BY VENERANDA LANGA
THE opposition MDC has tasked its secretary for legal affairs, Innocent Gonese, to look into the legality of a declaration by National Assembly Speaker, Jacob Mudenda to withhold their sitting allowances for walking out on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s State of the Nation Address on Tuesday.
Gonese confirmed to NewsDay that he was studying the matter with a view to challenging it at the courts of law.
“We are still working on the matter in great detail, and we will be in a position to give more details tomorrow (today),” he said.
“However, we strongly feel that the Speaker’s decision was arbitrarily, reactional and unprocedural.”
Constitutional law expert James Tsabora said while Mudenda might have a reasonable belief that the MDC legislators violated the rules and decorum of Parliament, he does not have summary powers to withhold their allowances, especially since they had shown face in Parliament.
“I do not agree that he can withdraw salaries or allowances of the opposition MPs because their actions were political action that happens all the time in all Parliaments,” Tsabora said.
“It is a drastic political decision, and he could have activated other disciplinary measures. His decision is, thus, open to challenge because I do not think that he has sufficient legal powers to do that.”
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo described MDC legislators as “childish” and “puppets with a bid to pander on the machinations of their Western funders”.
“For the MDC to lay claims of illegitimacy on the Office of the President is not only hypocritical, but fallacious as it borders on hallucination. The revolutionary party has a two-thirds majority against the MDC’s insignificant number,” Moyo said.
“The lackey of the West was utterly rejected by the revolutionary people of Zimbabwe and the trend has continued as shown by the latest by-election results, where Zanu PF was overwhelmingly given the nod to govern the people.”
He said Mnangagwa had a surplus of close to half a million votes ahead of MDC president Nelson Chamisa during the 2018 presidential elections.
“With this reality in mind, the revolutionary Zanu PF condemns the latest childish antics by the MDC which seeks to trivialise national institutions and its persistent attempt to keep the nation on perpetual election mode, in the vain hope that it will extract political dividend out of such retrogressive manoeuvres,” Moyo said.
He said the MDC would be defeated in the next elections in 2023.
“Zanu PF reminds the MDC that defeat awaits them for the umpteenth time in any election, which might be precipitated by exigencies of time and in 2023, for its interests are at variance to the aspirations of Zimbabweans,” Moyo said.