Outrage as ministers 'bunk' National Assembly

HARARE - There was opposition fury as ministers “bunked” the National Assembly sitting on Wednesday to join tens of thousands of Zimbabweans who flocked to the burial of the late Brigadier-General Murozvi at the National Heroes Acre.

A sitting of both houses of Parliament was supposed to conclude last week Thursday for a three-week break that was supposed to last for the rest of April, but the executive requested for an extension to wrap up important bills, including the proposed Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 1) Bill, which seeks to restore sweeping powers to the president to singularly appoint the Chief Justice.

The National Assembly had scheduled a question time to Cabinet ministers on Wednesday — but not a single minister or deputy minister turned up as they thronged a shrine in western Harare where President Robert Mugabe delivered a detailed 90-minute address on the country’s war for independence at the event, recounting Brig-Gen Murozvi’s liberation war contribution during a State funeral.

MDC chief whip Innocent Gonese expressed outrage at the ministers’ absence which he called “disrespectful of the House”.

“In terms of the sitting calendar, we were supposed to have adjourned last week to the 2nd of May, 2017.

“It was the executive which moved that the House sits this week on account of them having important Bills.  I am simply making the point that this particular sitting was motivated by the desire of the executive for them to move government business,” he said.

Gonese said Brig-Gen Murozvi’s funeral at the Heroes Acre cemetery was supposed to start early to accommodate National Assembly business in the afternoon. He said either they should have scheduled the funeral for Thursday “because this is something within their domain or else they should have conducted the funeral at 10:00 hours so that by 13:00 hours everything is done and completed and then the ministers would have been here.”

“I believe, firstly, in terms of the day on which to mourn our national hero and also in respect of the time, members of the executive who also sit in the Politburo should have been aware of the dynamics,” Gonese said.

“I want to reiterate that those members of the executive should have been aware of the dynamics that today is a Wednesday and that there is Question Time.”

Gonese also protested that the State broadcaster did not provide footage of the National Assembly sitting, preferring to send its OB (outside broadcasting) Van to the Heroes Acre. This comes after the State-run ZBC TV has been directed by the government to provide equitable and across the board coverage to the parliamentary activities as well as proceedings of the Senate and National Assembly.

“I do not know whether it is by coincidence or not because today is Wednesday and ZTV must have been aware that today there is Question Time,” he said, calling for the stand over of Question Time “because as we speak, the honourable (Zanu PF) chief whip has not indicated to us at what time the ministers are going to come.”

“They have showed some disdain for this august House, the time we have now is supposed to be devoted to Question Time,” the MDC chief whip said.

“If the ministers are not here, then our view is that we must simply adjourn the House and then we sit when it is convenient for the Executive who should have been here in the first place, then tomorrow we can then do government business.

“This House was specifically adjourned to this week to deal with matters which they considered a priority and all of a sudden they have decided that it is not a priority anymore and they scheduled other programmes,” Gonese fumed.

Acting Speaker of the National Assembly Rueben Marumahoko said: “Your concerns are noted but there are circumstances beyond human control such as what has befallen on this nation today where we have lost one of our heroes.  It is not that it was done intentionally.”

Zvishavane-Ngezi Zanu PF MP John Holder rose on a point of order.

“The Constitution forces us to give respect to our national heroes,” he said amid loud interjections from opposition backbenchers. “I move that we have a moment of silence regarding our departed hero.”

Gonese and the Zanu PF chief whip Lovemore Matuke then conferred, leading to the MDC chief whip to withdraw his objection.

Comments (1)

For the zanu pf Parliament is just a place to kill till time.Their party does not allow them to reason when they are in parliament.They are only there to rubber stamp whatever their old dictator says,whether it makes sense or not.So opposition MPs should fume over these goons's absence in parliament.It is just a resting hall for them, far away from the noise of the city.

Janana wa Bikaz - 15 April 2017

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