Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
FORMER Zanu-PF secretary for Administration Mr Didymus Mutasa and his nephew Mr Temba Mliswa were yesterday expelled from Parliament as they are no longer members of Zanu-PF, under whose ticket they were elected to the Eighth Parliament.
The beleaguered Mr Mutasa had earlier written to the Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda claiming that the Zanu-PF led by President Mugabe was illegal and had no locus standi to expel him from Parliament.
This means by-elections would be called soon to fill the two vacant seats, Headlands vacated by Mr Mutasa and Hurungwe West by Mr Mliswa, in the National Assembly.
The President will call the by-elections once formally notified of the vacancies by the Speaker. Under the Constitution, when an MP elected on a party ticket is no longer a member of the sponsoring party, then the seat must be declared vacant.
Messrs Mutasa and Mliswa were expelled from Zanu-PF two weeks ago after they continued to undermine the revolutionary party and its leadership despite several warnings to desist from doing so.
Zanu-PF secretary for Administration Cde Ignatius Chombo then wrote to the Speaker last week notifying him that the two were no longer representing the interests of Zanu-PF.
Adv Mudenda announced the expulsion of the pair in the National Assembly yesterday.
Mr Mliswa, who was in the House, saved himself the embarrassment of being escorted out by walking out as soon as Adv Mudenda began reading the announcement.
Adv Mudenda said while he had received a letter from Mr Mutasa contesting his expulsion from Zanu-PF, he could not involve himself in internal party politics.
“It is vital that at this point I mention that the notification to the Speaker by the party that a member has ceased to represent its interest in the National Assembly and Parliament is all that is required at law to create a vacancy and for the Speaker to declare the seat vacant,” said Adv Mudenda.
“The duty of the Speaker after receipt of the notification was clearly explained in the case of Abednico Bhebhe and others versus the chairman national disciplinary committee (MDC-Party) HCB 85/2009 by Justice Cheda that upon receipt of the notification, the Speaker of the National Assembly is constitutionally bound to declare the seat in question vacant.
“Honourable members, to that extent the position of the Constitution is unambiguous regarding the declaration of a vacant Parliamentary seat.
“Consequently, vacancies have arisen in Headlands and Hurungwe West constituencies by operation of the law. The necessary administrative measures will be taken to inform His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of the existence of the vacancies in line with Section 39 (1) of the Electoral Act, Chapter 2:13) as amended.”
Adv Mudenda said he had no mandate to deal with Mr Mutasa’s letter to him in which he challenged his expulsion from Zanu-PF.
“With regard to the same matter, I must also notify this House that I have received a letter from Mr D.N.E. Mutasa in which he indicated that his expulsion from Zanu-PF party was not warranted as due process was not followed in terms of the internal party democracy,” he said.
“This raises an issue pertaining to the expulsion of the member, a matter that I do not have the mandate to pursue.”
Speaking to The Herald soon after leaving the House, Mr Mliswa said he would not pursue the legal route.
“I will not. The people will decide,” he said.
Efforts to get comment from Mr Mutasa were fruitless.
In another ruling he made yesterday, Adv Mudenda dismissed a point of order by MDC-T Chief Whip Mr Innocent Gonese who sought to bar MPs who benefited from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s farm mechanisation programme from debating and voting on the Central Bank’s Debt Assumption Bill.
Mr Gonese had argued that such legislators were compromised.
But Adv Mudenda said the law did not bar MPs from contributing in Parliament if the interest they may have in any matter is common with the public generally or any class or section of the public.
“In view of the above, the chair hereby rules that the point of order raised by the Honourable Gonese does not have merit at law as sub-paragraph (3) qualifies the application of sub paragraph (1) and (2),” he said.
“Sub-paragraph (3) of Standing Order (102) annuls and limits that application of sub-paragraphs (1) and (2) in matters where members of Parliament share common interest with the generality of the public.
“It is common cause that the RBZ programmes benefited the generality of the population to the extent that excluding beneficiaries from the debate and voting on said Bill may constitute unfair discrimination.”
Adv Mudenda made another ruling in which he said journalists must be allowed to use such devices as mobile phones when covering Parliamentary sessions.
His ruling followed a motion by MDC-T legislator for Mabvuku-Tafara Mr James Maridadi who wanted to know if the order by security personnel at Parliament to journalists to switch off their mobile phones when covering Parliamentary sessions did not breach the Constitution.
Journalists were ordered to switch off their phones a fortnight ago during a commotion that characterised the question and answer session in which MDC-T legislators protested that there were few Cabinet ministers to field questions from backbenchers.
“As an interim measure and taking cognisance of the need to balance these competing interests journalists will be allowed to use the tools of their trade, including cell phones and iPads as they conduct their business,” he said.
“However, they should refrain from using such devices in a manner that interferes with the proceedings or adversely affect the decorum of Parliament. This should include, among others, ensuring that their electronic gadgets are on silent at all times.
“Additionally, they should not be taking pictures from the press gallery in a manner that attracts the attention of members on the floor of the House.”