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Mudenda accused of shielding Mugabe

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MBIZO MP Settlement Chikwinya (MDC-T) yesterday accused Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda of breaching the Constitution by thwarting a motion he wanted to move calling for President Robert Mugabe to appear before Parliament to take questions from backbenchers.

VENERANDA LANGA

Chikwinya said he procedurally submitted the motion to the Speaker at the end of last year with the intention of having it introduced for debate in the House, but he was told that the Constitution did not compel the President to take questions from MPs.

“The motion was for the House to debate the need to invite the President to come and answer questions in Parliament in accordance with Section 140 (3) which states that: ‘the President may attend Parliament to answer questions on any issue as may be provided in Standing Orders’,” Chikwinya said.

“To date the Speaker has not allowed me to introduce the motion and I maintain that he is acting ultra vires the Constitution because it states that the President can appear before Parliament to take questions from MPs.”

Section 139 (1) of the Constitution also states: “the proceedings of the Senate and the National Assembly are regulated by rules known as Standing Orders, which are made by the Houses individually or jointly on the recommendation of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders (SRO).”

Asked if it was possible to do so since the Parliament Standing Rules and Orders had not yet been amended to accommodate Section 140 (3) of the Constitution, Chikwinya said he and the seconder of the motion Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure, as well as other opposition MPs would be lobbying to have the SRO amended to remove ambiguity caused by use of the word “may” and substitute it with “must”.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Mudenda simply said: “Ask the MP [concerned], he has the answers”. Chikwinya said Mudenda told him bringing Mugabe to answer MPs’ questions would trivialise the Office of the President.

“Mudenda said the President was a busy man, adding asking him to attend Parliament was trivialising his stature. He said if MPs had anything they wanted to ask the President, they should do so through ministers who attended question-and-answer sessions. But, ministers are not attending Parliament and the nation is begging for answers to economic and other problems.

“We need a President who is accountable to the country; after all the spirit of the Constitution in having elected leaders is for them to be accountable to the people through Parliament. The SRO is silent on that and it will be good for Parliament to amend it.”

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