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Petition puts parly Speaker under international spotlight

SPEAKER of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda (pictured)’s “questionable decisions and actions” have come under scrutiny on the international arena following a petition by a Zimbabwean man to have him ejected from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

Nkululeko Sibanda

The Switzerland-based IPU seeks to promote democratic governance, institutions and values. It works with 179 parliaments and hundreds of legislators to articulate and respond to the needs and aspirations of the people in the countries under the institution.

The union says it works for peace, democracy, human rights, gender equality, youth empowerment and sustainable development through political dialogue, cooperation and parliamentary action.

Mudenda has been in the eye of a storm in the past few weeks after he gave the green light to the official recall of four MDC-Alliance legislators by the Thokozani Khupe-led MDC-T party. The MDC-Alliance argues the recall is illegal and wrong.

The four, Thabitha Khumalo (leader of the opposition in Parliament), Prosper Mutseyami (chief whip of the opposition in the National Assembly), Lilian Timveous (opposition chief whip in the Senate), and Chalton Hwende (secretary-general of the MDC-Alliance) have since been ejected from the House.

The party believes by agreeing to proceed with the recall Mudenda was aligning himself with a faction in the ruling Zanu PF led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa which they say is seeking to decimate the opposition, leading to the creation of a one-party state.

Mudenda, the MDC-Alliance believes, could have acted impartially and desisted from exercising unfair and politically-driven decisions in the recall of the legislators.

In the latest turn of events, the Zimbabwean, Hilton Tamangani —father to slain MDC activist, Hilton Tamangani (Junior) — approached the IPU this week seeking the expulsion of Mudenda, a one-time Zanu PF Matabeleland North provincial chairperson, from the institution.

Mudenda, the petitioner complained, has become complicit in the shrinking of the democratic space by Mnangagwa’s administration, which goes against IPU’s founding tenets.

According to the petition, Tamangani demanded that IPU secretary-general Martin Chungong move a motion to have Mudenda excused from the IPU as his continued presence is allegedly tarnishing the image of the institution.

Reads part of the petition: “This is part of pre-action protocol to serve you in your personal capacity, the First Respondent, the Second Respondent, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, that I shall be proceeding with legal action should you fail to effect the removal from the IPU (Executive Committee) the Zimbabwe Speaker of Parliament, Mr Jacob Mudenda, whose continuing activities in the Zimbabwe Parliament are criminal, and furthermore contrary to the Inter-Parliamentary Union principles, ethics and operations, which actions are an abuse of the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s very founding tenets, the latest of which (is) the withdrawing of MDC MPs’ allowances by Mr Jacob Mudenda to punish them for not acknowledging Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa as President Of Zimbabwe (despite judges finding that the law was clearly broken in the 2018 elections).”

Tamangani charged that officials at the IPU were also complicit in protecting Mudenda. He revealed, in the petition, that he and other stakeholders have continuously raised issues over the Zimbabwean speaker’s conduct but, much to their chagrin, no corrective steps have been taken.

“While the lives of Members of Parliament of the real opposition (in Zimbabwe) are in danger, you, Mr Chungong, have communicated falsehoods, saying you never received a complaint over the dangers and welfare of MDC MPs while in Belgrade Serbia in 19th October 2019.

“As a direct result of your conduct, as well as failure to act on the Zimbabwe parliament crisis, the situation has deteriorated resulting in forced abductions, rapes, torture of a Member of Parliament and her entourage, and the illegal expulsions of the presiding officers of the opposition, by the speaker of parliament who is from the Zanu PF party,” Tamangani said.

He said upon Mudenda’s removal from the IPU, there would be moves to escalate the matter to the International Criminal Court.

“Attached is a record showing a repeating pattern of behaviour by these suspects stretching over 37 years, the latest of which are events since 1 August 2018 to date. I and other victims hope that you shall act in the public interest and also in the interest of the Inter-Parliamentary Union organisation’s integrity which has clearly been compromised and that following the removal of Jacob Mudenda and his administration from the IPU, an investigation shall kick in and be escalated straight to the International Criminal Court,” Tamangani added.

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