Zimbabwe’s four-year-old constitution was amended yesterday to give the President powers to appoint three key judges- the chief justice, deputy chief justice and judge president.
But the motion was full of drama.
First the Movement for Democratic Change, whose numbers have been depleted since the 2013 elections because of the party split and then the MDC-T’s refusal to participate in subsequent by-elections, tried to prevent the amendment from being debated insisting that the House should debate the 2016 budget review which was moved first.
When the motion was finally brought in and the House divided, there was a dispute about the votes with the MDC-T insisting that there were only 173 for the amendment when 180+ were needed.
Even after it was proved that 182 had voted YES against 41 who voted NO, the MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese still insisted that the voting was not procedural.
“I want to reiterate and conclude by saying, there was no vote at the end of the day,” he said.
Here is what transpired in full:
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. E. MNANGAGWA): Mr. Speaker Sir, Tuesday is Government business day. Item No. 1, Item No. 2 and Item No. 3 are Government business. I am Leader of Government business and I set priority as to what must be debated. I have adjourned Government business on Item No. 1, not closing it but adjourning it so that we dispose of Government business on Item No. 3. I so move.
HON. GONESE: Thank you Mr. Speaker…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Order, order! You are the last one to debate the adjournment. – [HON MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I am on the Chair.
HON. GONESE: I am rising on a matter of privilege Mr. Speaker. In response to what the Hon. Vice President has said which I believe cannot be correct. My take is that the order we are debating is Government business and that is appreciated and there can be no debate about that. The point is that once a debate has commenced, any motion for adjournment is subject to the same rules. – [AN HON. MEMBER: We can divide the House.] – No, we cannot start by dividing because there are members who want to debate.
Mr. Speaker Sir, the point that I am making is procedural. There is a lot of noise…
THE HON. SPEAKER: Just a second Hon. Gonese and please take your seat.
HON. GONESE: Alright.
THE HON. SPEAKER: You may continue.
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