by Andrew Kunambura
PARLIAMENT has barred its former clerk, Austin Zvoma, from the august House after his incessant visits to the legislative assembly, where he was forced to leave two months ago on retirement, infuriated senior staff.Sources said Zvoma had been visiting his former workplace almost every day, visiting colleagues’ offices and entertaining himself at the Parliamentary bar.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, who chairs the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Standing Rules and Orders, has since instructed acting clerk of Parliament, Kenneth Chokuda, to issue a preliminary injunction ordering Zvoma to refrain from his frequent visits.
This was communicated through a letter written over a week ago and circulated to departmental heads, with specific instructions not to entertain Zvoma in their offices.
The letter, a copy of which was seen by the Financial Gazette, instructed all Parliament staff “with private business with the former clerk to do it outside Parliament precincts”.
“Zvoma has been coming here regularly since he was retired. He would even spend the whole day moving from office to office resulting in some workers filing complaints with authorities. It was said Zvoma was undermining the office and person of the acting clerk (Chokuda),” said a source.
The Financial Gazette understands that Zvoma last week pitched up at Parliament but was turned away by security officers after he had been subjected to security procedures conducted on ordinary visitors.
“Last week, he was barred from entering after he failed to justify his visit. He also did not produce the required identification documents,” a source said.
Zvoma asked the Financial Gazette to call him later when contacted on his mobile number for comment.
“Phone me later, I am getting into a meeting right now,” he said.
He was, however, not answering subsequent calls to his number.
Mudenda said he could not discuss the matter publicly since it was administrative.
“I do not want to discuss administrative issues with the press. Why don’t you check with the acting clerk? He should be able to furnish you with the information you are looking for,” said Mudenda.
Chokuda, whose signature appears on the letter, declined to comment.
“Unfortunately, I don’t comment on internal issues to the public. Thank you,” he said.
Observers said Zvoma, who initially resisted retirement on the basis of his own interpretation of a new Constitutional provision on the term of office for the clerk of Parliament which he argued allowed him to serve two more five year terms, could be finding it difficult to accept the reality that he was no longer part of Parliament where he spent nearly three decades of his life.
Parliament’s Standing Rules and Orders Committee retired Zvoma in November after he reached the legal retirement age of 65.
He had been clerk of Parliament for 25 years at the time of his retirement. He joined the institution on November 1, 1989, staying on until last year.
Zvoma’s reign at Parliament was not without incident as he has been subject to much controversy, particularly during the tenure of the inclusive government when he clashed with opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Members of Parliament who wanted him removed from the job on the basis of his alleged partisanship. Zvoma had to obtain a court order stopping Parliament from debating a motion to pass a vote of no confidence on him moved by MDC legislators.
In the motion, MDC MPs had argued that Zvoma was unfit for the position due to his failure to uphold the values of honesty, integrity and professionalism which brought the image of Parliament into disrepute but he appealed to the High Court to stop the motion and he won.
Zvoma was also caught between the factional wars that rocked the ruling ZANU-PF party as he was said to be sympathetic to fired former vice president, Joice Mujuru.
Many of those linked to Mujuru have since lost their positions in the party and government, a situation which many argued was the real motive behind Zvoma’s ouster especially given that some State bureaucrats are still serving well past the retirement age.Fingaz