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Debunking the Roles of MPs and Councillors

Zimbabweans have been urged to elect competent parliamentarians and councillors in the forthcoming harmonized election scheduled for next year.

This comes at a time voices of dissent over a failing economy, poor service delivery and gross human rights abuses are growing louder.

Also growing louder are campaign promises of better representation, while some political aspirants are already engaged in developmental initiatives meant to entice voters to their side. In Hurungwe, ZANU PF parliament aspirant Nelson Kangausaru is busy with road repairs, and educational initiatives including payment of school fees for the less privileged. He pledges to do more if voted into power.

In Goromonzi South, Ward 25 council aspirant Wisdom Mlambo is already at work in setting up horticulture projects and subsequent market spaces. Developmental activities will only increase as elections draw nearer, while vote buying mainly through food handouts will soon be rampant.

Campaign messages and wayward promises sets up high expectations in the electorate, leading to anticipation of development which is beyond one’s roles as stipulated by the laws. Linda Musarira, president of Lead, an opposition political party said most councillors and legislators ride on the popularity of their president.

“An MPs role in parliament is to legislate, represent and to provide oversight,” said Musarira. “Unfortunately, the majority of Zimbabweans do not even have an appreciation of why they vote for an MP or a councillor because their opinions or votes are based on the most popular presidential candidate without thorough interrogation on whether the candidate can solve the underlying issues which will be affecting the electorate.

“It is imperative for the electorate to understand that a legislator role is to formulate laws through representation of the issues raised in the constituency.” Musarira said there is need to educate the electorate on one’s roles and responsibilities. “All development projects require funding. Political parties, electorate and media have in most instances portrayed Members of Parliament as responsible for road repair, building schools, and stock drugs at a local clinic.

“No one has educated the electorate where the money for road constructing expected to be done by a member of parliament will come from.” Political analyst Lesley Muteyiwa said community development lies in the jurisdiction of councillors.

“Councillors through money disbursed from central government and revenue collected in their area has the mandate to set the development agenda working with their communities,” she said.

“The parliamentarian has a duty to influence and convince local council to important developmental project in their constituencies. “A member of parliament has the responsibility to engage government departments which are for developmental projects.

“On roads, borehole and others the MP can engage District Development Fund (DDF). It does not necessarily mean the MPs engagement with DDF will see the roads and boreholes in the constituency repaired. DDF does not take orders from an Mp.”