HARARE – The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) was on Monday discussing a full withdrawal of MPs and Senators from parliament after 15 lawmakers were controversially recalled.
Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda wrote to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announcing the vacancies on the basis of a letter by Sengezo Tshabangu, who has styled himself as the CCC’s interim secretary general.
Tshabangu told Mudenda that the 15 – of whom 14 are from Bulawayo and the two Matabeleland provinces – had ceased to be members of the CCC and were therefore being recalled.
One of the recalled MPs Prince Dubeko Sibanda said: “On October 1, 2020, they recalled me for ceasing to be a member of the MDC-A, which I won under in 2018. We left it and formed CCC. I won by-elections on March 26, 2022, under CCC. I did so again on in the general elections on August 23, 2023. Today, they recalled us again. It’s time for a revolution.”
All the 15 representatives have gone to court seeking an order declaring that Tshabangu has no legal standing to recall them, and that they should remain in parliament. The party has described him as an “impostor.”
The affected MPs are Pashor Raphael Sibanda (Cowdray Park); Ereck Gono (Lobengula-Magwegwe); Nicola June Watson (Bulawayo South); Desmond Makaza (Mpopoma-Mzilikazi); Obert Manduna (Nketa); Sitabile Mlilo (Proportional Representation); Jasmine Toffa (Proportional Representation); Janet Dube (Proportional Representation); Evidence Zana (Youth Quota); Morgan Ncube (Beitbridge West); Nomathemba Sibanda (Proportional Representation); Velisiwe Nkomo (Proportional Representation); Prince Dubeko Sibanda (Binga North); Bright Moyo Vanya (Lupane East) and Febion Munyaradzi (Mabvuku-Tafara).
Separately, CCC leader Nelson Chamisa is ready to withdraw all his party’s elected representatives in protest at the latest developments, a CCC insider told ZimLive.
Calls for street protests will grow but Chamisa has shown some reluctance to lead marches, publicly stating that he does not want to “step on the skeletons of Zimbabweans to reach State House” – a show of concern over the violent response expected from President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime.
Chamisa had earlier written to Mudenda, who received Tshabangu’s letter on October 3, urging him to ignore the former MDC-T Matabeleland North chairman.
“As at present, none of the Members of Parliament who were elected under the CCC have been expelled from the party I lead or recalled from the National Assembly, or for that matter, from any elected position in the Senate or any local council,” Chamisa wrote.
Tshabangu has also written to local government minister Winston Chitando naming 17 councillors, 12 of them from Bulawayo, that he says have ceased to be members of the CCC. Two of the councillors are from Matabeleland South, one from Matabeleland North, one from Epworth in Harare and Masvingo’s first female mayor Shantel Chiwara.
The CCC has no formal membership and no leadership structure in place except for its leader and appointed spokespersons, a loophole which Tshabangu appears to have used to claim a powerful position for himself after submitting a purported CCC constitution to Mudenda. He previously used the same tactic with ZEC to cause the double nomination of CCC candidates in August’s polls.
If the courts rule in favour of Tshabangu in the fight, it opens the possibility that he can expel Chamisa from the party he founded in March 2022 and grab all funding due to the party under the Political Parties (Finances) Act. Zanu PF, meanwhile, will be eyeing by-elections that could follow with a target of winning 10 seats which would give if a two thirds majority in parliament, allowing it to amend the constitution.
The recalls are “a festival of illegalities and a carnival of absurdities,” said political analyst Brian Kagoro.
Exiled former foreign affairs minister Walter Mzembi said “it will take more than elections” to bring change in Zimbabwe, adding that the CCC’s decision to go to court was a “kindergarten response” and a sign that the party was “failing to read the mood.”
“We will defend our right to vote, our freedom to choose, our constitution and our democracy with everything that we have got. It cannot and will not be business as usual,” CCC spokesman Promise Mkwananzi said in a statement.
“There comes a time where one has to draw a line in the sand, stand up and defend their dignity. Such a time has come. The people of Zimbabwe must and will take a stand. Otherwise there would be no point in voting only for the regime to remove elected officials.”
The recalls come after disputed general elections on August 23 when Mnangagwa claimed a slim majority. Regional and international election observers condemned the poll as a sham and Chamisa has been demanding fresh elections supervised by the United Nations. – ZimLive