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No more singing in Zimbabwe Parliament

PARLIAMENT has enacted a new rule which bans legislators from singing in the chambers, the Daily News reports.
Speaking in the Senate recently, Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, pictured, said the rule would bring order in the august House.

"I move the motion standing in my name that Standing Order No. 79 of the Senate Standing Orders be reconsidered and that this house resolves that the 2020 Edition of the Standing Orders of the Senate be adopted;

"That the Senate Standing Order No. 79 be amended to allow synchronisation with the corresponding National Assembly Standing Order which bans singing in the Chamber and consequently this house resolves that the 2020 Edition of the Senate Standing Orders as amended be adopted," he said before the motion was adopted.

The new rule that would, among other things, force MPs -- including those from the opposition bench - to recognise President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the legitimately elected head of the executive, were approved on Tuesday after Zanu-PF MPs adopted them without debate in the absence of boycotting MDC legislators.

According to the new rules, Standing Order 86 has been titled "Respect of the President".
"The committee agreed that new Standing Order Number 86 be inserted to read as follows; members shall observe utmost dignity and decorum during the president's address" and that "a Member shall not disrupt or interrupt the president's address through disorderly conduct", part of the rules read.

Furthermore, standing order 108 speaks to the definition of "Disorderly Conduct" in Parliament which was not clear in the old rules.

The new one which provides that a member is deemed to have committed an act of disorderly conduct if he or she "defies a ruling or direction of the Speaker or chairperson of committee, attempts to or causes disorder of whatever nature during the attendance of the president or a visiting dignitary in terms of Standing Order 85; or during an address by the president in terms of Standing Order 86".

This comes after the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance MPs have since the 2018 disputed elections been waving the legitimacy card against Mnangagwa, arguing that he rigged himself to power notwithstanding a Constitutional Court ruling upholding his victory.

Some of the actions the party has taken to show their disdain for Mnangagwa include walking out on him at public functions, including Parliament.

In August last year, the opposition backbenchers refused to stand up in the president's honour when he entered the National Assembly to present his State of the Nation address (Sona) before walking out as soon as he began his address.

An MP is also deemed to have acted in contempt for Parliament if he or she declines to retract words ruled un-parliamentary by the Speaker, or declines to offer an apology, when ordered to do so.

It would also be rendered contemptuous if one demonstrates or makes disruptive utterances against the suspension of a member, uses violence against a member or other person in the house or committee, attempts to or disrupts the Speaker's Procession when entering or leaving the chamber; attempts to or removes the mace from its place in the chamber; or acts in any other way to the serious detriment of the dignity or disorderly procedure of the house.

A member whose conduct is deemed grossly disorderly may be ordered to withdraw from the precincts of Parliament for the remainder of that day's sitting.

"A member who is suspended from the House shall, during the period of suspension not enter the precincts of Parliament or participate in the activity of Parliament or a committee of Parliament," the rule reads.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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