Thursday, 20 August 2015

Chamisa Experiences A Damascus Moment In Parliament.

Kuwadzana East legislator Nelson Chamisa of the MDC-T surprised many in the National Assembly on Tuesday when he waxed lyrical about the liberation struggle during debate on the Labour Amendment Bill, which seeks to stem the wave of employee dismissals on three months notice.

Some people have labelled the outspoken youthful legislator a “villain” after he represented Zuva Petroleum in the case which resulted in the landmark Supreme Court ruling that the common law position that employers could still dismiss workers on three months’ notice had not changed.

Chamisa represented the employers in the case while in his political life, he comes from a labour movement. His involvement in the case was in the eyes of some, tantamount to Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus Christ, for a few coins of silver.

The July 17 ruling sent shock waves in the labour market and has so far claimed the jobs of over 25,000 people as employers took advantage of the opportunity to dismiss workers at a cheaper cost.
Chamisa Experiences A Damascus Moment In Parliament.
But the rush to dismiss workers might return to haunt some as the Labour Act Amendment Bill, which the National Assembly passed on Tuesday and debated in the Senate yesterday, prescribes that all employees fired as a result of the July 17 Supreme Court ruling should be compensated.

Presumably, in an effort to redeem himself, Chamisa took to the floor to support the government position on the proposed labour law reforms. And being a wordsmith, he had the House in stitches as he delivered his speech. Parliamentarians from the ruling Zanu-PF party cheered, while his MDC counterparts watched agape as Chamisa endorsed President Robert Mugabe’s stance on the labour law review as well as the land reform programme.

“It’s a very unusual position for me to agree with a minister from government. You know I always differ with my ministers here, but on this one, I associate with the wisdom of the minister in making sure that the law is retrospective, I associate with the pronouncements of the Head of State to say we must retrospectively go back to deal with the mischief of the law,” Chamisa prefaced his contribution.

The youthful legislator said it was the role of Parliament to protect the wishes and the interests of the people who voted them into power. “We’re a Parliament, the sovereign embodiment of the wishes and interests of the people.

“Our duty is to go a little level higher in terms of how we look at our laws. We’ve a duty to make laws, the courts have a duty to interpret laws,” he said. “If the courts choose to interpret laws howsoever they wish to interpret them, we have a duty as the Parliament, being the custodians and reservoirs of the people’s interest, to make sure we safeguard their interest. This has nothing to do with votes because there is no vote to be taken nationally.” All was well for his colleagues in the MDC-T until he took a turn, possibly a wrong one in their eyes.

“It has all to do with what we fought for during the liberation struggle,” he said to loud cheers from Zanu-PF MPs. Deputy Speaker Mabel Chinomona had difficulties calling the House to order to allow Chamisa to continue with his contribution.

“What we’re beginning to see is something that goes to the very heart of what our war of independence was all about, it goes to the very crux of why we lost blood in this country, it goes to the very crux of why we had sweat and toiling in this country, protecting our own indigenous people against the vagaries of capital,” he added.

Chamisa’s party, the MDC-T, is sometimes fond of undermining the value of the Zimbabwean liberation struggle, the foundation upon which the ruling Zanu-PF has its roots. And for the avoidance of doubt in case some in the National Assembly thought he had switched political allegiance, Chamisa said; “When I debate this, I debate with the full knowledge that I’ve not switched political sides, I believe in the independence of our country, I believe in the liberation of our country and I believe what the minister (of Labour, Prisca Mupfumira) is doing is what is best under the circumstances.”

“Parliament has a duty to make sure that our people are not given a bomb disguised as a cake, our people are not given thorns disguised as roses,” he continued. A recent law graduate, Chamisa boastfully defended his position in support of the labour law. “I’ve studied law, competently, and I can tell you one thing.

“Parliament is allowed to make the law to the extent that we’re not subtracting from any vested rights,” he said.

And before he resumed his sit, Chamisa delivered another shocker, “We did this (applying the law retrospectively before) with the land reform programme because it was a noble project, in the public interest.”

The MDC-T has been on record savaging the land reform programme which the government embarked upon in 2000 as it sought to correct colonial imbalances that saw the minority white population owning vast tracts of land at the expense of the majority blacks, who lived on unfertile soils.

Over 300,000 families were resettled and the programme continues albeit at a slow pace as land for redistribution is running out. After he was done, there were very loud cheers from Zanu-PF MPs who felt he had hit the nail on the head and had endorsed the land reform programme which many, especially in the MDC-T and its western sponsors, have publicly vilified but privately supported. -New Ziana.
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