Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
A MOTION on the West’s illegal economic sanctions regime saw legislators almost trading blows yesterday, with altercations between Zanu-PF and MDC-T members lasting for about 30 minutes.The exchange of insults and threats only stopped when the Chamber got to its automatic adjournment time at 6:55pm when National Assembly Speaker Cde Jacob Mudenda announced the mandatory end of the debating time.
The altercation was triggered by Mbizo MP, Mr Settlement Chikwinya (MDC-T) who provoked Buhera South MP Cde Joseph Chinotimba (Zanu-PF) alleging that he murdered MDC-T supporters during the harmonised elections.
This occurred during a motion moved by Mberengwa East MP, Cde Makhosini Hlongwane (Zanu-PF) calling for the National Assembly to write to Western countries to remove sanctions.
Despite admitting to the existence of sanctions in the GPA, and in spite of tacit admission by the sanctions-imposing countries that the embargoes will remain, MDC-T legislators continue denying the existence of sanctions.
The drama started when Mr Chikwinya took the floor to deny the existence of sanctions which he chose to call “restrictive measures”, he then read out names of people whom he claimed were “murdered by one Joseph Chinotimba in Buhera,” triggering a protest from Cde Chinotimba and other Zanu-PF legislators.
Cde Chinotimba charged at Mr Chikwinya pointing at him while Zanu-PF Chief Whip, Cde Joram Gumbo could be seen protesting as well, moving back and forth to the Speaker’s Chair shaking his head in anger.
The directive by Cde Mudenda ordering Mr Chikwinya to withdraw did not to help matters as Cde Chinotimba continued charging, protesting and pointing his finger at Mr Chikwinya, who on regaining the floor continued provoking Zanu-PF by making reference to violence saying he wanted to submit a document with evidence to form part of parliamentary record.
Cde Chinotimba seemed not have been satisfied by the order againt Mr Chikwinya to withdraw but wanted him to be ejected from the Chamber.
The heated exchange persisted as Zanu-PF legislators called for stern action against Mr Chikwinya while MDC-T legislators, led by Lobengula MP,Mr Sam Sipepa Nkomo protested that Cde Mudenda was not as firm to Zanu-PF MPs as he was to them.
“Parliament is not a place for criminal inquiries. Honourable Member has made some allegations that Hon Chinotimba murdered a person. If there are such issues Parliament is not the rightful place but should report to the police,” said Cde Mudenda.
After the 30-minute altercation, Cde Mudenda adjourned the House in terms of Standing Orders that provides for automatic adjournment at 6.55pm.
MDC-T Chief whip, Mr Innocent Gonese rose to protest why the House was being adjourned to next Tuesday instead of today but Cde Mudenda continued to move with his procession out of the Chamber.
Clerk of Parliament, Mr Austin Zvoma later issued a statement last night to the effect that the National Assembly had been adjourned to today and not to next Tuesday.
In his debate, Mr Hlongwane told the House that the European Union had violated the Cotonou Partnership Agreement that provided for dialogue before any measure could be taken.
Cde Hlongwane whose contribution was punctuated by emotions that drew a standing ovation from Zanu-PF MPs, and heckling from the MDC-T legislators invited the House to denounce them.
He chronicled the effects of the embargo on individuals and firms that have been affected. MDC-T legislators led by Hatfield MP, Mr Tapiwa Mashakada denied that there were sanctions, saying ‘restrictive measures’ were meted because of violence against white commercial farmers and MDC-T supporters.
Earlier on, Cde Mudenda shot down a motion by MDC-T that sought to have the July 31 2013 harmonised election investigated.
Gweru Urban MP, Mr Sessel Zvidzai had risen to give notice that he would want to move a motion to the effect that a parliamentary portfolio committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs investigate elections.
Cde Mudenda declined to allow the motion saying he wanted to study the constitutional implication of that motion. This again triggered protests from the MDC-T that lasted for about 10 minutes as legislators from the opposition party burst into song to derail business of the House.
Cde Gonese rose to protest that the motion had gone through all the requisite processes of Parliament but Cde Mudenda said as Speaker, he had the final say on the admissibility of any motion.