Biti, 5 MPs bounce back as High Court orders re-admission in parliament




Tendai Biti

HARARE – MDC Alliance vice president Tendai Biti and five other MPs have been returned to parliament by the High Court.

In March, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda said he had received a letter from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) purportedly recalling Harare East MP Biti, Settlement Chikwinya, Willias Madzimure, Sichelesile Mahlangu, Regai Tsunga, and Kucaca Phulu from parliament.

The PDP was one of the coalition parties that contested the 2018 elections as MDC Alliance. Following the election, the party was dissolved as its senior leaders joined the structures of a new full-fledged party called the MDC Alliance.

One Benjamin Rukanda, purporting to be PDP secretary general, said he did not recognise the party’s dissolution and sought to use a constitutional provision allowing parties to recall MPs.

In April, Justice Amy Tsanga of the Harare High Court found that Rukanda was in fact not the secretary general of the PDP as she nullified the MPs’ purported expulsion. Mudenda refused to allow the MPs back into parliament, prompting their latest legal fight seeking a court-ordered reinstatement.

On Thursday, Justice Joseph Mafusire said the termination of the six from parliament was null and void. The judge reiterated that Rukanda had no authority to recall them from parliament.

“The application can only succeed. The power of recall from parliament in s 129 (1) (k) of the Constitution is reposed in the political party the Member of Parliament was a member of at the time of the election,” Mafusire said.

“The 1st (Rukanda) and 2nd (Lucia Matibenga) respondents were not members of the seventh applicant (PDP) at the time of the 2018 general election. They have no power to recall the applicants.”

As chairman for the public accounts committee, Biti was known for grilling public officials and exposing corruption, including the US$3 billion Command Agriculture scandal whose main perpetrator Kudakwashe Tagwirei of Sakunda Holdings repeatedly stalled his appearance before the committee. – ZimLive