By Mary Taruvinga
MDC legislators have taken National Assembly Speaker, Jacob Mudenda to court for blocking Treasury payment of their five-month allowances as punishment for the lawmakers’ bold decision to walk out on President Emmerson Mnangagwa when the national leader was presenting his State of the Nation address in parliament October this year.
On the day, the opposition MPs were seated in the legislative chamber just like their Zanu PF colleagues on the opposite side of the benches.
They remained on their seats as Mnangagwa walked in while Zanu PF MPs stood up as a sign of respect to the national leader.
When the President began his address, the opposition MPs started filing out as a sign of defiance against a leader they vehemently accuse of rigging his way to becoming State President during last year’s elections.
Mudenda, a top Zanu PF official, made a ruling after Mnangagwa had left the building, directing Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube not pay the opposition legislators their sitting allowances for the past five months for pulling the stunt on the national leader.
The legislators have now approached the High Court demanding their dues while arguing Mudenda has no rights to stop their payment.
Cited as the applicant in the application is MDC-Alliance and the 111 applicants who filed their submissions through Prosper Chapfiwa Mutseyami, the party’s provincial chairperson for Manicaland province and also chief whip in the national assembly.
On behalf of his colleagues, the Dangamvura Chikanga MP, said he was seeking to have Mudenda’s ruling set aside.
The MPs are also seeking for an order compelling Ncube to pay their sitting allowances unconditionally.
Mudenda was cited as the first respondent while Ncube was cited as second.
“The applicants also seek costs against Mudenda on a higher scale of legal practitioner and client scale,” reads the application.
Mutseyami, in his founding affidavit, argued that there was nothing in the constitution of Zimbabwe or in the standing rules and orders of parliament that require MPS to stand up when the President enters or leaves the parliament chamber.
Reads the application, “When the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe was about to give his speech, MDC-A members who are MPs and who comprise the applicants, walked out of the parliament chamber.
“This is because the first applicant and its members contest the fact that the President of Zimbabwe was properly duly elected to the office of the President. The first applicant thus contests the President’s legitimacy.
“Applicants were also demonstrating against the country’s economic melt-down which the president is not addressing. These include the ever-rising cost of basic commodities such as bread, mealie meal, cooking oil and fuel and electricity.
“Hyperinflation, continued violation of human rights evidenced by clamp-down on freedom of assembly and association, labour rights, kidnappings and disappearances.”
Mutseyami submitted that Mudenda is a member of the ruling party and was elected to the office he holds on a Zanu PF ticket.
He said when the Speaker made his ruling, his actions were unlawful because he did not hear their side of the story.
The legislator said Mudenda is not empowered by the law to do what he did.
“We also content that Mudenda’s unilateral actions are a fundamental breach of the rule of law.
“In his personal capacity, he acted as the complainant, judge, juror and executor all rolled in one. In light of the above, applicants pray that Mudenda’s actions be declared to be unlawful. His order stopping treasury from paying the applicants be set aside.”
The case is yet to be set down for hearing.