Some MPs just not honourable
Leroy Dzenga Features Writer
In Zimbabwe, the moment a person is voted into Parliament, they assume the tag honourable. This is a moral obligation for them to carry themselves in a manner exemplary to society, as leaders responsible for making the laws that govern it. To some it brings a degree of decency and to others it is just an addition to the list of names they answer to. Social media has brought us close to the harsh reality that not every legislator is honourable, if recent events are anything to go by.
Among those of questionable honour is one Job Sikhala, a lawyer. He is not stupid, but his reasoning can leave you feeling more could have been done.
Last week, there was a lady who was said to have pressed rape charges against MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa.
Upon hearing this, Sikhala logged onto his Facebook page, took an image of a lady he assumed was the one accusing his leader of rape and uploaded it on Twitter.
The words he used to caption the image are unprintable as they reek of body shaming, insensitivity and perpetuate rape culture.
In the process, he exposed an innocent woman from Kadoma who shares the same name as the one who had laid charges against Chamisa.
As usual, Chamisa fanatics on Twitter were in their usual form and obscenities were hurled towards the lady who was not in any way involved in the saga.
Although a newbie in legal practice, the Zengeza MP should have allowed the law to take its course instead of trying to sway public opinion.
If their leader is innocent, there was no need to stir up emotions against the alleged victim, especially in a country where rape is frowned upon.
It is unethical to name victims of rape and Sikhala went on to upload a picture which was erroneous, putting an innocent woman in harm’s way.
Although the tweet was later deleted, the damage had already been done and up to now the legislator is yet to issue with equal prominence, an apology for his lack in due diligence.
Not that being thorough would have made his actions less injurious, it was not his place to play jury even if the issue involved his favourite.
Many times victims are afraid to come out and speak on rape because society has created a toxic template where victims are attacked and questioned. The law was created to deal with such delicate issues.
Then there was Temba Mliswa.
Controversial as ever, the Norton MP has been in and out of fights since the opening of the current parliamentary session.
In recent times, the Norton legislator has been trading insults with Killer Zivhu on social media and in the process of their exchanges, toxic masculinity showed its ugly face.
On March 2 on his Twitter account @TembaMliswa wrote:
“As a fact-finding exercise am inviting @KZivhu to bring his wife and sister to verify whether I’m gay or not. The butchery will be a good place for the exercise.”
This is a man, asking to use women as a measure of his virility. His declarations whether in banter or otherwise shone a light on his understanding of consent.
Why did he have to bring in women into his disagreement with a fellow parliamentarian?
Could he not find another way of showing his strengths without drawing in innocent women into a conversation that does not concern them?
Such thinking is dangerous in the minds of normal citizens, let alone a lawmaker.
When our political leaders lack social nuance one wonders how they would fare in creating laws for the 21st century where the environment is becoming more dynamic.
More can be done and more should be done, Parliament must devise a method to deal with errant legislators who put its name into disrepute. The best place to start would be on social media and the way legislators treat women.
Just maybe, we can retrieve the honour which seems to be thawing with each tweet from Parliament.
Slain Pan-Africanist Thomas Sankara once said: “Inequality can be done away with only by establishing a new society, where men and women will enjoy equal rights, resulting from an upheaval in the means of production and in all social relations. Thus, the status of women will improve only with the elimination of the system that exploits them.”
Such musings could be why Sankara is revered even up to this date, our legislators should be wary of what they leave as a record of their thoughts.
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