DEBATE on the Second Reading Stage of the National Peace and Reconciliation Bill was on Tuesday aborted in the National Assembly when opposition MPs demanded that Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko or his Minister of State, Tabitha Kanengoni-Malinga be present to hear people’s concerns on the proposed legislation.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
MPs said the NPRC should adequately address the issue of Gukurahundi warning that sweeping the issue under the carpet could cause unrest in future.
Mphoko and Kanengoni-Malinga were absent when the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice led by Ziyambi Ziyambi presented a report on people’s views about the NPRC Bill.
MPs were not impressed that the VP was absent and had given an excuse that he was attending to other important issues in Bulawayo and will read the debates on the Bill from the Parliamentary publication of debates The Hansard.
Harare West MP Jessie Majome was the first to raise the issue saying Mphoko, his officials, as well as members of the Executive’s attitude towards important Bills such as the NPRC was shocking.
Kuwadzana East MP Nelson Chamisa said it was not sufficient for Mphoko to say he will read The Hansard.
“This is a serious national debate and he has to see the body language of MPs as they debate it. When we debate such important Bills we should have technical officers from his office, but there is no one. We want our echoes to go to the corridors of power, but as we speak on the Bill there is no power to listen to us,” he said.
Norton MP Temba Mliswa also said Mphoko must learn from VP Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom he described as disciplined and committed to Parliament duties.
Acting Speaker of the National Assembly Melody Dziva explained that Mphoko was in Bulawayo, but allowed debate to be adjourned until he is present in the House to listen to it.
Before the complaints by MPs, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga had warned that if the Bill and issues of reconciliation are not taken seriously, government might one day face an uprising because Zimbabweans were generally angry because of marginalisation of some regions on tribal lines and the violence some people suffered during the Gukurahundi period and elections.
She said to have an NPRC Bill which does not deal with issues of transitional issues like land, jobs and marginalisation of some provinces was useless.
MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese said Zimbabweans were hurt by issues of violence from the Gukurahundi era to electoral violence, and so Mphoko’s ministry must take the Bill which has now clocked one year and is still being crafted seriously. The NPRC has a lifespan of 10 years after the 2013 passing of the Constitution and already three years have lapsed.