TWENTY-ONE former MDC-T legislators were yesterday expelled from Parliament and their seats declared vacant, drastically reducing the number of opposition representation in both Houses.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda and Senate President Edna Madzongwe shut the door on the former MDC-T legislators.
The 21 last year crossed the floor to the Tendai Biti-led MDC Renewal Team which broke away from the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC-T after serious internal fights.
The decision — which affected four senators and 17 MPs — follows a request by the MDC-T which wrote to Parliament on March 6, advising that the legislators had severed their relationship with the country’s main opposition party.
The latest development now enables the ruling Zanu PF, with 255 legislators in its cubicle, to strengthen its control of Parliament as it is likely to make a clean sweep of all the 13 seats available for contest in by-elections which the MDCs have vowed to boycott citing an uneven playing ground.
Before the latest development, Zanu PF already had a two-thirds majority in Parliament with the main opposition MDC-T trailing behind with 91 seats.
The affected MPs sat quietly while others were seen shaking each other’s hands as if to comfort each other as Mudenda read out his verdict.
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They later walked out of the House with their faces down following a premature end of their terms.
The list includes Harare East MP Tendai Biti, Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure, Kuwadzana MP Lucia Matibenga, Proportional Representation MP Evelyn Masaiti Muzungu, Glen View South MP Paul Madzore, Luveve MP Reggie Moyo, Dzivarasekwa MP Solomon Madzore, Pelandaba-Mpopoma MP Bekithemba Nyathi, Highfield West MP Moses Manyengavana and Pumula MP Albert Mhlanga.
There is also Lobengula MP Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, Tsholotsho North MP Roseline Nkomo, Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya, Proportional Representation MP Judith Muzhavazhe, Makokoba MP Gorden Moyo, Proportional Representation MP Gladys Mathe and Dangamvura-Chikanga MP Arnold Tsunga.
Those booted out of Senate included Manicaland Senator Patrick Chitaka, Harare Metropolitan Senator Sekai Holland, Harare Metropolitan Senator Rorana Muchihwa and Matabeleland South Senator Watchy Sibanda.
Biti, who is interim secretary-general of the MDC Renewal Team, had on March 16 challenged the MDC-T’s notice claiming that he was still the legitimate secretary-general of the MDC-T.
In November last year, Mudenda refused to deal with the same matter and advised the warring parties to refer their leadership wrangle to a court of law.
“At that time, I did not pronounce judgment on the matter because it was sub judice and against the provisions of Section 3 (2) (e) of the Constitution,” Mudenda said yesterday. “[MDC-T secretary-general Douglas] Mwonzora has since made submissions that there was change of circumstances in that the two cases pertaining to the leadership wrangle were withdrawn in November 2014 and March 2015 respectively.”
Mudenda added: “In the same vein, Biti and others never approached the courts to claim legitimacy. The resolution to recall the MPs was made at the [MDC-T] congress in November 2014, and the fact that the MPs never sought at the material time to interdict nor challenge it in the courts of law in so far as the outcome of that congress was concerned — and that verification that the matters mentioned are no longer pending before the High Court has been sought, and that there is apparently no longer a legal issue regarding legitimacy of the MDC-T after the matter was withdrawn, and without the other party seeking to reopen the case — then the status quo remains.”
Mudenda then declared the seats vacant, saying he would notify President Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of the vacancies.
Speaking to NewsDay afterwards, Madzore described their expulsion as inconsequential.
“This issue caused by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Mwonzora is a non-event. As a party, we will respect the law and respond accordingly. It was unnecessary and is a slap in the face of the people. We are not moved or disturbed and we remain focused on the plight of the people,” Madzore said.
Madzimure said: “It is the people of Zimbabwe who have lost, not me. I was elected by the people of Kambuzuma and have represented them well for the past 14 years. The MDC-T has danced to the tune of Zanu PF.”
Senator Muchihwa chipped in saying: “We will be coming back. I am still in MDC-T, not MDC-Tsvangirai. It is my constituency which should withdraw me because they are the ones who elected me. We are just going to rest, we were not fired.”