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Roundup Bulletin No. 43 - 2011
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
December 15, 2011
and Answer Session, Hon. Brian Tshuma introduced his motion calling
for the dismissal of the Clerk of Parliament,
Mr. Austin Zvoma, which saw the House degenerating into a mud-slinging
contest. The House of Assembly also adopted a motion by Hon. Collin
Gwiyo seeking the approval of the House to issue a certificate of
immunity to Mr. Lovemore Vambe who was suspended from work by his
employer for having appeared before a Committee of Parliament.
House of Assembly
on the Motion to Dismiss the Clerk of Parliament
Hon. Brian Tshuma
(MDC-T Hwange Central) yesterday moved his motion calling for the
dismissal of the Clerk of Parliament, Mr. Austin Zvoma. As soon
as Hon. Tshuma started debating the motion, Hon. Kudakwashe Bhasikiti
(ZANU PF Mwenezi East) raised a point of order to the Speaker arguing
that the motion could not be debated in the House as the matter
was before the Court.
The MDC-T Chief
Whip, Hon. Innocent Gonese, explained to the House the sub-judice
principle. He said while Standing Order No. 60(d) did not allow
the House to debate matters for which a judicial decision was pending,
the aforementioned Standing Rule did not apply to Hon. Tshuma’s
motion. Hon. Gonese argued that when Hon. Tshuma gave his notice
of the motion on 6 December 2011, nothing regarding the motion was
pending in the Courts. He further argued that since Mr. Zvoma sought
the court interdict well after Hon. Tshuma’s motion had been
brought before the House, the sub-judice principle was null and
void. He also argued that the Court had not yet made a determination
on the matter and the “court interdict” that Hon. Bhasikiti
referred to remained a mere application to the court. For these
reasons, Hon. Gonese said Parliament could not be held back from
debating the motion and urged the House to guard against setting
wrong precedents which had the serious threat of handing over its
authority and powers to the other arms of the state, namely; the
judiciary and the executive. Hon. Gonese said if parliament allowed
this precedent sought by Mr. Zvoma in the Court, Parliament will
find it difficult in the future to debate motions which some people
were not happy with as they may use such a precedent to muzzle debate
on important issues.
argument by Hon. Gonese, the Speaker over-ruled Hon. Bhasikiti’s
point of order and allowed Hon. Tshuma to proceed debating his motion.
However, Hon. Makhosini Hlongwane (ZANU PF Mberengwa East) immediately
raised a point of order requesting that the Speaker should recuse
himself since some of the issues raised in the motion made reference
to the Speaker. The Speaker over-ruled Hon. Hlongwane’s point
order arguing that there was already a precedent in the House set
by Hon. Emmerson Mnangagwa when he presided over the motion of privilege
against Hon. Roy Bennet, which had been moved by a Member from his
party. Be that as it may, the circumstances in the two precedents
appear different and Hon. Lovemore Moyo should perhaps have recused
himself from the Chair to rid any doubt regarding his perceived
conflict of interest on the matter.
prefaced his debate by an argument that his motion should be understood
in the wider context of attempting to reform the institution of
parliament. However, on the specific accusations on Mr. Zvoma, Hon.
Tshuma raised the following;
to conduct elections of the Speaker on 25th August 2008 in accordance
to section 39 of the Constitution
and Standing Order No. 6 as noted by the Supreme Court Ruling
nullifying the afore election.
and unilaterally deferring the sitting of the House of Assembly
on 22nd March 2011,
for the legal advice from the Attorney General regarding the status
of the Matobo North Constituency seat following the Supreme Court's
Ruling on the 2008 election of the Speaker of the House of Assembly.
attitude towards Honorable Members of this August House and in particular,
the Office of the Speaker.
of press statements contemptuous of Honourable Members of this House,
with the records of the proceedings of this House by expunging some
material from the Hansard of 29 March 2011 without the authority
of the House.
said the above-cited examples were serious acts of misdemeanor by
a senior officer of parliament which had the effect of tarnishing
the image of the institution of parliament. He said parliamentary
staff should be guided by institutional values of honesty, respect,
professionalism, decorum etc in the manner they discharged their
duties in parliament. He alleged that Mr. Zvoma was generally contemptuous
to Members of Parliament. He also accused the Clerk of Parliament
of making decisions that were not in his domain. For instance he
alleged that Mr. Zvoma made a unilateral decision to adjourn Parliament,
a decision that is supposed to be done by the House itself. He also
cited the issue in which the Clerk of Parliament expunged some material
in the Hansard on the proceedings regarding the re-election of the
Speaker. Hon. Tshuma argued that the Hansard should be a verbatim
record of the proceedings of the House, which should not be tempered
with without the authority of the House.
the motion, Hon. Shepherd Mushonga accused Mr. Zvoma of deliberately
manipulating parliamentary procedures for political expediency.
He cited the issue regarding the hiving off of Parliamentary Legal
Committee’s Adverse Reports from the House of Assembly to
the Senate. Hon. Mushonga said the Clerk arrogantly spurned his
legal advice and went ahead and transferred Adverse Reports to the
Senate. He alleged that the Clerk did this in connivance with the
Minister of Youth Development, Indigenization and Empowerment, Hon.
Saviour Kasukuwere, in order to fast-track the resolution on an
Adverse Report which the Parliamentary Legal Committee had issued
on an indigenization Statutory Instrument, requiring mining companies
to surrender 51% equity to government within 40 days.
motion did not go down well with some ZANU PF Members, notably Hon.
Makhosini Hlongwane, Hon. Paul Mangwana and Hon. Kudakwashe Bhasikiti,
who argued that the Speaker should recuse himself from the Chair.
Hon. Bhasikiti argued that the matter raised by Hon. Tshuma regarding
Mr. Zvoma’s failure to conduct the Speaker’s elections
which resulted in the Supreme Court nullifying the said elections,
benefitted the Speaker. Hence, Hon. Lovemore Moyo was an interested
party in the motion and therefore should not preside over the debate
on the motion. As indicated above, Hon. Moyo refused to recuse himself.
ZANU PF Members
then demanded that the motion should be amended first as proposed
by Hon Mushonga during his debate otherwise they would not allow
the debate to proceed before the said amendment. During his debate,
Hon. Mushonga had proposed the setting up of a 5-Member panel to
look into the accusations made by Hon. Tshuma in his motion against
the Clerk of Parliament. He said this panel will afford Mr. Zvoma
a right of reply.
On the other
hand MDC Members argued that there was nothing that stopped them
from debating the substantive motion and thus wanted to continue
debating the motion yesterday. This plunged the House of Assembly
into a stalemate as ZANU PF and MDC Members were bogged down on
procedural arguments. As a result, the parties agreed to adjourn
debate to today, so as to allow Hon. Mushonga to file his amendment
on the motion.
The debate is
set to resume today.
of Immunity to Mr. Lovemore Vambe
Gwiyo, representing the Portfolio Committee on Public Service Labour
and social Welfare moved a motion of privilege seeking the approval
of the House to issue a Certificate of Privilege to Mr. Lovemore
Vambe in terms of Section 13(1) of the Privileges, Immunities and
Powers of Parliament Act [Chapter 2:08]. Mr. Vambe appeared before
the Portfolio Committee on Public Service Labour and Social Welfare
recently at the invitation of the Committee to give oral evidence
regarding the plight of workers at the Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries,
where he was employed.
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