HARARE – The Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda on Tuesday ordered Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) MPs not to wear yellow after protests from Zanu PF lawmakers.
Nineteen of the CCC’s newly re-elected MPs took the oath in the National Assembly, joined by nine MPs from Zanu PF.
The CCC MPs dressed formally, but most had a tinge of yellow in their chosen clothing.
Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba (Zanu PF) led the protests.
“Mr Speaker, before you swear in the members, some of us here are wearing party symbols like this gentleman here. The CCC as you know have their yellow theme…,” Chinotimba said.
MDC Alliance MP Job Sikhala (Zengeza West) hit back at Chinotimba by pointing at John Paradza of Zanu PF (Gutu West), who wore a yellow tie.
Quipped Sikhala: “Even Paradza is from CCC now?”
Mudenda, a member of Zanu PF, asked Chinotimba if he had seen any CCC sign on the yellow outfits, as CCC MPs shouted: “No!”
“There are some members also with yellow shirts but they do not belong to CCC, but as much as possible, any visible party regalia will not be allowed into the house,” Mudenda said.
While taking the oath of office, during which MPs are required to raise their right hand, the CCC’s Mkoba MP Amos Chibaya appeared to raise the index finger – the party’s symbol.
That roiled Mudenda further.
“Honourable Chibaya, you raise your hand not your finger,” the Speaker bellowed.
Following the swearing in of the new MPs, Mudenda said he had “tolerated to some degree what Honourable Chinotimba raised.”
“From tomorrow, can Honourable Members adhere to the dress code and not be seen in colours that are aligned to party affiliation. Please be advised accordingly,” he ruled.
Speaking outside parliament, CCC deputy leader and Harare East MP Tendai Biti said: “I can understand if the Speaker rules against putting on yellow T-Shirts but if I put on a yellow shirt, a formal business shirt or a yellow tie, I’m not breaching any law. I hope he doesn’t put us in a position where there’s an unnecessary collision, and that there is litigation and civil war in that House.
“A neck tie or shirt is not party regalia. If we come wearing Zambias, it’s a different thing but I don’t think anyone has an intention to do that. There’s no law in the world anywhere which proscribes anyone from putting on a necktie of his or her own choice.”
Biti wore a striped yellow and navy-blue tie while Prince Dubeko Sibanda (Binga North), Chibaya, Prosper Mutseyami (Chikanga-Dangamvura), Charlton Hwende (Kuwadzana East) and Settlement Chikwinya (Mbizo) all wore yellow ties.
Judith Tobaiwa (Kwekwe Central) and Sichelesile Mahlangu (Pumula) wore yellow blazers.
Said Muteseyami: “Is what the Speaker is saying lawful, or he’s just telling us what’s in his head? This is not Mudenda’s House, it’s a national House. We were not voted for by Mudenda but by the people. We’re not here out of his compassion.
“In any case, no-one is quite sure which colour he says belongs to a political party. In this country there are political parties that use green, yellow, black and red. I don’t know which of those colours is a party colour, and which one is not.”