Opposition members stopped from speaking at Bill hearing

Watmore Makokoba 

Opposition party supporters were stopped from making their contributions during a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs hearing on the Constitutional Amendment Bill (Number 1) held in Chinhoyi last week.

At the centre of the contention is the part of the Constitutional Amendment Bill, which seeks to give the President unchecked powers to appoint the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President of the High Court.

Parliament staff had to escort Tendai Musonza (MDC-T) out of the hall before he could make a contribution as Zanu-Pf supporters rowdily interrupted him, ordering him to sit down.

“They are identifying people who are not Zanu-Pf supporters and stopping them from speaking because this is a choreographed disruption,

“They know me as an opposition supporter because I am an MDC-T member,” said Musonza.

Musonza alerted ZimRights of his ordeal immediately after he had been escorted out of Cookys Hall in Chinhoyi who condemned the incident and called on people to “tolerate and respect each other regardless of differing political affiliations”.

Although it was clear that Musonza had not spoken yet, Committee chairperson Hon. Ziyambi Ziyambi , who is also Zanu-Pf MP for Zvimba West in the same Mashonaland West province yielded to the mob and allowed him to be escorted out of the hall by parliament staff.

A few minutes later, Taurai Munyaradzi, who said he is a member of the secretariat for the MDC-T in Chinhoyi, could not finish his presentation again as ruling party supporters interrupted his contribution as soon as he was called to speak.

“They know me because I am a member of the MDC-T. I work for the secretariat. Hon. Ziyambi has told me to whisper the contribution to him but I wanted to give my contributions to the whole meeting like others,” said Munyaradzi.

Before that, an elderly participant had only managed to finish his contribution after waiting for some minutes as he was interrupted, jeered and harassed mid-way.

The disruptions went on despite the fact that Hon. Ziyambi had told participants to respect each other’s views.

At one point, Hon. Ziyambi yielded to the rowdy group and reversed an earlier ground rule that participants were not supposed to make noises when contributions were being made.

 

The majority of the verbal contributions supported amending the constitution to give the President unchecked powers to appoint the three top judges, but there was clear harassment of those with opposing views including through refusing them the chance to speak.

Apart from the verbal contributions, Chinhoyi residents were allowed to give written comments to members of the Parliamentary Committee.

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