Violence broke out in the National Assembly before Finance minister Mthuli Ncube announced the 2019 national budget statement after the Speaker Jacob Mudenda unleashed police officers on MDC Alliance legislators to forcibly remove them from the chamber for refusing to stand up for President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
BY VENERANDA LANGA/ KUDZI MUCHENJEKWA
The rules and decorum of Parliament require that MPs must stand up in respect of the President whenever he visits Parliament, but MDC Alliance legislators remained seated as Mnangagwa entered in protest of the July elections, which they still claim were stolen.
This did not go down well with Mudenda, who ordered the MDC Alliance legislators out of the House, but they defied his orders.
“MPs on the left, you did not stand up for the President, can you leave the House?” Mudenda ordered.
When they remained seated, police officers were then brought into the chamber to forcibly remove them one by one, resulting in the opposition MPs being roughed up in the full glare of visitors who had come to listen to the budget statement, who included United Nations Development Programme country representative Bishow Parajuli.
Female MPs were handled very badly by the police officers as they forcibly pulled them out of the House, with some unfortunate situations to the extent that their skirts were pulled up, resulting in their undergarments being exposed.
The violent scuffles continued for about 30 minutes, as the opposition MPs resisted the violent ejection, and Mnangagwa and his two deputies, Kembo Mohadi and Constantino Chiwenga, who were present in the House, just sat stone-faced and watched as the opposition legislators, females included, were roughed up.
Seeing that the violence was now serious, about 30 opposition MPs that were yet to be forcefully removed then decided to leave without any more violent scuffles with the police.
“I would like to humbly receive the President and Head of State and Commander of the Defence Forces, and I want to apologise for the delay. It is wrong that MPs cannot respect the Head of State at a time when the international community has accepted that the President is the Head of State. No other person, including MPs, can be allowed to have a different view, and Parliament administration shall take appropriate action,” Mudenda said.
Zanu PF MPs then filled up the benches after the opposition MPs had been ejected.
At a Press briefing held outside Parliament Building, as the Budget presentation was going on, the MDC legislators said Mudenda’s decision to eject them was illegal
MDC chief whip Prosper Mutseyami said: “What the Speaker did, I’m sure it has a lot of enthusiasm which is being put across negatively. In a way, what the Speaker did came from his wisdom, it’s not coming from Parliament procedures. So if it’s not in the green book, if it’s not in the Constitution, then it’s illegal. But then, I wonder how would an advocate move something illegal? I’m sure it’s pressure coming from his politburo.”
Several MDC legislators were said to have gone to for treatment at a local hospital after being manhandled by police officers during the melee.
These include party chairperson Thabitha Khumalo.
Mutseyami said they did not rise for Mnangagwa because “he is an illegitimate President”.
The opposition MPs assured their supporters that they would continue fighting for the people in face of adversity.