The main opposition party in Zimbabwe, MDC, led by Nelson Chamisa has described the intended Privileges Committee to Investigate the conduct of MDC Members of Parliament who snubbed the 2020 Budget Statement Presentation as “Fundamentally and Procedurally flawed”. We present below the party’s statement.
The purported setting up of a Privileges Committee ostensibly to investigate the conduct of Members of Parliament who did not attend the Budget Presentation on the 14th of November 2019 is fundamentally and procedurally flawed and against the tenets of democracy justice and fairness. Apart from the fact that the Opposition Chief Whip Honourable Prosper Mutseyami officially notified the Speaker of the unavailability of the MDC Members of Parliament, there is no provision or rule which compels backbenchers to attend any particular session.
What we find disconcerting is that on the day that Pupurai Togarepi the ZanuPf Chief Whip moved the motion for the setting up of Privileges Committee the Speaker did not even reflect on the matter but immediately made a Ruling to refer the matter to the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders and he had already shown that this matter had been predetermined when he responded to Honourable Temba Mliswa that the MDC Members of Parliament would be “punished” and in this regard whatever is going to happen is a charade.
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There are breaches of the letter and spirit of the Constitution which in its preamble recognizes our diversity and the Founding Values and Principles in Section 3(2) d include the respect of the Rights of all Political parties. The Speaker of the National Assembly has failed to show leadership and has dismally failed to discharge his responsibilities as an impartial arbiter and presiding officer.
The MDC Members of Parliament articulated the issues but the Speaker went on to unilaterally make a decision without following due process in terms of which it was the Committee of which he is only a chair which was supposed to make the determination.
Furthermore, once the Speaker had unilaterally stated that members of the MDC who are supposed to be investigated could not be part of the Committee it equally meant that Members of ZanuPf could equally not be complainant prosecutor judge and jury rolled into one
The Speaker and his fellow ZanuPf Members also failed to appreciate that the discord in Parliament emanating from the disruptive behavior of members who are refusing to accept the chairing of Committees by MDC members who are appointed by the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders is a symptom of the bigger political question of legitimacy.
The critical issue is the the MDC members of the Committee dissociated themselves from the drama which violated all the principles of fairness . It’s unfortunate that ZanuPf Members failed to see reason and appreciate that as a country the issue of the illegitimacy of Emmerson Mnangagwa cannot be resolved by viciousness but through sincere and genuine dialogue.
We feel vindicated because when Honourable Chikwinya raised the issue of the Members who are causing pandemonium and mayhem and disrupting Parliament Business the same Speaker did not respond with the same vigour and urgency but instead decided to evade the issue by declaring that the matter was under consideration by the CSRO when the issues are different.
The bottom line is that the Jacob Mudenda has dismally failed the test and will probably go down as the worst Speaker in our country. Autocracy and partisanship can only result in the dysfunctionality of the Institution when all that is required is to take off the political party lenses when Presiding over Parliament and being in charge of its Administration.
MDC Secretary for Justice and Legal Affairs