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SENATE HANSARD 09 June 2020 29 38
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Tuesday, 9th June, 2020
The Senate met at Half-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE
BILL RECEIVED FROM THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I have to inform the
Senate that I have received the Marriages Bill [H. B. 7A, 2019] from the National Assembly.
VIRTUAL MEETING PLATFORM
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Senators who take
the floor are advised to join the Zoom Virtual Meeting Platform in order to enable Senators in breakaway rooms to follow proceedings of the
Senate from their tablets.
ADOPTION OF THE 2020 EDITION OF THE STANDING ORDERS
OF THE SENATE
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you
Madam President. I would like to move the motion that:
WHEREAS section 139 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe
Amendment (No. 20) Act provides that the proceedings of the Senate and the National Assembly are regulated by rules known as Standing Orders, which are made by the Houses individually or jointly, on the recommendation of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.
NOW, THEREFORE, in terms of the Constitution, this House resolves that the 2020 Edition of the Standing Orders of the Senate be adopted.
*HON. SEN. KOMICHI: Thank you Madam President. We want
to thank the Minister for bringing that motion but the amendment to the Standing Rules that was submitted is difficult. It will affect the Senate and this place will become more like a prison because freedom of Members of Parliament is grossly curtailed.
There are clauses in terms of the amendments that prohibit Members from expressing their feelings when the President is coming to this building. If we remember the past few years, the President used to come to this House and people used to sing just to show their emotions. It does not mean that by singing it is lack of respect - it does not mean that at all. Singing is a form of speech and it sends a message to the leadership and that is why you find whether even when workers are demonstrating, you tend to wonder that they are engaged in demonstrations or not and you ask yourself whether they are serious. Some will be dancing and playing drums but they will be communicating a message to the owners or the heads of the company. I do not think that will be different when the President comes here.
So, people will be expressing their feelings through singing and as long as they do not use vulgar words and derogatory terms, singing is good for the soul and it expresses one’s emotions. Mostly, when people have finished demonstrating, they come together and unit ensues. If the laws are stringent, people become more like prisoners in their own home. That amendment that restricts the Members from expressing themselves shows that dictatorship is not right. We want to move from there to practices whereby as the Head of State you should not be disappointed by what your juniors are saying. There is need for tolerance as the Head of State to hear why they are doing that and why they are saying that.
So I realise the amendments are very rigid especially considering that it is 40 years after the liberation struggle. We should have some democracy. We expected such kind of amendments soon after independence because the war veterans were angry but now with the time that has elapsed we expect better democracy. We do not want our country to be taken as a rogue State by those who want to intervene. Let us shame those external forces who see us a rogue State but show that we can tolerate each other’s differences.
We have survived all these years without such rigid laws. The President used to come and Hon Members on either side would sing and we enjoyed that. Now, we are going to walk into this august House and everyone will be quiet. People will not be able to express their emotions. The amendments that are there were put without considering the people. Suppose leadership changes, those on my left are in power; I am sure the other side will not appreciate that because you will also want to express yourself for the leader who will have been chosen by the people as you want to express your feelings.
My request is that for the development of this nation, let us come up with laws that give us some freedom. I am sure that you are aware of the fact that our country is under the spotlight for human rights violations. Human rights violations have caused our nation to be isolated and to have targeted sanctions. I think we need to work collectively and assist each other on how we can improve our standing in terms of international or global wealth. We need to engage in business freely with other countries. We cannot say that as Zimbabweans we are daft to the extent that we are failing to address such challenges. Collectively, we can get an answer to our challenges.
What we are doing in here is contributing to the economic challenges. If we look at what is happening, the prices are skyrocketing and the exchange rate has gone up. We do not know where we are going but I think Zimbabweans are intelligent enough. We can sit down and talk about how we can improve our state. The amendments on the Standing Rules and Orders are not right. We are people who can govern each other. Like here in the Senate, I do not think I have ever witnessed a day whereby Madam President was in tears presiding over this House. She has managed to control us. Even when we got angry, she used to control us before the rules were changed. So they are not necessary in this Senate. I can see that there are elderly women here. We do not have children in this House. We do not want such rigid laws in this House because it restricts our freedom.
If you look at our ages and you see us singing, ask yourself why we are singing. Allow us to sing because there is a reason. The amendments that were made are not for us as a Senate. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. J. HUNGWE: Thank you Madam President. I would like to say a few words pertaining to what Senator Komichi said. I would like to speak in my mother tongue, that singing by its nature differs. Singing and despising someone is different. What we do not want here is singing because you despise someone. At times you say that you are being restricted here and you are given a lot of warnings but you continue behaving in the same manner and those in power will end up flexing their muscles to demonstrate that they are on top of the situation.
Hon Sen. Komichi, we must not hide these things from each other. I am your uncle and I was expecting that as the new Chairman of MDC, you demonstrate that you have embraced change but you remain in the same old ways. We do not expect you to teach us democracy. You are not respecting and honouring us but you are despising us. You need to raise points which resonate with the people. Hon. Komichi you are still lost; you are also a Member of these committees which come up with Standing Orders and Rules. We are not part of such committees and we do not know much about these issues but when we see that your behaviour, for example singing to denigrate a leader, then you will be given strong laws to restrict you so that you understand that not everyone likes such errant behaviour.
I would like to say that we do not have to despise each other when the President enters the august House, we need to observe and respect his presence. When other Hon. Senators stand to honour His Excellency the President, and you remain seated - it means that you despise his office. This type of behaviour is not condoned by our Government.
Yes, Madam President, we need to agree that in every entity there are leaders, so do not expect to just take over and lead everywhere alluding to democracy. Hon. Komichi, you said that human rights take precedence but I want you to take note that when we went to war this was a human rights issue. We left our homes and some of us were arrested and detained in prisons unlike some young men here like Hon.
Perence Shiri. We were suffering in prison, our rights were being violated, and some even died. This led to many young people leaving the country so that they could wage the liberation struggle. This was done because we wanted to repossess our land which was taken by imperialists, yet you talk about human rights- [HON. SENATORS.:
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Hon. Senator Hungwe,
may you address the Chair?
HON. SEN. J. HUNGWE: Indeed Madam President, God is not happy when we talk about such things. The Greeks were asked whether they understood what they were talking about - these were real democrats. They failed to understand what they were talking about. People were told by God that I gave you this land so when the land is taken away from you, you need to repossess it; you need to fight for your land. This chapter of the Bible tells us that the issues of land did not start with us but it originated even during Bible times.
When the children of Israel lost the Ark of the Covenant, the Ark of the Lord was taken away by enemies just like we lost our land to enemies. God then decided to send David who was given the task of finding out what the people were complaining about. We are told that when David arrived, he discovered that most of the people were going through difficult times, some were thin and some were suffering and He asked why it was like that. The people responded and said “Lord, how can you ask such a question, are you not aware that the Ark of the Covenant has been taken away, we have just become mere people without anything”. David said, “tomorrow I would like to see 30 000 soldiers” and the people did what they were told. He commanded them to go and repossess the Ark of the Lord.
Just like in our case, we had to go and repossess our land which had been taken away from us, we did not just concentrate on human rights and democracy. Suppose you had your child taken away from you, would you just concentrate on raising human rights issues and democracy instead of fighting to get your child back? So, I am saying that let us not just apply these issues where they do not fit. The democracy issue does not arise here but the issue is that you need to observe and respect the laws which brought you to this august House, whether the National Assembly or the Senate.
You might be a chairman but you cannot be a chairman in every entity, different Government arms have leaders. When we come to this august House we need to observe and respect these leaders because they have the responsibility of executing their duties with fortitude. So, let us do our duty and allow them to do theirs without overlapping into their responsibilities.
I am saying to Hon. Sen. Komichi, let us allow them to discharge their duties until such a time you are also given that responsibility. In the meantime you need to adhere to the law. I thank you.
HON. SEN. MOHADI: Thank you Madam President. I want to
add my voice in this august House. I would like to thank the Minister for bringing these amendments to this House. I think these amendments were long overdue because people have been misbehaving for quite a long time and there was nothing to do as the Standing Rules and Orders were not there to prohibit people from doing whatever they want.
We agree 100% that there should be freedom and democracy. Democracy does not mean to say that we should do everything that we want to do in this august House. We ought to behave like adults, we must not be seen operating like children. I think we have got our parties whereby we can go and sing and dance the way we like. Here we need guided democracy where we have got limits to not just democracy of doing whatever you feel like. When you feel like mocking the President, you do so, when one feels like singing they just do so and some when they feel like insulting they just do so. We are Senators and we should behave. Madam President, if we have a House which does not have laws and we say that that is democracy, we have not started because we should have laws that guide us in whatever we do. The laws that we have should be respected. We must not be out of hand thinking that democracy means to say that you can behave the way you like, not recognising the laws of the country and the laws of this Parliament.
With these few words, I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIMBUDZI: Thank you Madam President. I
would like to add my voice to the debate by thanking the Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. I would like to say that I
support the amendments. As Hon. Members of this august House, it is true that we need Standing Orders which guide us. This is not unique to us but it is universal to all parliaments the world over. At one point, I went to Ivory Coast and discovered that Members of Parliament have a dress code which guides them. This is unique to Ivory Coast. I appreciated that because being in Parliament as an elected Hon. Member, we sometimes go to outreach programmes as Committees. The public sometimes express concern saying that Members of Parliament are not discharging their duties properly.
At times they complain that why do parliamentarians insult each other instead of dealing with issues. They expect us to represent them in a dignified manner because they have observed that we do not exhibit dignity. I believe this will change because we have Standing Orders and
Rules. The world over, in different countries the Head of State addresses
Parliament and every Parliament has a Head of State. When the Head of State enters the august House, Hon. Members rise. They stand to honour the President. We want democracy and this is what sent us to go and wage a war of liberation. We need to observe our laws.
We have noted that in other countries when people commit crimes for example, someone was shot in a different country – this was not condemned but when it is about human rights, people just point at
Zimbabwe. Why was the action of shooting that man not condemned? We thank you Hon. Minister for the amendments that you made. Thank you.
*HON. SEN. S. O. HUNGWE: Thank you Madam President. I
stand up to add my voice by appreciating the amendments that were brought to the House by the Hon. Minister because as Hon. Members, we want to demonstrate that we were trusted by the electorate by voting for us. I would like to support the previous speaker who just sat down.
At times you hear people saying that when you go to Parliament, why is it that you change your behaviour you end up behaving like children. At times when the Head of State comes into the House, some insult him, some do not stand up and some leave the House prematurely.
I would like to say thank you very much Hon. Minister for the amendments. We are going to support the amendments because today we have a leader. In future, your child might be the next leader. So we want to show that this august House is for people who were voted for, dignified and who do not just despise and critise others.
On human rights issues – Zimbabwe is a country which acknowledges that there are people. I would like to emphasise that there is a man who was killed by being strangled and he expressed what he was feeling when he was being strangled but no one raised a point talking about his human rights. So, we are saying that this House must be guided by Standing Orders and Rules and they are long overdue.
*HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: Thank you Madam President for
affording me this opportunity to debate on this issue. I would like to remind each other that when approaching such Bills, we need to appreciate the Hon. Minister. He did not just amend but he first observed what was obtaining in this House. We know that in different homes, we have a father and a mother who looks at how business is conducted in the House. The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs was in both Houses observing that Standing Orders and Rules are being adhered to.
I would like to go back a little bit when the Rhodesia Front was here. We fought against the Rhodesia Front for us to attain independence in 1980. The current position is that we have been observing and if you remember very well, I normally say that when we discuss issues in our House, we need to respect each other as adults. At the National
Assembly, it is different. Our children behave differently. However, the President of the Senate does not have a problem with us because we correct each other as adults.
So, our human rights and such issues are addressed, we talk and correct each other and we have discovered that when you leave this
House and when you join together with Members of the National
Assembly, there are forms of behaviour which are not understandable. At times we say that we have been with these Hon. Members; how come they are behaving like this. So, we need to talk about adhering to Standing Orders and Rules. We did not just come here to sit on these benches but we were elected, we came from somewhere. We pledged that we are a going to adhere to rules and regulations. Madam President even under the leadership of President Mnangagwa, you discover that there are some people who also want to lead, they end up embarrassing themselves. The amendments which were brought to the House will go to the Executive and will pass.
Madam President, we need to understand that we were sent by the people to represent them here. We were voted by the electorate. So, we need to talk to each other and agree on what to do. Hon. Minister, I would repeat that every nation has its one laws. Every Parliament must be guided by laws. These are good words, we thank you and we appreciate your efforts Hon. Minister.
Madam President, we are going to support the amendments that were made to the Standing Orders so that the National Assembly and the Senate are guided by these rules. Thank you.
+HON. SEN. A. DUBE: Thank you President of the Senate for
giving me this platform to air out my views on this issue. I also want to thank the Hon. Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for bringing up this motion which is indicating how we are supposed to behave in this House. I have a feeling that this has been overdue. However, I am grateful for the amendments. In churches, there are rules that govern the way people are supposed to operate. In this august House, we were chosen by the people to come and represent them; we should continue to behave properly. People are supposed to behave well because people who elected us to this House no longer trust us because they always see us fighting, especially whenever there is television coverage and people end up disrespecting us.
Madam President, each time we get to our rural areas, we always want to be respected but the way we behave does not give us that respect from the people we represent. We support this motion because as Senators, we are respectable people, therefore we should show this in the august House.
Madam President, in America there was a black person who was killed recently but nothing is being said about that. So, this issue of brining up amendments to the Standing Orders is welcome. Coming here to dance is something that is not acceptable. We should come here to debate positive issues, respecting each other and not insulting each other like what we continue to see happening. We should represent people that have voted us to this House. With these few words, thank you Madam President.
HON. SEN. GUMPO: Thank you Madam President. There is a section where it stipulates that on our current Order Paper, an item remains for 20 days and it elapses but if we look on our questions….
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Order Hon. Senator.
We are debating on the first Order that has been introduced by the Minister. I think you are a bit out of order.
HON. SEN. GUMPO: Madam President, I thought we are debating the Standing Rules and Orders.
THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Okay, but we are
debating whether we can adopt everything or we can adjust somehow.
HON. SEN. GUMPO: We have just discovered some differences on the procedures. Take for example on Questions With Notice presented on the 28th of February, 2020, the questions have not been responded to by any Minister and it is now about four months. The Orders of the day stipulates that if it does remain there for 20 days, it elapses. How long will my question remain on the Order Paper?
HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: This is why I have said you
are a bit out of order. If you wanted to contribute on the adjustments of the standing orders, you should have contributed before not to start to bring the issue today.
HON. SEN. GUMPO: Thank you Madam President.
*HON. SEN. MBOHWA: Thank you Madam President for giving
me the opportunity to debate on this issue. I want to thank the Hon.
Minister for the aamendments brought here, these were long overdue. Madam President, we always say that we are Christians, which means all that we do, we follow the Creator. We always look upon him after seeing that out country is in a bad shape. After creating the universe and seeing that his children can misbehave, he came up with Ten
Commandments which means they were going to guide the country to be in order. I am requesting that when we are looking at these adjustments let them not be partisan because they will be good for someone who will lead tomorrow and good for the one leading now. The adjustment will not be removed because leadership has changed. It must be good for everyone.
As ZANU PF, sometimes we even shout here. It is good that even ZANU PF members are controlled by this law. This is a very good law which is good for all political parties. Madam President, if a house does not have rules ceases to function well. Even a whatsapp group needs rules just as in our homes. If they say you have arrived at Mrs.
Mbohwa’s home, it is because of the rules and laws which are being followed at that home. If we get to a chief’s home and there are no rules, the dignity of the chief would be eroded.
These amendments are good; you did a very good job Minister. You have done it for all political parties. From today onwards, we are going to see if we will succeed because people will see us from outside. They will see that we have a good Parliament through what we will be saying and through our behaviour in this House. That is democracy. Democracy does not encourage insults but allows me to stand up and explain myself. If I am opposing the SONA, I just debate highlighting issues which I disagree with.
I support these amendments and I support the Minister. You have made this House to be honourable because we were always shouting. This august House was the most disorganised. I want to thank you. I cannot applaud by hand clapping but I want to thank you for these amendments. They are good for this House and for the whole country. Thank you.
HON. SEN. MAKONE: Thank you Madam President for giving
me this opportunity to contribute to this debate. I also want to thank the
Minister for the Bill before us. I just wanted to point out Madam President, that this Parliament has been there for as long as I can remember. We have had rules from the SROC for the last 40 years. Are we saying that this Parliament has been running without rules? The rules have been there and I dare say they are not too different from any rules that would run in Parliaments that are associated with the
Commonwealth because we used to be a member of the Commonwealth.
Our rules were not any laxer than any of those rules.
Indeed, Members of Parliament are being called to appear before a Committee that is investigating what happened in February, which means that there are rules. When those rules are broken and you are found guilty, there are steps that are taken in line with what you would have done.
I remember that some years ago right at the beginning of independence, there was fighting here in Parliament and a Member of the House was arrested and he spent more than six months in a prison somewhere in Bindura. So the rules are there. All we have to do is to enforce the rules. When you start tightening rules then you are actually attracting the attention of people as to the kind of person that you are. You are actually telling people that; I am a dictator and I do not want my people to enjoy any rules and any laws which are better than any other? You can actually do whatever you want with the rules that are there. If a person was able to go to jail, unless you are telling me that this time you are actually going to kill people and start hanging people, if we are not going to be hung and we are still going to go to jail, I dare say those rules were quite adequate.
If you are the father of a homestead, you do not need to remind your children every day that you are the father. They know it and if they misbehave they know the consequences too of that misbehaviour. You do not need to fetch any more new rules. The rules are there and they
are adequate and as far as we are concerned on this side of the House, any more additions are things that should be done by dictatorship.
Thank you Madam President.
*HON. SEN. FEMAI: Thank you Madam President. I would like to add a few words before the law is passed. The world- over, there are laws but I have a few requests. I want to start by giving an example of the Creator who is high above – God. He created fire that burns but soon maybe after creating that fire and a few people were burnt, he created water that can douse that fire. This fire that you have started, if you could give us water to douse it so that you tell us - if you do not want to stand up, do this and that so that we add it to the Standing Rules and Orders instead of just creating rules that have no remedy. If we are told to remain seated and not stand up and you are told to keep quiet that does not mean anything to us. Give us the water that douses the flames.
I would like to give an example of what happened in 1959. I was doing Sub A. What I realised whilst I was in that grade is, all the children would just stand up and go to the toilet, even those who wanted to go and gossip would just stand up and go. When the headmaster realised what was happening, he called all the students to a workshop and taught them to excuse themselves and ask for permission if they wanted to leave the classroom. Everyone did that and there was peace. No one would just leave willy-nilly because the headmaster had taught people how to behave if they wanted to go outside. So I am hereby asking whether we are supposed to ask for permission to leave this room? We need to know so that we include that in the Standing Rules and Orders because rules need to be known by everyone.
If we were to compare with God, the Ten Commandments were not just given without some remedies. I can give you an example of committing adultery. It says do not commit adultery and the remedy is marry. Instead of committing adultery, marry. You have put these laws. This law Madam President has come and we cannot refuse it but what is the remedy?
*THE HON. PRESIDENT OF SENATE: Let us debate here as
Hon. Members who read the Standing Rules and Orders. I have realised that this debate is about responding to each other, yet the person you are talking about is not aware of which Standing Order you are debating on. The people who are listening want to understand. If you say you are supposed to keep quiet, which Standing Order is that. Be clear when you are referring to Standing Orders. Refer to them so that we are all on the same page and we understand which Standing Rules and Orders you
are referring to.
*HON. SEN. FEMAI: Thank you Madam President, I was about
to finish. I would like to finish by saying, as I am here I just received a letter. I hope that law is not about the new rules that are in there because I have just received a letter. I do not know whether my judgement will be based on the new rules that have been set.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Madam President for
giving me this opportunity to just add a few points on what my fellow Hon. Senators have contributed to these Standing Orders. Madam President, I want to start by thanking the Hon. Minister for bringing in these amendments and additions to our Standing Orders. I think it is important. I have sat down here and listened to the contributions from my fellow members and it was like you rightly put it Madam President but there was no clarity on what had been wrong. I think what the Hon. Minister has done is to try and ensure that our Standing Orders are still a living document in our era. Senator Makone said these rules have been there for 40 years or so but I think we were not amending them and they were getting to be obsolete because culture changes. What was normal 40 years ago might not be normal today but I must thank the Minister because I think it is actually dereliction of duty for us. We should have amended these long before.
Madam President, if the question of legality says a person should not be charged for a crime which was not a law at the time the crime was committed, I think this is actually what has brought this. I understand there are certain Members here who have already been castigated for behaving in a manner which probably was not agreeable to certain sections but it was not a crime according to the laws which were obtaining at that time. So I think from now onwards, these amendments will bring in order because they say everyone should have fair warning as to what constitutes a crime and what does not constitute a crime, rather than to be told of a crime when you were not given fair warning. I think this is a good step in the positive direction.
Madam President, I would also want to draw the attention of the Hon. Minister to Clause 11 (2) where it relates to behaviour or conduct of Hon. Members during important occasions like address by foreign dignitaries or the Head of State. What I would probably want to highlight on that one, I think laws should be clear and not vague and live to whoever is going to interpret or enforce to decide what they mean.
When they say ‘attempts to or causes disorder of whatever nature’, I think that expression is very broad and is subject to abuse. We need to be given fair warning. Who is going to decide that? If there was a vacuum or mischief which we needed to cure by these additions, it should be clear. So I submit Madam President, that this clause is not a very good clause and has got potential of abuse. We cannot leave or give discretionary powers to people to decide on the fate of people, some of the decisions which may have far reaching consequences or even end up infringing the basic fundamental rights of individuals. I hope the Minister will draw attention to that and clarify it. Try to make it clearer rather than to leave it as vague as it is from my point of view where it will be a subject for and as such, it is the duty for us to protect our State. Yes, today there maybe someone who is rational but tomorrow there may be someone who is in charge who is irrational and then use discretionary powers which may attract unnecessary attention to our country.
Madam President with those few words let me end again by thanking the Minister for bringing in those amendments. I do not see anything which is very peculiar or which is very unusual or out of order with those amendments, suffice to say that they need to be clear. I think from now onwards, people would say we have been given fair warning, unlike what is happening at the moment where people are asked or may be brought to answer charges which were not even defined as offences.
I thank you Madam President.
*HON. SEN. M. R. DUBE: Thank you Madam President and I
am very grateful for the opportunity to also add on to what my colleagues just said. This is an honourable House and if there is something that needs to be rectified, it should be done outside – be it in our political parties and when we come here, let us deal with national issues. The dancing and all that noise does not rectify anything because whatever we dance to here does not change and those things will remain like that. We failed to go to committee meetings because some decided to dance and disturb such meetings. Such things must never happen in such an Hon. House.
If there is a law that says people should stand up when the Head of State enters this House, do so. If there is something that needs to be rectified, do it on another day. There are a lot of things that are not progressing in this Parliament because of dancing and demonstrating. Imagine if you were to continue doing that in three weeks, what will you do as Parliament – nothing will progress. I would like to bring to your attention the issue of elections that we stick to in our minds, it is the problem. My party lost during elections and if your party loses during elections, forget about it and support the winner.
I once left this country and went to another country – we are not going anywhere. Someone asked me out there whether I am from Zimbabwe and I was asked why we make so much noise in Parliament and why we behave like that if you are paid by Government and not NGOs. If we have differences in our parties, let us tell our Presidents and discuss over those things outside but if we come here, let us discuss issues as Zimbabweans. Zimbabweans are suffering and they need our help. Where ever you go, Zimbabweans need our House. People out there need our help and this House should be honourable, let us respect it. Thank you Madam President. I wish we should leave that mentality of partisanship. Let us leave our parties outside that door and once we come into this House, let us remember that this is a national House and forget about partisan interests. If you go outside and start dancing, that does not help. Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you
Madam President Ma’am. I want to thank all the Hon. Senators for a robust debate on our Standing Rules and Orders. I think this is very important and shows that Senators are concerned about what happens in the House and I think that it is well received and appreciated.
As a way of background Madam President, the reason why rules are put is to ensure that as much as possible within the confines of the freedoms that are allowed for Hon. Members within the House, debate must take place in an environment of respect where there is decorum and where it shows that it is an august House composed of Hon. Members. As such, every time we have to look at our rules to ensure that they speak to what we are supposed to do. In that regard, the Legal
Committee of the Standing Rules and Orders looked at our Standing Rules and came up with some of the amendments that we are proposing so that we adopt our Standing Rules.
We have known that once an election has been done, the President is supposed to deliver his speech as defined in the Constitution, there is a certain decorum that is required from both Hon. Members when a
President enters the Chamber or a visiting Head of State enters the Chamber. As such, we notice that certain Members were now not recognising that the moment he enters this august House, he is the Head of State and not head of a political party. As such, he should be given that respect as the Head of State when he is in this august House addressing the nation. That is why there was a proposal and recommendation that we should afford the necessary respect when the President walks in, we must all rise. It is a sign of respect and I do not see why people would then argue that it is a fundamental human right not to respect a sitting President and I think that it is an abuse.
In our Shona culture, when adults arrive, the children would leave the adults alone to do whatever they want to do. I do not think that we should move away from our culture and say it is taking away their human rights. I believe that this Clause that says that we should afford our President and visiting dignitaries by showing respect by rising is a very progressive order in our Standing Rules. As such, I appeal to both sides that we accept it as it is, which is the amended Order No. 87. Madam President, I want to refer Members to Order No. 111 which was discussed at length by others in terms of disorderly conduct to say that it does not define what it means. With due respect, I think it is very broad to give the President of Senate the chance to control the House. You do not want the person of the Chair to be too restricted in deliberating or conducting the business of the House. As such, it has been put in a definition of disorderly conduct that allows the President of Senate of have powers to control the House. If you read it, it is very clear and liberal in that it gives the Senate President powers to control. If you go beyond what the Senate President can take, then we invoke this Standing Rule. It is very progressive. It allows for the freedoms that you want to be exhibited - but to a certain level, whereby you have to show decorum and respect for others and as such I think it is a progressive order. I want to concede that if you look at this Clause 111 and the one that was complained about in terms of singing. I do not have any problem in removing it but leaving Order No. 111 as it is because Order No. 111 if you are singing in an disorderly manner, the Senate President must be able to reign you in. The reason why I am saying so is that pachivanhu chedu kana tikange tafara tinoimba but if we sing for example, when the President has given his speech – when he finishes we sing in appreciation. That should be allowed and as such I think Order 111 on disorderly conduct will capture the mischief that we want to deal with in saying that we should not sing because some of the singing was disorderly. That is the mischief that we want to deal with.
I move that we delete this Clause 79 (d) that prohibits singing and allow Clause 111 that gives the President powers to control, that outlaws disorderly conduct, including singing disorderly because in our culture when we are happy we clap hands. In our culture when we are happy we sing and we cannot then take away all of that when we are in this august House. This is the House where freedoms are exhibited more than any other place and as such I can concede and with your indulgence expunge that Order No. 79 (d) and allow the one on disorderly conduct to stay as it is because Order No. 111 it also has sanction. I heard those that were saying if you bring in fire you must bring in water. The water is there. You can actually be suspended for a certain number of sittings if you behave in a manner that is not befitting. Both the fire and water are there. Do not worry about the water, it is already provided for. With that amendment I move that we adopt the Standing Rules and Orders. I thank you.
Motion with leave adopted.
On the motion of THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI), the Senate
adjourned at Five Minutes to Four o’clock p.m.