By Mary Taruvinga
THREE MDC Alliance MPs have approached the High Court challenging a decision by Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda to punish them through withdrawing their allowances for five months for refusing to show respect to President Emmerson Mnangagwa during the opening of Parliament last year.
The three are; Prosper Mutseyami, Charlton Hwende and Happymore Chidziva.
However, Mutseyami and Hwende were expelled from Parliament last month on instructions by reinstated MDC-T secretary general Douglas Mwonzora who said they had ceased to be party members.
But in their application seeking a declarator against Mudenda’s actions, the three said they are allowed to exercise their political rights as legislators.
They also challenged the setting up of the Privileges Committee to hear their cases claiming it was biased since it was only constituted by Zanu PF MPs.
Cited as respondents in the application are; Mudenda, the Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda, and Parliament of Zimbabwe.
“In this regard, applicants seek a declarator that they are entitled to equality of treatment by the first respondent and the motions moved by members of the opposition must be treated with equal respect and must similarly be followed through,” said Mutseyami.
“With respect to the composition of the Privileges Committee, we seek a declarator to the effect that we are entitled to appear before a committee that reflects the political and gender composition of Parliament and not appear before a partisan committee wholly comprising of Zanu PF members who in essence the aggrieved party. This does not accord us with a fair hearing.
“Finally some of the alleged conduct against us relates to alleged non-attendance for parliamentary sessions. In this respect, we seek a declarator confirming that it is not mandatory for members of parliament to attend all parliamentary sessions though it is encouraged that they do so.
“Failing to attend Parliament on a date, coincidentally when a President decides to come to Parliament cannot be an offence in respect of which the Privileges Committee can be set up in our collective view. It is clear abuse of parliamentary process,” he said.
On December 3, 2019, Mudenda informed the National Assembly that the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders had met and nominated nine members to serve on the Privileges Committee set against the applicants.
Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga was nominated but she recused herself on grounds that she had a conflict of interest in the matter.
Mudenda purportedly accepted this and said she would be replaced but her replacement is not known to date.
According to the founding affidavit, in January they started receiving letters informing them that the Privileges Committee has been set up against them and investigations had commenced.
Mudenda decided to withdraw allowances for five months from all members of MDC Alliance who sit in the National Assembly.
The matter is pending.