HomeNews‘Samkange seat should be declared vacant’

‘Samkange seat should be declared vacant’

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The readmission of independent MP for Mudzi South constituency Jonathan Samkange into Zanu PF should see him automatically losing his parliamentary seat in line with the new Constitution.

by BLESSED MHLANGA

In terms of Section 129(1) of the Constitution, an MP’s seat becomes vacant, “if the Member, not having been a member of a political party when he or she was elected to Parliament, becomes a member of a political party”.

At the time of elections in 2013, Samkange had been dismissed from Zanu PF and contested as an independent candidate.

Despite the matter being raised in Parliament by MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese, Speaker of the House of Assembly Jacob Mudenda said he was waiting for Zanu PF to notify him in writing.

But constitutional law expert Alex Magaisa said from his Kent University base in London, United Kingdom, that Mudenda had missed the point.

“With all due respect, the Speaker’s position on this is untenable. There is no requirement for a political party, in this case, Zanu PF, to inform the Speaker that a formerly independent MP has now become its member. Written communication is only required in terms of Section 129(1)(k) where an MP has ceased to be a member of a political party. It is not in the party’s or its member’s interest to have the seat declared vacant and there is no incentive to write to the Speaker to advise that the independent MP has become its member,” Magaisa said.

He said the Speaker should have initiated an investigation into claims by Gonese and satisfied himself that Samkange was now a member of Zanu PF.

“Of course, as a senior member of Zanu PF’s politburo, the Speaker must be fully aware of the facts surrounding Samkange’s readmission into the party and that the person who used to be recorded as an independent MP in Hansard, is now, in fact, a member of Zanu PF,” Magaisa said.

The law expert noted that respect for the Constitution was very important to avoid chaos in any democracy.

“Some will say: but does it matter? as Samkange is likely to retain his seat in a by-election seeing as it is, that the major opposition parties are boycotting elections. But that is not the issue. The issue here is about compliance and proper implementation of the Constitution. Chaos begins at the point that we disregard laws and remain silent in the face of deliberate or contrived failure to comply with the law,” Magaisa said.

MDC- T spokesperson Obert Gutu accused Zanu PF of “adulterating” the Constitution to suit its desires.

“It is not a secret that we are dealing with a party that has no respect of the Constitution. They will duck and dive when it comes to provisions which do not serve their interests. We cannot have a leadership which respects the law only when it is in its favour,” Gutu said.

Mudenda could not be reached for comment yesterday as he was said to be out of the country.

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