Chaos in Parliament as opposition protests

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ZIMBABWEANS were yesterday treated to live chaotic scenes in the National Assembly when opposition MPs protested the failure by most Zanu PF ministers to attend a question-and-answer session, as they were at the party’s politburo meeting.

VENERANDA LANGA
Senior Parliamentary REPORTER

Only three Cabinet ministers — Joseph Made (Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development), Douglas Mombeshora (Lands and Rural Resettlement),

Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora
Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora

(Information and Communication Technology), and seven deputy ministers were present in the House at 2:15pm when it resumed sitting.

MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese asked Made to explain whether Cabinet had approved building of a new capital city with freeways and state-of-the-art residences.

All hell broke loose when Made could not give a satisfactory explanation, resulting in Harare Central MP Murisi Zwizwai raising the issue of absence of ministers during question time, including leader of the House Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“Last week we complained as Parliament about the issue of absence of ministers and out of 42 ministers in the government there are only three ministers, yet MPs have questions from their constituents and they want answers,” Zwizwai said.

“We suggested that there should be an acting leader of the House in the absence of Mnangagwa.”

Supa Mandiwanzira
Supa Mandiwanzira

Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Mabel Chinomona, who was chairing in the absence of Speaker Jacob Mudenda, said the issue was being looked into.

But, MDC-T legislators would have none of it.

Kuwadzana East MP Nelson Chamisa raised a point of order, saying since ministers had chosen the Zanu PF politburo over Parliament the question-and-answer session should be deferred until ministers came in to take questions from MPs.

Zanu PF legislators opposed the suggestion, resulting in MDC-T MPs protesting through a Ndebele song “Int’oyenzayo siyayizonda” (we do not like what you are doing), as well as “Zanu yawora” (Zanu is now rotten).

Wednesday’s question-and-answer sessions are now screened live on TV and the nation was then treated to song and chaos, as rival political parties tried to drown each other’s voices in song, dance, finger pointing and threats.

Gonese said ministers were now in “flagrant violation” of Parliament’s standing rules and orders as well as the Constitution by putting their party meetings ahead of Parliament business.

After about 40 minutes, Chinomona said question time should resume, but MDC-T legislators continued singing and some were heard saying Zanu PF fired ministers who were more effective and used to attend Parliament.

During the fracas, Chinomona ordered the Sergeant at Arms, Nicholas Marufu, to eject Bulawayo East MP Thabitha Khumalo and Glen View South MP Solomon Madzore.

But this created even more chaos as all the opposition MPs threatened to walk out.

They started shouting “we want ministers”.

The chaotic scenes continued for almost an hour until Chinomona suspended business of the National Assembly for 10 minutes.

When she resumed the sitting she said: “Since last week, we had complaints from MPs across the board that we need ministers to attend question-and-answer sessions.

“That is going to be rectified, but today we will proceed with business”.

Meanwhile, Energy and Power Development minister Samuel Undenge said fuel prices in Zimbabwe were in tandem with international standards.

He said Zimbabwe was looking at ways of becoming a fuel hub in the region, as the country’s storage facilities can take in 537 million litres, far more than the 320 million litres storage facilities at Beira in Mozambique.