Parliament will invoke the Constitution and Standing Orders to deal decisively with MDC-Alliance legislators who fail to attend sittings without reasonable cause, a Cabinet minister has said.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said Parliament would not deal with political parties, but individual legislators, should they fail to attend sittings and portfolio committee meetings.
At least four MPs were expelled from the chamber this week after MDC-T secretary-general, Mr Douglas Mwonzora wrote to Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda saying they were no longer representing the interests of the party.
The four were Mr Charlton Hwende (Kuwadzana East), Prosper Mutseyami (Chikanga-Dangamvura), Tabitha Khumalo (Proportionate Representative) and Midlands Senator Lilian Timveous.
Minister Ziyambi’s remarks followed an announcement yesterday by the MDC-Alliance directing its Members of Parliament to “disengage” from the House.
The directive has since set the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC-Alliance on a collision course with its legislators who are weighing their options on whether or not to heed the decision given that they risk forfeiting the financial benefits that go with the office.
“As Parliament, we do not deal with political parties, but individual MPs when it comes to attendance of sittings and portfolio committee meetings. If a Member of Parliament fails to attend Parliament sittings and portfolio committee meetings the due process will be instituted,” said Minister Ziyambi who is also Leader of Government Business of House.
He said their failure to attend Parliament would not disrupt Parliamentary business given that Zanu PF has a two thirds majority.
Addressing journalists yesterday, MDC-Alliance deputy national chairperson, Mr Job Sikhala said the party’s national standing committee had resolved not to participate in all activities of Parliament by its legislators pending further consultation with a view to withdraw from the august House.
He said the party will not countenance the wishes of individual MPs such as their financial benefits like vehicles and salary.
“This is in the interest of the people and not the interest of individuals,” said Mr Sikhala.
“All MDC-Alliance MPs will forthwith suspend all participation in Parliament and disengage from all platforms in which the party has to interact with Zanu PF pending consultations with the relevant constituencies of the party, that is the electorate and Zimbabweans at large on the decision for a total withdrawal from Parliament.”
Mr Sikhala said Messrs Elias Mudzuri, Morgan Komichi and Mwonzora had “expelled themselves” from the party for working with MDC-T leader Dr Thokozani Khupe who was recently declared legitimate leader of the opposition party by the Supreme Court.
However, Mr Mudzuri dismissed the purported expulsion saying he could not be fired from Parliament by a non-existent political party.
“Ncube fired Tsvangirai (2005), but the party remained; Biti (2014) did the same but left the party intact. Today (2020), Sikhala fires us, but still the party shall remain. Let’s go for the extraordinary congress,” said Mr Mudzuri on his Twitter handle @EngMudzuri.
Adv Mudenda said he could only comment if the MDC-Alliance had put their concerns in writing.
“They have not yet communicated that to me. In the absence of such communication I cannot comment,” said Adv Mudenda.
The decision to direct legislators from the MDC-Alliance has riled most of them as they risk losing sitting allowances, vehicle and other benefits all legislators are entitled.
Besides risking losing financial benefits, the legislators also face expulsion from Parliament should Mr Mwonzora further wield the axe on errant MPs.