament was not consulted on the ZWL$18 billion Covid-19 economic recovery package announced by President Mnangagwa last week.
“The ZWL$18 billion package, where is that money coming from because in Zimbabwe money can come from the consolidated revenue fund, and we as parliament have not approved a supplementary budget, we know that the Minister does not have room in terms of the 2020 budget,” he said.
“We thought when we set on Tuesday, that we would seek to discuss a supplementary budget instead we sought to fire other Members of Parliament, so that’s a concern the Government can’t spend money without Parliament.
“Where is the ZWL$18billion coming from, it’s not there, the $600 million that was promised for safety nets up to now, it has not been released, without safety nets, our people will die,” said Biti.
“When COVID-19 is over there must be a forensic audit done at the special request of parliament over all resources donated or otherwise that have been used in COVID-19 including donations that have been made in the country,” he said.