HARARE – HIGH Court judge, David Mangota has dismissed a challenge by Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) lawmakers who had sued the Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda for throwing them out of the august house for wearing yellow neckties.
The lawmakers include Tendai Biti, Charlton Hwende, Unganai Tarusenga, Murisi Zwizwai, Willias Madzimure, Sichelesile Mahlangu, Caston Matewu, Settlement Chikwinya, Amos Chibaya and Susan Matsunga.
The legislators were barred from wearing party related outfits soon after they took their oath following their election back into parliament following their triumph in by-elections held March last year.
In his ruling, Mangota rebuked the 10 for alleged attempts to turn parliament into a political arena.
The MPs had argued they were “smartly dressed” as is required by parliament rules while accusing Mudenda of violating their rights.
In dismissing their application, the judge said the MPs’ behaviour on the day was befitting that of animals.
“The applicants’ gate-crashing into the august house on the following day of parliament’s sitting only goes to show their uncanny conduct in which they acted in a dishonourable manner which was/is not befitting of honourable members,” he said.
Mangota said Biti and colleagues, by their own statement which is filed of record, discriminated themselves against other MPs.
“In an effort to whip them into line as the law empowers him to do, the speaker made the ruling which caused them to place their case before me.
“They run round and complain that the Speaker discriminated against them, such conduct is unfortunate.
“It is not befitting of Honourable Members of Parliament who discriminated against other members of Parliament to claim that the Speaker’s decision is discriminatory against them.
“Parliament, as the speaker correctly asserts, is not a gathering of political parties. It is a public institution which the applicants and other Members of the House should regard as such.
“It should not therefore be turned into a political animal which it is not. Its dignity and decorum should be observed by all and sundry.
“The applicants cannot have their cake and eat it. They either have it with them or they have eaten it.”
Mangota said it was wrong the lawmakers to distinguish themselves from other MPs.
Biti and colleagues, according to court papers, told court they were dressed in smart suits and smart neckties.
Court heard as the applicants and others walked into the chamber to take their oath of office, Joseph Chinotimba, a Zanu PF MP, objected to the yellow colour of their neckties which he claimed is a CCC symbol.
After taking oaths, the speaker then advised the MPs to adhere to the dress code and not to be seen in colours that are aligned to party affiliation.
The following day, Biti and colleagues arrived at Parliament only to find that security personnel had, on the instructions of the speaker, locked them out of the building because they were wearing yellow neckties.
They gained entry into Parliament by pushing and overwhelming the security guards who were manning the building.
When they entered the chamber, the Speaker directed that they be removed from Parliament.
The next day, some of the applicants came to Parliament only to be, once more, blocked out of the building for wearing yellow neckties.
They were requested to remove their yellow neckties after which the Speaker made the ruling which forms the foundation of the current application.
The lawmakers then approached court complaining that the decision of the speaker is a gross violation of their right to equal protection and benefit of the law.
They alleged that the same is discriminatory and in violation of the national constitution.
The Speaker insisted he was within his rights as well as within the law to decide as he did.
The judge concurred.
“The applicants failed to prove their case on a preponderance of probabilities. The application is, in the result, dismissed with costs,” he ruled.