By Anna Chibamu
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY Speaker Jacob Mudenda Wednesday ignited chaos in parliament when he upheld a position by leader of the house, Ziyambi Ziyambi that MDC MPs should not direct any questions at cabinet ministers appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The main opposition has steadfastly refused to recognise Mnangagwa as the country’s legitimately appointed leader arguing the Zanu PF number one stole last year’s elections.
The MDC position has often culminated into boos and walk-outs on Mnangagwa whenever the national leader attends parliament for special events.
Not to be outdone by the MDC gamesmanship, Justice Minister and Mnangagwa loyalist, Ziyambi suggested to the Speaker, no Mnangagwa appointed minister should respond to any question filed by MDC.
“Mr Speaker Sir, in terms of the constitution, there is a cabinet appointed by the President and this Cabinet acts as individuals and as a collective,” Ziyambi said.
“In terms of the constitution, Sir, there is the legislature which constitutes members of parliament. The point that we want you to help us with, Mr Speaker is that members from this side (MDC), Sir, have clearly stated that they do not recognise the President.
“If they do not recognise the President, excluding Honourable Mliswa and Honourable (Masango) Matambanadzo (Independent MPs for Norton and Kwekwe, respectively), they cannot extend a question and expect an answer from a minister who has been appointed by the President,” said Ziyambi amid jeers from MDC backbenchers.
The controversial intervention by Ziyambi came when Zanu PF Chegutu MP, Dexter Nduna had asked Public Service Minister Sekai Nzenza during the ministers’ question time as to when food handouts would be distributed to other urban areas other than Harare and Bulawayo.
Nzenza responded to Nduna but the spark came when MDC MP, Jasmine Tofa tried to ask a supplementary question on the same issue, but regarding transport.
At that time, Ziyambi, as leader of government in the house, tried to respond on behalf of Nzenza, telling the opposition MPs they had no means of asking Mnangagwa’s ministers any questions.
He asked the Speaker to make his position on the matter.
Mudenda, who last year invited police to wrestle all MDC MPs out of the legislative chamber for failing to stand up as a sign of respect to Mnangagwa who had entered parliament, gave a ruling in support of Ziyambi.
“I hear the Honourable Minister. In terms of the Constitution, the Honourable ministers indeed belong to cabinet and that cabinet is composed of the President and the cabinet ministers and until we resolve the issue of acceptance of the President by members of the opposition, the request by leader of Government in the House stands,” said Mudenda.
The ruling by the Speaker did not help matters as MDC MPs turned the house upside-down with protests.
Led by party deputy national chair, Job Sikhala, MDC MPs accused Mudenda of being biased towards Zanu PF, adding that the Speaker’s position was unconstitutional.
The MDC lawmakers also accused Mudenda of treating them like small kids.
They also demanded to know if Mudenda’s position only related to just asking questions in parliament or it also covered their other roles in the house such as contributing to law formulation debates.
Sikhala told Mudenda, “I have lost respect for you (Mudenda)” further accusing the latter of “taking the house as a kangaroo parliament”.
MDC MPs further blocked police who had been invited into the house to eject the firebrand Zengeza West MP.
Mudenda threatened to use all the parliamentary laws at his disposal to deal with the defiant opposition MPs.
He later left the seat leaving stand-in speaker William Mutomba to deal with a situation which the Zanu PF legislator failed to do.
Parliament had to be adjourned.