THERE was drama in parliament on Wednesday as MPs from Zanu PF and the MDC clashed over the adoption of an adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee (PLC) on the Land Acquisition (
Zanu PF MPs inadvertently voted in favour of the adverse report, which said the Bill breached constitutional provisions on property, but were asked to vote again when chairman of committees Lazarus Dokora realised the mistake.
MDC secretary-general Prof Welshman Ncube who is the acting chair of the PLC, presented the report, which was immediately countered by Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa who is also Leader of the House. Chinamasa wanted the report to be set aside so the debate on the Bill would go into its second reading.
David Coltart then stood up on a point of order to declare that Chinamasa was an interested party and could not contribute to the debate since he had acquired three farms. Parliamentary procedure requires members with a pecuniary interest in matters under debate to declare it and recuse themselves.
Coltart then produced a list of MPs and the farms they own, and pointed out that Chinamasa got three farms under the fast track system.
Jorum Gumbo grabbed the list and started remonstrating with other members onhis side. Chinamasa then called Coltart “a racist liar”.
Tendai Biti (Harare North) and Gabriel Chaibva (Harare South) were both thrown out for arguing with Dokora. MDC MPs shouted that Chinamasa should withdraw and called for a ruling on the issue of his recusal. Dokora tried to restore order but was constantly shouted down.
Chinamasa finally got the floor and declared that he would not withdraw his statement. Chaos broke out again. Eventually Dokora insisted that Chinamasa withdraw the statement which he did.
Chinamasa then proceeded to debate the PLC report without recusing himself, which resulted in further heckling and shouting.Coltart argued against the Bill, saying reasonable notice must be given to any landowner who should have recourse to the courts. He said contracts entered into were still legally binding.
Zanu PF MP Paul Mangwana strongly defended the Bill, criticising Ncube for not reading all the relevant clauses. Eventually a vote was called. “All those in favour of the report say Aye”.
Zanu PF MPs shouted “Aye”. Confusion reigned. Dokora called for a second vote with MDC legislators protesting. The resolution to ignore the adverse report was adopted by 58 to 32 votes.Chinamasa immediately proceeded to present the Bill at its second reading stage.