Zvamaida Murwira and Susan Nyabunze
MDC-T Members of Parliament yesterday disrupted business in the Chamber in protest over the presence of few Cabinet ministers to field queries during Question Time.
The legislators defied a ruling by Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Cde Marble Chinomona that they should allow business to proceed while authorities looked into their concerns.
The rowdy MPs began singing and shouting “We want Ministers” and “Into oyenzayo ngiyayizonda,” creating chaos on proceedings that were beamed live on national television by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.
Chaos and heckling in the House persisted for more than 30 minutes resulting in Cde Chinomona announcing that she was suspending business for 10 minutes to allow leaders of respective political parties to consult.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made, was the only minister present at the time together with some deputy ministers although other ministers subsequently trooped in.
Trouble started after Kuwadzana MP Mr Nelson Chamisa (MDC-T) rose on a point of order while Minister Made was fielding a question where he complained that it was three weeks with their complaint not being attended to.
Mr Chamisa proposed that Question Time be suspended while waiting for ministers to attend.
MDC-T chief whip Mr Innocent Gonese moved in to support his colleague. It was at that stage when Cde Chinomona ruled their concerns would be rectified, but business should proceed.
MDC-T MPs then rose and began singing and Cde Chinomona appeared overwhelmed as her voice was drowned by ensuing noise. She then suspended business for 10 minutes.
At that time, Zanu-PF chief whip Dr Joram Gumbo, who was attending a Politburo meeting at party headquarters, emerged in the Chamber and approached Mr Gonese and leader of the opposition party Ms Thokozani Khupe.
After 10 minutes, the House reconvened and Cde Chinomona acknowledged concerns by the MDC-T MPs and said they would be addressed while proceedings should resume.
There was only five minutes before question with notice ended.
Commenting on the scene at Parliament, Zanu-PF secretary for Information and Publicity, Cde Simon Khaya-Moyo, said the revolutionary party regarded parliamentary business highly and they had to excuse some Cabinet Ministers from the Politburo meeting after news filtered that the MDC-T wanted to cause a scene.
“It is our party’s policy that Cabinet ministers must attend Parliament, especially the question and answer sessions. His Excellency, the President has been clear on this matter and his directive remains a standing order,” said Cde Khaya-Moyo.
He said the fact that three Cabinet ministers with questions on the Order Paper were excused from the Politburo meeting was testimony to the high regard Zanu-PF treated Parliament business.
“But we must also place it on record that the decision when our Politburo meets is entirely ours. In the same way we don’t dictate when other parties should meet or caucus.
Political analysts condemned the conduct of the MDC-T saying they lacked originality and wanted to emulate South African parliament when Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julias Malema, led a protest in Parliament.
Analyst Mr Alexander Kanengoni, said the opposition party was seeking relevance by trying to emulate what EFF did in South Africa.
“They do not have a mind of their own. They think protesting is the in thing to disrespect Parliament,” said Mr Kanengoni.
Harare lawyer Mr Terence Hussein, said the opposition party was trying to seek relevance in the wake of crushing defeat at the hands of Zanu-PF in the July 31, 2013.
“They are frantically seeking relevance following dismal showing in elections. They will not find relevance by being carbon copy of the EFF of South Africa. They must remember that Zimbabwe is not South Africa,” said Mr Hussein.
Another analyst, Mr Goodwine Mureriwa, said attempting to draw parallel between Zimbabwean parliament and South Africa was wrong.
“In South Africa, EFF is fighting for black economic empowerment and accountability while here we know that MDC-T are a front of whites,” he said.