SPEAKER of Parliament Jacob Mudenda has been sucked into the vortex of a raging storm following revelations that at least seven opposition MPs received death threats for allegedly heckling President Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe was booed by opposition MPs during his State of the Nation Address last month and, as he prepared to officially open Parliament early this week, anonymous persons reportedly threatened seven legislators with death if they dared heckle the 91-year-old again.
The opposition MDC-T, to which the MPs belong, Wednesday demanded that Mudenda investigates the reports as well as making an official report to police over the issue.
“These death threats are a chilling reminder of the deteriorating security situation in the country and we call upon the Speaker of Parliament to issue a statement strongly condemning (them),” said MDC-T speaker Obert Gutu told journalists Wednesday.
“The MDC has since written a letter to the Speaker of Parliament expressing our reservations regarding the death threats that were issued to our Members of Parliament.
“Our MPs are now living in fear of their lives; they are finding it very extremely difficult to remain in Parliament.”
Said to be living in fear … Some of the MDC-T legislators in Parliament Wednesday
Gutu revealed that Innocent Gonese (Mutare Central), Amos Chibaya (Mkoba), Prosper Mutseyami (Musikavanhu), James Maridadi (Mabvuku-Tafara), Prince Dubeko Sibanda (Binga North), Jessie Majome (Harare West) and Nelson Chamisa (Kuwadzana East) had received the threatening messages.
Chibaya reported the threat to police in Harare, national police spokesperson Charity Charamba confirmed.
“We have received reports from two MPs and we are investigating,” Charamba.
Majome said Chibaya’s wife got the same message, an “indication that these people were determined to get the message across”.
“I would want to think that the Speaker should take more robust action than just asking us to report the matter to the police,” she said.
“Such kind of things undermine the very foundations of our democracy. Parliament as an authority can invoke its power and deal with this issue.”
Gutu said Mudenda would face a Constitutional Court application if he did not bow to the opposition party’s demands.
The Speaker, meanwhile, promised to take the matter up with Parliament’s highest committee – the Standing Orders and Rules Committee (SORC).
Gutu said the opposition party wanted clear guarantees for the safety of its legislators from the Speaker.
“Our Members of Parliament are now living in fear for their lives, they are finding it very extremely difficult to remain in Parliament during the official opening of the third session of the 8th Parliament of Zimbabwe,” he said.
“We demand that the Speaker of Parliament should provide our MPs with an unconditional written guarantee to the effect that they shall not be harmed whilst they are exercising their duties whether inside or outside Parliament”.