Parliament’s Privileges Committee has recommended that the 118 sitting and former MDC Alliance Members of Parliament (in both Houses) should be fined $400 000 each and lose their diplomatic passports for disrespecting President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The legislators are accused of contempt of Parliament for allegedly singing, remaining seated or walking out when President Mnangagwa came to Parliament on five formal occasions.
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The committee, chaired by Mudzi South National Assembly member Jonathan Samkange (Zanu PF), tabled its report in Senate yesterday with the recommendations, and this must now be debated by the two Houses for final decision.
Parliament has the right to investigate charges of contempt of Parliament and can withdraw privileges, impose fines and, in the case of its own members, suspend these members.
The decisions made in contempt proceedings are final and cannot be appealed to the courts as long the Parliament’s Privileges Committee remains within its constitutional powers and follows its own procedures. The report presented by Samkange reads:
Hon (Jane) Watson was particularly hostile and disrespectful in her responses to the committee suggesting that the chairperson was fooling himself or trying to fool her, which was not palatable to the committee.
In summary, the committee found the MDC-Alliance members guilty of contemptuous behaviour. They also exhibited gross disrespect by boycotting, walking out and singing political songs, on the five occasions mentioned earlier in this report.
It is, therefore, the Committee’s view that these allegations are of a very serious nature which is designed not only to demean and humiliate the President himself but to scandalise him.
This conduct was also intended to send a message to the local, regional and international community that the President was not democratically elected.
Taking into account the severity of the matter, the committee recommended that Parliament withdraws diplomatic passports from the Honourable Members listed in Annexures A and B from the date of adoption of this report; and that those members pay a Level 12 fine ($400 000) to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Turning to Honourables Chikwinya and Sikhala, it must be stated that contempt of Parliament is committed during parliamentary proceedings.
There is no need for further investigations as a record of what transpired already exists. It is the view of the committee that both Hon Chikwinya and Hon Sikhala committed contempt of Parliament when they appeared before the committee.
For this reason, the committee recommends that they pay a Level 14 fine ($800 000) to the Consolidated Revenue Fund in addition to the fine given in paragraph 2 above.