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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 16 September 2015 42-02
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Wednesday, 16th September, 2015
The National Assembly met at Two O’clock p.m.
(MR. SPEAKER in the Chair)
- SPEAKER: Order, order. Let me first of all start by commending all hon. members who have found it proper to respond to the recall, that you have come in your big numbers at a very short notice – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – Hon, Mutseyami, can you please listen to the Chair and look at me.
(The Deputy President of the Senate and his Panel enter the
- SPEAKER: I have made my first commendation concerning your very good turn-out after the short notice, to come back to the joint sitting. Secondly, I want also to commend all Members of Parliament for the manner in which we conducted ourselves yesterday during the proceedings – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] - I am also commending members on my left; there is no need for you to remain mute – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] - Order, order!
I also wish to inform the House – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] - Order, order! Let us not take our sense of humour too far please, I acknowledge it. I will now call upon the Hon. Vice President and Leader of Government Business, Hon. Mnangagwa.
- GONESE: On a point of order Mr. Speaker. In terms of Standing Order Number 68 – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible
- SPEAKER: Hon. Prince Sibanda, there is only one Chair to put order here. Do not take over, your time will come.
- GONESE: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. My point of order is in terms of Standing Order Number 68, paragraph (d) as read with Standing Order Number 69 that relate to points of order and matters of privilege. In terms of Standing Order Number 69, they take precedence over any other business and they do not need notice.
- SPEAKER: Are you referring to the new adopted Standing
- GONESE: Yes, and I have got a copy. It is a motion on privileges which allows members to move motions without notice on matters relating to privilege. I am also relying on the provisions of the
Constitution of Zimbabwe in so far as it relates …
- SPEAKER: Section 68, which sub-paragraph? I want to be with you.
- GONESE: Standing Order Number 68, paragraph (d). I will go through it Mr. Speaker for the benefit of hon. members.
- SPEAKER: The Chair has noted that. Can you proceed?
- GONESE: It allows motions relating to a point of order, a question of order or a matter of privilege. In terms of Standing Order
Number 69, that motion shall take precedence over any other business.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I also rely on the provisions of Section 148 of our Constitution, which provisions relate to the powers, privileges and immunities of Parliament as also read with the relevant Act, Chapter 2:8.
Mr. Speaker Sir, in terms of Section 148, Members of Parliament are given legal protection in relation to what they say in Parliament. Freedom of speech is absolutely guaranteed and that is also expanded by the Privileges and Powers of Immunities Act, popularly known as PIPA where whatever a member says in this august House, they cannot be sued, arrested and no criminal proceedings may be instituted against them.
However, what is of concern Mr. Speaker, is that we have got the legal protection. What is of concern is, where you may have extra legal measures outside the provisions of the law...
- SPEAKER: Can you please go to the point?
- GONESE: Yes, I am going there Mr. Speaker. I am just going step by step so that we are on the same page.
- SPEAKER: The Chair is very clear. Can you state your case?
- GONESE: All I am saying is that Parliament is a sovereign institution. In terms of the provisions of our Constitution, we have got the doctrine of separation of powers. I believe Mr. Speaker, that in circumstances where that authority is undermined, Parliament must jealously guard against any attempts of whatsoever nature which may undermine the integrity of Parliament. Members must really feel free when they are in this august House to say what they want. In terms of the conventions, members are entitled to certain behaviour. If they disapprove of something, they so indicate. If they approve, they thump the benches and if they disapprove, they will behave in the opposite way. Members should come to Parliament very comfortable, in the full knowledge that…
– [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
I am now moving Mr. Speaker, to say that when there are matters that threaten the integrity of Parliament, I believe that this institution has got provisions which allow for the setting up of a Committee on Privileges and I believe that for hon. members who have been threatened, it is not sufficient to simply go and report to the police. We actually need a Committee on Privileges to be set up. This is what I am moving Mr.
Speaker and this is the motion that I am referring to.
I am now moving Mr. Speaker, that in relation to the threats to the Members of Parliament, they have actually gone beyond Members of Parliament. Some of the members have had their wives also receiving threatening messages. Honourable members do not feel comfortable, they do not feel free and they are not able to discharge their obligations when they come to this august House. This fear Mr. Speaker, on the part of their wives and children undermines the integrity of this institution. I believe that the Committee on Privileges which must be set up, must not only look at the issues relating to the threats, but also on the integrity of the institution. For example, if certain things are not done in the manner they should have been done, this Parliament must also have powers to investigate, interrogate and ascertain what could have led that to happen.
In this regard, I believe that we must have a Committee on Privileges which must be set up and in the same vein. We must have this institution doing more to protect hon. Members of Parliament, not merely to say that Members of Parliament must go and report to the police. I so move my motion Mr. Speaker.
- SPEAKER: Order, order! Hon. Gonese, I have heard your motion and what it recommends. If need be, in terms of our procedures, I will refer it to the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders. Thank you.
LEAVE TO MOVE WITHDRAWAL AND SUBSTITUTION OF
THE PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE,
LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (MR.
MNANGAGWA): Mr. Speaker Sir, as Leader of the House, I would also wish to make a comment on the point of order raised by Hon. Gonese, which led him to propose a motion to set up a committee. It is my view that when you raise a point of order, a ruling must be done in relation to the point of order. I believe that he has a legitimate request with regard to the point of order but however as to whether it should come in the manner he has done it, I believe it is necessary to have a ruling for purposes of setting future precedence, otherwise we might find ourselves abusing the procedures of Parliament.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I seek the leave of the House to move that the text of the speech presented by His Excellency the President, Cde Robert
Gabriel Mugabe at the Official Opening of the Third Session of the Eighth Parliament yesterday Tuesday, 15th September, 2015 be withdrawn and substituted by the correct version and that the incorrect text be expunged from the records of Parliament - [MDC HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible
- GONESE: On a point of order.
- SPEAKER: Hon. Gonese, you are the Chief Whip and you
asked for a point of order. May your colleagues give you an ear, tell your people to be quiet? – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] -
Hon. members on my left, Hon. Gonese is raising a point and I think you should give him due respect from your side, otherwise I will rule against – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
- GONESE: Thank you Mr. Speaker. My point was that if the hon. Leader of the House, the Hon. Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe is seeking the leave of the House, we must be appraised of the reasons why that leave is being sought, so that we are not taken for granted and that we are put in the know as to why certain things happened in the manner that they happened.
We believe that the Executive must be accountable to this august House and in that regard, it is important for the hon. Leader of the House to furnish us with reasons as to why such a mix up would have taken place. Whether it was due to negligence or it was due to recklessness or due to sanctions, so that we are all in the clear Mr. Speaker. –[HON. MEMBERS:
Hear, hear]- or whether it was the work of gamatox which would have resulted to what happened. We must also know whether it had the hand of gamatox in it which could have caused that to happen. We need to know and then we can debate on the merits.
- SPEAKER: Order. Order! Hon. Gonese, I thought you were bringing up very important fundamental issues but if you are going to go issues of gamatox which are party political issues, I may not give you the floor to speak. Can you relate yourself to fundamental issues? Thank you.
- GONESE: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. I withdraw
that. All I am saying is that since these are fundamental issues as rightly observed by the Chair …
- SPEAKER: Hon. members on my right, the hon. member has withdrawn his statement. Thank you.
- GONESE: I was saying as rightly observed by the Chair, since these are fundamental issues, we really need to be informed by the
Executive. If the Executive is seeking the indulgence of this august House, there must be transparency so that if that indulgence is to be granted, it is from an informed position. So I think the hon. Leader of the
House should be open with us.
- SPEAKER: Well, there are two issues Hon. Gonese that you
have raised. On the first issue, you requested for a debate before I put the question. Now you are asking for an explanation. I shall rule that the debate ensues and the Hon. Vice President Mnangagwa will then respond.
You asked for debate, I grant the debate.
- CHAMISA: Thank you hon. Speaker Sir. I suppose that we have been given the right to debate on why leave has to be granted to Government to withdraw the speech by His Excellency, the President and seeking to then replace it or in its place, put another one. Hon. Speaker, this is a very serious issue. We are talking about a whole Parliament, Senators, Members of the National Assembly, Chiefs, Chief Justice and his entire bench and Dr Amai Grace Mugabe coming to this Parliament on a serious national event. We then have people within Government who choose to mislead our President; who choose to then come here with a wrong speech. What it does is that it positions our President in an invidious position. But not only is it about the President, it is about our country.
We cannot have a country where a wrong speech is read. We end up being pursued as wrong people and this is why we were supposed to go to the bottom of. What is it that caused it? What accounted for this mix up? Yes, mistakes are common but there are certain mistakes that are fatal to issues of national sovereignty and national security and we cannot tolerate this kind of mistake. This kind of mistake goes to the root hon. Speaker
- SPEAKER: Hon. member, can you please address the Chair
- CHAMISA: Thank you hon. Speaker Sir. I was making the
point that this is a serious issue of national security and national sovereignty, national dignity and of our own intergrity as an independent sovereign State, when we have a situation whereby a wrong script is given to our President. As Members of Parliament who are coming from the people, we cannot come here and just sit on our laurels and accept it as
‘gospel correct’. We have to make sure that we go to the bottom of this matter. For us to then ask the Vice President who is supposed to be going out there to be talking about other progressive issues, to come back to Parliament to be debating issues that were supposed to be disposed of, is anathema, scandalous, criminal and it has to the dealt with. Those people who are responsible are supposed to account to this legislative House so that we are able to proceed to the next step.
It is not as if we are trying to embarrass anybody. Heads are supposed to roll, and when heads roll we know that we are serious –[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear]- If we do not punish these people, you can be assured that the President is going to be given a wrong script a the Heroes Acre, and he will end up reading a sermon that he is supposed to be giving to a congregation at a church. We want to know the motivation of these people, their inarticulate measure premise, what is motivating them because we do not want people who impose things that are not necessary.
This is why hon. Speaker Sir, I would say as Members of Parliament –
[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections]-
- SPEAKER: Order, you can continue Hon. Chamisa.
- CHAMISA: Thank you hon. Speaker Sir. This is so important because we want to know the source of the problem. You cannot cure a problem that you are not aware of. You cannot deal with symptoms and then hope that you have managed to address the mischief and problem that is besetting us. I am looking at our President – we also want to know why our President would be abused to that extent. It raises fundamental questions about, not just the processes in Parliament, but also even the processes in the State. These are issues we may want to be appraised of, to say Statecraft as it is, why is it that we end up with this situation? Hon. Speaker Sir, so that I do not take up time of our hon. members, this is what we would want to hear. I am sure our colleagues in Government have reasons why this has happened. We cannot come here and cast lots or play voodoo politics, we start surmising and guessing. We want reasons to be put forward so that we appreciate or we do not appreciate, but reasons have to be put on the table on why it has happened so. This is an international story. It is going to kill tourists and they will not come here. It is going to cause climate change and the political climate is going to be a problem.
Hon. Speaker Sir, we are talking about an ordinary person. We are talking about the Chairperson of the African Union and it is so important that we maintain the integrity of our President. This is why I think we need sufficient justification. Thank you very much hon. Speaker.
- KEREKE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I rise to debate the motion that has been put forth by the Leader of the House, the hon. Vice
President of the country. The motion seeks the indulgence of this august House to make correction of what really stands as a reality of the wrong text which needs to be replaced with the correct text.
The motion raised by the Leader of the House is one which, in my view, draws our attention to reasons other than causes and there is a fundamental distinction there. It is the duty of this august House, whether in our view, it would be productive to invest our efforts and time on reasons or on causes. I would want to urge this august House to look at the contextual reality that the business of Parliament needs to progress whilst any such investigations, interrogations and inquiries, if need be, are being done. Who are we to think and pre-judge that any investigation would take a day, hour, five minutes, week or six months?
We want to draw the attention of the House to say the submissions by the earlier speakers and their desire to find justice done to whosoever could have caused that mishap; that is a very valid submission to say. Let us find out what happened and indeed, the business of Parliament should be taken seriously. Mr. Speaker Sir, that point is unassailable. It is a point which I think both sides of the House would agree that we want to know who caused that mishap and remedial actions are taken.
Mr. Speaker Sir, whilst that is being done, we urge both sides of the House to open the gates so that the business of Parliament can move forward – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Mr. Speaker Sir, we are at a time where this is mid-September in the year 2015. The agricultural season is upon us, the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development did present the Fiscal Review with fundamental recommendations which need to go through the House before the agricultural season starts so that our farmers can go back to work.
As Parliament, it is our view that we will be productive, holding at ransom all that critical mandate to serve the people who caused – [HON.
MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to urge the House to separate the issues and recommend that the valid submission as put by other hon. members, that a brief be given to the House on the reasons and who could have done such an unpardonable thing on the Head of State; that can be agreed but in the meantime, we agree to support the motion as tendered. I thank you.
*MR. CHINOTIMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to add my voice on the motion put forward by the Vice President. For sure there was a mishap and the citizens were troubled by that incident. However, I rise to say that we cannot waste our time over issues which are not pertinent - [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Mr. Speaker Sir, I stood up to support the motion put forward by the Vice President and that we stop debating all these other issues. The Vice President should go ahead and read the President’s speech. That is the reason why I have stood up. I thank you.
- KHUPE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I would also want to add my voice to what other hon. members have said, but I am not going to repeat what has been said. Mr. Speaker Sir, I would like to raise one or two points. I would like to say that in life, if you make a mistake, it is important that you admit that you have made a mistake and then use that as a stepping stone to success.
Mr. Speaker Sir, what I expected from the Vice President, the moment he opened his mouth, was for him to apologise to this House and indeed, to the nation, to say we are very sorry – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – Mr. Speaker Sir, today I am speaking as a mother and it is important that we understand each other. I expected an apology because there are resources involved. Parliament has been recalled today and we are using tax payer’s money. They would like to know the reason why the House was recalled today.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I also expected our newspapers to be awash with stories to say no, we are very sorry about what happened and an explanation given. There was need to also say heads have already started rolling because of what happened. This is not a small matter by the way, neither is it a laughing matter. This is a serious matter which has embarrassed our President and this country, we do not want that. I think as a people, we must now change our ways of doing things. So it is important that Mr. Speaker Sir, an apology is given. Right now Mr. Speaker Sir, this story is running in all the media houses, it is hitting the headlines….
- SPEAKER: Order, order! Honourable Chidavaenzi, please if you have got your views, why do you not wait for the other hon. members to finish and be heard? This applies also to honourable members at the back there.
- KHUPE: Mr. Speaker Sir, my point is that I would want the
Vice President to apologise to this House and to the nation. I thank you –
[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]
*MS. CHIMENE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I rise to add my voice to this issue of the speech that was mistakenly delivered. Mr. Speaker Sir, there is nothing special about what happened. The speech can be retrieved and replaced with the correct one. That should not be a worrisome thing to hon. members. It is not as grievous as the sanctions that were requested by members of the opposition. When the two are juxtaposed, what is important? What hurts most? Is it the error of the speech that was given or is it the sanctions that have hurt the entire nation?
Withdraw the sanctions and apologise to the nation...
- SPEAKER: Order, order, the hon. member has not finished.
Honourable D. P. Sibanda, why do you want to compete with the Chair?
Honourable Gonese appealed to the House, that it is the privilege of the hon. members to voice out their concerns but this applies to everybody who takes the floor. Can you respect the views of the other persons?
*MS. CHIMENE: Thank you Mr. Speaker for protecting me. I am saying one can simply say, I beg your pardon and then the record is set straight. What about this monster called sanctions that was imposed by our colleagues that has not been withdrawn? If they want us to withdraw the speech, they should say sorry to the nation; people are suffering because of sanctions that they called for. They should withdraw the sanctions. I thank you.
MRS. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Thank you Mr. Speaker
Sir. I rise to join the debate; however, I want to start by raising two issues. Mr. Speaker Sir, when we started our proceedings today, you started by commending us for the kind of behaviour that we exhibited as honourable members yesterday as we were sitting in this House. I also want to come back to you and thank you for providing us with this opportunity to debate this particular issue. I think we need to begin to change our mindset
around certain issues because I tend to see a situation where even when we are in agreement, we still fight because we are not listening to each other.
I want to come back to what Hon. Kereke raised. Hon. Kereke said there are two issues that we are dealing with. There is the issue of the tabling of the correct text, then there is the issue of hon. members raising issues of saying at least can we get to know what happened because it is important. I do not think there is a problem, I do not think any sane person who wants to continue with the debate for this Session would say we do not want the correct text of this Session because what would we be talking about? So, I think that is a separate issue and I am not sure that anyone in his right senses would say let us throw away the right text. The text sets the foundation of what we are going to do during this Session. The debate that is being raised at this particular point in time is, Mr. Speaker Sir, if you were to go back to what the papers are raising right now, they are raising a number of issues. They are saying the President read the speech of the State of the Nation Address – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections] –
- SPEAKER: Order, order! I am now ordering the Sergeant-Atarms to stand at a strategic point and move out any other member who is disruptive. Sergeant-At-Arms, please stand there.
MRS. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Like I said, I do not think
anybody who is serious would say we do not want to see the right text - otherwise, there is no point in coming to Parliament. That text sets the foundation of what we are going to be doing in this Session and that is not the essence of the debate that we are having right now. The essence of the debate raises two fundamental issues. It raises the issue that we have raised many times in this House Mr. Speaker, that whether it is going to be the Minister of Finance who is bringing the Budget Statement or a review, let us make sure that the honourable members have those copies in hand. Mr. Speaker, if that had happened yesterday, any one of us would have raised the issue and said there is a problem here. We would have addressed it and we would not have been in the situation that we are in today.
Like Hon. Khupe said, if we acknowledge that there was a mistake – we are not to trying to fix or embarrass anybody. We are merely saying if this happened, how do we deal with that mischief? How do we ensure that next time we do not go through the same problem? That is the first thing that I want to raise. Even as the Hon.Vice President tables the text right now, we still do not have it and yet it was already in the newspapers this morning. So, at the end of the day, the resources that are supposed to be allocated to Parliament should be such that you acknowledge the importance of Parliament in that way.
Mr. Speaker, when some of us walked out there and we were being asked by journalists to comment on it. One of the issues that we kept raising is, we are not sure what are the Bills that we were going to be debating in this Session. We know from tradition that there are always issues that the President then sets as issues for the Bills that we are going to be dealing with. It assists us also in preparing in terms of the debate and say, okay what is the Bill that we are going to be dealing with. So, that in its own is a problem Mr. Speaker. Even as we deal with it even as we do not ask somebody to answer today but we want to make sure that next time, let us make sure that hon. members are furnished with the documents. We have allowed this to go on and on. We have the Budget and sometimes we do not even have the figures. It just makes us a laughing stock because as you go out there, you cannot speak intelligently on the issues that have been raised in the House.
The second issue Mr. Speaker Sir, is an issue that I am hoping the Hon. Vice President will be able to clarify. As I said earlier on, there are so many assumptions that are being made. Others are saying it was the State of the Nation Address that was given to the President and others are saying no it was a completely new copy. Unfortunately, I was not there when he did the State of the Nation Address but for me what I would want the Hon. Vice President to explain because it is fundamental in saying was this just a genuine mistake or did somebody deliberately do this. If you go to the speech of the State of the Nation Address, the President does speak to the ten points. However, he does not raise issues around the devolution of power which he speaks as he speaks to the Tender Board. I think there are two issues he raised but what I remember quite clearly is the issue around devolution because I have an interest in it. It was not there in the State of the Nation Address which would mean that there was deliberately somebody who did two speeches. There was this speech that is now being tabled and there is the speech that was done by somebody which is not necessarily the State of the Nation Address.
So, somebody has to explain to us about who did this? It cannot be a secretarial problem where somebody passed a file because initially when I read about it, I just thought what could have happened is that somebody just saw a file written Parliament and picked that particular one. When I then compared both speeches I then realised that we have a more fundamental problem [AN. HON. MEMBER: Correct.] I agree with others that this is not just about a mistake of a speech but it is about getting to the route of whether there is somebody in the Office of the President played a particular game so that we are where we are right now. It is in our interest as a nation and as a legislative arm.
Just to finish off Mr. Speaker Sir, for some of us we have been worried about some of these things that happened, particularly around the President and about providing things that are right to the President. I remember at one time having travelled with the President to China and he was standing up to give a speech as a visiting President at this particular dinner and the speech was not there. For a long time, people were running around to find the speech. We were then asked to eat until the speech was found. I am just saying, it could mean a repetition and some kind of laissez faire that has come into the Administration of the Office of the President. I
think as people that provide oversight on the Executive, these are issues that we should raise and these are issues that we raise with concern. I am hoping Mr. Speaker, that as we go into this debate, it should not be a confrontational debate. [AN. HON. MEMBER: No!] It should be a debate about genuinely saying what went wrong and even when the VP comes back and explains to us, I am hoping that the hon. VP, if the investigation has not happened and they do not have the details, there is nothing wrong in saying we are working on it to find out and then we will have the right time to give you the right story. There is absolutely nothing wrong in saying that but what is wrong is trying to say there was no problem. There was a problem because of the issues that I raised but like I said Mr. Speaker, for me what is more important is to make sure that the resources we allocate to the House – it is an exciting time when you have an opening of Parliament because that is what sets an agenda, that is what makes you a legislator and that is what everybody else in the country is waiting for. What I am going to be working on, is it going to be dealing with bread and butter issues; that is what makes us a Parliament and I think we need to make sure that the next time we have an opening of Parliament, we make sure we provide those documents. We could easily have come either to
you or to the Hon. Vice President to say we think there is a problem, how can we deal with it? I thank you.
*MR. MATAMBANADZO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I want to
add my voice to this debate, especially after hearing others debating. They are crying over a small mistake and now they are saying it is a huge loss to the nation. I am really amazed Mr. Speaker, because recently we returned from holiday because of the Labour Act. One of them was instrumental in that issue. This labour issue cost a lot more than 30 000 people who were fired from work and went away without any benefits. Now, they are taking this as a huge matter which is really small. Today, it is like they are brewing a storm in a tea cup because people are suffering now because of the Labour Act. This is not fair Mr. Speaker Sir, I am better than them.
I think the speech should have been read because we would have made some comparisons. Probably, there were just a few words which were omitted from the original speech. They should have allowed that to go ahead and then allow member to debate later if they came across mistakes. They want to guess that there were mistakes. Are they prophets who prophesy that this is the way to go? You should be ashamed of yourselves. -[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]- Thank you Mr.
- BHEBHE: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir – [HON. MEMBERS:
Inaudible interjections.] –
- SPEAKER: Order!
- BHEBHE: Mr. Speaker, as I rise and look at my colleagues sitting on the Government benches, I see some colleagues who are respectable. You can see that they are listening and regretting that yes indeed, what happened was wrong. What is shocking me Mr. Speaker, if a Head of State reads a speech in hard copy obviously someone is going to take that speech and files it away. The only speech that remains will be in a computer. For someone to go to a computer sit and print a speech, he will have read what he is printing. I take it that when you are preparing for an important event like the Opening of Parliament there is a rehearsal. Why I am saying that there is a rehearsal is because yesterday we saw the fly past [AN. HON. MEMBER: Yes.] It is an expense to the Government but it is part of the rehearsal. We saw the President inspecting the Guard of Honour and it is a rehearsal, rehearsing to come and read a speech that is supposed to be read to the nation to outline the agenda of Parliament. Surely, it does not just take an individual, there are a whole lot of people that are lined up to make sure that things are in order. I feel pained if I see other hon. members taking lightly such kind of a mistake and say it is nothing. Surely, if we can see this as nothing, what else can we see that is going wrong in the country if we cannot see such kind of a thing? It means we are actually going to miss a lot of other things that are going to benefit this nation.
I do not want to talk much, but what I would urge the Vice President to do is to be honourable as the Vice President of our party has said, to apologise to us as an honourable House first and apologise to the nation. Then he should tell us this mystery because this is a mystery that has been unveiled to this nation. Next time Mr. Speaker, I also urge your office because you are the head of this institution, when the President comes to deliver these speeches, you should have a copy so that you are able to note all things that are happening in Parliament– [HON. MEMBERS: Hear,
- SPEAKER: Order, order! I do not want to argue against what the hon. member said. Procedurally, the speech is handed after delivery and as Chair, I cannot have it before hand. May I urge members to be brief?
- MANDIPAKA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I am going to be
very brief. Mr. Speaker Sir, I appreciate the concerns raised by our colleagues from the opposite side. I also appreciate what Hon. Chamisa has correctly observed that the mistake was fatal but what I would like to urge this honourable House to appreciate is that to err is human; to forgive is divine.
This mistake that was made, we got some explanations. If you read the newspapers today, the Permanent Secretary in the President’s Office gave an explanation. I want to believe if we want to make progress, we should accept the explanation that was given. I am of the view that the motion raised by the honourable Vice President needs to be supported so that as a nation we look forward to a new and correct speech. Thank you.
- D. P. SIBANDA: Thank you Mr. Speaker for allowing me to add my voice to this debate. I think it is important for me to say, it is quite sad for our country to have leadership that looks at an error that happened yesterday as something that is not grave; as something that is light. Let me state that, that was not a simple mistake. That was a monumental mistake that has serious implications on this country economically, socially and politically.
When we are talking about the President of the country, we are not talking about an individual. We are talking about an institution.
Therefore, if we are a nation that does not respect an institution like that of the Office of the President, to the extent that when a mistake of the nature of the one that happened yesterday, we say let us simply forget it and sweep it under the carpet, I think there is a serious problem that we have as a nation.
My colleagues have indicated the issue of costs and inefficiency but one issue that might not have been mentioned is the issue that what happened yesterday has brought ridicule to the institution of the Presidency of this country. That question is coming locally and internationally, because of the problem that happened yesterday some people are beginning to question where they are not supposed to question.
The question that is beginning to arise is where some people are beginning to question the capacity of our Head of State because of a mistake that happened – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –
I know that some people might not like this but we all plainly know that, that question is actually arising. It is arising nationally and internationally. That is the sign that what happened yesterday was a grave and monumental mistake that has to be investigated seriously. There is no way we can take that lightly and say it was an ordinary mistake. When you bring into disrepute the institution of the President of the country, it deserves so much attention not only from us but throughout the leadership of this country.
I strongly believe that as we stand right now those are the issues that the honourable Vice President, on behalf of the Executive has got to address. Those are the issues that people are still questioning outside there, which have got to be brought to the attention of this House in answer to the questions that people have. There is no way under the situation that this happened we can simply say it was just a mistake and therefore, let us forget about it. I therefore implore that the Executive should really stand up and ensure that whatever damage has been done, not only to the image of the country but the image of the leadership of this country, that damaged is resolved. I thank you Mr. Speaker.
- SHUMBA: Thank you Mr. Speaker, for affording me this opportunity to add my voice to this debate. Firstly, Parliament invited His Excellency to open Parliament. That process must be anchored through our reasoning as to what we are mandating the Executive today. Mr.
Speaker, it is obvious that, that error happened. We have acknowledged it. The President of this country has got officers that have acknowledged this issue. This issue has been reported widely. The Executive is currently seized with this issue and they are in the process of bringing finality to their own internal investigations. As Parliament, let us understand that although we provide oversight, we cannot manage the Executive. We must observe in all our reasoning the doctrine of separation of powers at an appropriate time and I hope timeously. The Executive shall respond to Parliament as to the reasons and provide a reasonable explanation as to what occurred. To try and scuttle the motion that is before us now is both irresponsible and undemocratic. I think we have laboured all afternoon on an issue that should not be seizing us to the extent that we are exaggerating it. Therefore, I move that we proceed with other business.
- SPEAKER: I think there is a deviation now towards repetition and in terms of our Standing Orders, repetitions are not allowed. So, I may now want to come to the close of the debate and allow one or two people to debate, especially in the light of the last speaker Hon. Dr.
- MARIDADI: I wish to thank you and the Hon. Vice President
of this country for allowing this debate to happen in this Parliament. Mr. Speaker, there is only one citizen in this country who has the title of His Excellency. The reason he carries that title is assumed he is not capable of making a mistake. To err is human and the reason His Excellency is not expected to make a mistake is because His Excellency is not considered to be an individual. He is an institution with all layers. People are saying the speech should have been distributed before hand and people could have picked that mistake but that cannot happen because when the President delivers a speech …
- SPEAKER: Order hon. member, are you not repeating what has been said?
- MARIDADI: Mr. Speaker, I am not repeating but indulge me to build on the point that I am trying to make.
- SPEAKER: Please do.
- MARIDADI: Thank you. I am saying that mistake could not have been picked beforehand because the speech is embargoed before the President has delivered it. That is the point I am trying to make.
- SPEAKER: Thank you.
- MARIDADI: So it could not have been picked even by the Vice President because he is not favoured with a copy before the speech is delivered. I was saying the President is an institution with people surrounding him, gatekeepers and all. So, I think that for that whole institution to allow the President to come and deliver a wrong speech is treasonous. Mr. Speaker, the issue we are debating here is that of public accountability. The Executive is accountable to this House because this
House represents the nation. We may want to sweep this under the carpet as if it is not important but I think this a matter of grave concern because it touches on the very soul, the country.
The point I wish to raise is that I believe – because as Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga said, when I was sitting there listening to the speech, in the first five minutes I thought the President was delivering the same speech that he delivered during SONA and then Hon. Gabbuza said to me no, he is talking about the State Procurement Board, meaning it is a different speech. What it means is that somebody in that office deliberately, with conceptive forethought and malicious intent went ahead and gave the President a speech which he knew the President was not supposed to deliver. As a House that holds the Executive to account, we are saying that the person who did that should by now be walking on the streets of Harare.
Mr. Speaker, we are talking of the President’s office. The whole office giving the President the wrong speech to deliver, I think it is unforgiveable. This is one area in which even from across the political divide, we agree that a mistake was made and we want to know how that happened. The Executive must account to this House and that is the right thing to do. This is not the first time that this has happened. It happened a few years ago when the President was addressing the United Nations, he delivered a wrong speech for about five minutes and that speech was switched and that is on record. Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga told us that the second time it happened was in China and it has happened for the third time in this House and that is unforgivable.
In conclusion, I think the point that was raised by Hon. D.P. Sibanda that people are starting to question things that they are not supposed to question is very fundamental. I want to thank you Mr. Speaker.
*MR MUTSEYAMI: I would want to thank you Mr. Speaker for affording me the opportunity to debate the issue before the House. First and foremost, if all of us could come to Parliament like we did yesterday it would be commendable. However, there are other people who think that they may do as they please in this country and write letters to other hon. members telling them that they will decapitate their heads.
Secondly, if it was not that we came here to Parliament and there were exchanges that were made before the President came that were meant to oppress other people so as not to freely express themselves, within 4 minutes into President Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s speech, we could have informed him that Gushungo that speech is the same that you gave last month. This is because in a space of 4 minutes we had already noticed what was happening. Hon. Saruwaka was pointing out the repetitions that were being made and in 5 minutes, we were aware that it was an old speech and that there was nothing new. As opposition, we are not respected and could have simply said the speech he was delivering had already been delivered but we could not do that because we were gagged. We had been threatened with death by people who do not hold human life as sacrosanct.
Mr. Speaker Sir, if we closely examine this matter, if a person accompanies the President to Parliament holding a file and gives the President an old speech, one then wonders why the speech was not filed together with other old speeches that had already been delivered. Why give the President an old speech? Was it misplaced in a file that requires a new speech. You come all the way from the President’s Office, coming here and hand over to the President a fake speech when you are fully aware that this is a wrong speech. You would want our President to be disgraced in the entire country and the whole world.
Mr. Speaker, this issue should be treated with the seriousness that it deserves. I say so because if one looks back at the meticulous arrangements that were made and were in place yesterday to ensure that there was pomp and funfair at the Official Opening, it is in my considered view unacceptable for a man who rode in a Mercedes Benz to ride with a wrong speech and handed over such a speech to an equally majestic President who was riding in a Rolls-Royce, accompanied by his immaculate wife and escorted by mounted police. We should have that individual disciplined because whoever was responsible for such a blunder is either reckless or mischievous.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I urge Parliament to consider the response that is going to be given by the Vice President. If it does not address the fundamental issues, then the Vice President should be given time to give his considered response on Tuesday next week. I say so because this is an issue of national importance. We are discussing an issue where President Robert Mugabe was ridiculed the world over. I believe that the person responsible for this blunder is mischievous and I fear that if they are not censored, we run the risk of the President being given the eulogy that was delivered at the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo’s burial.
Without belabouring the point, this issue must be treated with the seriousness that it deserves, because the perpetrators of this mistake seriously wronged our President. I even fear that because of their mischief, they are capable of giving the President, His Excellency Cde. R. G. Mugabe a speech in which he will erroneously announce his resignation from the Presidency. Thank you.
- SPEAKER: Order, order. Order please!
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE,
LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (MR.
MNANGAGWA): Mr. Speaker Sir, may I take this opportunity to thank all members from both sides of the House, but perhaps I should initially thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, for allowing debate so that hon. members express their views about the incident of yesterday. This is in keeping with the democracy which we fought for. Mr. Speaker Sir, in the same spirit, I stood up to seek the leave of the House in order that once granted that leave, I would withdraw the text which His Excellency the President delivered to the august House yesterday and replace it with the correct one.
However, hon. members justifiably felt that they needed to know why that mistake happened. Before I address the issue of that mistake, I would like to mention that we are all hon. members but indeed, we are not all endowed with honourable ideas. I have no doubt that the majority of hon. members who have contributed have done so with sincerity except where emotions took over from reason. That is expected of human beings
- SPEAKER: Camera people, can you take your positions from here so that you do not obstruct the hon. members. You will be able to capture the front view of the hon. Vice President.
- MNANGAGWA: Mr. Speaker Sir, because the running core of
the debate was one, centrally to the incident of yesterday, I believe that the House should allow me to reply overally rather than individually, to the issues that hon. members and colleagues have raised. We are fully aware as a House that there are three pillars of State; the Executive on one side, the Legislature and the Judiciary on the other and our Constitution spells out the mandate of each of that pillar of State.
With regard to our institution of the Legislature, our duty is to make and unmake laws. We make laws in the belief that we are doing it for the good of our people. We unmake laws because we think that law does not anymore serve the best interest of our people.
In the same vein, I believe that where a mistake has been made, we should have the capacity to remove the mistake and replace it with what we consider to be correct. It is under that spirit of cooperation and collectiveness that I stood to seek the leave of this august House to allow me to remove the incorrect speech and replace it with the correct speech. The theory behind the opening of each session, as one hon. member articulated, is the fact that a roadmap is laid out of the legislative processes for that session in that speech, which did not happen yesterday and I am seeking leave of the House will remedy that in order to put on the Table a statement that lays out the road map of legislation that we ought to carry out during the Third Session of the Eighth Parliament.
The will of the people is identified by the will of the majority. We also believe that the will of the majority is the will of God. I also believe that in terms of our Constitution, we render ourselves every five years to test our mandate to rule the country and the people express themselves. It is true that in a democratic society we can never all be agreed, but the voice of the majority at any given time should be given leeway to succeed.
It is true, Mr. Speaker Sir, that we cannot all debate or articulate issues at the same level, but however, in this august House we are all hon. members and we give respect to whoever speaks, despite the content of the speech. Having stated that, I wish to say that the mistake of yesterday is regretted. It is true that the officials presented to the Head of State the incorrect statement as a mix up. This is what we are correcting. However, it is not the duty of the Legislature to go and interrogate the Executive and say…- [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-.
It is true, Mr. Speaker Sir, that duty as to why the mistake was permitted, lies squarely with the Executive to interrogate and where necessary action will be taken. Here in this august House, I stand and repeat, I seek leave Mr. Speaker Sir, of the House to move that the text of the speech presented by His Excellency the President, Cde. R. G. Mugabe at the Official Opening of the Third Session of the Eighth Parliament yesterday, Tuesday 15th September, 2015 be withdrawn and substituted …-
[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
- CHAMISA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker Sir. The highest office in the land has made some very serious statements imputing and attempting to oust the jurisdiction of the Legislature in our oversight function as per the Constitution. I think this point is very important Mr. Speaker Sir, when we are debating, we are not peeping into the affairs of the Executive for purposes of running it, but we are simply saying there has to be accountability in line with our oversight function. So, for the Vice President to then say that and then for us to accept that, we would have abrogated on our obligation and duty as Members of Parliament.
I am sure the Vice President is aware that it is within our perfect purview to interrogate oversight functions on the Executive. In fact, that is the reason why we were elected. Once we stop doing that, we have absconded our core business and I know some members may not be happy with what I am saying. That is the essence of deliberative engagement. We must differ and we must interrogate these issues purely from a perspective of osmosis of ideas and I hope that osmosis is going to be allowed. So, I just wanted to make that point and say, may it be understood that we have not overstepped our mark. In fact, the Vice President is aware that as a member of the Executive, he has a duty to respond to us after we have exercised our oversight function. Thank you Hon. Speaker.
- SPEAKER: I rule that the hon. member perhaps did not listen very carefully to what the Hon. Vice President had stated. The Hon. Vice President has stated that the views expressed, indeed it is within the purview of the Executive to take – he did not say that but I am saying it – disciplinary action against those who perpetrated the mistake and that call is in response to the debate. So, I do not see where the contradiction is. The Executive is going to account administratively and those found to be perpetrators of the mistake, as the Hon. Vice President said, will be taken to account.
- MNANGAGWA: I thank you Mr. Speaker, for soberly giving advice to the former Executive member who has suddenly forgotten that the Executive has powers to administratively deal with issues that happen in that realm of rule. But I believe that after reminding him of that, I can see him smile, he has now remembered that we have those powers -
[HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]-
Mr. Speaker Sir, I was concluding my request for the leave of the House in terms of my speech which I made at the beginning of this debate, seeking leave of the House that we withdraw the statement issued yesterday by His Excellency and substitute it with the correct version. I thank you.
Hon. Chibaya having stood up.
- SPEAKER: Hon. Chibaya, can you please sit down in respect
of the Chair.
WITHDRAWAL AND SUBSTITUTION OF THE PRESIDENTIAL
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (MR.
MNANGAGWA): Mr. Speaker Sir. I move that the text of the speech presented by His Excellency, the President Cde. Robert Gabriel Mugabe at the Official Opening of the Third Session of the Eighth Parliament be withdrawn and substituted with the correct version and that the incorrect text be expunged from the records of Parliament.
Motion put and agreed to.
- SPEAKER: Hon. members, may we all be up standing to allow the Senate procession to leave the National Assembly.
The Deputy President of the Senate and senators left the National Assembly Chamber and proceeded to the Senate Chamber for resumption of business.
- SPEAKER: I now lay upon the table a copy of the correct text of the speech which His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Cde. R. G. Mugabe was meant to have delivered to Parliament on the 15th September, 2015. May I also advise hon. members that they will have their own copies in the pigeon holes.
ADJOURNMENT OF THE HOUSE
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE,
LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (MR.
MNANGAGWA): I wish to thank hon. members on both sides for their enthusiastic participation in this debate and in the spirit of cooperation, I move that the House do now adjourn.
The House accordingly adjourned at Six Minutes past Four o’clock
p.m. until Tuesday 22nd September, 2015.