BY CHARLES LAITON
MDC Alliance MPs have approached the High Court challenging Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda’s decision to bar them from receiving their sitting allowances.
The 112 MPs are arguing there is nothing in the Constitution of Zimbabwe or in the Standing Rules and Orders which requires legislators to stand up when the President enters or leaves the Parliament chamber.
The legislators, who have since the July 2018 general elections refused to recognise President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory, said they wanted the court to declare Mudenda’s decision unlawful and of no force and effect.
In the application, the opposition party together with its chief whip, Prosper Mutseyami, cited Mudenda, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube and Parliament of Zimbabwe as respondents.
“We contend that the first respondent (Jacob Mudenda)’s action ordering that the second to one hundred and eleventh applicants (MDC Alliance members) should not be paid their sitting allowances is unlawful. As submitted in our letter, we contend that the first respondent has no powers to dock Members of Parliaments’ sitting allowances or prevent them from receiving their sitting allowances,” Mutseyami said.
In his founding affidavit, Mutseyami, who is also the opposition party’s Manicaland provincial chairman and the Dangamvura-Chikanga legislator, said they were also seeking an order compelling Ncube to pay the sitting allowances due to all the legislators who were affected by Mudenda’s decision.
According to Mutseyami, on October 1, 2019, Mnangagwa was scheduled to address the joint sitting of Parliament in terms of section 140 of the Constitution.
However, when Mnangagwa entered the Parliament chamber, some of the MDC Alliance MPs remained seated, a move that prompted Mudenda to take drastic measures against them.
“There is nothing in the Constitution of Zimbabwe or in the standing Rules and Orders which requires Members of Parliament to stand up when the President of Zimbabwe enters or leaves the Parliament chamber. When the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe was about to give his speech, first applicant’s members (MDC Alliance) who are Members of Parliament and who comprise second to one hundred and eleventh applicants walked out of the Parliament chamber,” Mutseyami said.
“The reasons for the walk-out, among others, were as follows: First applicant and its members contest the fact that the President of Zimbabwe was properly duly elected to the office of the President. First applicant thus contests the President’s legitimacy. Applicants were also demonstrating against the country’s economic meltdown, which the President is not addressing. These include the ever-rising cost of basic commodities such as bread, mealie-meal, cooking oil, fuel and electricity, hyper-inflation, continued violation of human rights as evidenced by the clampdown on freedom of assembly and association, labour rights, kidnappings and disappearances.”
The matter is pending.