Zanu PF legislators yesterday walked out of the House of Assembly as the debate on a motion calling for the dismissal of Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma took another twist.
Joram Gumbo, the Zanu PF chief whip, ordered MPs from his party to leave the House saying MDC-T legislators were debating the allegations against Zvoma before he was tried by Parliament’s Standing Rules and Orders Committee.
Hwange Central MP Brian Tshuma moved the motion to relieve Zvoma of his duties on Wednesday and the debate has divided MPs along party lines.
The Zanu PF MPs were angered by a proposal by Mazowe Central MP Shepherd Mushonga (MDC-T) to make amendments to Tshuma’s motion calling for the dismissal of the clerk for alleged misconduct.
Mushonga proposed the appointment of a special five-member committee that would give Zvoma a chance to respond to the allegations being levelled against him.
He said the committee would make recommendations on whether to fire Zvoma immediately or suspend him without pay or just reprimand him.
“The other amendment is that the special five-member committee shall report to the House within six weeks after its appointment,” Mushonga said.
After Mushonga’s contribution, Zanu PF MP Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana (Chivi Central) immediately raised a point of order with the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Nomalanga Khumalo.
He said the issue could not be discussed as Zvoma had filed another urgent High Court application yesterday morning seeking to stop the debate on the motion.
Zvoma reportedly wants the motion suspended until a ruling is made on another application where he sought to bar the MPs from debating his alleged misconduct. Mangwana also argued Mushonga’s proposed amendments contravened Section 62 (d) of the Constitution.
“You want to dismiss the accused person and then do an inquiry. I submit the amendment is still going to violate the Constitution,” Mangwana said. Earlier, Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo had ruled that it was constitutional for the House to debate the motion in line with the principle of separation of powers.
Moyo said there was no need for him to recuse himself since all other presiding officers that were supposed to take over from him were also cited in the matter. The debate then degenerated into a battle of lawyers within Zanu PF and the MDC-T.
Nyanga North MP Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) maintained Mushonga’s proposed amendments were constitutional as they intended to give Zvoma a chance to defend himself.
Gumbo then stood and ordered all Zanu PF MPs to walk out in protest.
“If the five members of the committee are going to be MDC-T, it is alright, but we Zanu PF have to leave this House in protest,” he said before leading the walkout. Some Zanu PF MPs were seen reluctantly following their chief whip.
MDC-T MPs proceeded to pass Mushonga’s amendments. Some MDC MPs were also present, but did not participate in the debate.
Innocent Gonese, the MDC-T chief whip, said the motion did not violate the Constitution as Parliament had the powers to fire Zvoma.