MDC saga: Constitutionalism or political gamesmanship?

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ON Tuesday, Parliament announced the recall of MDC Alliance legislators Chalton Hwende (Kuwadzana East), Tabitha Khumalo (Bulawayo proportional representation), Prosper Mutseyami (Dangamvura-Chikanga) as well as Midlands senator Lillian Timveous following a letter written by Douglas Mwonzora, who claims to be the secretary-general of the MDC-T.

NewsDay Comment

The MDC Alliance and MDC-T are separate political entities that competed against each other in the last election.

Now we have a bizarre situation where MDC-T acting president Thokozani Khupe can lay claim to leading two parties — her own and that of her rival Nelson Chamisa.

According to a letter to the Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda by Khupe, the Supreme Court judgment of March 31, 2020 had the effect of dissolving her MDC-T faction and she is now the legitimate acting leader of a united MDC. But in effect, she now leads two parties, including one which she contested against and lost dismally and has been at loggerheads with since 2018.

Her two proportional representation legislators, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Mildred Dube, are now part of the “new and united MDC”. Does anyone remember that prior to joining Khupe’s camp, Misihairabwi-Mushonga was also a PR MP for yet another faction of the MDC, which went by the name MDC-N? When its leader Welshman Ncube then joined hands with Chamisa and is now vice-president of the MDC Alliance, Misihairabwi-Mushonga pitched her tent with Khupe. How does the ruling not affect her standing?

There are arguments that the floor-crossing provision in the Constitution does not protect the right of the party under which one contested, but the party to which one belonged and, as such, the recalled legislators, even though they were on the MDC Alliance ticket, they really belonged to MDC-T.

That is not making sense. Both MDC-T and MDC Alliance were on the ballot and the latter won. How can it be that they were the same party all along? If they were, don’t Zimbabweans deserve the chance to choose who they really want to represent them because voters chose MPs, councillors, senators and so on believing that they were voting for the MDC Alliance, as opposed to the MDC-T?

Somehow, Parliament has made the losers the overlords of the victors. Why is such a fraud allowed in the august House?

Section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that: “The seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the member has ceased to belong to the political party of which he or she was a member when elected to Parliament and the political party concerned, by written notice to the Speaker or to the President of the Senate as the case may be, has declared that the member has ceased to belong to it.”

There is a claim that MDC Alliance is not a political party because it has no known constitution. But there is no registration of political parties in Zimbabwe and a law whose requirements are met to confirm the existence of a party.

What is at play here? Is it constitutionalism or political gamesmanship? It goes without saying that President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu PF are invested heavily in the unfolding MDC Alliance drama and their imprint is all over the chess board.

It is clear that Mnangagwa wants Chamisa out of the political game altogether for his refusal to acknowledge his 2018 presidential election victory. Chamisa also refused to join Mnangagwa’s Political Actors Dialogue to resolve the country’s economic crisis. On Tuesday, the opposition leader accused the ruling Zanu PF party of using the courts and now Parliament to force him to accept Mnangagwa’s legitimacy as President.

He may yet pay a higher price.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I have regarded these as factions of the same party, that’s a better way of understanding this game. One day, we will see them reorganising one another. Let’s allow the game to be played.

  2. Asi chaizvo chiri kunetsa vanhu chii? MDC A ngaitevedze bumbiro remutemo wavo ndivo vakariumba, tingati munhu ari kurwara ne AIDS akaroiwa? Kuti tidzokere mubato iri ngatiite zvidiki zveparty. Ivo vamwe varikuvakurudzira ndidzo mhandu dzemusangan, ngavagadzirise zveparty kuti vawane chiremerera kuti vakapinda panyanga vanhu vanogara zvakanaka.Constitution, Democracy and Legitmacy!!!!!!1

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