14 December 2018

Zimbabwe: The Day MDC Legislators Were Paid in Own Coin


Since the beginning of the Ninth Parliament of Zimbabwe, MDC legislators have displayed a sickeningly childish behaviour which is unbecoming of an opposition party anywhere. The lawmakers have sought to gain the electoral victory which eluded them in the ballot box on July 30 through unorthodox, unparliamentary and shameless behaviour that seems to border on retributive sabotage.

Living in denial

When President Mnangagwa opened the current Parliament and delivered his State of the Nation address in September, MDC legislators walked out arguing that they did not recognise him as the President of the country, citing that he was in power owing to an allegedly stolen July 30 Presidential election. The stunt was led by the MDC leader of the opposition in Parliament, Thabitha Khumalo.

When the President started reading his speech, Khumalo and her charges shamelessly heckled him before walking out. During the presentation of the 2019 National Budget, the opposition also refused to stand up for the President as he entered the august House, repeating that they did not recognise him.

Confused and conflicted

Opposition legislators are a confused and conflicted lot. They canvassed for the electorate's votes, only to abandon them upon entry into Parliament.

They turned their backs on the people who voted for them to concentrate on serving the narrow political interests of their childish tantrum-throwing leader Nelson Chamisa, who still nurses bitterness born of his July 30 electoral loss. MDC legislators, like their boss, continue to smart from the debilitating defeat and look set to spend the next five years sulking.

This, however, is not surprising given that the political outfit lost the last election due to lack of sound promises and projects to improve the people's livelihoods and earn enough votes to chalk a landslide victory, which has eluded them since 2000. Given this background, one is not surprised that the MDC is prepared to spend the parliamentary term crying foul instead of strategising for the next elections because, despite playing home to technocrats such as lawyers, engineers and economist, the party is simply clueless, groping about in the dark and doomed to definite failure.

The legislators are either stupid or shamelessly confused. They refuse to recognise the President under whose charge the Parliament falls, but would gladly receive and even fight for motor vehicles, salaries and allowances that go with their positions. They refused to respect the President on the occasion of the National Budget presentation conveniently, oblivious of the fact that the welfare of their constituents depends on the provisions from the national purse.

Even the legislators' benefits, which are the source of a lot of fighting during the party's primary elections, are also covered by Treasury, whose Cabinet minister they dishonoured.

The MDC lawmakers also displayed their childishness by refusing to accompany Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda and Senate President Mabel Chinomona to State House, where the presiding officers officially introduced themselves to the President following their election. The leader of opposition in the Senate, Elias Mudzuri, who obliged, was harassed by fellow senior party members and heckled by ordinary party members during the party's protest in Harare at the end of November.

Enough of the nonsense

The MDC members, who are more of the people's misrepresentatives than legislators, thought that they could continue to abuse their parliamentary immunity to indulge in childish stunts forever until the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ziyambi Ziyambi decided that enough of the collective and nonsensical tomfoolery was enough. He stamped his foot and paid the errant legislators in their own coin when they complained that Cabinet ministers did not want to respond to their questions.

"I just want to respond to the members and indicate that ministers, according to the Constitution, are appointed by the President and they serve at the pleasure of the President.

"The honourable members do not recognise the President and I am surprised. We cannot continue in this House with hypocrites. You cannot on one hand say you do not recognise the President and you expect a minister who has been appointed by the President to answer questions."

Sound decision

Some opposition members such as the Zengeza West legislator, Job Sikhala, tried to question Minister Ziyambi's decision, but were put in their place by seasoned lawyers who showed him that he was still a baby lawyer. The experts indicated that from both political and legal perspectives, the minister was right in that the President is part of Parliament due to his Presidential assent role in the process of making laws. They demonstrated how conflicted and hypocritical the legislators were.

Time for tough action

The MDC members of Parliament cannot continue to have their way in the august House to please Chamisa at the expense of their own constituents. It is time that Government took serious action against the rogue legislators and mete out condign and deterrent penalties against them.

The MDC's petty protest politics cannot be allowed free and counterproductive reign in the hallowed national institution. Last week, President Mnangagwa sent a strong warning to non-performing legislators in his party and reminded them that ZANU-PF would not hesitate to recall them and replace them with people whose personalities dovetail with his servant leadership ethos.

If Chamisa was not just power-hungry, he would call his legislators to order and put a stop to the ongoing opposition childish games in Parliament.

If he was the democrat that he claims to be, he would recognise the President and read the riot to his legislators and move forward with everyone.

Unfortunately, he is not, because he myopically thinks that he can recover the victory, which he was denied by the electorate on July 30 by using rowdy lawmakers.

In view of this background, it is time that Government enacts legislation to deal with the theatrics such as those being displayed by MDC legislators and restore dignity to the august House.


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