The Zanu PF-led government on Tuesday displayed its repressive and authoritarian nature by summoning anti-riot police to Parliament who manhandled Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) lawmakers for protesting the recall of 15 of their colleagues.
The violent scenes in Parliament unfolded after Mkoba MP, also CCC Chief Whip, Amos Chibaya, questioned the Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda about recalling 15 of their members on the instruction of one Sengezo Tshabangu on October 3, 2023, while ignoring a letter from the party leader, Nelson Chamisa stating who had the rightful power to effect recalls.
15 of the recalled lawmakers are National Assembly members while nine are senators.
Chibaya argued that recalling CCC legislators violated Section 68 of the Constitution, which requires the Speaker to act lawfully, reasonably, and fairly but their discourse was overshadowed by the use of force by armed police.
The CCC MPs protested the recalls and defied the Speaker who ordered them to leave the legislative chamber.
Police were called, but CCC legislators refused to leave until anti-riot police arrived to remove over 100 opposition MPs.
According to Chibaya, several MPs were hurt during the melee after they were struck with batons, while others were left with torn clothes.
Commenting on that action, Critical Studies Scholar, Dr Khanyile Mlotshwa, said the use of force to deal with opposition showed Zanu PF is “desperate” and was now “using the police to ‘police’ Parliament.”
“Althusser speaks of ideological state apparatus, which ironically Parliament is part of, and repressive state apparatus. When the ideological state apparatuses go into crisis, the State always falls back on repression. That is what happened in Parliament on Tuesday,” he said.
Dr Mlotshwa added, “It was a dark day for whatever remains of Zimbabwe’s democracy,” and questioned whether police would be called to Parliament each time a heated debate took place.
“Parliament is for debates, it’s a respectable house where laws are made and adhered to, such as the Constitution, and Parliament’s own Standing Orders. Parliament must inspire people to engage and not use force but what we saw playing out in Parliament leaves a lot to be desired.”