Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
MDC-Alliance legislators face penalties after the National Assembly constituted a Privileges Committee to investigate whether or not they were in contempt of Parliament when they boycotted sittings attended by President Mnangagwa.
Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda yesterday announced that Parliament’s Committee on Rules and Orders had appointed an eight-member committee chaired by Mudzi South legislator Cde Jonathan Samukange (Zanu-PF) to come up with appropriate recommendations for punishment should they find the opposition legislators guilty of contempt of Parliament.
The decision to form the committee followed successive incidents since 2017 where MDC-Alliance legislators would refuse to rise or recognise the presence of the President when he attended Parliament, a breach of Parliament’s customs and practices.
Other members of the Committee are Cde Omega Hungwe (Dzivaresekwa), Cde Cecil Kashiri (Magunje), Cde Kindness Paradza (Makonde), Cde Alignia Samson (Proportional Representation), Cde Levi Mayihlome (Umzingwane), Cde Stars Mathe (Nkayi South) and Senator Joseph Chirongoma (Mashonaland West).
Adv Mudenda gave the detailed terms of reference.
“The terms of reference for the Privileges Committee are as follows: to investigate the conduct of MPs of the MDC-A in consecutive instances whereby they (1) (a) did not rise for His Excellency the President (b) walked out of Parliament on His Excellency and (c) did not bother to attend Parliament whenever His Excellency the President attended,” he said.
“(2) To establish whether such conduct as outlined above constitutes contempt of Parliament and any other incident that may arise from the investigation, and to report its findings and recommendations to the National Assembly by the 28th of February 2020.”
He said the decision to constitute the Privileges Committee by the Standing Rules and Orders Committee followed a point of privilege raised by Zanu-PF Chief Whip Cde Pupurai Togarepi regarding the conduct of the MDC-Alliance where he said since 2017, they did not rise as a mark of respect or walked out of the Chamber each time President Mnangagwa attended sittings in his official capacity.
The Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC) is made up of senior representatives of all parties.
“Honourable Togarepi found the behaviour by the MPs to be grossly disrespectful of the office and person of the Head of State and Government in terms of Parliamentary customs and practices which the institution of Parliament in any jurisdiction is expected to observe,” said Adv Mudenda.
“He also found such conduct to undermine the dignity and integrity of the August House. The Speaker ruled that there existed a prima facie case of contempt of Parliament and accordingly the National Assembly resolved that the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders appoints a Privileges Committee to investigate the conduct of the MDC-A and come up with corrective punitive measures.”
Three months ago, Adv Mudenda directed that MDC Alliance legislators lose their sitting allowances for the day when they failed to attend the State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered by the President.