By Noel Tshuma
MDC vice president Tendai Biti, was for the second time inside a week on Friday rejected by Zanu PF lawmakers forcing the abrupt adjournment of the Public Accounts Committee hearing into the shady Command Agriculture scheme.
Biti chairs the committee and had summoned inputs suppliers under the Command Agriculture Scheme in a bid to unravel claims over $3 billion disappeared without trace.
However as happened last Friday, Zanu PF MPs in retaliation to the MDC’s refusal to recognise President Emmerson Mnangagwa as legitimate leader of the country have argued they do not recognise Biti and other opposition committee chairpersons.
Mnangagwa won last year’s presidential election by a slim margin but the opposition rejected the result arguing the Zanu PF leader rigged the poll and robbed its leader Nelson Chamisa who lost by just over 6% was of victory. Chamisa tried to overturn the result at the Constitutional Court but his petition was thrown out for lack of evidence.
Chegutu West MP, Dexter Nduna once again led the assault on Biti walking in a bit late and demanding that the hearings which had already begun with suspected “funeral parlour” Fertliser, Seed and Grain (FSG)’s managing director Steve Molard, whose company the Auditor General’s Reports reveals was paid over US$400 million but did not deliver the inputs on the stand.
FSG is reportedly of no fixed aboard and instead runs a funeral business.
“An opposition party member cannot continue to chair this meeting. Excuse us chair. MDC has failed to recognise my President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“The legitimacy issue should be resolved through Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC). Our issue is a party position,” Nduna said.
This triggered a commotion, heckling and angry shouts as MDC MPs jumped to a bemused Biti who sat quietly shocked at the sudden turn of events. Biti has in the past few months turned into the MDC’s star attraction at Parliament shinning the light on shady government contracts and economic malaise ironically with open support from Zanu PF MPs who have suddenly turned on him.
The MDC since last year has walked out on Mnangagwa at Parliament twice and virtually boycotted this year’s 2020 national budget presentation last week attended by Mnangagwa.
For this the opposition MPs have already lost five months wages. Last month Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi caused Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda to make a ruling banning MDC MPs from asking question “of Ministers appointed by a President they do not recognise.”
Mudenda however reversed the decision admitting it violated the national governance charter.
In the melee that followed Nduna’s demands, the Zanu PF lawmaker accused MDC Marondera Central MP, Caston Mateu of having stage-managed a shooting incident at his home a few months ago. The opposition lawmaker reacted angrily.
“Do not think we are all your children here. We have respected you enough today. Are you the one who shot at my home. You wanted to kill my? Voetsek,” Mateu angrily swore.
Another MDC MP, Kambuzuma’s Willas Madzimure accused Nduna of deliberately sabotaging the committee’s work in order to protect corrupt individuals.
“We are investigating what is in the Auditor General’s Report. Your have a known propensity to protect corruption and this is your way of doing that.
“Nduna, no one voted for you to be here. You lost in the 2018 election,” said Madzimure.
Nduna was controversially declared winner in Chegutu West despite having lost with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission admitting to the error. However he has kept the seat due to “technicalities” in the MDC’s electoral challenge.
The chaos only died down after Norton Independent MP, Temba Mliswa suggested that the issue be put to Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda for determination.
“Members, it is important that we speak to the Speaker and the Clerk of Parliament so that we get a way forward. Remember the damage you are causing now to your reputation will be difficult to repair. There are members of the Fourth Estate in here,” said Mliswa.
A visibly shaken Biti duly adjourned the hearing. On Monday Biti was forced to call off another hearing into Sakunda Holdings access to billions under Command Agriculture after Nduna pulled a similar stunt.