President has no control of Parliament: Charamba

HARARE – President Mnangagwa respects the principle of separation of power and has no control of proceedings in Parliament, Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba said.

This follows attempts by the private media and opposition parties to blame President Mnangagwa for the ejection of MDC Alliance legislators during last week’s presentation of the 2019 National Budget.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube presented the budget.

Rowdy MDC-Alliance legislators refused to acknowledge the Head of State when he entered the National Assembly chamber before the budget presentation.

Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda ordered them to leave the House, but they refused despite efforts by Sergeant-at-Arms Mr Nicholas Marufu to escort them out.

Chaos ensued as the parliamentarians resisted the Speaker’s order and fought running battles with police details summoned to restore order.

Mr Charamba, who is also the Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet (Presidential Communications), said anyone imputing blame on the Executive lacked understanding of the principle of separation of powers.

“The principle of separation of powers recognises the three branches of the State that is the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature,” he said.

“As Head of the Executive, the President does not have control of the goings on in Parliament. If he had, the principle of separation of powers would have been vitiated. Really, what happened in Parliament is beyond the authority of the President. There should never be an attempt to embroil or to drag him into those developments.”

Mr Charamba said to affirm that President Mnangagwa respected the law, wayward parliamentarians were dealt with by Speaker of the National Assembly Adv Mudenda.

“If you notice, the voice came from the Speaker and the decision to remove recalcitrant MPs was effected through the Sergeant-at-Arms,” he said.

“He is in charge of the security in the chamber. Anyone imputing any blame on the Executive clearly does not understand the limits of separation of powers.

“If the President is the Head of Government his equivalent is the Chief Justice and Speaker, but if he is Head of State all the three branches will be under him. That’s where the difference between the Government and State comes in. If he is Head of State he then rises above all the three arms of State and the personages who personify them.

“When you walk in Parliament, he is Head of State and the bicker around elections and your attitudes immediately fall away. If the MDC Alliance people knew that very basic distinction, then they would have drawn a distinction between their contempt of ED the Head of Government and therefore a political contestant and ED the Head of State and therefore, a personification of what they are as a people.”

Mr Charamba said the basic principle was that everyone must pay homage to the State.

“That’s why we stand up on singing the national anthem, it’s not whimsical,” he said. “You must all doff to the institutions of the State and one important institution of the State is that of a leader as a Head of State. The trouble of disrespecting the State is that you become a casualty. The State lives forever. It exists inspite of your little attitude.”

Adv Mudenda this week said Parliament was reviewing its standing rules and orders to make them strict.

Errant legislators, he said, risked being barred from Parliament and allowances withdrawn for a specific period as is the case in Zambia.