MDC Senate chief whip Lillian Timveous says her party legislators will next week enter Parliament with their mouths gagged in protest over Zanu-PF MPs’ disruptive behaviour during committee meetings.
] They are also bitter over an unofficial gag order imposed on them by Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi.
The opposition legislators said they were also concerned over the push to have them investigated and punished for refusing to recognise President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The MDC chairs eight portfolio committees in the National Assembly and two thematic committees in the Senate and their sittings have often been disrupted by the ruling party in revenge to the opposition snub of the President.
Timveous, who also sits in the Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC), told NewsDay recently that the MDC was tired of the squabbling and had no option except to protest. She said Zanu-PF was planning to change the standing rules and orders and form a Privileges Committee to investigate MDC legislators for walking out on Mnangagwa in Parliament.
“They are disrupting the committees chaired by the opposition because they do not want to be investigated for corruption,” Timveous said.
“Next week, we will come with sellotape wedged on our mouths in protest that we have been gagged in Parliament as an opposition and we are not allowed to speak anymore,” she said.
Timveous said when the SROC sat last Thursday to try and resolve the impasse; Zanu-PF attempted to set up a Privileges Committee made up of its members only to investigate the MDC legislators for walking out on Mnangagwa.
“We then walked out of the SROC because we cannot allow a Privileges Committee composed of members of Zanu-PF only to investigate us. Parliament is not Zanu-PF headquarters. It uses public funds and the Zanu-PF chief whip Pupurai Togarepi cannot even tell us that we do not deserve the Parliament vehicles because they are not funded by Mnangagwa. Those are Parliament funds.”
Togarepi confirmed that his party wants the MDC legislators investigated for snubbing Mnangagwa.
“Yes, we want them investigated because in our view they are violating both the Constitution and the Standing Rules and Orders. We would like Parliament to use powers vested in it to deal with the opposition MPs’ disorderly behaviour,” he said.
“The decision of the Constitutional Court in the election dispute is final. They are actually in contempt of court and we cannot allow such intransigence to go unchallenged. Funny enough, they do not raise the legitimacy issue when there are benefits coming from government, but they do so when they are expected to represent the electorate.
“The President together with Parliament forms the legislature. They debate Bills which cannot be laws without the signature of the same President they do not recognise. Such hypocrisy cannot be allowed in our democracy and violating the Constitution in Parliament should be totally condemned. These terrorist tendencies should be stopped immediately,” Togarepi said.