Mnangagwa tells Parliament he can answer any questions to do with government


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Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa who is also the Leader of the House told Parliament yesterday that he was ready to answer any questions Parliamentarians might have after members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change asked that question time be postponed because of the absence of ministers in the House.

Wednesday is question time in Parliament.

Musikavanhu MP Prosper Mutseyami had complained that ministers had chosen to attend a rally by First Lady Grace Mugabe instead of government business so question time should be postponed until ministers were more committed to the country.

“Mr. Speaker Sir, I am sure you can simply see that the majority of ministers are not here, we just see four Deputy Ministers and one Minister. All the Ministers; just for a record, I have seen them on television. They are in Rushinga attending a ZANU PF rally whilst we have this government business here.  Mr. Speaker, I propose that probably we can put it on record so that we have this programme at a later date when ministers are more committed to this country,” he said.

He was backed by Kuwadzana East MP Nelson Chamisa who said that the ministers who were absent should in fact be charged with contempt of Parliament.

“In terms of our Standing Orders and in terms of our Constitution, I have looked at the Constitution, Section 107 (2). It gives a peremptory obligation on Vice Presidents and Ministers to attend Parliament without fail. In the event that they want to absent themselves, they have to write to the Speaker, applying for a leave of absence so that Parliament will grant them that leave,” Chamisa said.

“Now, in the absence of that leave in terms of Standing Order 63 (3), a Minister who fails to attend in terms of the relevant Sub Section that I have mentioned without leave is supposed to be charged with contempt of Parliament. I think the charge is the Contempt of Parliament charge so that our ministers know that Parliament is more important…… a rally is important but Parliament is more important.”

Speaker Jacob Mudenda agreed with the two MDC-T legislators and expressed the disappointment of the House to Mnangagwa and suggested that in future, to avoid breaking the Constitution and Parliament’s Standing Orders, there should be a notice that so many ministers will not be available.

Mnangagwa said there was a minister and several deputy ministers in the House so as far as he was concerned these were sufficient to execute government business.

“As long as I am the Leader of the House and on this side of Government, I will state my official position that I am not aware whether the Ministers are here or are outside the country. It is possible that some may still be coming but as it is, we are sufficient to execute Government business,” he said.

According to a tweet yesterday by Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo, one of the ministers at The First Lady’s rally, there were some 60 MPs at the rally – fulfilling the new party slogan: Vanhu vese kana Mai

 

Full debate:

 

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

MR. MUTSEYAMI: On a point of order Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: What is your point of order Mr. Mutseyami?

MR. MUTSEYAMI: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, good afternoon Mr. Speaker. I stand to raise a point of order with regards to the required presence of ministers in this House for Question Time to help the nation. As a result Mr. Speaker Sir, I am sure you can simply see that the majority of ministers are not here, we just see four Deputy Ministers and one Minister. All the Ministers; just for a record, I have seen them on television. They are in Rushinga attending a ZANU PF rally whilst we have this Government business here – [Laughter] – Mr. Speaker, I propose that probably we can put it on record so that we have this programme at a later date when ministers are more committed to this country – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear]

Mr. Chamisa having stood up.

MR. SPEAKER: You want to make another point of order?

MR. CHAMISA: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: But I have not ruled on the first point of order. How do I deal with two points of order when the Chair is not double barreled – [Laughter] – I am trying to –[AN HON. MEMBER: You can reinstate those who were fired.] – [Laughter] – An hon. member having stood up.

Order, order, I thought you understood my response to hon. Chamisa. Hon Mutseyami, I hear your request, I partially agree with it. Perhaps what we can do is to proceed with the notices of motion and hopefully that they will be here in time to answer respective questions –[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] –

Mr. Chamisa having stood up.

MR. SPEAKER: You want to overrule the Chair?

MR. CHAMISA: No, not to overrule the Chair.

MR. SPEAKER: You want to assist the Chair?

MR. CHAMISA: In fact assisting the Chair.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, go ahead.

MR. CHAMISA: In fact, it is not just a question of accommodating or trying to bear with the circumstances which are not availed to the Parliament. In terms of our Standing Orders and in terms of our Constitution, I have looked at the Constitution, Section 107 (2). It gives a peremptory obligation on Vice Presidents and Ministers to attend Parliament without fail. In the event that they want to absent themselves, they have to write to the Speaker, applying for a leave of absence so that Parliament will grant them that leave.

Now, in the absence of that leave in terms of Standing Order 63 (3), a Minister who fails to attend in terms of the relevant Sub Section that I have mentioned without leave is supposed to be charged with contempt of Parliament. I think the charge is the Contempt of Parliament charge so that our ministers know that Parliament is more important – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear] – a rally is important but Parliament is more important. It is good to attend meetings but we do not want even to go to that because that is partisan. What we want is our ministers to be accountable to the people of Zimbabwe because they are driving Mercedes Benz, they have salaries from the taxpayer; we have a duty to defend those tax payers in this House. If they choose to continue to be delinquent and cantankerous, we have a duty to deal with them – [Laughter] –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order, let me make some few corrections for Chamisa. Firstly, your quotation of Section 107 is incomplete because it includes Deputy Ministers, agreed?

MR. CHAMISA: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, the Deputy Ministers are here. Secondly, I am not sure how someone who is not present can be cantankerous. I am not sure whether my learned Hon. Chamisa actually understood the use of that word – [Laughter] – cantankerous refers to someone who is exceptionally talkative but those that are absent cannot talk. Further, even if the ministers are all here and the Chair is not defending them, not all of them will be subjected to questions. Therefore, raising contempt of Parliament can be misdirected because it is the mere presence only that is critical but also the question of the questions being directed to specific ministers. Are we together Hon. Chamisa – [MR. CHAMISA: Yes, Sir.] – You are busy talking to your colleagues there.

So, I want to suggest that we go to notices of motion and the Hon. Leader of the House and Vice President is here. Hon. Vice President, the House is disappointed that a number of Cabinet Ministers are not here to answer questions and we did not receive any indication by way of the demands of the Standing Orders and the Constitution that X number of Ministers will not be available. There are only four Deputy Ministers who have tendered their apologies who are out of Harare. We thought this should be brought to your attention hon. Vice President as Leader of the House. So, I was going to suggest that in future, in terms of avoiding to break the Constitution and our Standing Orders, just a notice to indicate that several Ministers will not be there will suffice in terms of justifying absences. I therefore, indicate that with the leave of the House, we move to notices of motion and allow time for hon. Ministers to come in at the end.

THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (MR. MNANGAGWA) Thank you hon. Speaker. I have a Minister and there are several Deputy Ministers. I am not responsible for their lack of counting by the other side. I am stating what I see but indeed, I take note of what Mr. Speaker has said. I am not aware as to whether they are out of the country or they are around. I am sure that the Ministers must have briefed them where they went. So they should know what has happened. –[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]- As long as I am the Leader of the House and on this side of Government, I will state my official position that I am not aware whether the Ministers are here or are outside the country. It is possible that some may still be coming but as it is, we are sufficient to execute Government business.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, Order. The hon. Vice President has objected to the two points of orders and I hope he takes the responsibility to answer all questions in the absence of other Ministers. So, we proceed with Questions Without Notice.

(304 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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