Zanu PF MPs this week bunked debate on a motion on police brutality, ensuring there was no quorum to discuss the matter in the National Assembly.
Source: Zanu PF MPs walk out on police brutality motion – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 20, 2016
By VENERANDA LANGA
But this has backfired and will now cost Parliament several thousands of dollars in taxpayers’ money after the sitting days were extended to Tuesday.
Parliament was supposed to adjourn on Thursday until September 8, when Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa will announce the mid-term budget.
But MPs are now forced to continue sitting until a quorum of at least 70 out of the 270 National Assembly MPs is in attendance to discuss the motion.
Kuwadzana East MP, Nelson Chamisa (MDC-T) first gave notice to introduce the motion on police brutality on Wednesday.
But Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, dismissed the issue, saying the video footage Chamisa planned to show must be substantiated by dates of when the brutality happened before the motion could be allowed to be debated.
After satisfying Mudenda that the video evidence showing police beating up citizens was authentic, Chamisa was then allowed to re-introduce the motion on Thursday.
If the motion is adopted, Chamisa wants Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri to make a statement about those who perpetrated the beatings and apologise to citizens, as this had caused animosity between the police and Zimbabweans.
He further wants Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo to investigate the conduct of the police and report to Parliament, as well as issue a public apology on the matter.
“The minister must issue a public apology in the context of investigations and immediately implement training programmes for our police to equip them with a human rights curriculum, as required by the Constitution. An Act of Parliament must be put in place to come up with an independent mechanism for members of the public to report cases of such abuses. Parliament must set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the abuses,” he said.
On Thursday, Chamisa showed disturbing video footage in the House of police beating up a man lying on the ground using batons.
But, before the end of the video, the 32 Zanu PF MPs, who were in the House before 5:15pm when the issue was being discussed, had trickled out to ensure the required quorum of 70 MPs was not achieved.
Pelandaba-Mpopoma MP, Joseph Tshuma (Zanu PF) then raised a point of order, saying there was no quorum in the House.
Bells were rung for seven minutes calling for MPs, who might be outside the House to return, but they did not, and after a count, there were less than 40 MPs in the House to continue the discussion, resulting in Chamisa complaining about lack of seriousness by MPs to discuss important issues affecting citizens.
“It is not the first time that Zanu PF MPs have walked out of debating important motions. As you can see, 32 MPs have left the House in the last five minutes and it is being co-ordinated by Zanu PF deputy chief whip, Francis Mukwangwariwa,” Chamisa said.
Acting Speaker of the National Assembly Melody Dziva accused parties of sabotaging each other’s debates, saying they were wasting taxpayers’ money.
As a result, the House had to be adjourned due to lack of a quorum to yesterday, a day when Parliament does not normally sit.
This means Parliament will have to pay for MPs’ accommodation and sitting allowances for yesterday’s sitting.
But again, only 30 MPs, 22 from the opposition and eight from Zanu PF, turned up yesterday for the sitting.
Chamisa complained: “This is a very serious matter, where we have to use taxpayers’ money to sit on a Friday, when naturally we are not supposed to sit. I hope this delinquent behaviour of MPs will be taken to chief whips because this is the fourth time we are abusing taxpayers’ resources.
“Parliament must put a stop to this behaviour because debate on police brutality affects everyone, even war veterans, who were victims, and we want a very strong statement from the Leader of the House on this. In other jurisdictions they cannot have MPs disappear and then appear only to claim fuel coupons.”
Glen View North MP, Fani Munengami (MDC-T) accused Parliament administration of supporting Zanu PF MPs’ snubbing of the debate on police brutality by organising an e-learning lesson for MPs, when they were supposed to be in the House debating.
“Is there a deliberate arrangement from Parliament administration regarding the sitting today because right now MPs from Zanu PF are attending e-learning lessons in the Parliament library when there is a sitting? Is it a ploy by Parliament administration to sabotage this debate?”
MDC-T chief whip, Innocent Gonese also raised the issue of the absence of ministers in the House during yesterday’s sitting.
After the Thursday adjournment, the National Assembly was supposed to begin with question time yesterday, as shown on the Order Paper.
“Zanu PF must be aware of the consequences because today we were supposed to begin with question time, but not a single minister is here. Out of the 215 Zanu PF MPs, only six are here, and this is deplorable,” Gonese said.
After bells were rung for seven minutes to call MPs into the House, only 33 turned up, resulting in Chamisa calling for a sitting again on Tuesday.
This means Parliament will now incur unbudgeted-for expenses in hotel bills and sitting allowances for the yesterday’s and Tuesday’s sittings, and that the House will continue to sit until a quorum of 70 MPs to debate the police brutality issue is achieved.