MDC-T has been warned that its plans to disrupt President Mugabe’s address during the opening of the Third Session of the Eighth Parliament today will not go unpunished as Parliament has the requisite remedies in Standing Rules and Orders that empower the Speaker to punish disruptive elements.
The main opposition party, which marked 16 years of retrogressive existence over the weekend, held a caucus yesterday where it resolved to heckle and drown out the President’s speech, which ironically sets the legislative agenda for the next 12 months.
Sources close to developments said MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese asked his colleagues what they planned to do during the official opening of Parliament today, and in the ensuing discussion, a decision was made that MDC-T legislators should be unruly and even more disruptive than they were during the State of the Nation Address delivered by President Mugabe on August 25.
MDC-T vice president Thokozani Khupe then told the parliamentary caucus that they had to be more disruptive than they were during the State of the Nation Address.
“We are going to disrupt even more than we did during the State of the Nation Address. If you (legislators) do not have a spine do not come, but we expect you to be there,’’ Ms Khupe told the MPs.
The MDC-T caucus then set up a 12-member committee to lead the heckling.
The rowdy dozen comprises Nelson Chamisa, Gift Chimanikre, Innocent Gonese, Tabitha Khumalo, James Maridadi, Dorcas Sibanda, Fanny Munengami, Prosper Mutseyami, Prince Sibanda, Ronia Bunjira, Zwizwai Murisi and Amos Chibaya.
The rowdy dozen was tasked to drown out the President’s speech, maximally embarrass him, and use the live broadcast for maximum impact.
Pursuant to this, the legislators were ordered to report early to Parliament so as to get the front seats which would enable them to be more visible to the ZBC cameras.
Though there were a number of dissenting voices that described the planned disruption as schoolboy like and unparliamentary in light of the party’s 16th year anniversary, the voices of reason were drowned.
A source from State security confirmed they were aware of the planned disruption.
‘’We are aware of the plans by the MDC-T; our duty is to protect the dignity and integrity of the President. More importantly Parliamentarians enjoy immunity inside the building but when they step out they become ordinary people,’’ the source said.
Commenting on the MDC-T’s plans to capitalise on the live broadcast Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba said the MDC-T’s plans were at variance with the purpose of the live broadcast.
‘’The whole purpose of initiating live broadcast is to convey to the nation Parliament at work, to convey a sense of purpose, a sense of dignity. ZBC will not be an instrument of propagating uncivil behaviour,’’ he said.
The live broadcast that the MDC-T sought to capitalise on, a source at Parliament said, might turn out to be the party’s worst nightmare because it will be easy to identify the disruptive elements by studying the recording of the proceedings.
National Assembly speaker Advocate Jacob Mudenda is on record warning legislators against disruptive behaviour saying any members who persisted faced suspension for the rest of the session. The warning which was issued in line with Standing Order Number 77 came after the MDC-T MPs disruptive behaviour during the State of the Nation address last month.