THE EFFECTIVENESS OF PARLIAMENTARY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEES IN CURBING CORRUPTION IN ZIMBABWE.
CHAPTER 1: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY
In this chapter, which serves as the plan of the project, that’s where the guidance will be provided in identifying the research statement. Therefore, the aims, objectives and the rationale of the study will be covered within this chapter. In this regard, the chapter will explain the relevance of the selected topic, and the research questions in order to produce a fair study. Finally, the chapter concludes with a summary of the Chapter.
1.1 Background of the Study
Zimbabwe is a country that uses the concept of separation of powers in governance, thereby creating the three arms of the government which are the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature, each with its own distinctive roles and functions in the running of the state. These roles make the arms to be complementary of one another. In this study, the third arm, the Legislature is the point of focus in its duties.
Legislative authority in Zimbabwe is derived from the people through democratic elections founded on the values of fairness and transparency and is vested in the Legislature. Due to the its nature and system of a bicameral Parliament adopted in 2005, the Parliament of Zimbabwe consist of two houses which are the National Assembly and the Senate. In this regard, Portfolio Committees are found in the National Assembly while the Senate has Thematic Committees.
As a former British colony, Zimbabwe inherited the Westminster approach in the oversight process of the Parliament. The traditional Westminster approach, is regarded adversarial and in some instances oversight is professed to be the purview of the opposition politicians and not the legislature as an institution (Parliament of South Africa, 2006). However, this approach has been embraced in Zimbabwe to let the Public Accounts Committee to be chaired by an opposition Member of Parliament even though the Finance and Economic Development Committee is chaired by whichever side according to the allocation of the committees among parties represented in Parliament.
Oversight entails the formal and informal, watchful, strategic and structured scrutiny exercised by the Legislature in respect of the implementation of laws, the application of the budget, usage of all state resources and public finances and the strict observance of the Constitution, all other enabling Acts of Parliament and statutes. Oversight further incorporates the processes of monitoring of the performance of government ministries, departments and parastatals through the establishment of compliance to the rules and regulations as well as other best ethical practices where there are no formal rules or formalized procedures.
In view of the above, Parliament has an obligation as stated in Section 119 (2) that, “Parliament has power to ensure that the provisions of this Constitution are upheld and that the state and all institutions and agencies of government at every level act constitutionally and in the national interests. Thus, the oversight function is derived from Section 119 (3) which state that, “For the purposes of subsection (2), all institutions and agencies of the State and government at every level are accountable to Parliament.”
As a constitutional democracy, the Zimbabwean Executive is accountable to the Parliament as a body which was elected by the people, to represent their will. Through Portfolio Committees, Parliament performs the Executive oversight by scrutinizing government policies, programmes and government expenditure plans in order to ensure that they are in line with the Acts of Parliament or the Constitution and ensure that the actions of the Executive are intra virus, for national interests, appropriate and procedural. In this regard it is important to take into consideration the doctrine of separation of power so that the Parliament will not seek to govern as this is the function of the Executive.
1.2 Rationale of the Study
The rationale of the study is elaborated by reflecting the aims and objectives of the study in the first stance. In a further step the reason and relevance of the selected topic will be put across, in evaluating oversight and accountability in fighting against corruption through the Parliament Portfolio Committees in Zimbabwe.
1.2.1 Aims of the Study
The study seeks to evaluate how effective the PPCs have been in exercising their oversight role and fostering accountability in government. Further the study aims at evaluating the mechanism that have been put in place by the Parliament in execution of the oversight function of the Committees, how effective they have been and how they can be strengthened in order to create a corruption free Zimbabwe.
The study, therefore aims to evaluate the integrity of public governance through oversight and accountability mechanisms vested in the Parliamentary Committees in a bid to find out if they are useful in safeguarding government against corruption and other forms of inappropriate behaviour and activities that are interrelated to corruption which are nepotism, abuse of power.
It is also the aim of the study to evaluate the process through which the Parliament of Zimbabwe has managed to deal with Committee findings, reports and recommendations and also how the PCCs and Parliament as a whole have taken into consideration reports from private companies, NGOs and other institutions like the Office of the Comptroller Auditor General.
In addition, since ZANU PF is the ruling party, the study aims at interrogating how political-party affiliation and Parliamentary responsibility have been dichotomized in execution of Parliamentary duties, on the part of those Members of Parliament from the ruling party. Since they have an obligation to defend the party that a member of Parliament belongs to, it must not lead to a lack of robust debates and questions in Committee meetings as this is a key mechanism for the institution to conduct genuine oversight and ensure accountability by the executive in fighting against corruption.
The study initially seeks to;
1) Define and discuss the effectiveness of the oversight and accountability role of Portfolio Committees in curbing corruption
2) Evaluate the current oversight and accountability mechanisms used by the Portfolio Committees in fighting against corruption.
3) Outline whether the oversight and accountability mechanisms put in place by the Standing Rules and Orders Committee are successful to oversee and hold the executive accountable in creating a sustainable corruption free Zimbabwe.
4) Assess the extent to which the Members of Parliament understand their responsibility, role and mandate when it comes to oversight and accountability in Parliament by administering a questionnaire that evaluate their understanding of the different aspects pertaining to oversight and accountability.
5) Analyzing the degree to which Parliamentary Portfolio Committees effectively perform and uphold their constitutional mandate to oversee and ensure accountability by the executive.
6) The effectiveness of the measures taken in addressing Portfolio Committees’ findings of corruption and abuse of power within the government institutions.
7) Recommendations to strengthen the arm of government in discharging its duties in fighting against corruption.
1.2.2 Reason and relevance of the topic
The research seeks to clarify the contribution of the oversight role, in promoting transparency and accountability, played by Parliamentary Portfolio Committees in the fight against corruption. This exercise of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees regarding oversight and accountability is evaluated against the guidelines and rules set out in the Standing Rules and Orders and the Constitution as the supreme law of the country. As the study is carried out, as such, some gaps and flaws are noticed or identified of the mechanism used by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees. In the event of such, the hope is that the findings may be used to assist those who are primarily in charge, to improve the mechanisms in place in order to fill and bridge the gaps identified so that the Standing Orders and Rules are well equipped with strategies and planning so that the Members of Parliament through Parliamentary Portfolio Committees can fulfil their constitutional mandate.
The findings will help the MPs to understand their role and their importance in safeguarding public resources on behalf of the people and have culture of taking their constitutional mandates seriously. In this regard, the importance of Parliamentary oversight and accountability of the executive in fighting corruption and other related abuses of office will be established. The study will also contribute to the body of knowledge whether the existing mechanisms and practices of Parliamentary Portfolio Committees oversight in Zimbabwe are effective in ensuring meaningful executive accountability, thus, fostering constitutional adherence and transparency thus curbing corruption.
Apart from that, the study can be used as a guide to the MPs of future Parliaments on how they execute their Parliamentary oversight function due as the study will articulate the factors that affect the oversight mandate of Parliament. In addition, the study assists the general public and the academia to understand the salient features of oversight and accountability in fighting corruption and their core-relationship that exist with constitutionalism. The vision of the Parliament was “To build an effective people’s Parliament that is responsive to the needs of the people and that is driven by the ideal of realising a better quality of life for all the people of South Africa” (Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, 2010) ( hereafter referred to as Parliament). It is therefore important that Parliament focus on oversight and accountability of the executive to ensure the needs of people are met.
1.3 Research Problem
According to Section 119 (2) of the Constitution, “Parliament has power to ensure that the provisions of this Constitution are upheld and that the state and all institutions and agencies of government at every level act constitutionally and in the national interests. Thus, the oversight function is derived from Section 119 (3) which state that, “For the purposes of subsection (2), all institutions and agencies of the State and government at every level are accountable to Parliament.” In this regard, the research problem is arising from the rampant reports of corruption in government ministries and their respective agencies, departments and parastatals when Parliament is the watchdog of the people. In its vision, the Parliament is supposed “to be an effective, efficient, participatory, gender sensitive and democratic Parliament that responds to the needs and aspirations of the people.” In recognizing its constitutional mandate, the Parliament has “to make laws for the good governance of the nation through effective representation of the people, providing oversight on the Executive Arm of Government, other public institutions, including parastatals and scrutinizing finances and resources” (Parliament of Zimbabwe, 2004). The foci point is why corruption is becoming an informal norm in Zimbabwe.
The oversight role is measured by the guidelines, rules and objectives set by the various the Standing Rules and Orders, the constitution and other statutes. There comes a question if there’s a provision of how those in government should be measured to be accountable.
According to the Section 104 (3), “Ministers and Deputy Ministers are appointed from among Senators or Members of the National Assembly, but up to five, chosen from their professional skills and competence, may be appointed from outside Parliament.” In this regard, the Ministers and Deputies are appointed from among those in Parliament, to head of government ministries and their respective agencies, departments and parastatals where corruption is rampant, it is a norm that the President appoints those from his party. The research problem is arising from this constitutional provision and political norm. There arises a question as to whether it is feasible and practical for Parliamentary Portfolio Committees with the majority of their members coming from the ruling party to exercise their oversight role and foster executive accountability to ensure acceptable oversight where the same members of the majority party in Parliament are expected to hold their counterparts to account and oversee their actions without damaging the political party name to which they all belong?
Since MPs have proved to be well vested in their law making duty and representative function, the prevailing corrupt environment has left many wondering if they know and exercise their oversight role effectively. If they are practicing, then the effectiveness is their mechanisms and techniques in fighting corruption is not being noticeable. Is it to the political party relationship and connectedness of the majority of members of Parliament and the executive, thereby leaving the oversight role on the executive to account being the role of the opposition in the legislature.
1.4 Research Questions
1) Influenced by the research problem and the aims of the research, the research questions are as follows;
2) Does the MPs understand their oversight role in Committees?
3) Does the oversight and accountability mechanisms used by Parliament enable the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees achieve their constitutional mandate to oversee and hold the executive accountable?
4) To what extent has the SRO ensured effective oversight?
5) and accountability through its constitutional mandate of oversight?
6) What actions can the Portfolio Committee can do if a member of the executive does not comply with its orders?
7) Do MPs work together in their oversight duties?
8) Do MPs in the ruling party participate in holding the executive accountable?
9) How ZANU PF MPs dichotomize party politics with Parliamentary role?
10) How have the members from Zanu Pf managed to stand, making the executive account for their actions?
11) What actions have been taken in case of a proven case of corruption and abuse of office?
12) Where does the Portfolio Committees report to in cases of corruption?
13) Are the Committee reports and recommendations taken seriously?
14) How effectiveness are the measures taken in addressing Portfolio Committees’ findings of corruption and abuse of power within the government institutions.
This chapter introduced the background of the study, rationale which is structured in two parts comprising of the aims and reason and relevance of the selected topic. Further the chapter introduced the research problem as well as the research questions in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees in curbing corruption through their constitutional mandate of playing an oversight role and ensuring accountability by the executive.
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW