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MDC Chief Whip Innocent Gonese on Chamisa police brutality motion

By Innocent Gonese

The MDC-T Caucus is appalled, dismayed and disgusted by the anti-people behaviour displayed by ZANU PF members of Parliament in walking out of Parliament on diverse occasions to frustrate and thwart important motions to discuss definite matters of urgent public importance raised by Members of Parliament from the Party of excellence, the Movement for Democratic Change.

Innocent Gonese, MDC Chief Whip and Member of Parliament for Mutare Central
Innocent Gonese, MDC Chief Whip and Member of Parliament for Mutare Central

The latest illustration of this disgusting behaviour is in regard to the very noble motion introduced by MDC-T Vice President and Member Parliament for Kuwadzana East Honourable Nelson Chamisa on the 18th August 2016.

It is instructive to note that the Notice was initially given on Wednesday the 17th August after the Administration of Parliament had been given advance notice in terms of practice directions which have been observed in Parliament but which are not explicitly provided for in terms of the Standing Rules and Orders of Parliament.

Notwithstanding this procedural compliance, the Speaker of the National Assembly delayed the introduction of the Motion on the pretext that he wanted to be furnished with the video footage and electronic evidence of the police brutality which was the subject matter of the motion.

It is instructive to note that the provisions of Standing Order NO. 59 do not entail the production of such detailed evidence as it would simply suffice for the Speaker to merely exercise his mind as to whether the Motion is one which is contemplated by the Rules.

In spite of the clear and unambiguous nature of the Motion to which in legal parlance the res ipsa loquitor principle would apply, the Motion had to be deferred to the next day. Incidentally, the police had again on that morning proceeded to violate the rights of peace loving Zimbabweans who had simply exercised their rights to demonstrate in terms of the provision of Section 59 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Honourable Chamisa duly complied with the direction to produce the necessary video evidence and the motion was properly introduced on the following day when the requisite number of MPs being not less than 25 rose to support the motion as provided for by the Rules. It is illustrative to note that not a single Member of ZANU PF or the so called IndependentCandidate rose in support of the adjournment of the House to debate the noble motion which touches on the fundamental rights of all Zimbabweans.

Shortly before the appointed time, 5: 15pm, for the adjournment of the House, in order to debate the motion Honourable Francis Mukwangwariwa began mobilising Members of Parliament to leave the House in a brazen and undisguised manner and Honourable Chamisa rose to point this out.

Predictably as soon as Honourable Chamisa started presenting his motion by playing the graphic videos in Parliament, Honourable Joseph Tshuma rose on a point of order to raise the issue of lack of quorum. This was a clearly premeditated and pre- planned manoeuvre.

Inevitably, when the bells were rung, only MDC T Members were present and the inquorate House had to adjourn to the next sitting day, 19th August 2016, which happened to be a Friday when the House does not normally sit.

Oblivious and ignorant of the consequences of their actions, only 6 ZANU PF members of Parliament out of a potential total of 211 were initially present and needless to say no Ministers or Deputy Ministers turned up even though on a Friday the order of business should start with question time.

The end result was that no business could be transacted and the House had to adjourn to the 23nd August since there was no quorum and the ZANU PF Members present had risen to 8. On Tuesday this week, Honourable Chamisa again presented his motion but in a predetermined move, the Speaker warned that this would be the last chance.

Again the MDC-T mustered the required numbers in support of the motion and in a repeat performance, no ZANU PF MP saw it fit to support the discussion of this critical and crucial motion. This time they did not even allow the House to sit up to the appointed time for the adjournment of the House to debate the motion but instead began to move out of the House before 5pm and thereafter the issue of quorum was raised and the bells were rung and the House again had to adjourn to Wednesday the 23rd August 2016.

What is disturbing and disgusting is that this was not the first time it had happened because similar tactics were used to kill debate and discussion on the disappearance of Itai Dzamara in March 2016 and also on the motion to discuss the appalling behaviour of Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko who in addition to overstaying his welcome at Rainbow Towers Hotel had also gone to a police station to unprocedurally secure the release of his “boys” from ZINARA who had been arrested.

It is regrettable that the August House has failed to discuss the definite matters of urgent public importance and history will judge the anti-people behaviour exhibited by ZANU PF Members of Parliament. One does not need a degree in nuclear physics in order to figure out why they are behaving in this manner. They definitely have something to hide.

The motion by Honourable Chamisa is clearly targeted at what are believed to be rogue elements in the Police “Service”, but the reaction of ZANU PF leads to the inescapable conclusion that the behaviour of the police has been sanctioned at the highest level.

We have a new Constitution in terms of which the Police Force is supposed to be transformed into a Police Service but the mentality of the police has not changed from colonial times and one is tempted to believe that the acronym ZRP stands for Zimbabwe Rhodesia Police as it appears that the same brutal force used against blacks by the racist regime is similar to the tactics used by the ZRP against peace loving Zimbabweans who are merely exercising their rights as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Furthermore, the powers that be have not condemned this behaviour leading to suspicion that the behaviour is at their command and behest. The conduct of ZANU PF Members of Parliament seems to suggest that they do not only condone this appalling conduct but that in fact they are complicit and acting in collusion with the perpetrators of police brutality and are in fact accomplices.

Genuine and rational representatives of the people cannot stoop so low as to suppress the right of the August institution that they are part of from doing its duty and carry out its work. However, the MDC T Caucus will not be deterred and we shall continue to champion the rights of the people who elected us to represent them as opposed to those who rigged their way into Parliament.

Innocent Gonese
MDC Chief Whip and Member of Parliament for Mutare Central