By Brenna Matendere
MEMBERS of Parliament will be subjected to compulsory Covid-19 tests when Parliament resumes sitting on September 1.
The decision was made by the Parliament’s standing rules and orders committee chaired by National Assembly speaker Jacob Mudenda during a meeting in Harare last week.
Kennedy Chokuda, the clerk of Parliament, communicated the position through an emailed statement to the rest of the legislators on Friday.
“I wish to advise that the committee on standing rules and orders met yesterday (Thursday) and resolved that due to continued concerns due to the Covid-19 pandemic and need to finalise on measures being put in place to safeguard the health of members and staff of Parliament, the National Assembly will only sit briefly on Tuesday 25th August to adjourn to the 1st of September,” he wrote.
“Consequently, members should not travel to Harare for the (this) week’s sitting.
“Arrangements are being made for members to be tested in their provinces and we will advise the dates and location for the testing once these have been confirmed.
“Remember to always wear your mask in public, wash your hands regularly, maintain social distancing, and avoid unnecessary travel and to avoid touching your face.”
About five legislators have so far tested positive for Covid-19 including President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s nephew Tongai, who is MP for Harare South, and this forced Parliament to suspend sittings early this month.
Mudenda yesterday confirmed that there would be compulsory testing of all MPs for Covid-19.
“Yes, the testing will be compulsory. “It shall be for the good of the MPs themselves,” he said.
However, an MP who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some legislators could dodge the testing because those who have tested positive so far were being stigmatised.
“Some MPs will welcome the mandatory tests although most of them will be sceptical as to what next if one tests positive,” said the MP.
“The few whose names were published after they tested positive a few weeks ago suffered social stigma in their constituencies and are still finding it hard to reintegrate into the communities.
“The government has no holistic programme to give medical support services to Covid-19 patients and this is why most people are evading the tests.”
But Mudenda said he does not expect any MP to avoid the tests.
“Our MPs are honourable, so I do not expect such behaviour of dodging the tests from them,” he said.
“I also do not have knowledge of any MP stigmatised after testing positive for Covid-19. Those are nonsensical reports.”