HARARE – Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa has written to the Speaker of Parliament urging him to ignore attempts to recall over a dozen lawmakers by a man claiming to represent the party.
Mudenda was petitioned last week by Sengezo Tshabangu, who styles himself as CCC secretary general. Tshabangu claimed 15 MPs elected in August had ceased to be members of the party, and should therefore be expelled from parliament.
He also wrote to the local government minister Winston Chitando, purportedly recalling 17 CCC councillors for a similar reason.
The Speaker is expected to rule on the matter within days, and he could do so as early as Tuesday before the start of the parliament session.
In a letter to Mudenda dated October 4, 2023, Chamisa referenced an earlier communication on September 11 listing his party’s 103 MPs and 27 senators. The letter said “any correspondence regarding any CCC Members of Parliament… is to be directed to this office” and “any communication or notification regarding any CCC Member of Parliament shall come from this office.”
The September 11 letter added: “For the avoidance of doubt, no other person is authorised to correspond or communicate with parliament concerning CCC members in parliament.”
In his latest letter after Tshabangu’s petition to Mudenda, Chamisa reminds the Speaker of his earlier communication and adds: “There have not been any changes to the communication protocols in our letter dated September 11, 2023.”
Chamisa maintains that Tshabangu is not a member of the party, adding that the party also has no secretary general or an acting secretary general. A police report had also been made against Tshabangu, he added.
“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 been identified as the individual who was a signatory for nearly two dozen people who filed nomination papers as CCC candidates for the August 23 elections, and whose nominations were controversially accepted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Chamisa failed to overturn ZEC’s decision in court.
In some parliamentary constituencies and local authority races, CCC ended up with two or even three candidates on a single ballot. The double candidates largely did not affect results except in Epworth South where Taedzwa Honour Mbofana of Zanu polled 8,112 while the combined votes of the three candidates using the CCC party name – Blessed Kudakwashe Chatambudza, Didymus Bande and Solomon Baramasimbe – added up to 9,426.
Tshabangu appears to be exploiting an apparent gap in the legal status of the CCC which has no leadership structure outside Chamisa and his appointed spokespersons. The party formed in March 2022 has not set a date for an elective congress.
The ruling Zanu PF party is keenly watching, some say even encouraging an internal rupture in the CCC hoping it will trigger by-elections which if it wins would secure it a two thirds majority in parliament, allowing the party to amend the constitution at will. Zanu PF is currently five seats shy of that target in the National Assembly.
Mudenda and Chitando are Zanu PF members and many in the CCC fear they could rule in favour of Tshabangu, which would ignite a major political firestorm. A ruling in favour of Tshabangu could have serious financial repercussions for the CCC too as he could claim all funding meant for the party under the Political Parties (Finance) Act.
Chamisa’s lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu insists Mudenda and Chitando have no choice but to reject the Tshabangu petitions out of hand.
“They cannot act on criminal letters,” Mpofu said. “The correct position was communicated to parliament in good time and has recently been affirmed. Not even the lowest of all lows can give oxygen to the human forest fire that Tshabangu is.” – ZimLive