There was chaos in the House of Assembly on Wednesday when Acting Speaker, Marbel Chinomona, tried to eject opposition Movement for Democratic Change lawmakers for protesting that cabinet ministers have been failing to turn-up to respond to their queries during the traditional question time.
Only Agriculture Minister Joseph Made was present when parliament business started, leaving backbenchers angry. The majority of the cabinet ministers were apparently attending a Zanu PF politburo meeting at the party’s headquarters in Harare.
But MDC lawmakers argued this is not the first time that ministers had failed to answer questions from their constituencies on Wednesdays.
This led Harare central lawmaker Murisi Zwizwai of the Tsvangirai MDC to tell Ms. Chinomona that he was fed-up by what he said was the cabinet ministers’ disrespect of the legislature as they continued to miss the weekly question and answer sessions.
He said despite several warnings, ministers have continued to defy parliament.
Nelson Chamisa of Kuwadzana East and also of the Tsvangirai MDC formation then suggested that question time be stood over until the time more ministers would have arrived.
Chinomona put Chamisa’s proposal to the house and Zanu PF lawmakers objected, leading to the commotion which lasted for the first hour of parliament’s sitting time.
Lawmakers submit questions seeking clarity from ministers on policy issues every Wednesday.
Chaos then ensued and attempts by Chinomona to eject MDC lawmakers like Tabitha Khumalo and Solomon Madzore were blocked by their colleagues who started shouting across the floor that the MPs will not leave the chamber.
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, which beams parliament question time live, went off air as the commotion continued and security personnel ordered journalists in the press gallery to switch off their cell phones. The journalists were told that they were not allowed to take pictures or use their phones in the gallery.
MDC lawmakers say Zanu PF ministers have since the unity government developed a knack of not coming to parliament to answer questions from lawmakers despite the fact that Wednesday is set aside specifically for them to answer questions from the backbenchers.
Reached for comment, Bulawayo East Member of Parliament Thabitha Khumalo, who was almost ejected from parliament with her Dzivarasekwa counterpart, Solomon Madzore, explains to V-O-A’s Sithandekile Mhlanga her role in today’s proceedings.