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SIX youths were yesterday arrested inside Parliament Building after disrupting proceedings in the National Assembly by waving placards condemning President Robert Mugabe.

The placards, which were printed on A4 size sheets in bold letters, carried messages like "Mugabe must go" and "Mugabe stop abusing us".

Acting Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda confirmed the incident, but said it was too early to comment as he was yet to be furnished with full details of what had transpired.

"I was not in the National Assembly when the incident happened and right now, I am still being briefed by the security department and Sergeant-at-Arms on what exactly transpired. They will compile reports on the issue," Chokuda said.

Although the identity of the youths could not be established, they came into Parliament well dressed in formal wear and appeared as if they were interested in following proceedings in the House from the Speaker's Gallery like any member of the public.

It was not clear how they escaped detection by Parliament security personnel manning the doors.

When the House resumed sitting at 2:15pm, one of the youths suddenly stood up in the Speaker's Gallery and shouted: "Madam Speaker, we brought a petition before Parliament and up to now, you have not responded to it."

His colleagues immediately took out the placards and started waving them.

Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Mabel Chinomona intervened and ordered him to keep quiet.

"You are not recognised by Parliament. Security, take them out," Chinomona said.

The six were then marshalled out of the Speaker's Gallery by the National Assembly Sergeant-at-Arms, Nicholas Marufu, who took them to the Parliament security department where they were questioned.

According to National Assembly Standing Order Number 171: "The Sergeant at Arms shall remove, or cause to be removed, any member of the public from any part of the House or the galleries appropriated to the members only; and also any member of the public who, having been admitted into any other part of the House or of the galleries, misconducts himself or herself or does not withdraw when members of the public are directed to withdraw while the House or any committee of the whole House is sitting."

Eyewitnesses who saw the youths outside Parliament before they disrupted proceedings said the six were standing outside the premises before 2pm deep in discussion with an unidentified white man.

Parliament is open to all members of the public as long as they follow the rules and procedures pertaining to visitors at the building.

Nyanga North MP Magadzire Hubert Nyanhongo (Zanu-PF) was ruled out of order by Chinomona when he tried to query how the youths escaped detection by Parliament security.  

After being questioned by Parliament security, the six were taken to Harare Central Police Station.

According to Appendix B (8) of the National Assembly Standing Orders: "Creating or joining in any disturbance in Parliament or the vicinity of Parliament whilst Parliament is sitting whereby the proceedings of Parliament are or are likely to be interrupted is an offence."

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