By Anna Chibamu
MDC MPs are at the mercy of their rivals after National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda Tuesday announced an all-Zanu PF constituted Privileges Committee to investigate contempt of parliament charges emanating from their alleged disrespect of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
However, the ninth member, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga of the Thokozani Kupe led MDC-T declined her nomination into the committee citing conflict of interest issues.
Mudenda told the house during sitting Tuesday the move to institute disciplinary processes against the under-fire MDC lawmakers was spurred by a point of privilege raised by Zanu PF Chief Whip Pupurai Togarepi two weeks ago regarding the conduct of the opposition in the august house.
Twice the MPs walked out on President Mnangagwa when the national leader came to parliament for special events.
The latest was a total boycott by the defiant opposition legislators when the Zanu PF leader attended the 2020 budget presentation last month.
Mudenda announced Tuesday, “Committee on Standing Rules and Orders nominated Honourable Jonathan Samkange as chairperson of the Privileges Committee, Joseph Chirongoma, Omega Hungwe, Cecil Kashiri, Stars Mathe, Levi Mayihlome, Priscilla Misihairabwi, Kindness Paradza and Alignia Samson.
“Terms of reference for the committee are; to investigate the conduct of MDC members. In consecutive incidences whereby they refused to rise for President Mnangagwa in Parliament and walked out on the President and did not bother to attend Parliament business when the President was in the House.
“The committee will establish whether such kind of conduct above constitutes contempt of Parliament and any other incident that may arise for investigation and to report on its findings and recommendations to the House of Assembly by 28 February 2020.”
According the Mudenda, “in terms of parliamentary customs and practices which the institution of Parliament or any jurisdiction in respect of them; Honourable Togarepi found that such conduct undermined the dignity of the august house”.
“In regards of this, the chair ruled that there existed a prima facie case of contempt of parliament and accordingly, the house resolved that the Standing Rules and Orders committee appoint the Privileges Committee to investigate the conduct by the MDC members,” added the Speaker.
But soon after his announcement, Misihairabwi-Mushonga stood up and asked to be excused.
“Speaker Sir, I want to take this opportunity to decline the nomination on the basis that I am conflicted. I could raise the issue of conflict of interest.”
MDC members have vowed to disregard President Mnangagwa whom they accuse of rigging last year’s presidential election at the expense of their leader Nelson Chamisa.