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Mwonzora apologises to Parliament, begs for diplomatic passports

by Staff reporter
22 Apr 2021 at 05:14hrs | Views
MDC-T leader Mr Douglas Mwonzora on Tuesday apologised to Parliament for the breaches of parliamentary rules and custom by members of his party, citing pressure from the then MDC-Alliance leadership. He pleaded with Parliament not to invoke the rules that would see them lose diplomatic passports and face heavy fines.

The apology comes as 118 sitting and former MDC legislators are being charged for singing, and remaining seated or walking out when President Mnangagwa went to Parliament on five formal occasions.

Senator Mwonzora noted that the leadership that pressed legislators to behave badly had been changed and that he wanted proper behaviour.

Parliament has the right to investigate charges of contempt and can withdraw privileges, impose fines and suspend guilty members. So long as it remains within its constitutional powers and follows its own procedures, the decisions made in contempt proceedings are final and cannot be appealed to the courts.

Sen Mwonzora begged for pardon while responding to recommendations in a report by Parliament's Privileges Committee on the matter, chaired by senior lawyer and Mudzi South National Assembly member Jonathan Samkange (Zanu-PF). He said the misconduct came as a result of coercion by the then MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, adding that the fines were beyond the reach of the legislators.

"Madam President, the members of the MDC you see here were internally subjected to this coercion," he said.

"They did not sit on their laurels. They rebelled against that leadership, removed it and placed in a new leadership that has attempted to change the politics of this country.

"This new leadership has now said we must get rid of dirty politics. We beg this House, mostly the legislators on the other side, that a good case has been made of the dramatic change of politics in our country.

"A good case has been made that maybe it is time to let bygones be bygones. The fines that are proposed are beyond the reach of the MPs. I think it is about $400 000. The taking away of the diplomatic passport is a humiliation which is not necessary.

"Members were coerced or forced by a superior authority to them to do what they did. It also found that there had not been any planning involving every Member of Parliament. It found that there was no caucus. Now, where there is a superior authority which makes you do something, there is an automatic defence called obedience to superior authority."

Source - the herald