by Staff Reporter
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, who was this week roundly booed by opposition legislators after delivering his State of the Nation Address (SONA) which many dismissed as hollow, “fled” from his constitutional obligation of availing himself for a Question and Answer session with legislators forcing the Speaker of the House of Assembly to apologise and promise that the aging leader would be invited to attend to the unfinished business in the future.
After being heckled in the aftermath of his barren SONA presentation Mugabe left, prompting Kuwadzana legislator, Nelson Chamisa—a lawyer by profession—to demand an explanation as to why Mugabe had been made to “flee” from his constitution obligation of answering all pertinent questions that lawmakers could be having on his presentation.
Speaker of the House of Assembly, Jacob Mudenda—also a lawyer—acknowledged that indeed Mugabe was required by the law to answer questions in Parliament and promised to “invite” him to do so at a later date.
Chamisa raised a question of privilege in connection with the just-concluded SONA by pointing out that according to the new Standing Orders the State of the Nation Address should have been followed by an opportunity for the president to answer questions put to him by MPs.
Standing Order 168(3) provides that: “(3) At least once a year the Speaker and President of the Senate must make necessary arrangements for Parliament to receive the state of the nation address by the President and for the President to answer questions on any issue in terms of Standing Orders.”
Mudenda acknowledged that Chamisa was correct and that he and the President of the Senate (Edna Madzongwe) would liaise with the Mugabe “on the feasibility of a future question-and-answer session”.
It is however not clear if Mugabe—who seem to be stranded on many issues affecting the nation—would be willing to avail himself before the hostile opposition legislators.
After this week’s SONA address, MDC-T legislators chanted “Save! Save!” followed by ZANU-PF MPs chanting “Gushungo! Gushungo!” after which the opposition law makers broke into the song “ZANU yaora baba”.
At this point the Speaker called for order, reminded members that singing in the House was banned, and warned that the leader of the song would be identified and punished, perhaps by being suspended for a whole Parliamentary session.Listen to his address here