By Farirai Machivenyika
Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda yesterday thwarted attempts by MDC-Alliance 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The opposition legislators had their sitting allowances for the day of the walkout and the preceding five months withdrawn after they refused to acknowledge the President when entered the chamber as a sign of respect.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.
Meanwhile, Advocate Mudenda said the judgment of the Privileges Committee set up to investiagate allegations of corruption against Norton legislator Temba Mliswa and three others would soon be tabled in Parliament.
Mr Mliswa was accused together with Messers Anele Ndebele (Magwegwe), Leonard Chikomba ( Gokwe North) and Prince Sibanda (Binga North) of demanding US$400 000 from Mr James Ross Goddard as facilitation fee to enable his company JRG Contracting (Pvt) Ltd mine coal at Hwange.
Advocate Mudenda said the report would be tabled in Parliament once the chairperson of the Privileges Committee, Chief Fortune Charumbira, who is out of the country, returned.