'Sleeping' minister gets rude awakening

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HARARE – War Veterans minister Tshinga Dube was on Wednesday accused of falling asleep while the National Assembly discussed the use of spikes by police to deflate vehicle tyres in an attempt to stop motorists alleged to have committed traffic offences.

Tshinga Dube, the Zanu PF MP for Makokoba, appeared to doze off on Wednesday afternoon as the National Assembly heard an urgent question on whether spikes were lawful.

As Zvishavane-Ngezi Zanu PF MP John Holder asked the Home Affairs deputy minister Obendingwa Mguni whether the spikes that the police are carrying were lawful according to the Police Act in terms of the specifications, length and the way they are laid, the minister appeared to slowly close his eyes.

Dube, who sat opposite Glen Norah MDC MP Webster Maondera, then slowly tilted his head to his right before jolting upright.

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The retired colonel then appeared to doze off again seconds later as his eyelids closed and his head tilted to the side again.

The MP’s supposed nap provoked a furious reaction from opposition legislators who rose on a point of order to express their disgust.

“My point of order is that ministers must come here to answer questions. Honourable Tshinga Dube is asleep there,” Maondera said amid inaudible interjections.

“He is supposed to be here to answer questions. War veterans are suffering and that minister is asleep. What does that mean?”

“Order, order, order, order!” interjected Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda. “Honourable member, you are now out of decorum.”

Musikavanhu MDC MP Prosper Mutseyami shot back sarcastically: “Mvura iyo mugeze kumeso. (There is some water; you may want to wash your face).”

The Speaker denied that the minister had been sleeping.

“Honourable Mutseyami and your colleague there; when someone closes his eyes,” Mudenda said amid loud laughter by backbenchers.

“Order, order honourable (Paurina) Mpariwa please, closing one’s eyes may not be sleeping,” the leader of Parliament continued. “So, I saw him as closing his eyes. You cannot determine whether someone is sleeping because he has closed his eyes.”

Efforts to reach Dube were futile yesterday.

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