via MDC-T MPs gagged from debating presidential speech | SW Radio Africa By Tichaona Sibanda September 25, 2013
All MDC-T MPs and senators will not be allowed to engage in any debate about the President’s parliamentary opening speech, during this session of the eighth parliament.
The gagging order was issued by the MDC-T parliamentary caucus to its legislators this week, ahead of Tuesday’s first sitting of parliament following its official opening by President Robert Mugabe two weeks ago.
MDC-T MPs boycotted the opening following the party’s defeat in the July 31st elections, saying Mugabe’s re-election was not legitimate.
The order to stop the legislators from debating the speech has irked some of the MDC-T MPs who believe it gives them an opportunity to hold the executive to account.
However the chief whip and MDC-T MP for Mutare central, Innocent Gonese defended the move arguing that it’s a measure of consistency adopted by the opposition.
Gonese told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that they did not attend the official opening and by so doing made a symbolic and powerful statement that elections in Zimbabwe were fundamentally flawed.
“By the same token, we cannot then be seen participating in the debate of the speech given by Mugabe whose re-election we do not recognize. Our position as such is we cannot dignify his official opening of parliament by subsequently engaging in a debate of his speech that we boycotted,” said Gonese.
Asked what they will do in the absence of debating Mugabe’s speech, Gonese explained that there are other motions that will be tabled by ZANU PF and the MDC-T of which they will be free to debate.
“We have already moved a motion on Health and we will be tabling a motion on Agriculture. There is a plethora of other motions that we will engage in but not the presidential speech as a matter of principle,” the MP said.