By Daniel Chigundu
Mutare Central legislator Innocent Gonese says barring Members of Parliament (MPs) from draping the national flag in the august house is unconstitutional, as the flag is a symbol of patriotism.
Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda and his deputies have had to deal with the issue of MDC legislators Trevor Saruwaka (Mutasa Central), Godfrey Sithole (Chitungwiza North), Gift Chimanikire (Southerton), Erick Murai (Highfield) and Docas Sibanda (Bulawayo Central) who are constantly draping the national flag when coming to the house despite an earlier ruling against it.
Draping the national flag is now seen as a symbol of protest against corruption and bad governance in the country, thanks to Pastor Evan Mawarire’s #ThisFlag campaign.
Speaking in Parliament recently Honourable Gonese who is also MDC Chief Whip said the national flag is a symbol of patriotism and that it is illegal to disallow anyone from showing their allegiance to the flag.
“I have just been looking at our constitution. If you look at Section 4 of the constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment no 20(2013) and I am going to refer to the constitution of this country. It is very clear and it states that Zimbabwe in terms of section 4 shall have a national flag, national anthem and a coat of arms and all Zimbabweans who are patriotic to their country want to be associated with the national flag.
“I am just looking in this august house; you will see the flag being displayed throughout. This is my respectful submission that if a member is showing patriotism, it will be unconstitutional to disallow that Honourable Member from displaying their feelings of patriotism and allegiance to this country.
“I am saying it will be unconstitutional, it would be a violation of the constitutional rights of Honourable Members if they were to be asked to leave this chamber on the basis that they are showing patriotism to their country and adhering to section 4,” Gonese said.
However Buhera West legislator Oliver Mandipaka said MDC legislators should adhere to the previous rulings which banned the draping of national flags in the august house.
“Point of order Madam Speaker, yesterday there was a ruling from your co-chair concerning the wearing of our national flag, that members from MDC should not bring national flags in the house.
“The concern arises from the fact that the national flag should be respected and when that ruling was made, members from MDC should have taken that ruling as an instruction. Is it defiance or are they trying to connect themselves with Evan Mawarire? We do not know and we stand guided Madam Speaker,” Mandipaka said.
In her ruling Deputy Speaker Mable Chinomona said MPs should regard the authority of the chair and that she was not asking anyone to go out but just to remove the flags from the house.
“I hear you. Honourable Members in this august house, a ruling was given some two months ago by the Speaker of the house. I remember I was here in this national assembly.
“The Honourable Member is not being sent out but to go and take off the flag. I just want to remind honourable members of the following if you can please listen to me.
“Any member who disregards the authority of the chair or persistently and willfully disrupts the business of the house commits an offence for which he or she may be suspended from the service of the house. I think a ruling was given two three weeks ago by the Honourable Speaker of this house.
“I am now giving a ruling that the Honourable Members who brought the flags should take the flags outside this house; otherwise I am sending those Honourable Members out,” said the Deputy Speaker