Zimbabwe: Parly Not Pressing Case Against Mliswa, Mbondiah

Herald Reporter

Parliament will not take action against legislators Ms Memory Mbondiah of the MDC-T and Mr Temba Mliswa, an independent, whose row forced the Public Accounts Committee to adjourn its meeting early on Monday, National Assembly Speaker Advocate Jacob Mudenda said yesterday.

During the row Ms Mbondiah alleged Mr Mliswa had smashed the screen of her phone and she then slapped him.

But Adv Mudenda, while not initiating action at present, has instructed the committee to set its house in order and ensure that Parliamentary rules are followed in its work, or else the National Assembly will have to debate the rumpus and decide on the next step.

"We will not take action against the two legislators but I have instructed the PAC chairperson, Mr Brian Dube, to put his house in order by ensuring that his Committee works within the mandate and guidelines of our Parliament.

"The Committee should desist from involving personal issues while working on issues of national importance," said Adv Mudenda.

"If the Committee cannot bring order and sanity immediately, then we will institute procedures through the National Assembly to debate on that report and that will culminate in the setting up of a Parliamentary Privileges Committee to investigate what is taking place in that committee."

Efforts to obtain a comment from Mr Dube, were fruitless.

The committee was on Monday supposed to receive evidence from Intratrek Zimbabwe over its Zesa contract for the Gwanda solar power station and from Finmark on its Zesa contract to supply pre-paid electricity meters.

The meeting was adjourned when Intratrek managing director Mr Wicknell Chivayo was about to give evidence as Mr Mliswa argued that the committee could not proceed as the Zesa deal is now before the courts.

After the objections by Mr Mliswa, Mr Chivayo and journalists were asked to leave to allow the committee to consider that argument in private.

Ms Mbondiah, an MDC-T proportional representative member, then stormed out of the meeting claiming Mr Mliswa had smashed the screen of her phone. She returned moments later and slapped Mr Mliswa shouting that she was not his wife.

Other legislators immediately intervened and restrained the pair while Parliament staff closed the doors to the committee room to prevent journalists from taking pictures of the rumpus.

After tempers had cooled, the meeting was then postponed.

Ms Mbondiah declined to comment on the matter while Mr Mliswa downplayed the incident saying the misunderstanding arose after she tried to record him while he was speaking during the meeting.

"I have already made peace with her. You know when you come to Parliament you have a lot of issues. You probably wake up on the wrong side of the bed and you find someone to vent out your frustrations and anger on and this could be it.

In 2004, then Chimanimani legislator, the late Roy Bennett (MDC) was jailed 15 months after he was convicted by a Parliamentary Committee of contempt of Parliament, a decision ratified by the National Assembly, after he assaulted then Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa during a debate in the National Assembly.

The new Constitution removes the right of Parliament to pass a jail sentence but those found in contempt can be fined or suspended.

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