Mudenda keeps MDC legislators guessing

 Mudenda keeps MDC legislators guessing
Published: 07 November 2019
SPEAKER of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda has kept MDC legislators guessing about whether or not they will be allowed to hold ministers to account in Parliament, saying they will only know their fate next week.

Two weeks ago, Mudenda barred the MPs from debating in Parliament as punishment for questioning President Emmerson Mnangagwa's legitimacy.

He later agreed to review his position saying he, however, needed time to reflect on the ruling he made basing on the argument that the MDC MPs could not legitimately direct questions to ministers appointed by Mnangagwa when they had refused to recognise him as the legitimate president of the country.

But yesterday, he told the Daily News that he has since made up his mind.

"I have had time to think about the decision I made regarding their conduct in Parliament and I will pronounce myself when the National Assembly reconvenes next week," Mudenda said.

Parliament had adjourned for a pre-budget seminar held in Victoria Falls last week where MDC MPs managed to pose questions to Finance minister Mthuli Ncube freely, raising hopes in the opposition ranks that Mudenda had pardoned them.

Mudenda made the decision in concurrence with the leader of government business

Ziyambi Ziyambi, who had questioned their eligibility to interact with Cabinet ministers.

But the Speaker appeared to make a U-turn the following day after concerns raised by Independent Norton legislator Temba Mliswa that it was unfair for him to punish them for an offence they allegedly committed on a different day.

MDC MPs declined to stand up in honour of Mnangagwa when he made a State of the Nation Address (Sona) last month, resulting in their allowances being docked by Mudenda.

In his argument, Mliswa pointed out that on the day in question "there is no compelling evidence" that they had disregarded Mnangagwa.

Mliswa also suggested that the reason why MDC legislators did not recognise

Mnangagwa was a result of having been whipped by party leader Nelson Chamisa who continued to wave the legitimacy card against the Zanu-PF leader whom he accused of rig- ging himself into power in the harmonised elections last year.

He cited the whipping system in the country's legislature.

But Mudenda said if the section is an impediment to the participation of members from both sides, they could use "their own measures to convince those that need to be convinced that the provision be amended".

He said other countries that had the same problem of whipping had made a decision that the primary accountability template for MPs must arise first and foremost from the electorate in a particular constituency.
- dailynews
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