MEMBERS of an apostolic sect in Harare have petitioned the Speaker of Parliament to allow them permission to conduct sermons and prayer sessions inside the National House of Assembly, apparently to cleanse the House of yet to be mentioned ills.
Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda revealed this on Thursday last week at a public engagement meeting with civil society and media practitioners in Bulawayo. Adv Mudenda made this revelation while making a presentation on parliamentary processes and procedures which allow members of the public to petition Parliament on various issues.He said members of the sect recently tabled a petition to Parliament with their request as provided for in section 149 of the country’s Constitution.
“There is an apostolic sect in Harare who wanted to conduct sermons and prayer sessions in the House of Assembly, as if there are small devils there that need to be exorcised,” he said.
Adv Hon Mudenda said Parliament, however, declined the petition and asked the church members to pray for the legislature from wherever the church is based.“That type of petition is inconsistent with certain sections of the Constitution. We politely told them to pray for us from wherever they are. We hope we will get the blessings,” he said.
The Speaker could not be drawn to disclose the name of the apostolic sect, neither could he share the finer contents of the petition when Sunday News queried him after his presentation.“We have to protect them. I can’t disclose their name, but the petition is there and they have clearly indicated that they want to hold prayers inside the house,” he said in an interview.
Section 149 of the Constitution provides that “Every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has a right to petition Parliament to consider any matter within its authority, including the enactment, amendment or repeal of legislation”.A petition may be lodged with the Clerk of Parliament in writing, or sent by e-mail at any time when the Office of the Clerk is Open andParliament is not dissolved. The petition must clearly state the names of the people or group of people they are representing, the full names of the persons in the organisation and the manner in which they are funded.
Adv Hon Mudenda said this provision was important in guarding against the country’s enemies smuggling petition into parliament for regime change purposes. He added that petitions should be couched in respectful language.
“A petition must not be written in aggressive language. We have received such petitions written in language that I can’t even say on this platform. Such petitions are thrown out,” he said.
However, under the country’s laws, a petition to Parliament shall not be admissible if it deals with a Money Bill, unless the petition is accompanied by a letter from a Vice-President or Minister recommending that Parliament receives the petition.