HARARE – There was chaos in Parliament yesterday as Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko and deputy National Assembly Speaker Mabel Chinomona clashed over whether Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was still the leader of the House.
Mnangagwa has been the leader of government business in the eighth Parliament since 2013, as he doubled as Justice and Parliamentary Affairs minister until recently when President Robert Mugabe reshuffled his Cabinet — allocating the Justice ministry to former Central Intelligence Organisation director general Happyton Bonyongwe.
Things came to a head when MPs from across the political divide indicated to Chinomona that they were in a state of confusion as to who their leader was following the reshuffle.
First to throw the cat among the pigeons was Norton legislator Temba Mliswa who wanted to direct a question on the welfare of MPs to the leader of government business.
“We don’t know who is the leader of government business in this house, between …. Mnangagwa and …… Bonyongwe, we need you to clarify that.”
In her response Chinomona asserted that Mnangagwa,who was not in the house at the time was still the leader saying Parliament had not been notified of any changes.
This did not go down well with Mphoko who immediately took to the floor and rebutted that assertion insisting that Bonyongwe had taken over.
“The leader of the house and government business is the minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs … Bonyongwe.”
However, some MPs interjected drowning Mphoko’s voice saying he was out of order with Mliswa shouting “we must be respected we are Members of Parliament, we were elected, Mphoko was appointed.”
As the commotion ensued Chinomona stuck to her guns insisting that in the absence of communication from Mugabe, Mnangagwa remained in his position.
“We are not differing with the VP; all I said is that we are still waiting for communication from the appointing authority.”
In what seemed to be a climb-down, Mphoko said the letter to communicate the change of guard would be delivered to Parliament in the next few days.
Opposition MPs also lashed out at the two saying they were causing confusion as they persisted in their demand for clarification on the matter.
Parliament had to adjourn prematurely as MPs demanded that their welfare issues be resolved once and for all. They wanted Bonyongwe to say exactly when their outstanding allowances would be paid while he insisted that he wanted to consult first.