WHAT started as a crude joke has become quite a devastating reality. One Sengezo Tshabangu wrote to the Speaker of Parliament claiming to be the interim secretary general of the Citizens Coalition for Change and advised the speaker that the party was recalling 15 members of Parliament and several councillors.
The gimmick worked and the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda declared the seats vacant!
That takes the opposition back to recent history where they have to jump the MDC ship after similar recalls by then secretary general, Douglas Mwonzora. More concerning is the fact that it moves Zanu PF ever closer to gaining two thirds majority.
And that is not a good thing.
I have previously counselled that any ruling party with a super majority is a danger to democracy as it can act with impunity and change the constitution on whim.
Equally, a weak opposition is a danger to democracy as it cannot play its role of providing checks on the government and ruling party.
The recent political developments point to the convergence of these two unwelcome conditions. Democracy will be the biggest casualty.
I am not competent to opine on whether these recalls have any legal merit or whether or not they are constitutional. All I know is that the trigger has been pulled and that is what I want to deal with in my installment this week from a political perspective.
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The motive of the recalls are a matter of speculation at this point.
But the most obvious one which can be read from this is that Zanu PF is sponsoring the fiasco in the hope that it benefits and hopefully moves towards a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
That is the simple one to read from this. But I think there is more to it than this, even Forever Associate Zimbabwe (FAZ) quickly denied any involvement – not that I trust anything they say.
If this is about Zanu PF gaining more seats and getting a two-thirds majority, the list of MPs that have been recalled will not help them at all.
Firstly, there are several proportional representation MPs in there who do not go for a by-election. They will just be replaced by CCC still. Hence, Zanu PF will not influence, who fills those seats so clearly it would not benefit from that.
Secondly the recalled constituency MPs are all from CCC strongholds in Bulawayo, Harare and Matabeleland North where Zanu PF lost with huge margin hence it is not clear how they hope to gain those seats in a by-election.
Clearly, CCC will just regain those seats as happened in the previous Parliament. This would not benefit Zanu PF at all if the motive is to gain a two-thirds majority. This motive would be true had the recalled MPs been from swing constituencies particularly in rural areas where the probability of wrestling that seat is high.
Zanu PF is not innocent
Of course, this is not to say Zanu PF would not foment and instrumentalise internal factionalism in CCC as they have done in the MDC before. Quite frankly I find it ludicrous that the Speaker would even entertain, let alone act on that letter.
But then political expediency coming on a silver platter is irresistible for a political party whose famous tag-line is ‘ku politics akusi kuchurch’ (politics is a not a church service).
Another interesting trend is that the constituencies that have been targeted include those of Mthuli Ncube, Raj Modi, Scott Sakupwanya and Kudakwashe Munsaka, FAZ President.
The plot is convoluted, this could give credence to the notion that it is Zanu PF wanting to give a second shot to these bigwigs, but it could also be well calculated to throw everyone off the wind. Still these losing MPs would not regain these seats in a by-election. So there is no point.
Based on this analysis alone, dear reader, I am more inclined to look for motive elsewhere! Maybe to look closer to home at factional lines. This would be a wild goose chase.
And I do not have the time nor the will to go down that particular CCC factional rabbit hole.
But I must aver to say the names of recalled MPs tell an internal factional story and that is where discerning analysts should look closer and listen closer. My people always say ‘buhwa goleba’ (the grass speaks).
One ought to listen to the grass and seek to understand who is behind Sengezo Tshabangu. As for me dear reader, I choose to see no evil, and speak no evil!
Strategic ambiguity boomerangs
The political shenanigans of the recalls aside, one reason these recalls have reared their ugly head is the lack of clear internal rules and governance frameworks.
Nelson Chamisa recently stated that CCC operates in the dark and they know each other in the dark. The problem is that in the dark, anyone can claim to be anything.
I have heard many people claiming to be many things in the CCC and it makes it difficult to know who is genuine and who is not in the absence clear frameworks that structure, distribute and confer power to specific offices and organs.
Opportunists can exploit this lack of form, aided by willing enablers in Zanu PF like the Speaker of Parliament, to settle personal interests and ambitions. It is not a secret that scores of influential CCC aspirants and leaders were not happy at the process and outcome of the candidate selection process.
As such, CCC’s lack of form makes it easy for them to pursue these unholy shenanigans. If there is no ambiguity about who has what powers in the party, and how dissent and grievance is channelled and handled then such vindictive pursuits can be averted and beyond that, they can be inconsequential.
Bible verses cannot cut it anymore
These recalls set a dangerous precedent in the 10 th Parliament and need a decisive response to nip them in the bud. If this is allowed to stand, then it means for the next five years, CCC is at the mercy of Tshabangu and his cabal.
It also means Chamisa would have lost control of the party as remaining MPs will pay homage to Tshabangu’s gang to avert recalls and secure their livelihood in Parliament. If it comes to that, they will dump Chamisa, if only for this term.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no clear direction coming from the top, only the usual barrage of bible verses and promises of joy that is on the way!
In Bukalanga we characterise these promises as, ‘mpale wetjilimo tjisinga swike!’ (dried melon strips for a winter that never comes). What these recalls present is a prime opportunity to make them politically costly for Zanu PF by disengaging entirely from Parliament and cast Zimbabwe as a one-party state. That may make it unpalatable for the Speaker to entertain flimsy recall letters as those results in a bigger and inconvenient political cost.
But this might again backfire, his MPs will not cooperate when directed to disengage because that is their bread and butter.
They would rather pay allegiance to the faction behind Tshabangu and safeguard the material trinkets and paltry parliamentary allowances than stick it out for the greater cause.
Either way, members of CCC are getting tired of bible verses and assurances of some help that is on the way and they need leadership.
The sober view
The list of recalled MPs betray an internal factional fight more than a Zanu PF pursuit of super majority. The benefits to Zanu PF in this are marginal. They are more derived from the dividends reaped from a weak opposition and not necessarily from direct seats that can be gained by the party. Because there are none!
When all has been said and done, regardless of the legal merit of the recalls or lack of it, the CCC needs to stop the failed experiments of formless political party and be intentional about organisational development and internal democracy frameworks. The party also needs leadership and direction.
This is my sober view; I take no prisoners.
Dumani is an independent political analyst. He writes in his personal capacity. — X-Account @NtandoDumani.