By Noel Tshuma
MDC vice president Tendai Biti who chairs Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee on Friday became the latest victim of the political fight between the ruling party Zanu PF and the opposition over legitimacy issues arising from last year’s election.
The MDC has refused to recognise President Emmerson Mnangagwa as legitimate leader of the country arguing he stole last year’s poll.
On Friday Zanu PF MPs who are part of Biti’s Public Accounts Committee triggered a storm after raising questions regarding Biti’s legitimacy. Sources said Chegutu West MP, Dexter Nduna argued Biti could not chair the committee comprising MPs from a party whose leader he did not recognise.
“We cannot be led by a chairman who does not recognise our President. We also do not recognise him,” Nduna reportedly said.
The committee was expected to hear oral evidence from Sakunda Holdings a company owned by petroleum mogul Kuda Tagwirei. The company reportedly received billions of payments through the shady Command Agriculture scheme before offloading the money onto the currency parallel market resulting in a spike in the exchange rate.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe reacted by shutting down the company’s accounts.
Nduna’s comments triggered a war of words with Biti arguing his case and “throwing as usual expletives at Nduna but to no avail.”
The Chegutu West lawmaker received from other MPs including Independent Norton lawmaker Temba Mliswa who this week lashed out at the MDC for snubbing the budget presentation.
Mliswa confirmed that indeed the Zanu PF MPs had caused an adjournment of the committee.
“Nduna raised the point how he committee could be chaired by someone who did not recognise the President and it was a valid point. Biti would have none of that and he decided to adjourn the meeting,” Mliswa said.
But Biti in response said the issue was being blown out of proportion.
“This issue is being blown out of proportion. That is not correct to say they walked out. We agreed as a committee to adjourn the hearing to later this month because we did not have time.
“We are calling Sakunda on the 29th of this and the other suppliers earlier,” said Biti.
MDC MPs have walked out on Mnangagwa twice and this week stayed away from the budget presentation in protest at the Zanu PF leader’s presence in the August House. In the past few weeks Zanu PF has however began to bite back with Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi early this month asking Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda to rule on whether MDC lawmakers could ask questions of Minister appointed by a President they did not recognise. Initially Mudenda ruled that the opposition MPs could not before he received the decision.
It seems now the ruling party is targeting specific areas in which the MDC leads to hit back at the opposition.