Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai moved Monday to defuse simmering tensions between ministers and legislators clashing over supposed rudeness and unresponsiveness in parliamentary question time.
Political sources said some ZANU-PF ministers asked the prime minister to rein in house members they charge have been asking rude questions. Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu in particular has objected to accusations from members that he has acted less than transparently in his handling of the Marange diamond field.
Mr. Tsvangirai told ministers and legislators that Cabinet members had complained that the House was subjecting them to “unnecessary scrutiny and inquiry.” On the other hand, he said, legislators said ministers have either not shown up or been unresponsive to questions.
Sources said Mpofu lashed out at legislators Monday for summoning his permanent secretary to testify about the government's joint ventures with private companies that are developing the Marange field, but about which little is known - not even the names of their directors.
But Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma told Mpofu that lawmakers had not exceeded their powers and did not need his permission to put such questions.
Tsvangirai spokesman James Maridadi told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that Mr. Tsvangirai urged the lawmakers and ministers to bury the hatchet and to focus on rebuilding the country.
"There is a feeling among ministers that they are being harassed by the backbenchers when asked to come and appear before parliamentary portfolio committees," Maridadi said.
"Legislators also complain that ministers disrespect them by not coming to parliament when asked to do so. The prime minister was therefore telling them to work together for the good of the country," he said.