TOUGH-TALKING MDC Alliance vice president Tendai Biti and five other legislators have been recalled from Parliament by their People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
At the same time, two former senior members of the MDC, Obert Gutu and James Makore, became the latest high profile opposition figures to cross over to Zanu-PF yesterday.
Announcing Biti’s recall, National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda said yesterday that he and five other MPs had been withdrawn after PDP secretary-general Benjamin Rukanda wrote to the august House saying they had ceased representing the party’s interests – pursuant to Section 129 (k) of the Constitution.
This section says “the seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the Member has ceased to belong to the political party of which he or she was a member when elected to Parliament, and the political party concerned – by written notice to the Speaker or the President of the Senate, as the case may be – has declared that the Member has ceased to belong to it”.
“Pursuant to the above, I do hereby inform the House that vacancies have arisen in these constituencies by operation of the law.
“The necessary administrative measures will be taken to inform His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of the existence of the vacancies in line with Section 39 (1) of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) as amended,” Mudenda said.
Apart from Biti, the other legislators who were recalled are Willias Madzimure (Kambuzuma), Settlement Chikwinya (Mbizo), Sichelesile Mahlangu (Pumula), Kucaca Phulu (Nkulumane) and Regai Tsunga (Mutasa South).
In his notice to Mudenda, Rukanda cited the MDC Alliance Agreement, as the basis for the action taken against the legislators.
“Each (MDC Alliance) member party chose its own members of Parliament given under each quota and retains the authority over the same.
“Our party is a political party and these members belonged to PDP at the time of the last election in 2018,” he said.
Two days ago, the Daily News had reported that the tendency of Zimbabwe’s ever brawling opposition parties to self-destruct continued unabated, with the PDP at the centre of the latest such ritual suicide.
The newspaper had also reported that the PDP mayhem was set to have a knock-on effect on the MDC Alliance as Biti and the five other legislators had lost their bid to remain in Parliament, after the High Court ruled earlier that they could all be recalled from their positions.
Apart from Biti and the five other MPs, several councillors are also facing the chop, including suspended Harare mayor Jacob Mafume – all of whom have since last year been fighting a push by the PDP to have them withdrawn from their respective areas of deployment.
But Mafume has said that they had since appealed against the High Court ruling at the Supreme Court – implying at the time that there would be a stay of execution of the order until the matter was further mediated.
All this comes as the country’s opposition continues to be riven by serious ructions, which recently saw some of its bigwigs defecting to the ruling Zanu-PF.
In her ruling last week, High Court judge Justice Sylvia Chirawu-Mugomba said the PDP faction led by Lucia Matibenga had the power to recall all the affected politicians after they joined the MDC Alliance.
Justice Chirawu-Mugomba, in an ex-tempore judgment, concurred with the PDP’s argument that once a person supported another party, this automatically translated to “self-expulsion” from the party.
“The judge delivered an ex-tempore judgment and said that according to the PDP party constitution, clause 6:4, if a member joins or supports another political party, that individual automatically ceases to belong to PDP.
“So, here we are talking about the likes of Harare East MP Biti, who is the current vice president of the MDC Alliance.
“By operation of that clause, he automatically expelled himself from the PDP. This judgment sets the pace for recall of MPs who had been seconded to represent the MDC Alliance,” PDP lawyer, Simon Simango, told the Daily News earlier this week.
“The judge also said that the applicants cannot be allowed to do forum shopping by splitting one application twice and seek to have the court make a determination twice on one issue.
“This is because the applicants initially filed summons against Local Government minister July Moyo on the issue of declaring their positions vacant and went on to file an urgent chamber application on the same basis,” Simango further told the Daily News.
At the formation of the MDC Alliance, Biti and Matibenga went separate ways – with the former Finance minister and others joining the late Morgan Tsvangirai in the coalition.
On her part, Matibenga and her faction joined hands with the Joice Mujuru-led People’s Rainbow Coalition (PRC), ahead of the 2018 general elections.
The other parties that make up the MDC Alliance include Welshman Ncube’s MDC, Jacob Ngarivhume’s Transform Zimbabwe, Zanu Ndonga and the Multiracial Christian Democrats (MCD) led by Mathias Guchutu.
All this comes as the opposition continues to be plagued by serious divisions, which recently saw some of its kingpins such as Blessing Chebundo and Lillian Timveous defecting to the ruling Zanu-PF – with Gutu and Makore following suit yesterday.
Chebundo, a founding member of the MDC, has since said that the opposition is in a downward spiral due to tribalism, senseless infighting and a hatred for new ideas.
Speaking to the Daily News’s sister paper, the Daily News On Sunday earlier this month, Chebundo said he had become increasingly disillusioned with the goings-on in the strife-torn MDC.
He also said he had no regrets in crossing the floor to Zanu-PF to join hands with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom he had twice beaten in Parliamentary elections as an opposition stalwart.
The former Kwekwe Central legislator also said the MDC had been on a downwards trajectory ever since the death of its much-loved leader Tsvangirai – who succumbed to colon cancer on Valentine’s Day three years ago.
He said this was primarily due to lack of leadership in the main opposition party.
“It’s all about leadership failure, poor strategies, factionalism and the ‘I know-it-all’ attitude of the leadership.
“My honest assessment is that the opposition’s power graph has been sliding downwards significantly since the death of Tsvangirai and it worsened post the 2018 elections mainly due to a poor decision matrix by leadership, especially post the 2019 congress of the MDC Alliance faction.
“By the way, when we talk about serious opposition in Zimbabwe, we are mainly referring to the MDC. So, it’s all about effects of decision-making,” Chebundo told the Daily News On Sunday.
“Zvinhu zvacho hazvidi ‘ndini chete chete ndinoziva’. Dzimwe nhambo nyaudzo singwi haasi maresults (Some of these things do not need the ‘it’s only me who knows’ attitude, and oratory ability is not results).
“As they say, a roaring lion kills no one. You cannot achieve anything by just talking proverbs. So, the opposition is not dead, but needs serious internal overhaul otherwise it will die,” Chebundo further let rip.