BY RUTENDO MATANHIKE / MOSES MATENGA
ZANU PF legislators yesterday walked out of a Tendai Biti-chaired Public Accounts Committee sitting, where Sakunda Holdings was expected to give oral evidence regarding about US$3 billion advanced to the company for Command Agriculture without parliamentary approval.
The boycott was in retaliation to the refusal by the MDC MPs to recognise President Emmerson Mnangagwa and occasionally walking out of Parliament each time the Zanu PF leader attends Parliament.
After the boycott, the meeting, which was supposed to clear the air on the abuse of money under the government’s ambitious Command Agriculture programme, was aborted for lack of a quorum.
The MDC has refused to recognise Mnangagwa as the legitimate leader, accusing the Zanu PF leader of stealing last year’s elections.
MDC MPs walked out on Mnangagwa’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) last month, following a similar incident in September last year.
Earlier this year, they snubbed Mnangagwa again when he graced Parliament for the mid-term budget presentation by Finance minister, Mthuli Ncube.
The boycotts forced Mudenda to withdraw their allowances for five months and ban them from asking questions during the question-and-answer sessions.
But on Thursday, the opposition MPs were at it again, snubbing Ncube’s budget presentation which was graced by Mnangagwa, insisting that they would continue to snub Mnangagwa because he was an illegitimate leader.
But Zanu PF yesterday hit back, walking out on Biti and forcing the abandonment of the much-awaited questioning of Sakunda executives, claiming there was no justification to attend a meeting addressed by someone who does not recognise Mnangagwa.
Sakunda Holdings chief executive Chitambo Mberikwazvo said he only found out the meeting had been cancelled soon after arriving.
“I arrived here at Parliament at precisely 11:29am and was told to wait in the sitting lounge.
About 10 minutes later, I was told that the meeting had been cancelled. I was told that I will be notified on when I should come back. I was told I should expect to come back on November 25,” Mberikwazvo told journalists.
Speaking to journalists after the snub, Norton legislator Temba Mliswa (independent) said Zanu PF MPs were justified to walk out of the meeting as long as the opposition MPs refused to recognise Mnangagwa.
“They asked why they were supposed to be compelled to sit for the meeting when their counterparts could not recognise the President of the country. They concluded to wait for the resolution to be made by the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders,” he said.
Mliswa said Parliament should not be used for political agendas, but ought to be used as a space where discussions on development of the country were topical.
“My position on this issue is very clear: Parliament should not be used as a war zone between politicians. Even Americans and the European Union recognised President Emmerson Mnangagwa and, therefore, this continued rift should stop,” he said.
“Even the much-needed dialogue in the country cannot happen under these circumstances. Legitimately, Zanu PF has got a strong reason for what they did today, but the strategy being used by MDC is not working.”
Meanwhile, the MDC has come under immense criticism for boycotting the budget presentation by
Ncube after participating in the pre-budget seminar in Victoria Falls, earning huge amounts in allowances.
Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda said due process would be followed on the matter, but refused to shed more light on the kind of action he was going to take.
“There is a process that has to be followed and we are following that process and that is all I can say for now,” he said.
Zanu PF said the action by the MDC was self-defeating and an embarrassment to those who voted them into Parliament.
“Such action is immaturity of the highest political order. One wishes to advice MDC-A that Zimbabwe is not a charity nation. We must all focus on productivity, growth and job creation. The time for political Lilliputians is over. Zimbabwe is, indeed, not for sale,” Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya-Moyo said.
Political analyst Alexander Rusero said the MDC parliamentarians would regret their antics at some stage, describing their action as shameful.
But analyst Ibbo Mandaza said the boycott by the MDC was successful in irritating Mnangagwa as well as hyping the legitimacy issue.
He said it was best to highlight the legitimacy issue because Mnangagwa “lost” in last year’s polls.