Zimbabwe: Speaker Reverses MDC-A Question Ban

14 November 2019

Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda yesterday reversed the ruling he made last month barring MDC-Alliance legislators from posing questions to Cabinet ministers.

He made the decision after finding certain constitutional rights overrode his decision.

Adv Mudenda had banned the MPs during the Question Time on October 23 after Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said it was improper for opposition legislators to expect their questions to be answered by ministers appointed by a President they did not recognise.

This followed the walk-out by MDC-Alliance legislators on President Mnangagwa when he presented the State of the Nation Address and officially opened the Second Session of the Ninth Parliament.

"Following my ruling on the 23rd of October regarding eligibility of MDC-Alliance parliamentarians to question vice presidents, ministers and deputy ministers during question time, I have reconsidered my ruling taking into consideration provisions of Section 119 of the Constitution," said Advocate Mudenda.

He said the section provided for the role of Parliament in protecting and upholding the Constitution, adding that the Parliament's Standing Rules and Orders also gave private members' questions precedence on Wednesdays and Fridays as part of their oversight.

Adv Mudenda said the vice presidents, ministers and their deputies were also obliged by the Constitution to attend committees and Question Time to respond to issues they were collectively or individually responsible for.

He said because of the said provisions, he had decided to reverse the earlier ruling.

"In light of the above, my ruling of the 23rd of October is suspended sine die (indefinitely) to avoid the collapse of Parliament process," said Adv Mudenda.

Norton legislator Mr Temba Mliswa, who had moved a motion requesting the Speaker to reverse the ban, thanked him for the decision.

"I want to thank you Mr Speaker Sir for reversing the decision which shows that you are a listening leader," said Mr Mliswa.

Adv Mudenda warned that he would soon invoke provisions of the Parliament's Standing Orders by charging ministers that continue to bunk Parliament's Question Time.

He gave the warning after he wrote to the President during the course of the First Session of the Ninth Parliament raising concern on the behaviour of some ministers who do not attend sessions without seeking leave of absence as required by the Standing Rules and Orders.

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