Zimbabweans were on Wednesday treated to live chaotic scenes in the National Assembly when opposition MPs protested the absence of several Cabinet ministers who opted to attend Zanu PF’s politburo meeting.
Only three Cabinet ministers — Joseph Made (Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development), Douglas Mombeshora (Lands and Rural Resettlement), Supa Mandiwanzira (Information and Communication Technology) — and seven deputy ministers attended the question-and-answer session.
MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese stoked the fire when he asked Made to explain whether Cabinet had approved building of a new capital city with freeways and state-of-the-art residences.
All hell broke loose when Made failed to give a satisfactory explanation, resulting in Harare Central MP Murisi Zwizwai (MDC-T) raising concern over ministers’ continued bunking of the question-and-answer session.
“Last week, we complained as Parliament about the issue of absence of ministers and out of 42 ministers in government, there are only three ministers, yet MPs have questions from their constituents and they want answers,” Zwizwai said.
“We also suggested that there should be an acting leader of the House in the absence of (Vice-President Emmerson) Mnangagwa.”
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Mabel Chinomona told legislators that the issue was being looked into.
But MDC-T legislators could have none of it with Kuwadzana East MP Nelson Chamisa immediately raising a point of order saying since ministers had prioritised the Zanu PF politburo meeting over Parliament, then question-and-answer sessions should be deferred until ministers came in to take questions from MPs.
Zanu PF legislators opposed the suggestion resulting in MDC-T MPs protesting through a Ndebele song Into oyenzayo siyayizonda (We do not like what you do), as well as a Shona song Zanu yawora (Zanu is now rotten).
The situation then degenerated into chaos, subjecting ZTV viewers to a 40-minute drama as MPs from both sides of the House tried to drown each other’s voices in song, dance, finger-pointing and threats.
During the fracas, Chinomona ordered the Sergeant-at-Arms Nicholas Marufu to eject Bulawayo East MP Thabitha Khumalo and GlenView South MP Solomon Madzore (both MDC-T).
But this created even more chaos as all the opposition MPs threatened to walk out in solidarity with the pair.
The chaotic scenes continued for almost an hour until Chinomona suspended business of the National Assembly for 10 minutes.
When she resumed the sitting, she said: “Since last week, we had complaints from MPs across the board that we need ministers to attend question-and-answer sessions. That is going to be rectified, but today we will proceed with business.”
Meanwhile, Energy and Power Development minister Samuel Undenge told the House that local fuel prices were in tandem with international standards, adding that the country was working towards becoming the region’s fuel hub as it boasts storage facilities with a holding capacity of 537 million litres, far more than the 320 million litres storage facilities at Beira in Mozambique.