MDC-T Members of Parliament on Wednesday said President Robert Mugabe’s call to have harmonised elections next year breached provisions of the Constitution Amendment No 19 Act and should not affect their terms of office as the only disputed election was the 2008 presidential poll and not the parliamentary elections.
Although Zanu PF MPs said President Mugabe had powers to dissolve Parliament and call for elections for both presidential and parliamentary seats, MDC-T MPs said if Mugabe did that he would have breached the provisions in Constitution Amendment No 19 that gave birth to the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
However, MDC-T Chief Whip in the House of Assembly, who is also the Mutare Central MP, Innocent Gonese, chose to differ.
Said Gonese: “It is not correct that Mugabe can call for elections because Constitution Amendment Number 19 stipulates it is no longer the sole prerogative of President Mugabe to call for elections,” said Gonese.
“In terms of Constitution Amendment No 19 he has to consult Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, which means they must agree if Parliament has to be dissolved.”
He said everything to do with elections had to be agreed upon by the three political parties in the GPA.
Gonese said the MDC-T position was that if there were to be any elections, it should be presidential polls because they were the only disputed elections.
“The June 2008 elections were the ones that were disputed by everyone, including international observers. The first round was won by Tsvangirai, although he did not garner the stipulated 51% total vote to be declared the ultimate winner.
“We cannot say there was any re-run of the elections because that was a one-man race, which Mugabe contested on his own and that is why those elections were disputed,” said Gonese.
However, Zanu PF MP for Uzumba Simbaneuta Mudarikwa held a different viewpoint.
“President Mugabe has powers to dissolve Parliament at any given time. That is his duty and we MPs cannot interfere with that.
“It does not matter what the GPA stipulates – because it is not constitutional. The only person who has constitutional powers to dissolve Parliament is the President,” said Mudarikwa.
Said Chitungwiza South MP Misheck Shoko (MDC-T): “If at the end of the day we are forced to go for elections, we will be more than ready to contest them. Of course, we will be hurt by the cutting short of our five-year terms but what can we do if at the end of the day Mugabe forces us to go for elections?” said Shoko.
He said even Zanu PF MPs had, though in hushed tones, said they were not keen to have their five-year parliamentary terms prematurely cut.
MDC-M Chief Whip, who is also the MP for Mangwe, Edward Mkhosi, said the country had no money to run presidential and parliamentary elections.
“We are struggling to get money to finish the Copac process and how can we then start planning elections that will take a lot of money?
“I think we should do things that we can afford. We are struggling to get money to finance the constitutional referendum and how do you expect us to finance elections?” Mkhosi said.
He said there were no qualms about the parliamentary elections and the only elections in dispute were the presidential elections.