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Senate widens Zanu PF rift

Clemence Manyukwe

DIVISIONS are widening in Zanu PF over the senate issue amid calls for constitutional changes to give it relevance.

At a

joint Parliamentary Liaison Coordination Committee (LCC) annual retreat and media relations workshop held in Nyanga which ended on Monday, ruling party members of the House of Assembly also rejected requests by senators to head portfolio committees.

The senators first publicly made known their views in May in the Vumba during an induction workshop where apart from seeking leadership positions they said they were senior to lower house members by virtue of being in the senate and representing combined constituencies.

Vice-President Joseph Msika has warned Zanu PF MPs and senators over their infighting.

The chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs and Zanu PF Bikita West MP Claudious Makova called for an LCC resolution seeking a constitutional review redefining the role of senators as “they had no job description”.

Others like the party’s Makoni East legislator Shadreck Chipanga also maintained that there was need for amendments to the supreme law on the roles of the two houses to avoid duplication.

Suggestions of constitutional changes were fiercely opposed by Makonde MP Leo Mugabe who chairs the Transport and Communications committee on grounds that it was not the committee’s function.

The LCC comprises of all committee chairpersons, chief whips from parties and the chairperson as well as deputy of the women’s caucus. It among other tasks schedules the business of committees.

“We ought to be very, very careful in dealing with these matters,” said Mugabe. “We ought to be careful in the manner in which we deal with constitutional matters because that is not our function.”

Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly Kumbirai Kangai said he shared Makova’s sentiment but preferred that their resolution remain silent on the need to change the constitution.

“I prefer that we remain silent on the constitution but make a resolution that clearly states that we are having problems with the constitution and we want to have the matter looked into,” said Kangai.

Asked by the Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma to contribute on the issue, deputy president of the senate Naison Ndlovu said he did not want to pre-empt politburo discussions.

Gutu South MP, Shuvai Mahofa, said the senate would one day be abolished.

“Whoever created it knows how he is going to undo it,” she said adding “Mavakunetswa nechinhu chamakazvigadzirira moga. Chichabva chete,” (You are now being troubled by something you created yourselves. It will go).

Masvingo South MP Walter Mzembi questioned the wisdom of having senators as chairpersons of committees when they were drafted onto the select committees on grounds that they needed to learn the ropes of the committee system.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Legal Committee Welshman Ncube wondered why ruling party MPs were afraid of making a resolution categorically stating that the constitution needed to be changed to stipulate the roles of the two houses.

He said Zanu PF was also divided over the senate issue like the MDC.

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