Zimbabwe legislators to use ipads in virtual sitting

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Parliament is set to hold its inaugural virtual sitting today where some legislators will attend proceedings in the Chamber with others following and participating using gadgets in separate rooms.

The holding of virtual sittings is part of a cocktail of measures by Parliament to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Both the National Assembly and Senate sat last Tuesday where Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda announced that there would be virtual sitting to observe social distancing.

This comes as the Constitutional Amendment Bill is set to be subjected to public consultation to seek views of the people before debate in Parliament.

During its sitting last Tuesday, Adv Mudenda advised legislators to familiarise with their gadgets such as iPads.

Adv Mudenda made the announcement when the National Assembly sat at the spacious Harare International Conference Centre as the legislative assembly could not accommodate all of them.

“The Clerk of Parliament is making the necessary arrangement so that from next week all committees will be functional and that Parliament as a whole will be functional.

“It is important to announce to you of the need to be familiar of the functionality of your iPads because of the overflow that is likely to take place when we meet next week. Some of you might not be accommodated in the National Assembly, but will be participating through virtual technology, but within premises of Parliament,” said Adv Mudenda.

“The arrangements will be announced accordingly at the appropriate time so that we avoid any possibility of the paralysis of Parliamentary business. We are coordinating with the Leader of Government Business making sure that we leverage synergies with the Executive for the sake of completing our Parliamentary business.

“The agenda is quite long and we should achieve the intended assignment. As for the public hearings, measures are being put in place so that MPs visit the public and conduct public hearings under very strict regulations and laws as pronounced by the President of the Republic.”

“Following our meeting of Standing Rules and Orders Committee, we have not put in place the necessary administrative arrangement so that Parliament can function as normal as possible,” he said.

Clerk of Parliament, Mr Kennedy Chokuda said they were ready to go virtual.

“We have made the necessary preparations. As Parliament, we need to be seen observing health guidelines as directed by the Government through His Excellency, President Mnangagwa,” said Mr Chokuda.

The reconvening of Parliament is expected to signal the start to holding of public consultations for the Constitutional Amendment Bill.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said Parliament was set to put in place the necessary logistical environment to allow public consultations to be held in terms of the Constitution.

The Constitutional Amendment Bill is set to amend some sections of the Constitution among them to repeal a clause providing for running mates in presidential elections.

It will also provide for the extension by another 10 years the provision of 60 female members of the National Assembly under proportionate representation.

It further proposes to extend by another 10 years, the provision of the election of 60 female members in the National Assembly under proportional representation, while also providing for the setting aside of one constituency per province for youths.

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