9th ParliamentArticlesMembers of ParliamentparliamentUnderstanding Parliament

Understanding Parliament|| How MPs Dress, Speak and Conduct themselves in the House


Every member of the House must appear in an attire that is befitting the dignity of the House. Members are required to dress decently thus showing respect of the House. For males, the suitable attires for the House are, (a) suit, (b) jacket and tie and (c) safari suits and for females, the proper attires for the House are suits, African wear, full dress, skirts and blouses. Members are forbidden from wearing jeans, t-shirts and sleeveless outfits in the house. Every Member of the House should observe this regulation.

If the Speaker or the Chairperson, as the case may be, is of the opinion that the attire of a member present in the Chamber during a sitting of the House is unsuitable or unbecoming to the dignity of the House he or she may order that Member to withdraw from the precincts of Parliament until such time as the member concerned is suitably dressed.


Every Member is expected to make obeisance to the Chair. Members of the House must bow to the Chair in passing through the House when they are going to their seat or coming from their sit. They should also bow to the Chair upon entering the House and leaving the Chamber.

No Member shall pass between the Chair and any Member who is speaking or between the Chair and the table. A member must not stand in any of the passages or gangways in such a way that they block the vision of the Speaker to other parts of the chamber. If a member fails to oblige the Chairman will chase him or her out.


If a matter concerning the seating arrangements for Members in the Chamber is brought to notice of the Speaker by the Leader of the House, the Speaker may in consultation with and subject to the approval of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders, order the arrangement of seating of Members in the Chamber in such a manner as he or she may deem appropriate, having regard to the composition of the parties and independent Members comprising the House.


A Member must;-

(a) be allowed to read his or her maiden speech

(b) not read his or her speech but may refresh his or her memory by reference to notes when addressing the House at any point other than the maiden speech.

When Members are not to read from books etc.

(1) No Member while debating must read from a newspaper or book in either print or electronic form, or the report of any speech made in the House during the same Session, nor read extracts from newspapers or other documents referring to debates in the House during same Session.

Provided that the provisions of this suborder must not apply to Official Report of the debates of the House.

(2) A Member while in the House must not:-

(a) converse in a loud voice

(b) during a debate read any book, newspaper or document in print or electronic form, except in connection with the business of such debate; and

(c) make noise or receive calls from his or her mobile device


When the Speaker is in the Chair Members must not exceed 20 minutes in speaking to any question before the House, except in the case of a Vice-President, Minister and Members in charge of Bills and Motions, who must not be restricted in regard to the length of time they may speak in moving the second or third reading of a Bill or in replying to the debate thereon or in moving a Motion and in replying to the debate thereon.

Provided that on Motion moved at the expiration of the time limit a Member may be permitted to speak in excess of 20 minutes for no more than five minutes.

A motion, for which no notice is required, must be decided immediately without amendment or debate, and must not be deemed to be affirmed unless the House unanimously concurs.

In the case of a motion which in the opinion of the Speaker is one of censure or no confidence, no Vice – President or Minister who speaks 0n behalf of the government shall be allowed to speak without restriction.

In Committee of the Whole House, except in Committee of Supply, a Member must not speak to any questions before the Committee for longer than 15 minutes at a time, nor address the Committee for than one such period of time consecutively, except in the case of a Vice- President, Minister and Members in charge of Bills or Motions who must not be so restricted.

The restriction on a debate in Committee of Supply must be as prescribed in Standing Orders No. 119 and the restriction on the debate on a Motion for adjournment of the House moved at or after the hour of interruption must be as prescribed in Standing Orders No.51

Provide that any of the time periods specified in this Standing Order may be varied by the Business of the House Committee

SOURCE: National Assembly Standing Rules and Orders, Eight Edition (2015).


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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is the news editor for OpenParlyZW an online platform that covers Parliament of Zimbabwe activities using social media (Twitter and Facebook). He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum and a board member of Digital Communication Network.

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