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Press statement by Hon. Lovemore Moyo Speaker of the House of Assembly on the recent public hearings disturbances
Lovemore Moyo, MDC
July 26, 2011

Chairperson of the Standing Rules and Orders Committee of Parliament

The events of the past week concerning the disruption of the proceedings of the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal Affairs, Constitutional and Parliamentary and the Thematic Committee on Human Rights Joint Inquiry of the public views and inputs on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill are a serious cause of concern.

Parliament has seen disturbing media reports and has received reports from the Chairpersons of the two Committees on the disturbances during the public hearings on the Human Rights Commission Bill. Further, it has been reported and is now in the public domain that Members of Parliament, journalists and members of the public were assaulted in Parliament by rowdy gangs identified as Zanu PF activists who were dropped off at Parliament as they chanted their party songs and slogans.

Earlier on last week, other public hearings by the same Joint Committee were disrupted in Chinhoyi on the 18th of July, Masvingo on the 21st of July and Mutare on the 23rd of July in a manner that is utterly disrespectful and contemptuous of the law making process and Constitutional mandate of Parliament, that is, to make laws, represent the people and to exercise oversight over the Executive. Therefore, it is our conclusion that these disruptions are politically motivated, calculated and sponsored.

These premeditated disturbances of public hearings resulted in the savage assaulting of an MP and journalists within Parliament building and its precincts. This act is unprecedented both in terms of its primitiveness and contempt for the authority and mandate of Parliament, as well as in its violations of the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act and the related Standing Orders of Parliament.

As an institution and one of the three arms of Government, we feel that these perpetrators have no respect and understanding of an institution such as the Parliament of Zimbabwe since they have attacked the very foundation of public consultation processes we believe in as nation.

This sort of behaviour has in actual fact set us back in terms of the Parliamentary reforms initiated by Parliament in 1997 which resulted in the establishment of the Committee system in 1999 as a way of making Parliament and its proceedings more accessible to the public and to the same individuals who came with the intention to destroy what we have been building as Parliament. Let it be noted that, when the whole concept of the reform process started, it was to allow the people of Zimbabwe to contribute to the law making process and other Parliamentary activities, in a way, strengthening Parliamentary Democracy.

As the Speaker of Parliament, I am also greatly concerned with the lack of security to such an extent that Honourable Members of Parliament are beaten up and harassed at their own workplace. Does this mean that we do not have sufficient security as Parliament to protect these individuals?

As if we are not in a position to protect the Members of Parliament, how secure is the property of the institution? This is a serious cause for concern as Parliament we strongly condemn this act of violence and behaviour. We trust that law enforcement agents will move with speed and take necessary measures to bring to book the sponsors and the perpetrators of these crimes whose identities are known.

This is yet another unhelpful entry on the long ledger of the political culture on intolerance, violence, and the sanctioning of criminal hordes to do the dirty work of those who cherish violence and violence that continue to keep Zimbabwe high up on the international relations scene for all the wrong reasons.

The Human Rights Commission Bill is part of the negotiated deliverables of the Global Political Agreement, which includes appointment of the Human Rights Commission (HRC), the Media Commission (MC), the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) with Parliament's involvement.

These commissions have since been appointed, the exception of the Anti-Corruption Commission, whose appointment is imminent following the concurrence of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.

It must be noted that the Independent Commissions cannot be wished away and Parliament is charged with making laws for the Republic. Let me put it clear to the sponsors and perpetrators of violence that Parliament will not be intimidated and succumb to this barbaric act. We will remain firm in discharging our Constitutional mandate. If members of the public have some grievances in the manner in which we conduct our business, they are civilised and known ways of channelling their complaints.

As Speaker of Parliament and Chairperson of the Standing Rules and Orders Committee and in response to events surrounding the violent disruptions of lawful Public Hearings by the Joint Committees of Parliament I call upon the three political parties who are signatories to the Global Political Agreement to rise up above their party differences and give necessary leadership in order to allow Parliament to do its work uninterrupted.

Parliament is making its own investigations into the matter in terms of what happened and what should be done in order to avoid such occurrences in the future. In the process we will engage all the three parties to ensure that Parliament as one of the three organs of the state guards and protects its dignity and integrity. Further, I have asked the Parliament security and the Police to give us a report on the disturbances.

In conclusion, let me further assure the people of Zimbabwe that Parliament is there to serve the interests of the public and therefore we will continue to consult members of public on matters of national interest as we execute our mandate.

I thank you, Siyabonga, Tinotenda

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