The bid by Magwegwe MP Felix Magalela Sibanda to force government to compensate victims of Gukurahundi atrocities has hit a snag after it emerged only a vice-president or a minister can move such a motion in Parliament.
Magalela confirmed the development yesterday but said the Parliamentary Legal Committee was still checking whether he could bypass Schedule 4 (a) (1-iv) of the Constitution which bars backbenchers from moving a motion that affects the consolidated revenue fund.
Magalela wanted the government to accept responsibility for the death of about 20 000 people killed during Gukurahundi in the 1980s and to compensate them.
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace established that most of the victims were villagers from Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
On Wednesday, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa poured cold water on Magalela’s bid after he told Parliament there was no provision in the country’s statutes to deal with the compensation of victims of Gukurahundi massacres.
Said Magalela: “I can see why other MPs like Jonathan Moyo (Tsholotsho North) failed to move that motion long back because of the draconian laws.”
The statute reads: “Except on the recommendations of a Vice President, Minister or Deputy Minister, Parliament shall not (a) proceed upon any Bill, including any amendment to a Bill, which, in the opinion of the President of the Senate or the Speaker, as the case may be, makes provision for (i) imposing or increasing any tax (ii) imposing or increasing any charge on the Consolidated Revenue Fund or other public funds of the state or varying any such charge otherwise than by reducing it (iii) compounding or remitting any debt due to the state or condoning any failure to collect taxes and (iv) authorising the making or raising of any loan by the state.”
In 2006, then an independent MP, Moyo drafted a Gukurahundi National Memorial Bill, which would have criminalised the denial of the atrocities.
The proposed Bill by Moyo never reached Parliament although it was widely circulated among MPs. Moyo is now a Zanu PF politburo member.
“The political party that I represent (MDC-T) and the people of Magwegwe and Matabeleland were eagerly waiting for this breakthrough Bill, but I am so disappointed because I do not know how we are going to circumvent this war to try and get compensation for Gukurahundi victims who have been there since the 1980s,” he said.