BY VENERANDA LANGA
JUSTICE minister Ziyambi Ziyambi yesterday dismissed speculative reports that the Zanu PF government was planning to amend the Constitution to defer holding of by-elections and form a unity government with malleable opposition leaders following the recall of four MDC Alliance MPs by Thokozani Khupe’s MDC-T party.
Khupe recently recalled MDC Alliance legislators Chalton Hwende, Tabitha Khumalo, Prosper Mutseyami and Lilian Timveous from Parliament following a Supreme Court ruling which declared her acting president of the MDC-T.
The move triggered speculation that the Khupe-led faction, working with Zanu PF, wanted to ban by-elections and form a government of national unity to legitimise Emmerson Mnangagwa’s presidency.
But Ziyambi yesterday told NewsDay that there were no plans to effect such constitutional amendments.
“By-elections are a constitutional requirement and if a seat is vacant, we have to hold them because someone can make a court application to challenge that we did not hold them as stipulated by the Constitution and so we have to find the money to hold the by-elections,” Ziyambi said.
“It is not true that Zanu PF is planning to amend the Constitution to ban by-elections because the Constitutional Amendment (No 2) Bill is before Parliament and there is no clause to ban by-elections. The Constitution is a sacred document and it cannot be amended willy-nilly, but rumour mongers always create fake news.”
When the National Assembly sat for business yesterday with mostly Zanu PF MPs in attendance, as well as Norton MP Temba Mliswa (independent) and Proportional Representation MP Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda did not announce any more recalls of MDC Alliance MPs following a week of speculation that more would be shown the exit door.
Ziyambi, however, warned that the MDC Alliance legislators risked losing their benefits such as vehicles should they continue with their snub of Parliament.
“Obviously, any benefits accruing will cease immediately, including loans, vehicles and duty. It becomes due and payable. If you are an employee and you resign, the company takes its vehicles,” he said.
Ziyambi also said the Constitutional Amendment (No 2) Bill would be subjected to public hearings next week.
His statement on public hearings came as Mudenda announced during the sitting yesterday that Parliament business, including public hearings on Bills, would resume.
“We continue to leverage synergies with the Executive for the sake of completing Parliament business, whose agenda is quite long in this Second Session of the Ninth Parliament to ensure we achieve the assignments,” the Speaker said.
“On public hearings, administrative measures are being put in place to ensure MPs and committees visit the public and conduct public hearings under very strict regulations and the law as pronounced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.”
Clerk of Parliament, Kennedy Chokuda said most of the proceedings of Parliament would now be conducted virtually and MPs had to get their iPads configured to operate online as the House would only take in a few MPs, while the rest would follow the proceedings virtually.
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