By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
24 July 2014
Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba and Binga North’s Madubeko Sibanda were on Wednesday ejected from Parliament after they came close to a fist fight during a verbal clash.
Zanu PF’s Chinotimba and his MDC-T counterpart stalled business as they traded insults during a local government committee hearing which was attended by Minister Ignatius Chombo. Chombo and his team, who had been summoned to give evidence, ended up being spectators as the two defied orders to stop their exchanges, forcing committee chair Irene Zindi to show them the door.
Reports said Chinotimba set the ball rolling by accusing his counterpart of asking Chombo questions which were obtained from journalists, to which Madubeko took an exception.
Madubeko denied the allegation but fellow ZANU PF MP Fani Phiri sided with Chinotimba saying it was both ‘immature’ and ‘nonsensical’ to ask questions obtained from members of the press. In the heat of the exchanges Chinotimba called Madubeko a ‘rapist’. An irate Madubeko shot back, calling him a ‘murderer’ and an ‘old man’.
Chinotimba rose to prominence as a self styled commander of the land invasions at the height of the land grab exercise which claimed many lives and displaced tens of thousands of people. Madubeko has a rape case which is pending in the courts.
Combined Harare Residents Association Executive Director Mfundo Mlilo said the incident was a reflection of the ‘general confusion’ within government. He said: ‘It also shows how dishonorable some of these supposed honorable members conduct themselves and a failure for them to understand what their role should be.’
He added: ‘It is very unfortunate that while MPs should be holding the executive to account they find time to fight.’ Mlilo said with MPs like Chitotimba, it could be expected that such incidents would happen.
After Chinotimba and Madubeko had been ejected the committee proceeded to grill Chombo on the manner in which he runs his ministry.
The MPs asked Chombo why he wanted houses built on wetlands in Chitungwiza to be destroyed, while he was silent on the Chinese built Long Cheng Mall which is situated on wetland in Harare. They said it was ‘insincere’ for the government to destroy the homes of poor people while allowing illegal structures to stand.
Zindi warned Chombo against interfering with the running of authorities but Chombo replied saying it was his duty to rein in errant councils. Chombo is known to ride rough shod over council decisions while protecting his close confidants, such the Harare Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi whom he reinstated after he was suspended for awarding himself a ‘corrupt salary.’