Parliament’s democratic space shrinking – MDC MP

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By Anna Chibamu

MDC Binga legislator, Prince Sibanda has expressed concern over the way Parliament business is being conducted, arguing there seem to be a deliberate plot to freeze out the opposition.

Sibanda told National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda that Leader of the House and Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has continued to shut out MDC MPs in debates on bills in particular or refusing to answer their questions.

Rising on a point of privilege, Sibanda sought clarification from the Speaker Mudenda asking whether it was only Zanu PF who were supposed to contribute to debate.

“Honourable Speaker, there is a shrinking of the democratic space in this Parliament. During the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) Bill debate yesterday (Tuesday), Ziyambi uttered the words, ‘members of the MDC will not be responded to; Let us proceed’.

“Speaker Sir, Ziyambi could have his own issues with MDC. His utterances come on the background of the ruling you made a few days ago (upholding the request by Ziyambi not to answer questions from MDC MPs),” said Sibanda.

He added, “I remember you stated the ruling was unconstitutional. So, to have a leader of the House for that matter trampling on the ruling that you made means there is a conflict between opposition and the Executive.

“The Minister is undermining the authority of the Speaker and Parliament. We want to hear from today, is this the current status of Parliament? Does it mean reform can only be led by the ruling party without the opposition.”

Mudenda a few weeks ago concurred with Ziyambi after the Minister argued MDC MPs could not expect Cabinet Ministers appointed by a President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) they did not recognise to answer their questions in Parliament.

The Speaker however later rescinded the decision. On Wednesday however, Mudenda claimed the ruling was specific to an incident related to the pre-budget seminar in Victoria Falls at the time.

“First, the order you referred to should be contextualised. The ruling I made was very specific to Victoria Falls. According to Standing Rules and orders Section 107 (2), Wednesdays and Thursdays in the Senate and the House of Assembly, private members business takes precedence.

“As of yesterday (Tuesday), I will make a decision but I need to know what happened and come back to make a ruling,” Mudenda told Sibanda.

The MDC has refused to recognise Mnangagwa arguing he did not win last year’s presidential election.

The lawmakers have walked out on the Zanu PF leader twice in the last 12 months and stayed away from the 2020 budget presentation by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube also attended by Mnangagwa two weeks ago.

Mudenda last month ordered a garnishing of the MDC MPs allowances over the stunt.