Mugove Tafirenyika 25 January 2018
HARARE – Vice President Constantino Chiwenga yesterday clashed with his
opposite number in the opposition MDC – Nelson Chamisa in the National
Assembly after the
Defence minister appeared to give an arrogant response to the youthful
Chamisa had asked Chiwenga during the National Assembly’s question without
notice session why government was still failing to address the welfare of
war veterans, 37 years after independence.
In his response, Chiwenga blamed the MDC for campaigning for the
imposition of a Western travel and economic embargo on several Zanu PF
party officials, top military figures and some government-owned firms.
Zanu PF members were hit with sanctions over a decade agao in response to
mass human rights violations and vote rigging.
“If we had been working like this together for the past 37 years that you
refer to, we would not be where we are but you rush to America to ask for
Chiwenga said referring to a trip undertaken last month by Chamisa and
former Finance minister Tendai Biti to Washington DC to present testimony
before the US Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee where the team
described the military intervention that enthrones Emmerson Mnangagwa as
president as an illegal and illegitimate transfer of power from one
faction of the ruling party to another.
Chiwenga’s remarks infuriated the opposition bench, which rose in unison
to heckle him, accusing him of using unparliamentary language.
The chaos that ensued prompted National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda to
summon Chiwenga to his desk to direct him to withdraw his statement.
Mudenda took the decision after consulting with Chamisa who sat quietly as
his colleagues protested.
Chiwenga reluctantly withdrew the statement and further sought to malign
Chamisa saying “the matter has been withdrawn but …an arrow shot…”
Chiwenga’s statement was drowned by loud interjections by MDC legislators.
Rising on a point of order, Chamisa alleged that Chiwenga was attempting
to intimidate the opposition.
“The fact that he mentioned something to do with an arrow shot is
worrying,” Chamisa said.
“He is a military man, he is a soldier so kana magandanga otaura achidaro
(when terrorists make reference to arrow shots) we get worried because you
never know what that is suppose to mean,” Chamisa said.
Once again, Mudenda ordered Chiwenga to withdraw his “arrow shot”
statement. He complied and said: “I retrieve my arrow.”
Mudenda then ordered Chamisa to also withdraw his “gandanga” word saying
it was also “unparliamentary.”
The two finally smoked a peace pipe, with Chamisa remarking that it was
important for the opposition vice president and his ruling party
counterpart to amicably resolve their differences.
Chiwenga was nodding in agreement when Chamisa spoke.
“I want to thank the vice president for calling for a ceasefire,” Chamisa
“I appreciate the fact that the VP has said that the country’s financial
position now is difficult and hence war veterans pensions cannot be
reviewed at present.”