The Police are not allowed to remove, or arrest elected members of assembly (MPs) for things they say, do including chanting singing in the National Assembly. It violates their constitutional privilege of freedom of speech and as well as their powers and immunity provided by chapter 148 of our Zimbabwe Constitution.
By Kudzanai Mafunga
The Constitution (148.2) further clarifies the issue by stating that an Act of Parliament may provide for a right of reply, through the Speaker or the President of the Senate, as the case may be, for persons who are unjustly injured by what is said about them in Parliament; but no such Act may permit Parliament or its Members or officers to impose any punishment in the nature of a criminal penalty, other than a fine, for breach of privilege or contempt of Parliament.
The MDC legislators stood up in respect of the Speaker of Parliament but did not stand up for ED as they do not recognise him as the legitimate president. It was therefore more appropriate for the Speaker to impose a fine if President Mnangagwa had complained about disrespect.
The Speaker then called the Sergeant in arms to remove MDC MPs from the House and in turn like the August 1 killings were excessive force was utilized, the Sgt in arms called the Police who then used brutal force to remove the Opposition legislators. The Police simply showed that they do not respect the rule of law.
Zimbabwe Human rights lawyers should take the Speaker of Parliament to court like what happened in South Africa when former president Zuma presented SONA and EFF MPs interjected and were removed from Parliament by plain clothes Police.
However, EFF appealed to Court and the Western Cape High Court Judge Andre Le Grange ruled that Police were not allowed to remove Members of Parliament because it violated MPs Constitutional rights of freedom of speech.
In 1973 a parliamentary committee in the UK concluded that it is well established that the Police shall not enter the precincts of Parliament without first obtaining the permission of the Speaker who is custodian of the power and privilege of Parliament.
Zimbabwe’s Parliament has more than enough tools to maintain order within its precincts. And moreover, Parliament has power to hold members in “contempt” unless the events that transpired on the 22nd of November were in relation to those of 1st August shootings.
Therefore, there was NO need to send the Police to brutalise Opposition MPs in Parliament.
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