THE question and answer session in the National Assembly degenerated into a circus yesterday after State Security minister Owen Ncube briefly assumed the position of acting leader of the House and gave very vague responses to questions thrown at him by MPs until opposition legislators walked out of the House in protest.
Zanu PF MP Perseviarance Zhou (PR) asked Ncube to explain government plans to support farmers involved in winter cropping.
“We have winter maize crops already growing and we have enough maize to feed the people,” Ncube responded.
Lynette Karenyi (MDC PR MP) then asked Ncube to explain why people had no mealie-meal in their houses and were hungry if there was indeed enough maize in the country.
“Every week government delivers maize to silos, but some people have been hiding mealie-meal. Some of these people have been arrested and so mealie meal will now be available,” Ncube said in response.
Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya raised a point of order with the Speaker Jacob Mudenda saying they were not getting adequate responses and proposed that the session be deferred to today.
But Mudenda came to Ncube’s defence saying: “If you were following news on television you would have noted that stakes of mealie meal were being hoarded and that is why people are being arrested.”
Quizzed on why they had been few arrests despite several reports of government bigwigs named in scandals since 1987, Ncube said: “Government is trying its best to curb corruption by setting up special corruption courts at all provinces to deal with corruption, and has also appointed the Zimbabwe Anti -Corruption Commission to deal with corruption.”
Harare West MP Joanna Mamombe also asked Ncube to explain what government was doing to protect whistleblowers after a Zacc commissioner recently said whistleblowers who fail to provide evidence could face arrest.
“Whistleblowers are protrected and there is no whistleblower who should be arrested for giving out information,” Ncube responded.
Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure then asked him to explain to the House if there was a law to protect whistleblowers?
“There is no Act to protect the whistleblower, but the whistleblower is protected,” Ncube said, which resulted in the MDC legislators walking out in anger over the quality of his responses. Muzarabani South MP Tapera Saizi (Zanu PF) then asked Ncube to explain government policy with regards to the pricing of maize which was discouraging people from growing maize.
“It is not government policy but people are encouraged to grow maize,” Ncube curtly responded again attracting laughter.
When Saizi tried to place a supplementary question on government policy to encourage maize farming, Ncube responded: “May you put it as a motion so that it can be debated in Parliament.
Highfield East MP Eric Murai then suggested that most pupils failed their public examinations last year due to poor remuneration of teachers, and Ncube responded saying”I think government increased their salaries.”