Defy Mudenda, Madhuku tells MPs

HARARE - Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku has urged legislators to defy the decree by Jacob Mudenda, speaker of the National Assembly, gagging them from debating a corruption motion. 

Madhuku was speaking at a breakfast meeting organised for legislators by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights in Harare yesterday to discuss their oversight role in ensuring accountability and transparency in government institutions and public bodies.

Madhuku, who is also the leader of the opposition National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), was responding to a question by MDC MP for Gweru Urban, Sesel Zvidzai, who wanted to know if it was legal for Mudenda to gag legislators.

The University of Zimbabwe law professor advised the lawmakers to defy the speaker’s ruling, telling them to continue to debate the motion without fear or favour.

“The ruling of the Speaker of National Assembly will not stand in a court of law.” Madhuku said.

“MPs have freedom of speech which they must exercise in Parliament. You must continue to debate the matter to see what course of action the Speaker will take.  You will have to approach the Constitutional Court, if the Speaker continues to gag you.”

Mudenda has threatened to charge legislators with contempt of Parliament if they continue debating matters deemed to be denigrating public officials.

In February, Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya, made serious allegations against Webster Shamu, minister of ICT; Gershom Pasi, commissioner-general of Zimbabwe Revenue Authority of Zimbabwe, as well as clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma that they were corrupt and implicated in the “salarygate scandal”.

Mudenda ruled that no Member of Parliament shall be allowed to make unsubstantiated allegations against other members or public officers without proof.

Mudenda said that Chikwinya’s claims were unsubstantiated and that they were in violation of Parliament’s Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act.

The Act guarantees freedom of speech and privileges for legislators to debate issues without the risk of being sued or brought before a court of law.

Meanwhile, Justice Moses Chinhengo, a former High Court judge who is now practising in Botswana, speaking at the same workshop, said the country’s august House was unsustainably bloated.

“Is it necessary to have 350 MPs compared to our population considering that we do not have enough resources in the country,” Chinhengo said.

“I know that it is in the new Constitution but this number is too high to be sustained.”

Comments (4)

mudenda munhu wangwena.......nxaaaa,,,,,,,,,hapana hapana

wezhira - 10 April 2014

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Mudenda is not the law. Ignore him.

machakachaka - 11 April 2014

I thought Mudenda had backtracked on his quest to gag MPs as was reported sometime ago. Or is Madhuku not aware of this?

Dr Know - 11 April 2014

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