HARARE – Mutasa Central MDC MP, Trevor Saruwaka, yesterday said House of Assembly speaker, Jacob Mudenda, has no right to determine the colour of clothes he wears in Parliament.
In October last year, Saruwaka was ejected from Parliament for wearing a jacket adorned with Zimbabwe’s national flag colours.
In protest, he approached the High Court over the move, which created commotion in Parliament resulting in police intervention.
Saruwaka argued in court yesterday that his ejection from Parliament for wearing the jacket was unlawful and an infringement of his right to freedom of conscience and religion.
He further said there was no provision in the Standing Rules and Orders of the Parliament that bars him from wearing such colours.
In the application, Saruwaka – who is represented by attorneys from Kadzere, Hungwe & Mandevere Legal Practitioners – cited Mudenda and the chief security officer of Parliament as respondents.
Saruwaka said he is an avowed follower of the Rastafari religion, adding that the colours on his jacket are synonymous with his religion.
“…it is respectfully submitted that, applicant (Saruwaka) being of the Rastafari religion, has a right to freedom of conscience and religion in terms of Section 60 of the Constitution, which right includes the right to propagate his religious beliefs whether in private or in public within the confines of the law.
“By arbitrarily denying applicant access to Parliament, respondents have elevated themselves above the Constitution without lawful cause. There is no legal basis upon which applicant can be barred from entering Parliament,” the court heard.
He said he is entitled to protection by the law.
“It is further submitted that, respondents do not have the power to determine the colour of the jacket applicant wears. The respondents are therefore acting outside the scope of their powers by ejecting applicant from National Assembly sessions on account of wearing the jacket in question,” he said.
He added that according to the provisions of Standing Order 76 (7), only jeans, T-shirts and sleeveless outfits, are prohibited from the House.
“Nowhere is it mentioned that jackets such as the one worn by the applicant are prohibited,” he said, adding that his jacket does not in any way offend the national flag.
Saruwaka’s Parliament “drama” took place after Mudenda ruled in June last year that the national flag would not be allowed in the House, following a plethora of protestors donning the flag during demonstrations against President Robert Mugabe’s 36-year rule.
Several MDC parliamentarians, including Saruwaka, had entered the House with national flags draped around their necks.
The national flag became a protest symbol after it was popularised by self-exiled cleric — Evan Mawarire of #ThisFlag movement.
The movement demanded Mugabe’s immediate resignation, citing his administration’s failure to deal with corruption, nepotism and a serious economic meltdown.