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War as MDC-T, police clash in Parliament

by Staff reporter
27 Oct 2016 at 07:11hrs | Views

A scuffle erupted yesterday in the National Assembly between MDC-T legislators and the Zimbabwe Republic Police after law enforcement agents entered the chamber to enforce a directive by Deputy Speaker Mabel Chinomona to eject a legislator for violating Parliament's dress code. This was after Budiriro MP Mr Costa Machingauta entered the august House donning a jacket with national flag colours.

Zvishavane-Ngezi MP Mr John Holder (Zanu-PF) rose on a point of order saying Mr Machingauta's dressing was not consistent with parliamentary decorum. Chinomona directed Mr Machingauta to leave and return when he was properly dressed.

Mr Machingauta initially protested that only last week Chinomana had allowed Bindura South MP Remigious Matangira (Zanu-PF) in the chamber even though he was wearing a safari suit.

Other MDC-T MPs joined to resist the directive, resulting in the Sergeant-at-Arms Mr Nicholas Marufu moving in to eject a defiant Mr Machingauta. Mr Marufu then called ZRP officers, setting the stage for a full-fledged scuffle in full view of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and other Cabinet ministers.

MDC-T MPs, who included Trevor Saruwaka (Mutasa South), Alexio Musundire (Zengeza East), Godfrey Sithole (Chitungwiza North), Prince Sibanda (Binga North) and Prosper Mutseyami (Musikavanhu), among others, formed a human shield around Mr Machingauta who was lying on his seat in a bid to avoid being pushed out of the chamber.

The 10 ZRP officers struggled to break the barrier as they were subdued, necessitating reinforcements, thereby creating chaotic scenes characterised by pushing and shoving resulting in damage to the public address system in the process.

The commotion, reminiscent of a wrestling match, degenerated into a free-for-all as more MDC-T MPs joined to protect Mr Machingauta, by either creating a shield around him or blocking police details in scenes that lasted about 20 min- utes.

As police called for reinforcements, they eventually broke the barrier and dragged Mr Machingauta out of the chamber. The commotion ate into question time that was supposed to commence at 3:15pm as it lasted about one and half hours.

Legislators from across the political divide then traded accusations with Zvimba East MP Francis Mukwangwariwa (Zanu-PF) alleging that two police officers had been assaulted by Binga North MP Mr Sibanda and Binga South MP Mr Gabbuza Joel Gabbuza.

MDC-T Proportional Representative MP Mrs Susan Matsunga alleged that some police details had fondled her breasts. "I am not a whore but some police officer fondled my breasts," said Mrs Matsunga amid sobbing drawing the attention of legislators.

Bulawayo Metropolitan MP Ms Lwazi Sibanda (MDC-T) complained that her clothes had been torn. Chinomona said Parliament leadership would study video evidence to establish what transpired and take corrective action.

Kuwadzana East MP Mr Nelson Chamisa said there was no legal provision that warranted the use of police to enforce a directive. "Why were police officers brought here violently and yet we know that there are criminals out there including Ministers? We will not allow you to make a ruling that oust the rules," said Mr Chamisa.

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