How to influence your MP

Members of Parliament (MP’s) can be the most elusive individuals; they are difficult to find and very busy. In Zimbabwe, where most MPs do not even live in their constituencies, it becomes harder to follow up with them and ask them questions that concern you as residents of the area they represent in Parliament.

You have a right under the Constitution to find your MP, ask them what they are doing for you and tell them the problems you are facing in your community that you need them to address.  You also have a right to question how they are using the Constituency Development Fund. There are several ways in which you can reach out to your MP to ensure that they earn their sitting allowance and represent you well.

You can write them a letter. The letter must be

  • Short so that it captures their attention.
  • Polite; using rude language does not get you what you want.
  • Clear; explaining the issue you want to raise with them
  • Precise; about what it wants to achieve. Are you:
    • Asking for specific changes to be made.
    • Complimenting them for their good work.
    • Complaining about poor performance.
    • Seeking clarification on certain programs or meetings.

Call them

  • Make sure you have the right number.
  • Make sure you have enough airtime-there is nothing worse than calling someone only for the call to cut before you finish saying what you set out to say.
  • Plan what you’re going to say- you do not want to sound unprepared. And honestly MPs are very busy people so you can’t just call to chit chat, ka.
  • Jot down notes of the things you want to say to them.
  • If you don’t manage to get hold of your MP and reach their Personal Assistant, ensure you get the name so that you can use that to follow up in the future.
  • Keep your call short so that it captures their attention.
  • Be polite; using rude language does not get you what you want.
  • Be clear about what you want to say to them. Are you:
    • Asking for specific changes to be made.
    • Complimenting them for their good work.
    • Complaining about poor performance.
    • Seeking clarification on certain programs or meetings.

Request a meeting

  • Make the request by either calling them or sending them a letter or an email.
  • If the request is approved, be prepared for the meeting. Ensure you have noted all of the points you want to raise.
  • The points you make must be backed by facts. Do your research.
  • Do not insult your MP. Simply show them why you are concerned.

Attend a constituency meeting

  • Yes, many people hate this because the meetings happen under trees or in open air in the heat but if you want to have impact then make sure you go.
  • Find somewhere to seat where you will be noticed.
  • Raise your hand to ask your question or make a contribution when invited to do so.
  • If the MP doesn’t invite such questions, have the question or contribution written down and seek audience with them soon after the meeting. This may call for a bit of tactical aggression to get access to the MP. Hand the written submission directly to the MP. Have your name, the date and subject matter written on the submission so that you can follow up in the future.

Follow them on social media.

  • Find out if your MP is on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Follow them on these social media platforms.
  • Comment on their posts making suggestions.
  • Raise new issues with them and always be respectful; if you are rude they will block you or ignore your posts.

Where can you find information on your constituency?

The Parliament of Zimbabwe has a website that has information on constituencies. The information is available here.

 

How to get your MP’s details

There are Parliament Constituency Information Centres (PCICs) in your constituency. They can provide you with details.

If you do not have an Information Centre in your constituency you can contact the Clerk of Parliament of Zimbabwe. He keeps a register of contact details for MPs. You can request these details from him. His name is Mr Chokuda. You can contact him using these details; Address:  Parliament of Zimbabwe, Nelson Mandela/3rd Street, Box CY 298, Causeway, Harare. You can E-mail   : clerk@parlzim.gov.zw or call on landline numbers +263 4 700 181 / 9 or +263 4 252 936 / 55.

Contribute to online platforms that seek to hold MPs accountable.

One of these platforms is the Parliamentary Performance Evaluation Project (PPEP) by the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU). Follow their work on researchandadvocayunit.org and send information about how you are engaging your Parliamentarian to this number +263 772 698 373.

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Disclaimer
The Law Hub website provides legal information to give readers a general understanding of Zimbabwean Law. Its articles and social media posts do not provide legal advice and as such do not create a legal practitioner and client relationship. Examples given may not apply to all real life situations or cases. Readers are urged to consult a legal practitioner on any specific legal questions concerning a specific situation should they need legal advice.