The feud between the country’s two main political parties, the ruling ZANU-PF and opposition MDC intensified on Wednesday with National Assembly Speaker; Jacob Mudenda, ruling that the latter’s legislators would no longer be allowed to ask Cabinet Ministers any questions in Parliament.
The adamant Mudenda said unless opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) recognised President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the legitimate head of state, they would not be allowed to direct any questions to ministers that he appointed.
The unprecedented ruling was instigated by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who is the leader of government business in the House.
Ziyambi asked whether it was prudent to allow opposition legislators to ask questions to government ministers when they had refused to recognise President Mnangagwa, who is the appointing authority.
“I hear you, Honourable Minister, that in terms of the Constitution, Ministers belong to Cabinet and that Cabinet is comprised of the President,” said Adv Mudenda.
“Until we resolve the issue of acceptance by members of the opposition, the request by the Leader of the House stands.”
“If this continues I shall not hesitate to name and shame members who shall be punished accordingly.”
Since the disputed 2018 presidential election, whose outcome was decided by the Constitutional Court, MDC MPs have refused to recognise Mnangagwa as the legitimate leader of Zimbabwe.
In refusing to be part of the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD), aimed at addressing problems facing the country, MDC cited President Mnangagwa’s ‘illegitimacy.’
On 0ctober 1, MDC lawmakers walked out on President Mnangagwa while delivering his State of the Nation Address at Parliament building, something which riled Mudenda, resulting in him ruling they would not get their sitting allowances.
“The decision by National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda to bar MDC MPs from asking questions to ministers is totally wrong, “said MDC former secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora on Twitter.
“He (Mudenda) has, for the past 12 months, been allowing the same MPs to ask ministers questions. What has changed now?”
Political analyst, Sindiso Moyo, described Mudenda’s leadership of the National Assembly as immature.
“Mudenda is running Parliament like a kindergarten, but those are the tendencies of ZANU-PF and its proxies,” said Moyo, adding ZANU-PF was an enemy of democracy.
“Mudenda just wants to shield clueless ministers who have no solution to the economy. ZANU-PF is just clueless about the things that matter.”
Moyo said it was regrettable that while during former president Mugabe’s era MPs were allowed to express themselves freely, that was being taken away by Mnangagwa’s administration which had earlier promised to do better.
“Under the so-called new dispensation it seems rights of citizens continue to be trampled upon. The ED government does not want to be accountable,” added Moyo.
Michael Mdladla-Ndiweni, another political analyst, said Mudenda’s decision was not water-tight.
“Parliament is a constitutional body and creation of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” said Mdladla-Ndiweni.
“I do not think the Speaker has imperial powers that can be supreme over the constitution. My view is that as an individual (Mudenda) has no powers to ban the participation of MPs in the question and answer. He is simply trying his luck. I don’t think he can stand legal test.”