Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Legal and political analysts yesterday threw their weight behind Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi’s call for Government ministers to decline responding to questions from MDC-Alliance legislators until they acknowledged President Mnangagwa as Head of State and Government.
Responding to an attempt by MDC-Alliance legislators to pose questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Minister Ziyambi said the time had come for ministers to start declining to respond to questions from opposition backbenchers until they recognised President Mnangagwa won the July 30 presidential election.
His remarks followed an incident recently in which MDC Alliance lawmakers refused to stand up as the Head of State and Government walked into the august House to follow the 2019 National Budget Statement that was presented by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube.
The MDC-Alliance lawmakers also declined to accompany Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda and Senate President Cde Mabel Chinomona to State House where the presiding officers were officially introducing themselves to President Mnangagwa following their election.
Only leader of opposition in the Senate, Engineer Elias Mudzuri accompanied presiding officers but was at the receiving end of a backlash from his colleagues who openly dressed him down at a local hotel.
In an interview yesterday, Zanu-PF Secretary for Legal Affairs Cde Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana said Minister Ziyambi was right in making that statement.
“The stance by Minister Ziyambi is correct. Ministers represent the President. They are agents of the President. If MDC MPs do not recognise the President they cannot be seen asking questions to them. That’s hypocrisy,” said Cde Mangwana.
“We cannot continue with this childish behaviour. You want to engage the ministers but you do not recognise the appointing authority.”
Lawyer Jonathan Samukange said Minister Ziyambi was both politically and legally correct.
“Minister Ziyambi is right both from a legal and political perspective. Both views converge. The President is part of Parliament because he has a role in the law-making process when he assents to a Bill. So, you cannot say on one hand you recognise the National Assembly and Senate but you do not want to recognise the President, who is part of Parliament,” said Cde Samukange, who is also Mudzi South constituency representative.
He said the President could even take disciplinary action against his ministers for “connivance” if they engaged MDC Alliance legislators while the opposition backbenchers were refusing to recognise him.
“I do not know where they are deriving their authority from. If they have any grievances they should be addressed outside Parliament through their leader, Mr Nelson Chamisa. In law, we say you cannot have your cake and eat it. What they are doing is a contradiction,” said Cde Samukange.
Another analyst, Mr Tinomudaishe Chinyoka, described the MDC Alliance legislators as hypocrites.
“There is a reason for that hypocrisy. They want to justify their salaries in Parliament but when they are outside they will tell their supporters that the President is illegitimate. Minister Ziyambi was spot on,” said Mr Chinyoka.
“If you look at Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, he was appointed by the President from outside Parliament. He presents a National Budget for their salaries and they are ready to accept that salary allocated to them by Prof Ncube whose principal they do not want to recognise. What hypocrisy!”
During the sitting on Wednesday, Zengeza West MP Mr Job Sikhala sought to justify why they were asking questions to ministers claiming that they were paid by taxpayers.
“I would like to say that the Leader of the House is a legal practitioner, he is a lawyer. Mr Speaker Sir, he knows in terms of the law that there is a de jure and a de facto President. In terms of the Constitution Mr Speaker Sir, ministers are public servants who are using taxpayers’ money which is the oversight of this House. So, we are entitled as long as they are drawing from the public purse to ask them questions in this House,” said Mr Sikhala.