The ongoing recalls of opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislators by an alleged imposter is coming at a great cost to the taxpayer as the country is being forced into holding by-elections just a few months after the harmonised elections.
According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, a staggering US$5 million will be spent on organising the December 9 by-elections for nine National Assembly and several council seats.
The by-elections were necessitated by the recall of 14 CCC legislators and several councillors by Sengezo Tshabangu, who claims to be the party’s interim secretary general.
Tshabangu’s controversial recalls were unsuccessfully challenged in court by the CCC legislators, who argued that the person that recalled them was not a member of their party, but was an imposter.
They argued that the speaker of Parliament should not have entertained the recall letter as it did not come from a bona fide CCC official.
Previously, the Constitutional Court ruled that the speaker cannot question an assertion in a recall letter that a member has ceased to belong to his or her party.
The MPs have since appealed to the Supreme Court against the judgment, but it is unlikely that there would be a ruling before the date of the by-elections.
On the other hand, Tshabangu has been pressing ahead with his recalls with councilors, MPs and senators being caught up in the madness. This means that more by-elections are on the way.
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It has become a pattern for opposition parties to use section 129 (1) (k) of the constitution that empowers political parties to recall elected officials to settle factional differences.
The provision was put to protect political parties against defections of their MPs and councilors, but it is now being clearly abused.
In the previous Parliament, MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora used the provision to recall councilors and MPs that were loyal to Nelson Chamisa after he seized control of the MDC Alliance.
Mwonzora’s candidates performed dismally in the subsequent by-elections, which showed that his actions were not supported by the generality of voters.
Tshabangu also struggled to field candidates in some of the constituencies and wards affected by the recalls, a development that could be interpreted to mean that these recalls only serve sectional interests.
They have nothing to do with democracy. It will be in the national interest for legislators to push for the repealing of the provision on recalls, which is clearly being abused by opportunists at a huge cost to the taxpayer.