HARARE – Parliament exploded in raucous scenes on Wednesday as Norton MP Temba Mliswa (Independent) was ejected.
Mliswa sparked the furore when he brought up “death threats” he said were made against him by Chegutu West MP Dexter Nduna (Zanu PF) during a meeting of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines on Monday.
During a furious row with Mliswa, who had labelled him a thief for allegedly stealing $11 million from the Zimbabwe National Roads Agency, Nduna told the diminutive MP: “There’re some people that I’ve killed whose names I don’t even know.”
When Mliswa stood up during Wednesday’s Question Time for ministers, Deputy Speaker Tsitsi Gezi – presiding – said his issue with Nduna had been raised on Tuesday, and she would rule on it later.
Mliswa had no intention of taking his seat however, prodding Nduna and labelling a murderer.
“The parliament of Zimbabwe is a sacred institution; the parliament of Zimbabwe cannot have murderers in it,” Mliswa charged before he was interjected by Gezi.
“I’ve heard your concerns, you’re not debating,” Gezi told Mliswa.
“We’re talking about an issue which is a concern to me and my family in terms of life. You’ve not been threatened, I’ve been threatened with being killed by Honourable Nduna and I’m worried looking at him,” Mliswa ploughed on as some Zanu PF MPs demanded that he sits down.
“This is not a joke, we cannot take it as a joke. We come here to represent people, not to be threatened. This is an issue you must take very seriously because it has a lot to do with the democracy of the people of Zimbabwe.”
Gezi, who had a torrid time getting Mliswa to comply with her orders, asked the combative MP: “Is it because of the cameras? Is it because of the TV?”
Unperturbed, Mliswa demanded that the threats by Nduna should be investigated by a Privileges Committee, adding: “My life is under threat by that man, he’s still in Parliament. And you allow him to be in parliament? He’s a murderer, a murderer. He kills people he doesn’t know.”
After Mliswa rejected several pleas by Gezi to “approach the chair”, Nduna stood up uninvited and walked towards the Deputy Speaker.
As he did so, Mliswa shouted: “Don’t go away you murderer! You murderer come back! You’re a murderer, come back!”
The spectacle was all too much for the Leader of the House Ziyambi Ziyambi, who made some inaudible comments in Mliswa’s direction. Energy Minister Jorum Gumbo even stood behind the MP and tapped his shoulder hoping to calm him down. In vain.
Mliswa turned his ire towards Ziyambi, telling him: “You’re part of the cruel justice system. You Ziyambi, you’re a protector of murderers. There’s a Human Rights Commission report which says you must be investigated. As Minister of Justice, you’re not exemplary.”
Gezi had had enough, and finally ordered Mliswa’s ejection. He was escorted out by the Serjeant-at-Arms while continuing his monologue.
Nduna filed a $10 million lawsuit against Mliswa on Tuesday, claiming defamation and accusing Mliswa of calling him a thief.
The case will test the doctrine of Parliamentary Privilege. The constitution says while MPs must obey the rules of the House, “they are not liable to civil or criminal proceedings, arrest or imprisonment or damages for anything said… to Parliament or any of its committees.”