Government may use the Political Parties Finance Act to punish the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) after the opposition party snubbed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s State of Nation Address (SONA) on Tuesday during the opening of the First Session of the Tenth Parliament.
This punishment may be the first punitive action taken by Zanu PF against the CCC, who previously used to protest inside Parliament against alleged electoral fraud by President Mnangagwa.
CCC MPs did not attend the official start of the tenth Parliament’s first session, claiming they did not recognise Mnangagwa’s legitimacy and called the election a farce.
Following the boycott, Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda directed the leader of the government business in parliament, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi, to investigate the Political Parties Finance Act to determine how the opposition could be sanctioned.
The Political Parties Finance Act offers funds from the Treasury to political parties that received at least five percent of the total votes cast in the national elections and this year the CCC is eligible to receive that funding.
The CCC has 103 seats in the National Assembly, whereas Zanu PF has 176, while the opposition has 27 seats in the Senate, while the ruling party has 33.
“I further request the Leader of Government Business to look into the Political Parties Finance Act to find out whether further sanctions cannot be applied,” said the Speaker after ordering that the CCC MPs will not receive their allowances and fuel coupons.
The Speaker said it was “clear” that CCC violated the Standing Orders of Parliament’s internal governing statutes.
“Members of CCC have to come to Harare after parliament was summoned by His Excellency, the President and have stayed in hotels and have been given and facilitated their travel to Harare.
“Therefore, there have been violations of these Standing Orders and in terms of powers vested in me as Speaker, I instruct the Clerk of Parliament to ensure that CCC members will not receive their coupons to go back home,” Mudenda said.
“Secondly, their stay in hotels at the taxpayer’s generosity and commitment will be deducted from their salaries.”
In an interview with journalists after the opening of Parliament Tuesday, the justice minister also said he would look into what the Speaker had said.
“Elections are done and dusted, they were sworn in, which means that was an admission that the process was correct so we are not aware why they didn’t turn up (Tuesday),” Ziyambi said.
“The speaker has pronounced very clearly that they are not going to receive any coupons if they stayed in hotel rooms ahead of the SONA. They will be forced to pay for the accommodation.”
The sanctions arguably marks the first punitive stance taken by the Zanu PF dominated legislature since the opposition chose boycotts as a form of protest against alleged poll fraud by the Zimbabwean leader.
Previously, the former MDC would break into loud singing as Mnangagwa went through his addresses in parliament.
There was drama in the previous parliament when police stormed the august house chamber to wrestle opposition lawmakers one after the other out of the house in dramatic scenes that were captured live on state television.