There was drama in Parliament yesterday when Zanu PF MPs tried to block discussions on the Finance Bill and the Appropriation Bill involving the 2012 National Budget.
MDC-T MPs wanted the budget to be debated and passed yesterday while their counterparts in Zanu PF wanted it debated next week after their Bulawayo conference.
Sources who spoke to NewsDay yesterday revealed Zanu PF MPs did not want to pass the budget because Finance minister Tendai Biti did not make an allocation for elections and they also wanted more funds to go towards agriculture.
MDC-T deputy spokesperson Thabitha Khumalo this week told NewsDay her party would not let Zanu PF take the budget to their conference to propose changes to it there.
As soon as the chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion, Paddy Zhanda, started presenting his committee report on the 2012 budget, Mwenezi East MP Kudakwashe Bhasikiti (Zanu PF) raised a point of order with Deputy Speaker Nomalanga Khumalo to say debate on the budget was supposed to resume on December 13.
However, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said the correct position was that the matter had been deferred to yesterday and not December 13.
Mutambara said there had been an error in the Hansard (the official record of Parliamentary debates), which had recorded that debate on the 2012 budget had been deferred to December 13.
“As a matter of record, I was acting Leader of the House when this debate was deferred to Tuesday, December 6 (yesterday),” said Mutambara.
“If there is a reflection to say it was supposed to be on December 13, then that record is incorrect,” he said.
This triggered the ire of Zanu PF MPs, with Mberengwa East MP Makhosini Hlongwane, his Zvishavane counterpart Obert Matshalaga and Zanu PF chief whip Joram Gumbo challenging Mutambara’s assertions and arguing the Hansard could not record inaccurate statements.
MPs started trading insults and pointing fingers at each other over the issue until Khumalo ruled against Zanu PF legislators, saying debate had to continue yesterday.
This did not go down well with Zanu PF MPs who protested against the Deputy Speaker’s ruling, but Khumalo stood her ground. By time of going to print last night, the MPs were still debating the issue.