Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has ordered all MDC-T senators back at work and said they should attend Senate this week to ensure Bills on the 2011 National Budget are passed.
There were fears that disruptions at the Senate over the presence of provincial governors would derail the approval of the Budget.
Tsvangirai in the order said all MDC-T senators should comply with the call by President Robert Mugabe that Senate should be recalled to meet on Tuesday to consider the Finance Bill and the Appropriation Bill, the ratification of agreements or protocols, as well as debate on any other Bills that are currently before Parliament.
Senate had been adjourned to February 8 next year after it had become difficult to conduct any business there as MDC-T senators sang and danced to disrupt proceedings in protest at the presence of provincial governors in the Upper House.
The senators argue that the governors, who sit in the Senate, ere illegally appointed by President Mugabe without consulting Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.
Senator Obert Gutu, who is a member of the MDC-T national information and publicity committee and also Deputy Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, yesterday confirmed to NewsDay that Tsvangirai had indeed ordered his party senators back at work.
“I can confirm that PM Tsvangirai has asked all MDC-T senators to co-operate and attend Senate,” said Gutu.
“The House of Assembly is going to consider Bills to do with the Budget next week and after that they are going to be referred back to the Senate and Go back to work, PM oders senators there is a likelihood that the House of Assembly will refer the Finance 2010 Bill and Appropriation 2011 Bill to the Senate at the end of the week.”
However, Gutu said although MDC-T senators had been asked to cooperate, his party’s position, that they would not recognise the 10 provincial governors, remained unchanged.
“We will still not recognise them because they were unlawfully and illegally appointed by Zanu PF. The issue is now being dealt with by South African President Jacob Zuma and is subject to further negotiation. He is working on that together with his team and we do not want to be seen uncooperative,” he said.
He said the matter was also now considered sub judice as it was before the courts of law pending determination.
“We still deem them (the governors)as strangers in the House but if they turn up next week, we are not going to disrupt business because as MDC-T we are committed, faithful and disciplined and we are not going to disrupt the operations of Parliament,” said Gutu.
He continued: “Assuming that the 10 Zanu PF provincial governors were men and women of integrity and honour, they should save themselves the embarrassment of coming to the august House in circumstances in which they are fully aware that their tenure of office is being challenged both legally, at the courts, and also politically, through the office of the Sadc facilitator, South African President Zuma.
President Mugabe last week recalled Senate through a statement issued by Deputy Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda, that all senators should convene at Parliament as from tomorrow up to Friday.
“The purpose is for Senate to consider the Finance and Appropriation Bills, the ratification of agreements or protocols and any other government Bills that are currently before Parliament,” said the statement.
MDC-T Chief Whip in the Senate, Gladys Dube, however told NewsDay that MDC-T senators were unhappy that the party had communicated informally and many other senators had not been informed of Tsvangirai’s orders to cooperate.
She said senators only learnt through the media that they had been recalled to Parliament.
“We are going to call for a caucus meeting today (Monday) or Tuesday morning before Senate resumes, demanding an explanation why our leaders have said we should stop protesting. We cannot just be told to suddenly stop protesting about the presence of governors without being given proper explanation,” said Dube.
She said the MDC-T should give them valid grounds and good reasons why they should stop disruptions of the Senate.