Zim VP Chiwenga 'causes a stir' in parliament as he 'threatens' opposition leader

Zimbabwe’s former army commander and newly appointed vice president General Constantino Chiwenga looks on during the swearing-in ceremony in Harare. (File, AFP)
Zimbabwe’s former army commander and newly appointed vice president General Constantino Chiwenga looks on during the swearing-in ceremony in Harare. (File, AFP)

Harare – Zimbabwean Vice President Constantino Chiwenga reportedly left lawmakers from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) outraged when he told the party's vice president Nelson Chamisa during a parliamentary session that the country would have been better off if he had not gone to the US and other places "campaigning for sanctions".

According to New Zimbabwe.com, the problem started after Chamisa asked about pensions for war veterans.

Chamisa reportedly said that all the countries in the world, except Zimbabwe, took care of their war veterans. He said that the Zimbabwean government seemed reluctant to "restore the legacy" of war veterans. 

Chamisa said this was not inspiring for a government that had been in power for more than three decades and yet failed to acknowledge the importance of the country's freedom fighters.

Instead of responding directly to Chamisa's question, Chiwenga said: "I wish that all of you would have the same spirit in this august house and suspend going to America and other areas that you have been to [to ask for sanctions].

'An arrow shot is a fly which has gone'

This was in reference to a recent trip that was undertaken by a delegation from the MDC Alliance to urge US lawmakers to maintain the same policies against the southern African country's government, even after former president Robert Mugabe's ouster in November. 

Chamisa, People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti and MDC president Welshman Ncube went to the US in December  as part of a global campaign to exert international pressure on Mnangagwa for reforms. 

The highly military decorated vice president's responce ignited chaos in the national assembly, as opposition lawmakers demanded that he withdrew his comments.

A NewsDay report said that opposition lawmakers shouted that the country was ruled by the ballot, with Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda threatening to chuck out some of them from the House.

MDC's parliamentary leader Innocent Gonese accused the vice president of "casting aspersion" on Chamisa’s character and using un-parliamentary language.

The vice president later withdrew his statement but added more fire as he said: "Mr Speaker Sir, the matter is withdrawn but an arrow shot is a fly which has gone."

'I'm retrieving the arrow'

Chiwenga's response "attracted more interjections", with opposition legislators saying "this sounded like a threat".

"The duties of a VP are of a top job. The VP has withdrawn, but he said something else about an arrow," Chamisa was quoted as saying.

Chamisa also demanded to be accorded respect as a vice president of another party. 

The fracas seemed subdued after parliamentary speaker Jacob Mudenda reprimanded Chiwenga for using threatening language. 

Chiwenga later stood up and said: "I am retrieving the arrow" and order was subsequently restored. 

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