BY VENERANDA LANGA
PARLIAMENT yesterday suspended business after two MPs from the Transport Portfolio Committee tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, but sources claimed as many as eight legislators had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
In a statement, Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda said a driver, who was travelling with the Transport Committee, and a journalist, who was also part of the team, also tested positive.
He did not name the MPs, journalist or the staff.
The committee had been visiting Vehicle Inspection Department depots throughout the country last week and they had travelled to places like Victoria Falls and Bindura.
Some of the journalists that travelled with the parliamentarians luckily tested negative for the coronavirus.
The COVID-19 scare at Parliament has disrupted important portfolio committee sittings like the Public Accounts Committee, which was supposed to grill Zesa bosses over the 2018 Auditor-General reports that exposed corruption at the institution.
By 10am yesterday, Parliament staff and MPs were ordered to pack and go back home and the building was closed.
“It is with a heavy heart that Parliament announces the suspension of most of its business due to exposure of some MPs to COVID-19,” Chokuda’s notice
“As of this morning (yesterday), only two MPs had been confirmed positive. A driver from one of our service providers and a journalist, who were also part of the team, also tested positive. Our thoughts and prayers are with the affected and their families,” he said.
Chokuda said everyone, who was part of the team, was now on self-quarantine in line with the Health ministry guidelines.
“Consequently, tomorrow’s sitting of the National Assembly will be done with very limited MPs for the purposes of adjourning the House to a future date,” he said.
“This will allow for the deep cleaning and disinfection of the Parliament Building and contact tracing and testing of those who came into contact with the affected MPs.”
Sources from Parliament, however, claim that about eight legislators tested positive to COVID-19.
The adjournment of Parliament comes at a time several important Bills need to be concluded, which include the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No 2 Bill, the Marriages Bill, which is still before Senate, the Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill, which was recently before public hearings, and several others.
Finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s mid-term budget and economic review statement is yet to be debated in the National Assembly.
Ncube was also to bring the Finance Bill 2020 meant to make further provision for the revenues and public funds of Zimbabwe and operationalise the taxation measures that he announced in his mid-term budget and economic review statement.