A few weeks ago, Zimbabweans woke up to the news that some of the lawmakers they elected under the Citizens Coalitions for Change (CCC) ticket have been recalled from Parliament by Sengezo Tshabangu, who is claiming to be the interim secretary-general of the opposition party.
The recalls affected 15 legislators, nine senators and 17 councillors.
In light of this, on December 9, the nation will hold by-elections to replace the recalled MPs and councillors.Is this fair to the electorates? We don't think so.
Currently, a political party in Zimbabwe can undermine the will of the people by simply writing a letter to the Speaker of Parliament, thereby undoing the decision made by the people.
This is not right. As political analyst Taisa Tshuma notes elsewhere in this issue, the winning candidates receive their mandate to hold a specific post from the eligible voters, not from the political party to which they belong.
“The series of decisions starting with the recall letter to the proclamation of dates for by-elections do not place value on the voice of the electorate,” he states.
“Perhaps the constitution needs to be urgently amended to prioritise the electorate and avoid the costly exercise of by-elections when clearly the country needs the resources for very basic things like fighting the cholera outbreak.”
Tshuma says recalling legislators from parliament should be the exclusive privilege of the electorate through the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in the next election cycle. According to him, a politician is voted into office by citizens who may not necessarily be supporters or members of any political party.
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It is these people’s right to choose a public representative that should be protected and rendered superior to the whims of any political outfit, he said.
He opines that the moment a political party puts up their member for election to a public office; they are effectively surrendering their authority over that particular individual with regards to the mandate that the electorate may give them.
“No political party should be able to recall a person out of a job that citizens have given that individual because we have a direct system of election, not representative,” Tshuma said.
“Our political parties do not have the powers to just deploy unelected cadres to parliament as is the case in neighbouring South Africa.”
We concur with his observations.Something needs to be done about our laws. The constitution needs to be amended for sanity to prevail. Citizens, burying our heads in the sand like a proverbial ostrich will not work.
We need to be involved in the entire process, from electing officials to recalling them from office.We call upon legislators to kick-start the process of amending the constitution and stop this madness of recalling elected MPs willy-nilly.
It is anticipated that the government will spend over US$5 million to hold these by-elections; nevertheless, this money might be utilised to purchase medications for our underfunded public health institutions.