‘MDC MPs’ passports snub a publicity stunt’

Chalton Hwende

ZANU PF legislator Kindness Paradza (Makonde) has accused his MDC counterparts’ snub of diplomatic passports offered by President Emmerson Mnangagwa government as a cheap publicity stunt as some of them were issued with the travel document last year.

Paradza, who is also the chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, announced in Parliament early this month that Mnangagwa had given a nod for all parliamentarians to be issued with diplomatic passports, but MDC MPs said they would not accept the offer.

The Makonde MP told NewsDay yesterday that it was unfair for the opposition leadership to deny other MPs passports yet they were beneficiaries of Mnangagwa’s
generosity.

“Yes, it’s very true. He (MDC secretary-general Charlton Hwende) is a holder of a diplomatic passport. Not only him, but they are many. Hwende is denouncing the issuance of diplomatic passports to his fellow MPs, yet he is a holder of a diplomatic passport which he was issued by the same President. Actually, the same passport assisted him to get temporary refuge in Namibia after the January disturbances,” he said.

“(Other MPs who have diplomatic passports include) Dorcas Sibanda, Tendai Biti, Prosper Mutseyami, Paurina Mpariwa, Daniel Molokele, Concilia Chinanzvavana, Prince Sibanda, Anele Ndebele, Willis Madzimure, Gabbuza Gabuza, Murisi Zwizwai, Tapiwa Mashakada, Jasmine Tofa and Ruth Labode. They were given these passports last year, now they want to pretend to be holier than thou.”

Some of the MPs named MPs confirmed to NewsDay yesterday that they received the diplomatic passports.

Paradza said the issue of diplomatic passports was already fanning tensions among the opposition MPs.

“This is hypocrisy of the highest order. Hwende is just grandstanding. Most of the ordinary MDC MPs are against Hwende. A lot of them have been flocking to get these diplomatic passports since the announcement,” he said.

But Hwende yesterday said they had resolved as a party not to accept the privilege offered by Mnangagwa considering that many Zimbabweans were currently not being issued passports by the Registrar-General (RG) due to shortages of passport paper and printing machine problems.

“The party position is clear, as a party, we must always put the people first. This is non-negotiable. There is a current shortage of printing materials used to produce passports that has resulted in many Zimbabweans failing to access specialists treatment abroad, others have failed to go to school.

The party position is based on this reality should the situation in future improves and Zimbabweans who want passports can access them without any hindrance then those MPs who want passports can then access them,” he said.

Most Zimbabweans are struggling to get the travel document with 340 000 applicants reportedly on the waiting list. – News Day