Opposition legislators yesterday expressed disappointment with increasing cases of absenteeism among Cabinet ministers in the National Assembly, saying the development portrays a casual approach to issues of national importance by the government side.
The members of Parliament (MPs) expressed the sentiments following absenteeism of ministers, a situation that saw some questions requiring Cabinet ministers’ responses being skipped.
Ministries of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and Finance, Economic Planning and Development had over five questions skipped because the ministers were not in the House.
Leader of People’s Party in the House, Uladi Mussa, described the situation as a mockery. He said the government side lacked seriousness.
He said: “This government is too casual in solving issues of national importance. Where are the [Cabinet] ministers to answer the questions being tabled?”
Despite Thursday being a Private Members’ Day, questions were put on the Order Paper—an outline of business to be tackled on a particular day—for various ministers to answer.
Some ministers were seen walking into the chamber late whereas others did not even show up, prompting the Speaker to pend or skip the questions to a later date.
Every time a question was read out for oral replies by Cabinet ministers, Government Chief Whip Henry Mussa offered apologies on behalf of the absent ministers.
He said: “Ministers are not ready with answers to the questions and let me inform this House that some of them are not in the House, especially Minister of Finance [Goodall Gondwe], because he is preparing for tomorrow’s [today’s] budget presentation. Others have gone out to do equally important duties outside this House.”
Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya expressed his disappointment with the rate of absenteeism, saying the ministers should have delegated their colleagues as they were given the questions in advance.
He said before questions are included on the Order Paper, ministers are informed and they sign for the same as confirmation that they will provide the answers.n