HARARE – Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda has apologised to MDC Member of Parliament for Zengeza West Job Sikhala after he wrongly ejected him from the august House last Wednesday for making noise, it has emerged.
Sikhala along with MDC MP for Highfield Eric Murai were forced out of the National Assembly after they were deemed a nuisance for disturbing the business of the day.
Sikhala who had been ejected again last week for the same offence did not take it lightly, and wrote a letter of complaint to Mudenda expressing his anger at what he termed violation of his rights as a legislator.
“The speaker realised that I was not wrong in the first place and called me to his office where he indicated that he regretted his decision,” Sikhala told the Daily News.
In his October 10 letter, Sikhala had cited the spirit of the preamble of the standing rules and orders.
“Without taking anything from your ruling to eject me from the National Assembly on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 at exactly 15:11 hours, I would like to point out that I feel I was unfairly treated as I have done nothing, absolutely nothing, to warrant my ejection,” Sikhala complained.
Sikhala opined that while the Speaker was empowered in terms of standing order number 108 to eject any member from the house “whose conduct was grossly disorderly” he felt that his action on the day in question could not be described as turbulent behaviour.
“In my conduct during the business of the house, I had been seated quietly on my seat and at no point did I become unruly, turbulent or tumultuous,” he wrote.
The former St Mary’s MP said he had only laughed at his colleagues who had reminded him that he was supposed to rise and ask a “crucial” question to Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri
“I was then shocked to hear the chair calling my name as If I had behaved disorderly…laughing at my colleagues could have constituted disorderly conduct, my sincere apologies.”
However, the beauty of Wednesday sessions is that they are beamed live on TV so it can easily be referred to.
Sikhala also accused Mudenda of being hard on MDC while treating Zanu PF legislators with kid gloves.
For instance, a Zanu PF MP Remigious Matangira caused chaotic scenes in the House which brought business to a standstill for about 30 minutes.
“He went on to throw himself on the laps of two female MPs in the process abusing them as they screamed in agony yet he was not censured for his conduct,” lamented Sikhala, who is now known in the National Assembly for his provocative and controversial statements.
Last week, Sikhala, who over a decade ago was arrested and charged with masterminding a treason attempt, left many legislators in stitches after he shouted at Bindura North Zanu PF MP Kenneth Musanhi: “Haa unoti chiiko iwe Musanhi, kumeso kunenge kwegudo (You are talking nonsense Musanhi, your face looks like that of a baboon).”
The harsh exchange of words between Sikhala and Musanhi started after the Zengeza West MP stood up to ask Muchinguri-Kashiri about people allegedly killed during Operation Restore Legacy — a euphemism for the soft coup that forced long-serving despot Robert Mugabe from power by his own comrades.
Sikhala wanted Muchinguri-Kashiri to tell Parliament how many people were killed by the army during that interregnum.
As he pitched his controversial inquiry, Musanhi told the garrulous MDC MP to sit down. That is when Sikhala hit back, insulting the Zanu PF politburo member.
Deputy speaker Tsitsi Gezi reprimanded Sikhala, telling him to watch his language, saying such behaviour would ordinarily force her to eject a parliamentarian from the House.
Sikhala tried to defend himself saying: “…I withdraw, however, Madam Speaker, you must notice and also understand the principle called compensation.
“When you hit someone, you must expect to be hit back in equal measure. He provoked me and he should not have expected me to fold my arms.”
A defiant Sikhala proceeded: “I had to hit back but in equal measure. He must also withdraw the insults he threw at me. He initially threw insults at me.”