Zimbabwe: Speaker Calls for Laws to Promote AI

SPEAKER of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda has called for crafting of legislation that promotes the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the implementation of national policies, saying it will help the country realise its developmental goals as Zimbabwe aims to attain an upper middle income status by 2030.

Officiating at the Parliament of Zimbabwe Institutional Strategic Plan (ISP) for 2024-2028 workshop in Victoria Falls yesterday, Adv Mudenda said globally, Artificial Intelligence is now a key anchor of science and technology in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Parliament is crafting a skeletal strategic plan which will be presented to legislators for input to enable the fulfilment of constitutional mandates and to adeptly respond to the dynamic needs of diverse internal and external stakeholders.

Parliament had its inaugural ISP during the 2001 to 2005 Parliament and the 7th strategic plan is meant to guide the 10th Parliament and will replace or complement the 6th ISP that ended on the dissolution of the 9th Parliament ahead of last year’s harmonised elections.

“Today, we assemble once more, not only to reflect upon the past performance of the predecessor Institutional Strategic Plan, but meticulously craft and refine the successor Institutional Strategic Plan of the 10th Parliament, which will guide and illuminate the path of the constitutional mandate of the 10th Parliament,” said Adv Mudenda.

“As we embark on this journey, let us do so with a spirit of collaboration, innovation and strategic intent, fully committed to the noble pursuit of excellence in our parliamentary responsibilities.”

Adv Mudenda commended the Clerk of Parliament Mr Kennedy Chokuda and staff for their unwavering dedication and exceptional proficient leadership of Parliament as guided by the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.

He said it is self-evident that any pronounced Institutional Strategic Plan must find credence if and when it is implementable.

Adv Mudenda said a world class Parliament riding on an ISO certification is an ephemeral artefact if it does not accentuate the ethos of being a people-driven institution.

“To that an extent, the people of Zimbabwe are the denominator and barometer of the quintessential success of an implementable Institutional Strategic Plan wherein Parliament would have excelled in the fulfilment of its tripartite roles of oversight, legislation and representation,” he said.

“Any Institutional Strategic Plan, therefore, which does not embrace the people as both the subject and object of its main goal of improving the livelihoods of the citizenry is a nullity.”

Adv Mudenda said the Institutional Strategic Plan has to be anchored on the national development ecosystem underpinned by the Constitution.

“The actualisation of the Bill of Rights is a cornerstone for the rationale for socio-economic development, including the National Development Strategy1, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Africa Free Trade Area Agreement as well as the African Union Agenda 2063,” he said.

“Furthermore, another area of concern which should underpin a bolstered 7th Institutional Strategic Plan is a possible Key Result Area of the robust application of science and technology now pervasively being driven by Artificial Intelligence. As Parliament, it is imperative to urgently consider the crafting of legislation on the application of Artificial Intelligence with an international lens.”

Adv Mudenda said Parliament should be guided by Pope Francis’ call for the inclusion of every citizen’s voice in crafting of legislation on artificial intelligence.

He said the Zimbabwe Parliament is the only Parliament that is ISO certified in the world hence the concept of strategic planning is not an unfamiliar territory fit.

“As we craft the 7th Institutional Strategic Plan, let us be enjoined by the kernel of wisdom. The implementation of an Institutional Strategic Plan necessitates rigorous evaluation and assessment of its implementation matrix,” said Adv Mudenda.

The workshop is being attended by the Attorney General Mrs Virginia Mabiza, Parliament staff, officials from the Ministries of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion and development partners and private sector.

Some of the objectives of the workshop is to reaffirm the mandate of Parliament, identify stakeholders, craft a vision, mission and values, analyse operating environment, come up with key results areas and identify some risks.