Paul Nyathi|Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda yesterday thwarted attempts by MDC legislator Innocent Gonese, to raise through a point of privilege in the House the matter involving the withdrawal of sitting allowances of members of the opposition party after they walked out on President Mnangagwa during his presentation of the State of the Nation Address early this month.
The opposition legislators had their sitting allowances for the day of the walkout and the preceding five months withdrawn after they refused to acknowledge the President when entered the chamber as a sign of respect.
They subsequently walked out when he was presenting his SONA and official opening the Second Session of the Ninth Parliament.
MPs receive $700 per sitting and Parliament has since docked the allowances ranging from $9 000 to $15 000.
“On Tuesday October 1, 2019 in this august House, the chair exercised certain powers which in my view were punitive and arbitrary in nature,” said Mr Gonese.
He was, however, immediately ruled out of order by Advocate Mudenda who said the matter could not be raised in the House since the MDC-Alliance had already written to his office on the matter.
The MDC-Alliance MPs wrote to the Speaker seeking reversal of the ruling arguing there was no legal provision that empowered him to dock their allowances and said they will sue him after he ignored their demands.
Below is the full text of the discussion in parliament on Tuesday:
HON. GONESE: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. On Tuesday, 1st October, 2019 in this august House, the Chair exercised certain powers which, in my view, were of a punitive and arbitrary nature – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – My point of privilege Mr. Speaker is to get an understanding of the principle that was used, particularly bearing in mind that our Constitution Mr. Speaker …
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! Hon. Member, you are out of order – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –
HON. GONESE: Mr. Speaker, if you say I am out of order, I think I deserve to be informed on the basis upon which I am being ruled out of order, and I do not actually think because it is a principle…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Alright, alright.
HON. GONESE: I have not finished my point Mr. Speaker.
THE HON. SPEAKER: I follow your argument.
HON. GONESE: With due respect Mr. Speaker, I think I am also entitled to articulate my point to a conclusion before you can then rule me out of order. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order, I needed not to listen to you right up to the end because the Hon. Member, through his party has written a letter to the Chair seeking some explanation and you cannot have your cake and eat it. Thank you.