Friday, 18 November 2016

CHOMBO TOILET STUNT ANGERS MPs

Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo left Members of Parliament fuming on Wednesday when he allegedly used the excuse of answering to nature’s call to avoid facing some tough questions from the irate legislators.

Chombo, who is also the Zanu PF secretary for administration, was due to face a grilling by MDC MPs during the Questions without Notice session when he asked to be excused to go to the bathroom — an opportunity he apparently took to rush to the Harare International Airport to catch a plane to South Africa.


The minister is currently embroiled in a bitter war with Mutare businessman Tendai Blessing Mangwiro who is fighting tooth and nail to recover a combined $1,5 million from the State which was illegally seized from him by police in 2008, during a botched arrest.


As a result, Chombo has been slapped with a 90-day jail term by the High Court after he was found guilty of contempt of court for failing to comply with an order directing him to facilitate the release of an initial sum of $78 000 that money to Mangwiro.

Chombo has also been ordered by the High Court to release the rest of the $1,5 million that was seized from the businessman before the expiry of a two-week ultimatum — failure of which he risks being slapped with another contempt of court charge and possible prison sentence.

The minister’s alleged toilet stunt prompted furious howls of protest from opposition legislators who 
called for punitive sanctions to be taken against him. Led by MDC chief whip, Innocent Gonese, the gathered opposition MPs demanded that contempt of Parliament charges be preferred against him.
“When he (Chombo) left his seat, this was recorded by the cameras. I am one of the Members who rushed to him and indicated that I had questions which I wanted to pose to him and he assured me that he was only going to the bathroom for a few minutes and would come back.  That was more than 30 minutes ago.

“I believe that the minister, who was in this august House, is running away from questions which I pointed out to him . . . this shows total disdain and contempt for this august House.
“That behaviour must not and should not be tolerated,” Gonese said — asserting further that ministers were obliged to be present in the Parliament.

He cited  Parliament’s Standing Order number 63, as read with Standing Order number 68 (d), which relates to the attendance and accountability of vice presidents and ministers, adding that this was supported by the provisions of Section 107 of the Constitution.

But acting speaker Mabel Chinomona defended Chombo, saying he had in fact not gone to the bathroom, but had rushed to catch a plane to South Africa.

“Point noted Honourable member. It is only that the reason which was given to you by the minister is different from what he gave me.

“He told me he was going to South Africa this afternoon on business. “However, since both vice presidents are here, I think they are going to help us by talking to our members of the executive so that they attend to the questions in this House. “This is going to be looked into,” she promised the angry opposition MPs.

MDC vice president Nelson Chamisa immediately weighed in, requesting that vice presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko advise ministers that Parliamentarians were now tempted to invoke the contempt of Parliament provisions in the wake of Chombo’s stunt.

“We will make them pay whenever they do not come. That is what makes our Parliamentary democracy work. So, it is not a threat but just a kind warning and kind request to the executive to take Parliament seriously,” Chamisa said.

It was not clear what exactly the irate MPs wanted to ask Chombo as the planned grilling was going to take place during the open Questions without Notice session. Daily news

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