THE day before yesterday, Zanu PF party spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa urgently gathered journalists in Harare for a Press conference which was, in our view, essentially meant to broadcast the ruling party’s public “flogging” of the country’s Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda.
This is what Mutsvangwa said: “It’s okay for Parliament, as the electret of the sovereign people of Zimbabwe to express their certain views. We also belong to a party and we have the majority. It’s unbecoming when some of our members express views in Parliament about certain issues. We have a caucus at the party. Why would somebody from the ruling party want to go and express things about the diaspora or express things about when the President should be electing a vice-president?
“We should discuss them here. To go out and start talking out of turn is not the Zanu PF way. There is no problem in having variant views, but let’s discuss them if you are a party member. As the spokesperson of the party, I appeal for discipline from our party members.”
While we have nothing against Zanu PF reining in its members to toe the party line we, however, become very worried when the party gags and literally abuses those we believe should be representing national interests.
Granted, Zanu PF has the majority in Parliament, but this in no way, suggests that Parliament is now an extension of Zanu PF, which fundamentally means that Parliament is governed by the country’s supreme law, the Constitution, which in turn governs how every Zimbabwean and institution, including Zanu PF, should carry themselves.
In other words, individual and institutional constitutions are not superior to the supreme law of the land. Therefore, when individuals are appointed to national positions such as Speaker of the National Assembly, President, etc they represent the interests of every individual and institution in Zimbabwe. When appointed to these positions they now belong to the nation which has many people with conflicting views on almost everything.
Zanu PF is currently the ruling party, but this does not, in any way, mean that Zimbabwe belongs to Zanu PF because Zimbabwe is an entity that belongs to a diverse people who are united in thought, behaviour and welfare by the national Constitution and not by the Zanu PF constitution.
Parliament’s broad mandate is “making laws for peace, order and good governance of Zimbabwe”.
“The most prominent role of Parliament is the legislative function. Legislative authority refers to the making of laws that govern parties and transactions. In other words, the law binds and governs every person, natural or juristic as well as all State institutions,” partly read Parliament’s roles and functions.
“In a constitutional democracy such as Zimbabwe, the Executive is accountable to Parliament as a body elected to represent the will of the people,” is one of the many roles and functions of Parliament, and so if the Executive, headed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, is answerable to Parliament, it deeply concerns us when Zanu PF tells us that the Speaker should not perform his duties as dictated by the Constitution.
Why is the Speaker being gagged when it is within his purview to speak about these issues?
The issues Mudenda spoke about — the diaspora vote and appointment of a second vice-president, are thorny national issues that speak to unity of the nation. These are critical issues that have the potential to completely divide us as a nation and we feel the Speaker was not offside in any way in alerting us to them.
In fact, Mudenda was actually forewarning his party colleagues that the ruling party needs to address these issues pronto if it wants to be re-elected for another term.
But, it is very unfortunate that Mudenda’s colleagues saw otherwise.