WHILE proceedings in Parliament are covered by the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act, meaning freedom of speech and debate or proceedings in or before Parliament; and any committee is guaranteed and such freedom shall not be liable to be impeached or questioned in any court or place outside Parliament, we feel the members of the House, being the honourable members they are deemed to be, at times abuse parliamentary privilege and immunity to act in a dishonour- able manner.
Childish heckling, infantile interjections and wild singing have become the order of the day especially in the National Assembly. We have seen a number of legislators being ejected for issuing threats or threatening to beat up fellow members, yet the one quality that separates human beings from other primates is the gift of speech, which is what the legislators should use to iron out any differences.
We were particularly perturbed by the behaviour exhibited by the legislators, particularly those drawn from the MDC-T, who chose to interject childishly and heckle President Mugabe as he delivered the State of the Nation Address to the combined sitting of the Lower and Upper Houses on Tuesday. We feel that parliamentarians should accord such occasions the seriousness they deserve, as more often than not, the President’s delivery lays out the legislative agenda for the august House.
While MPs may say it’s standard fare in other parliaments where blows are even exchanged but the challenges facing the nation bid us to be more serious with our legislature. All entrusted with leadership must take the business of the House seriously. To this end, we support National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda’s decision to bar singing in the House, a development that will see those who break the rule being booted out and even being banished for the duration of the entire session.
Some of the people who sent the MPs to Parliament do not have access to radios or TVs and would rely on feedback from their MPs. We wonder how those who chose to heckle and interject as the President delivered the State of the Nation Address kept abreast of what he was saying, and whether they can accurately report to their constituents.
That said the President succinctly summed up the State of the Nation which bids us all to put our shoulders to the wheel to ensure that the economic gains recorded thus far are consolidated and built upon.