By Anna Chibamu
THE MDC has come out guns blazing at National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda for alleged bias against the main opposition’s legislators.
MDC secretary for legal affairs Innocent Gonese last week took it with the Speaker for setting up a Privileges Committee to investigate party MPs who failed to attend Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube’s 2020 budget presentation last month.
“The Speaker has failed to show leadership and has dismally failed to discharge his responsibilities as an impartial arbiter and presiding officer,” Gonese said of the Zanu PF politburo member in a statement.
All MDC MPs were conspicuous by their absence during the budget which was graced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in parliament.
The main opposition has made it policy to disrespect the national leader whom they accuse of rigging last year’s elections at the expense of their leader Nelson Chamisa who claims to have won the controversial poll.
MDC insists there was nothing sinister with their failure to attend budget presentation.
Gonese said their Chief Whip, Prosper Mutseyami had officially notified Mudenda of the unavailability of MDC MPs on the day of the national budget announcement.
Even if there was no such apology, Gonese said, there was still no provision in any of parliament’s statutes compelling back-benchers to attend any particular session.
Said the Mutare legislator, “The purported setting up of a Privileges Committee ostensibly to investigate the conduct of Members of Parliament who did not attend the Budget Presentation on the 14th of November 2019 is fundamentally and procedurally flawed and against the tenets of democracy, justice and fairness.
“MDC MPs voiced issues of concern but the Speaker went on to unilaterally make a decision without following due process in terms of which it was the Committee of which he is only a chair which was supposed to make the determination.
“The bottom line is that Jacob Mudenda has dismally failed the test and will probably go down as the worst Speaker in our country.”
His comments come after a Tweet linked to party Senator Lilian Timveos claiming parliament has sneaked in a new standing order 86 “Respect of the President”.
“New Standing Order 86 “Respect of the President. We are in hot soup, Parliament of Zimbabwe,” Timveos said.
“1. Members shall observe utmost dignity and decorum during the President’s address.
“2. A member shall not disrupt or interrupt the President’s address through disorderly conduct.”
However, NewZimbabwe.com could not readily verify if indeed parliament has the rule in its statutes books.