MDC-T legislators walked out of the National Assembly yesterday in protest over a request by Buhera South lawmaker Joseph Chinotimba (Zanu PF) to play a video recording of former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai allegedly calling for the imposition of sanctions against the country.
Acting Speaker Melody Tionei Dziva ruled that Tsvangirai was allowed under the Constitution to come to Parliament to reply, contrary to protestations by MDC-T MPs.
This was after Kuwadzana East MP Nelson Chamisa had raised a point of order to the effect that Tsvangirai was not a member or present in the House to respond to the video.
“If there is any need for clarification, I will allow for the president of the opposition to come and respond. Opposition leaders are allowed under the country’s Constitution to come to Parliament and respond,” Dziva said to applause from Zanu PF members.
However, Chamisa argued that Parliament had an obligation to first advise Tsvangirai on the matter.
The MDC-T MPs broke into song before walking out after Dziva rejected Chamisa’s point of order.
Zanu PF MPs took advantage of the walkout to view the 2001 video of Tsvangirai on BBC’s Panorama programme.
In the video, Tsvangirai is heard saying that given the “threats to the elections from the military and (President Robert) Mugabe”, South Africa could impose sanctions on Zimbabwe by cutting fuel or electricity.
Chinotimba said the economic collapse that Zimbabwe had witnessed in the past 15 years was a result of the “sanctions that Tsvangirai called for”.
“It is painful when President Mugabe and Zanu PF are accused by the MDC of destroying the economy when it was Tsvangirai who called for cutting of transport ties as well as electricity,” he said.
“The British and the Americans did not have it in them to put sanctions, but they realised they had Tsvangirai’s support and here we are. The vendors who have invaded our streets are of Tsvangirai’s making and I am pained by this.”
Chinotimba accused the MDC-T of “speaking with a forked tongue”.
“Now they are crying foul over the recent (Supreme Court) judgment (that employers can unilaterally terminate workers’ contracts), but they have neglected their own workers to the extent of going to court to block their bid to get their money,” he said.
Mugabe blames the sanctions for the collapse of the economy, but critics point to his mismanagement.