By Tendai Kamhungira
National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda was offside when he ordered the expulsion of MDC MPs from the house for failing to stand up in honour of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the party’s president Nelson Chamisa said yesterday.
MDC legislators were violently expelled from the National Assembly moments before Finance minister Mthuli Ncube presented the 2019 National Budget. There were chaotic scenes, delaying the business of the day by almost 20 minutes and leaving a number of MDC MPs injured, after police officers were called in.
The MDC, whose leader Chamisa lost a court challenge to Mnangagwa’s win in July — maintains that they were cheated of victory by the electoral board and says the 76-year-old president lacks legitimacy.
After being violently thrown out of Parliament, the MDC lawmakers broke into song denouncing the ruling Zanu PF party.
MDC chief whip Prosper Mutseyami said there is no rule which demands MPs to stand up for the president.
“Mnangagwa is not the elected president of Zimbabwe. Zec and Zanu PF stole the people’s vote therefore, he does not deserve our respect. There is no rule that says when a president is entering Parliament, MPs must rise up,” Mutseyami said.
MDC MP for Mutare Central Innocent Gonese, a seasoned lawyer told the Daily News that Mudenda lost the plot when he decided to eject them from Parliament.
“There is no provision for that (for MPs to stand up in honour of the president). The bottom line is that the MPs were well-behaved, there was no need for him to call the police,” he said, adding that there is a possibility, they may end up calling the military.
This is not the first time that they have refused to stand up in honour of Mnangagwa.
The opposition failed to stand up in honour of Mnangagwa during the president’s State-of-the-Nation Address (Sona), at the opening of the first session of the 9th Parliament in September this year.
They walked out as soon as Mnangagwa started making his presentation.
MDC MP for Kuwadzana East Charlton Hwende said the Thursday ejection through the use of police was a new low as police were not allowed in the Parliament chambers.
“Violently beating up elected Members of Parliament and women parliamentarians is a new low for Zimbabwe. Police are not allowed in the chamber, no one is allowed to wear regalia in Parliament,” he said referring to Mnangagwa’s scarf.
“Standing up for anyone other than the speaker is out of courtesy only,” Hwende wrote on his Twitter account.
Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, described as unfortunate, the MDC MPs’ behaviour.
“Our Constitution spells out that we have a president who is the head of State and he must be respected. They should have stood up when the president came in and I think they were out of order. There is a behaviour that is expected from MPs. Their behaviour is unparliamentary. The Speaker respected the Constitution by ordering them out of the House.
“It’s very ironic that MDC MPs want to engage the ministers and don’t want to recognise the president. They should boycott the question and answer and they should not call ministers to their committees. I think Parliament has the power to control these MPs. It’s now up to Parliament to see whether they can set up a privileges committee to look into this and do something,” Ziyambi said.
Efforts to get comment from Mudenda could not yield results yesterday as he was not picking calls. Daily News.