Parly rancour over NRZ chairman dismissal

HARARE - There was rancour in Parliament on Wednesday over the sacking of National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) board chairperson Alvord Mabhena.

Opposition lawmakers clashed with their Zanu PF rivals after deputy Transport minister Michael Madanha justified the dismissal of a man who was spearheading the turnaround of the collapsed State rail company.

Responding to Bulawayo Central MDC MP Dorcas Sibanda’s inquiry on the circumstances surrounding Mabhena’s sacking just over a year into his job during Parliament’s question time, Madanha  appeared to be  bragging that “there is nothing special” about him.

This torched a storm, with Matabeleland opposition legislators particularly MDC vice president Thokozani Khupe and Bulawayo East MDC MP Tabitha Khumalo, demanding that Madanha withdraws his statement.

The opposition MPs said Mabhena, whose term of office was set to expire in 2017, was special in that he was an educated engineer.

Stand-in speaker of the National Assembly Mabel Chinomona was clearly overwhelmed by the chaos. She initially ordered Madanha to withdraw his statement. But the deputy minister refused.

“I am sorry I have nothing to withdraw,” he insisted. “You can put your questions in writing so that I give reasons why he was fired.”

The acting Speaker Chinomona said: “I think the minister said there was nothing special about Mabhena’s case, so let him explain what he meant.”

She spoke amid interjections from the opposition bench that was insisting that the statement be withdrawn.

This drew the ire of Buhera South Zanu PF MP Joseph Chinotimba who stated that a lot of workers lost their jobs in July so “what’s special about Mabhena?”

“20 000 to 40 000 people were sacked and we are now discussion just one person. What is special about Mabhena?” Chinotimba queried.

The fracas ran for well over 20 minutes with some MPs, including leader of government business in the House, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, walking out in disgust.

“From now onwards, I will not tolerate any more questions over this matter,” Chinomona decreed.

“Those who have further questions can put it in writing because I notice we are abusing the laws of this House, raising unnecessary points of order.’

The chaos escalated when Gokwe Nembudziya Zanu PF MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena raised another point of order, saying MDC MP Dorcas Sibanda, who wore a sleeveless African dress, was not dressed properly.

But Sibanda protested vehemently, claiming Wadyajena’s comments were tantamount to sexual harassment.

But Chinomona ruled her out of order.

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