Jacob Francis Mudenda is a Zimbabwean politician who is a member of the Zanu-PF party. He was elected to be the Speaker of Parliament after the 31st July 2013 elections in which his party, the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF), then led by Robert Mugabe, is said to have won resoundingly despite reports that the elections were marred by irregularities. His political career was reported not to be constant.
Jacob Francis Mudenda was born in 1949.He is a lawyer by profession and is a former English teacher.
Mudenda holds the following qualifications:
- Bachelor of Arts Degree, majoring in Education and English (University of South Africa)
- Bachelor of Laws Honours Degree (University of Zimbabwe UZ)
- Post Graduate Diploma in Labour Law - PGDL (UZ)
Soon after independence, Mudenda was appointed to be a district administrator in the Matebeleland North Province. He rose through the ranks and it is reported that it was because of his influential political connections as well as his relationship with Mugabe. Mudenda became a provincial administrator and subsequently a governor. In 1984, he became the resident minister for Matabeleland North when the post was created. Mudenda is believed to have been Mugabe's eyes and ears as well as being his spokesman during the period of the Gukurahundi massacres of which he tried to exonerate himself from. He was quoted as indicating that he asked the then senior politicians and Zanu- PF officials, among them the late Vice President Joseph Msika to help him to stop the massacres but they refused after witnessing the Gukurahundi atrocities.
Mudenda went into obscurity after being implicated in the Willowgate Scandal in the late 1980s. Unlike most of his reported accomplices in this scandal, Maurice Nyagumbo, Enos Nkala and Frederick Shava, Mudenda was able to bounce back into mainstream politics. During this period, Mudenda committed himself to his law firm, Mudenda Attorney Legal Practitioners which he established in Bulawayo. Mudenda also fell from grace after being part of the Tsholotsho gang in 2004.
Notwithstanding this, in February 2013, Mudenda was appointed to be the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) replacing Reginald Austin who had resigned citing lack of support for the human rights group by the Inclusive Government. Mudenda's appointment caused a stir. According to Welshman Ncube, one of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) principals which led to the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU), the appointment of Mudenda violated the constitution which stipulated that the President appoints the ZHRC Chairperson after consultations with the Judiciary Service Commission (JSC) and the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders. Ncube further argued that,
as far as Mudenda's appointment is concerned, we have not been consulted and in the spirit of the GPA, we will oppose the appointment until it comes to the Standing Rules and Orders Committee
Despite this vehement opposition, Mudenda took up the post and he resigned in September after his appointment as the Speaker of Parliament replacing Lovemore Moyo.
Being the Speaker of Parliament
Mudenda was sworn in as the Speaker of Parliament on 3 September 2013 by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku. His deputy was Mabel Chinomona. Mudenda was nominated by Clifford Sibanda who was seconded by Irene Zindi and this was endorsed by the Zanu-PF politburo. During the swearing in ceremony, Obert Mpofu is said to have shed tears while delivering a congratulatory message to the newly elected Speaker of Parliament.
It has however been reported that Mugabe had long been pushing for Mudenda to be appointed as the Speaker of Parliament. It is said that Mugabe was so eager to maintain tradition in which Zanu-PF has always reserved the speaker post to an individual from the Matebeleland Provinces as part of honouring the unwritten terms of the Unity Accord signed on 22 December 1987 between Joshua Nkomo and Mugabe.
Mudenda was reported of making an issue over trivial issues ,for example telling Members of Parliament (MPs) to stand up when the House Speaker or the State President is entering or leaving the House. He once fumed over the issue stating that
By convention, all Members rise from their seats when the President, who is also the Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces enters and leaves the House. This is done in the deference to the high office he holds.
Mudenda was also believed to be keen to be the Chairman of the party during the Factionalism in Zanu-PF 2014 fiasco. He was a key Emmerson Mnangagwa ally and it was revealed that, Phelekezela Mphoko (from Matebeleland North, who was appointed to be the second Vice President of the country after the 6th Congress of the party held in December 2014) was moved to Bulawayo so that when Mugabe was to appoint the presiduim, he would not pick two people from the same province. Mudenda however failed to clinch the post which was retained by Simon Khaya Moyo.
Decisions in October 2019, as Speaker of the house, are criticised.
- He has docked MDC MPs allowances following their walk out at the start of the President’s State of the Nation address.
- He has decided MDC MPs should not be permitted to participate in the Ministers’ questioning in Parliament.
As head of the legislature, one of the three core arms of the state (legislative, executive and judiciary), the privileges of Parliament must be defended by him. He should be impartial and above the dispute.
The Constitution has a provision giving an option to the President to present himself for questioning. Continuing with the Mugabe tradition, Mnangagwa has never exercised that option. For him, Parliament is to be spoken to not engaged with on an equal basis. However, the Constitution makes it mandatory for Vice Presidents and Ministers to attend Parliament and to answer questions. The provision requiring Ministers to answer questions from MPs is designed to promote accountability in a representative democracy. Consequently, MPs have both a right and a duty to ask questions.
These rights cannot be given or taken away by the Speaker. Making a broad decision to ban MPs of one party from putting questions to Ministers, to deny them this duty, is unconstitutional and illegal. He has no authority to stop them asking them questions in their capacity as MPs. It defeats the entire purpose of representative government if people’s representatives cannot question Ministers.
Mudenda purchased a 30 tonne Scania P112 mechanical horse, ostensibly for his father's refuse removal business in Dete leading to the establishment of Mudenda's Garbage Removal Enterprise.
- Advocate Jacob Francis Mudenda, SEDCO, published:2014,retrieved:22 December 2014"
- Jacob Mudenda's political rise-fall-and-rise tale, Bulawayo 24 News, published:6 Sep 2014,retrieved:22 December 2014"
- I witnessed Gukurahundi torture, Speaker, New Zimbabwe, published:30 Sep 2014, retrieved:22 December 2014"
- Bernard Mpofu, Scepticism greets rights commission, The Standard, published:8 April 2013,retrieved:22 December 2014"
- MUDENDA APPOINTMENT AN INSULT - CRITICS, News dze Zimbabwe, published:20 Feb 2013,retrieved:22 December 2014"
- Nelson Sibanda, Jacob Mudenda sworn in as Speaker of Parliament, The Zimbabwean, published:3 Sep 2013,retrieved:22 December 2014"
- Veneranda Langa, Obert Mpofu weeps, Southern Eye, published:4 Sep 2013,retrieved:22 December 2014"
- Ray Ndlovu, Mugabe pushing for Mudenda to be next speaker of parliament, BDlive, published:28 Aug 2013,retrieved:22 December 2014"
- The sanctimonious scandal, Jacob Mudenda, lecture MPs on trivia but says nothing about vote rigging!, Zimbabwe Light, published:6 Oct 2013,retrieved:22 December 2014"
- Mudenda tipped for Zanu PF chairship, FREE & FAIR ZIMBABWE ELECTION, published:26 Nov 2014,retrieved:22 December 2014"
- Big Saturday Read: Congo – Those who never returned, Big Saturday Read, Published: 26 October 2019, Retrieved: 27 October 2019