Biti legitimacy spat forces premature ending to parly committee meeting

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By Anna Chibamu

ZANU PF MPs Friday again disrupted a committee meeting chaired by MDC legislator Tendai Biti, insisting they did not recognise the politician’s leadership of parliament’s Public Accounts Portfolio Committee.

The committee meeting was called to hear oral evidence from government contracted inputs and equipment companies on Command Agriculture programmes.

MDC MPs have refused to recognise President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the country’s legitimately elected leader and have staged parliamentary walkouts and boycotts each time the Zanu PF number one made official appearances in the house.

The MDC persistently claims Mnangagwa rigged the July 2018 presidential election which they insist was won by their leader Nelson Chamisa.

Opposition MPs failed to attend to Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube’s 2020 national budget presentation graced by Mnangagwa a week ago.

Zanu PF MPs have since flipped the script and targeted the same contempt towards the MDC vice president.

Chegutu West MP, Dexter Nduna took the onus to bell the cat when he stopped proceedings as Fertiliser, Seed and Grain (FSG) managing director Steve Morland was giving oral evidence before the committee.

Morland was speaking on issues pertaining to his company’s US$400 million funding by government as reported by the Auditor General.

Nduna arrived a little late after the meeting had started and ordered committee Biti to stop the meeting as he (Nduna) and other ruling party MPs did not recognise him.

“An opposition party member cannot continue to chair this meeting. Excuse us chair,” Nduna interjected.

“MDC has failed to recognise my President Emmerson Mnangagwa. The legitimacy issue should be resolved through Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC). Our issue is a party position.”

Nduna’s interjection only fuelled more chaos within the committee.

The confrontation deepened with MPs from both parties exchanging harsh words as they squabbled noisily in front of outsiders.

Nduna chided MDC Marondera MP Caston Mateu for allegedly stage-managing a shooting incident at his home a few months ago.

“Do not think we are all your children here,” Mateu said, adding, “We have respected you enough today. Ndiwe wakapfura pamba pangu here, voetsek (Are you the one who shot at my residence? Get away!”

Another MDC MP, Willias Madzimure accused Nduna for alleged propensity to disrupt parliamentary committee meetings.

He was referring to the mines committee meeting early this year in which a spat between the Zanu PF MP and independent Norton legislator, Temba Mliswa went viral on social media with the two nearly coming to blows.

Madzimure also accused Nduna of being among some Zanu PF legislators who undermined the country’s development through lying to former President Robert Mugabe.

Mainyebera (you were lying to) Mugabe. You lied to the former President undermining his authority and now you want to defend a President (Mnangagwa) who does not even need defence.

“Nduna, no one voted for you to be here. You lost in the 2018 election,” said Madzimure while also accusing the Chegutu MPs of lining his pockets through bribes.

Mliswa suggested the meeting be adjourned until the issue was resolved by Speaker, Jacob Mudenda and the Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda.

He urged fellow MPs not to embarrass themselves in front of the media.

“Members, it is important that we speak to the Speaker and the Clerk of Parliament so that we get a way forward.

“Remember the damage you are causing now to your reputation will be difficult to repair. There are members of the Fourth Estate (journalists) in here,” said Mliswa.

Biti, on his part, completely ignored Nduna as he (Nduna) went about his rants and later excused the guests before adjourning the meeting prematurely.

It is the second time in a space of a week the public accounts committee meeting has been disrupted over the MDC’s failure to recognise Mnangagwa as President.