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VICE-President Phelekezela Mphoko was left with egg on the face on Tuesday after his proposed National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Bill was rejected by Zanu PF legislators, who argued that they could not pass a Bill which seeks to revisit atrocities most of which were committed by the ruling party.
Zanu PF legislators shot down the Bill when it was brought for the second reading and debate in Parliament, with Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba urging the Executive to sweep the matter under the carpet.
Mphoko sat stone-faced as ruling party legislators shredded the proposed Bill into pieces before he deferred debate on the Bill to next week, describing the lawmakers as “confused and noisemakers”.
“Thank you, Mr Speaker. We are not achieving anything. We are making so much noise. No! Confusion is not healthy.
Madam Speaker, I want to propose that this debate should be adjourned because it looks like people do not understand what we are supposed to be discussing,” Mphoko said as opposition MPs demanded that the Bill covers atrocities committed during the Gukurahundi era.
The Bill seeks to give powers to the commission to investigate past violence cases as well as create a platform for peace-building.
The Zanu PF lawmakers argued that the Bill would reopen old wounds, some of which were resolved with the signing of the 1987 Unity Accord.
“Thank you, Mr Speaker. I want to add a few words on this Bill. I am unhappy about this Bill or I can say I do not like it. I do not want the Bill to be there,” Chinotimba said before he was reprimanded by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, who explained that the Executive was guided by the Constitution, hence, the decision to table the Bill in the House.
Said Mudenda: “We have to be very careful about what we say. The Executive, in its wisdom as guided by the Constitution, has brought this Bill here. There is no way we can say the Constitution is wrong. To say the Executive is wrong in bringing this Bill, the Executive has complied with the constitutional provision. That is why the Bill is before us. There is no way you can say the Bill is not supposed to be here.”
But Chinotimba would have none of that, as he insisted the proposed law should not be entertained.
“If the Executive cannot see, clearly this Bill will destroy the country. I will not allow it. I thank you,” Chinotimba said as he received applause from Zanu PF MPs.
Zvishavane-Ngezi MP John Holder (Zanu PF) described the Bill as retrogressive, pleading with fellow lawmakers to reject it.
“Mr Speaker, we do not live in the past. Rivers never flow in reverse. Let us try to be like a river. Let us focus on the future. Let us always be positive,” Holder said.
Mudenda again had to reprimand Holder for his statement against the Bill, but the MP shouted at the Speaker, saying: “But this will not intimidate me.”
Mudenda then ordered him to withdraw the remarks and he complied.
Buhera West MP Oliver Mandipaka (Zanu PF) also expressed his misgivings on the Bill, saying it should leave out contentious issues such as Gukurahundi and the 2008 political violence, which left more than 200 opposition supporters maimed or dead.
On the other hand, opposition legislators pleaded with Mphoko to extend the lifespan of the commission from the initial 10 years, which lapses in 2023, to 2027 in order to compensate for the “wasted years”. newsday