Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front chief whip Pupurai Togarepi yesterday accused Movement for Democratic Change leader Nelson Chamisa of trying to start a war in the country but MDC deputy national chairman Job Sikhala fired back saying ZANU-PF national commissar Victor Matemadanda was doing the same thing.
Togarepi raised the issue as a point of privilege but Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda said this was not an issue for the House to settle.
If anyone had broken the law, Mudenda said, it was the duty of the police to handle the matter.
The full debate:
*HON. TOGAREPI: I rise on a point of privilege. We know that we have different political parties in this country. The previous week during a rally there was a political party which said it might start a war in our country – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – After saying that I observed from the pictures in the media that some Members of Parliament who are present in this House today were showing their support that there should be war in Zimbabwe – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! In terms of Section 119 of the Constitution, we have to defend the Constitution and one of the fundamental areas of defence is Chapter 4 – protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. Now, if an Hon. Member is speaking and you do not agree, let that Hon. Member exercise their freedom of speech as enshrined in the Constitution – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order! Once the Hon. Member has spoken, then anyone else is free to respond. That is the procedure. So I do not want any interruption when another Member is speaking. Thank you.
*HON. TOGAREPI: Hon. Speaker, Hon. Members are people who make laws and represent the people. We should know that if there is war in our country, those people that we represent are the ones who are going to suffer as a result of that war. I plead that Members of Parliament should say no to war in our country – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: The utterances that are made at political rallies – and I hear the Hon. Members concern in terms of national security and the appeal to Hon. Members that we should not encourage hate speech that creates possibilities of disharmony, insecurity among the people – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order! It is our responsibility therefore and where such issues do arise, the police should intervene and take appropriate action accordingly
HON. SIKHALA: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. I rise also to protect the rights of citizens for them to disseminate information on what they think over political issues in our country.
Mr. Speaker Sir, it has been raised in this House that there is a political party which has agitated for a war which in actual fact is false, misleading and malicious – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Mr. Speaker Sir, we also urge political parties in this House not to institute disciplinary hearings on Members who would have suggested engagement among political players in this country. Members of Parliament are being harassed for their own opinion by the same previous Speaker’s presence after he suggested the engagement of President Nelson Chamisa and President Emmerson Mnangagwa – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] – So, we urge those political parties not to harass individuals for giving a suggestion on how the country should move forward.
Secondly, Mr. Speaker Sir, we urge the senior leaders in our country like Hon. Matemadanda who threatened to extinguish people from the opposition in this country, that his language is also inflammatory – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – when the law is being applied. I refer you Mr. Speaker Sir to Section 56 of our Constitution which provides that every citizen in this country must be protected by the law equally. We do not want the law to discriminate against members of the other political party whilst others enjoy the privilege of inflaming violence in our country – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – Hon. Matemadanda recently said that he is prepared to unleash soldiers – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – He has threatened to unleash a gukurahundi on opposition members. He has threatened to unleash the army against civilians in our country and that cannot go unnoticed Mr. Speaker Sir. I am waiting for your ruling.
THE HON. SPEAKER: You did not listen to my ruling. I said when such utterances are made, the police should take appropriate action, that is number one. Secondly, Hon. Togarepi never mentioned a single political party – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – Order – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order. The bottom line is that when such utterances are made, it is not for this House to come up with arresting powers, the arresting powers rest with the police for law and order. Therefore, I cannot allow further debate on that. What Hon. Sikhala said is just like what the Shona idiom says: ‘Chirimumusakasaka chinozvinzwira’ – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]