THE Prime Minister's question time in the House of Assembly is stage-managed to make Mr Morgan Tsvangirai appear intelligent, some MDC-T legislators have claimed.
The session should be for impromptu questions, but the MPs claim it was being used as an opportunity to build Mr Tsvangirai's image and enable him to talk about his party's position on several issues under the guise of his Government portfolio. Last week's PM question time drew some Western diplomats amid reports the Wednesday session was being used to sell Mr Tsvangirai as an adept leader following reports that some Western embassies had approached NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku to head-hunt a capable leader for MDC-T.
Legislators who spoke to The Herald on condition of anonymity claimed that senior MDC-T officials, among them Mr Willias Madzimure (Kambuzuma) and deputy chief whip Ms Dorcas Sibanda (Bulawayo Central), gave them questions to ask PM Tsvangirai. Mr Madzimure yesterday acknowledged that some questions did not originate from the MPs themselves.
"As a party, we may have issues that we want the PM to clarify to the party and the nation at large, so obviously we may discuss in our circles how to ask such questions. As long as questions are legitimate, then there is no problem. The Speaker only gives an opportunity to the person who would have stood up first and he is helped by the clerks. Zanu-PF MPs are also given an opportunity to ask the PM questions. For instance, Honourable Mazikana always asks questions because they are also given an opportunity," said Mr Madzimure, who is also in the Speaker's panel.
Clerk of Parliament Mr Austin Zvoma yesterday said it was not procedural for the question time to be stage-managed.
"The PM's question time is without prior notice and preparation. Members are expected to ask the Prime Minister policy questions that are not written in advance," Mr Zvoma said.
Last week, PM Tsvangirai produced a copy of some minutes he claimed were from a district police meeting while responding to a question from the party's Kwekwe Central legislator Mr Blessing Chebundo. He had asked him his sentiments on statements by security chiefs that they would not accept anyone who did not have liberation credentials to be President of Zimbabwe.
This prompted Zanu-PF Mbire legislator Cde Paul Mazikana to ask the PM if he had prophesied that he would be asked that particular question.
MDC-T chief whip Mr Innocent Gonese yesterday dismissed the charges, saying they were "nonsensical".
"I am not aware of such things and about what happened last week. I was not there so I can't comment on it," Mr Gonese said.
However, MDC-T legislators said the PM sees the questions in advance so that he can research and rehearse.
"We are given questions by some senior guys in the party to ask ‘Save' (PM Tsvangirai's totem) but he would have seen the questions in advance and prepared," said one of the MPs.
Another MP claimed that the Speaker of the House of Assembly Mr Lovemore Moyo was also involved. Mr Moyo is the MDC-T national chairman.
"The Speaker is given a list of party MPs who are supposed to ask questions and he makes sure he gives those people the stage. We already know that if one is not given a question, the Speaker will not give you a chance to ask because he is afraid we may expose ‘mudhara'," the source said. herald