Parliament of Zimbabwe Open Day -2017
Greetings fellow bloggers, I hope I find you in good spirits as we brave the chill associated with the impending winter season!
It is no coincidence fellow bloggers that the title of this article embodies the haunting words of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, though they have been tweaked to refer in particular to Parliament of Zimbabwe. Parliament as the supreme representative institution is, and should be, to all intents and purposes, a Parliament “of the people, by the people for the people.” Parliament is the central institution through which the will of the people is expressed and through which popular self- government is realised in practice. How well Parliament of Zimbabwe is fulfilling this role and how representative of the people it is in all their diversity, is a subject for another day. The focus of this article is instead on a new innovation that your Parliament is introducing in order to make it more open to you, the public, and more responsive to your needs. Frankly, we have no other choice, for Section 141 of the Constitution enjoins us to “facilitate public involvement in the legislative and other processes of Parliament and in the processes of its Committees.” In pursuit of this onerous constitutional mandate, we committed ourselves, through the Vision of the Eighth Parliament, to creating an ‘effective, efficient, participatory, gender sensitive and democratic Parliament that responds to the needs and aspirations of the people.
True to our strategic Vision of being a participatory and responsive Parliament, and in line with our endeavour to fulfil the afore-stated Constitutional obligation, your Parliament will host the inaugural Parliament Open Day on Thursday 8th and Friday 9th June, 2017. This two day event, which is jam- packed with activities and festivities, will see Parliament opening its expansive doors to you, the public, from whom its legislative authority is derived. There will be plenty of spot prizes for lucky visitors to the exhibition in the Parliament Car Park. The cocktail of activities over the two days will include:
· Exhibitions by Parliament’s Directorates detailing their roles and functions
· Exhibitions by Parliament’s co-operating partners outlining the work they have done with Parliament;
· Guided tours of Parliament building;
· One-on-one interactive sessions with Presiding Officers and Members of Parliament; and,
· An opportunity to witness Members of Parliament in action during sittings of the National Assembly and the Senate.
The Open Day will be preceded by a week- long exhibition at the National Art Gallery- essentially, a pictorial expose of the evolution and history of your Parliament. The exhibition at the National Art Gallery will run from the 2nd to the 7th of June 2017.
I must admit though, that thus far the scheduled activities do sound sombre and business- like don’t they? Well, brace yourselves for that is far from the total package! The two-day event will also provide the much-needed respite from the drudgery of meetings and exhibitions. The adrenaline junkies will be treated to a rare spectacle- football, netball and volleyball matches pitting your elected representatives against staff of Parliament. The officious ties and resplendent suits, the interjections and points of order, will give way to sports attire and, hopefully, decent football jargon as the likes of the hard- running Hon. Joseph Chinotimba, the skilful Hon. Trevor Saruwaka, the sublime Hon. Tapiwa Mudambo and the agile shot-stopper Hon. Batsirai Pemhenayi pit their football brains against the staff team captained by Yours Truly. The idea is to foster positive interaction between you, our esteemed public, Members and staff of Parliament in an environment unfettered by the procedural obligations of formal settings as well as to enhance teamwork between and among your MPs and staff. As for who will emerge victors on the day, let me say cryptically, that your guess is as good as mine.
So as the day draws ever closer, we appeal to all Zimbabweans from all four corners of the country to turn out in their large numbers in support of this noble initiative by your Parliament. A citizenry that is actively involved in the national governance matrix creates a healthy and thriving democracy. Please keep watching the press and our website for the specific programme of the open day. See you at the National Art Gallery and Parliament. Your comments on how we can make future Open Days better are most welcome.