SPEAKER of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda on Tuesday ruled that Zanu PF MPs should not disrupt Parliamentary Portfolio Committees chaired by opposition MDC.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
The disruptions started after the opposition legislators walked out on President Emmerson Mnangagwa as he announced the State of the Nation Address (Sona) in October last year.
The MDC also snubbed the 2020 national budget presentation which was attended by Mnangagwa.
In retaliation, Zanu PF legislators then disrupted committee meetings chaired by MDC. Some of the disruptions were embarrassingly done in front of invited witnesses to committee meetings.
After the walk-out on Mnangagwa, Mudenda set up a Privileges Committee to investigate the conduct of the MDC legislators and cut their sitting allowances. The MDC MPs are contesting the move.
On Tuesday, MDC chief whip Prosper Mutseyami said the disruptions had crippled the Public Accounts Committee chaired by Tendai Biti, the Information Communication Technology (ICT) committee chaired by Chalton Hwende, the Environment Committee chaired by Concillia Chinanzvavana and the Higher Education Committee chaired by Daniel Molokela.
“Of late, we have experienced disturbances of serious levels and the dignity, integrity and credibility of the House is undermined at the highest level,” Mutseyami said.
“It is important to note that in these disturbances some chairpersons especially Chinanzvavana was abused verbally with unspeakable words. Hwende has been abused to a level we cannot speak in this House to respect its dignity,” Mutseyami said.
He suggested that another Privileges Committee should be set up to investigate the Zanu PF legislators who have been disrupting committee meetings.
Mudenda’s response was that Zanu PF MPs must not disrupt the committees chaired by the MDC MPs. However, he dismissed Mutseyami’s request to set up another Privileges Committee to investigate the troublesome Zanu PF MPs.
“A Privileges Committee cannot be appointed over and above another Privileges Committee; otherwise we will run into a circus. Secondly, there is a matter before the courts on a similar issue. Thirdly, the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders has completed the issues that are a cause of the Privileges Committee and the matter is before the court, which is subjudice.
“The committees must function in terms of section 139(4) of the Constitution which indicates that the structure of committees must take into account the political set up and the gender issues in Parliament. I have read this announcement referring to the Standing Order No 18(1) and the Constitution section 139(4). Any disruption to the committee or committee’s work runs contrary to the legislative agenda which was pronounced by His Excellency, the President during the State of the Nation Address,” Mudenda said.
The Speaker said the legislative agenda included Bills which should be attended to by committees, adding that these Bills impinged upon the political and economic reforms which the government must undertake together with the contribution of parliamentary processes through committees including going out for public hearings or listening to witnesses that have come before Parliament.
“So, let the processes take place and we ask that there must be unity of purpose so that we fulfil the Presidential legislative agenda,” Mudenda said.