VICE-President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday refused to be drawn into explaining issues pertaining to the arrest of Prosecutor-General (PG) Johannes Tomana before Parliament during the question-and-answer session, saying the matter is sub judice.
MDC-T legislators Amos Chibaya (Mkoba) and Nelson Chamisa (Kuwadzana East) demanded an explanation from the VP saying the arrest of Tomana was unconstitutional.
“The Constitution is very clear that the Prosecutor-General’s Office is independent, and what is the government position on his [Tomana’s] arrest given that no one must interfere with his prosecutorial role?” Chibaya said.
Chamisa then further challenged the VP to answer the question, arguing that explaining the constitutionality of government interference with the PG’s independence was not the issue currently before the courts.
“It is with a heavy heart that I have to give an opposite conclusion with my learned colleague [the VP] because what Chibaya is asking is not what is currently before the courts. The practice of infraction and perforation of section 199 of the Constitution, which gives powers to Parliament to ensure the Constitution is respected, is what he is asking to be explained.
“At the moment what we are seeing is relegation of that practice and acting in a manner that is unconstitutional. The Minister of Justice should give us a just answer, and I know we cannot expect anything less than justice from the Justice minister,” he said.
Mnangagwa replied: “The honourable learned junior MP has spoken well, but currently the matter is sub judice and cannot be debated. Time will come when we will debate the issue, but for now, the matter is in court, which means we are respecting the rule of law.”
Meanwhile, Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda read the riot act on truant ministers saying Parliament would not tolerate their absence during Wednesday’s question-and-answer sessions.
This was after Musikavanhu MP Prosper Mutseyami (MDC-T) questioned the continuous absence of ministers during question-and-answer sessions.
“We have three ministers who have sought an apology and I am not sure what is happening with the rest. This becomes the last appeal, which means next week we will then proceed with contempt of Parliament charges on truant ministers in terms of section 107 (2) of the Constitution,” Mudenda said.
Ministers later trickled into the House, but most of them left before questions with notice (written) were responded to, prompting Mutseyami to demand another explanation from Mnangagwa.
“The observations by the MP is apt and worthy. I believe that ministers should sit through the end of question time. I will advise my colleagues to observe that requirement,” Mnangagwa said.
Public Service deputy minister Tapiwanashe Matangaidze was asked to explain government programmes to feed starving Zimbabweans, given reports that some villagers were surviving on okra and meat from dying livestock.
“We are doing another survey to find additional people that need food aid compared to the 1,5 million we had last year. This number has since increased. As we speak right now, government has availed $200 million targeted at acquiring maize to address food requirements.”