IN THE latest twist to the drama playing out within the MDC, it has emerged that many party legislators are not in favour of the push by Nelson Chamisa and his top allies for them to “disengage” from Parliament with immediate effect.
Part recordings of the party’s parliamentary caucus meeting that was held at Morgan Richard Tsvangirai (MRT) House in Harare on Monday, which were availed to the Daily News yesterday by some of the disgruntled legislators, show that there is significant aversion to the Chamisa directive.
All this comes as the Thokozani Khupe-led group that is temporarily in charge of the MDC, following the recent Supreme Court ruling, has warned that it will recall more legislators from Parliament if any of them continue to dally with Chamisa.
It also comes as the government has warned MDC legislators that should they choose to withdraw from the National Assembly, authorities will withdraw all their perks, including their top-of-the-range vehicles, with immediate effect.
Some of the aggrieved MDC MPs who spoke to the Daily News yesterday confirmed the authenticity of the recordings, adding that many legislators had told Chamisa’s allies that they would not abide by the directive to “disengage” from Parliament.
“Many MPs openly raised concern about their welfare. Some actually said they had used their own resources to campaign and cannot, therefore, just be told to leave Parliament.
“One MP told (Tendai) Biti (who presided over the parliamentary caucus meeting at MRT House) that most church members do not follow a pastor when he is transferred to another city, but rather remain at their branch.
“This MP (name given but withheld) was implying that party members and MPs should not be forced to follow Chamisa,” one of the MPs who attended the heated meeting told the Daily News.
“Why shouldn’t I go to Parliament? I will not do that because I have so much to lose and they (Chamisa and his top allies) have little to lose. I have loans that have to be settled.
“Who will help me to pay these loans, and where will I get that money?” another party legislator, a proportional representative, said.
Another MP who spoke to the Daily News said they had told Chamisa’s allies who attended the Monday meeting that they were misleading the charismatic politician – whom they also accused of rushing to announce the legislators’ “withdrawal” from Parliament without consulting them first.
“Most MPs asked why Chamisa was refusing to attend the (planned July 31) extraordinary congress as per the Supreme Court judgment.
“His (Chamisa’s) team failed to give a convincing answer, with one of them saying something to the effect that most court judgments were against Chamisa all the time, and so they could not follow them.
“The only answer they seemed to have was that the courts were captured, but they did not say why they keep going back to the same captured courts,” the MP said.
“Only a few MPs such as Joana (Mamombe), Virginia (Muradzikwa) and Shakespeare (Hamauswa) supported the disengagement order (from Parliament), with the majority clear that they were not about to leave the National Assembly,” another legislator told the Daily News.
On his part Hamauswa insisted that the MPs who attended Monday’s meeting all wanted to withdraw from Parliament.
“The MPs were given a platform to express their views and fears as per the threats from the rebels.
“The MPs were clear on that. They will follow the decision of the party and … not surrender the people’s project to Zanu-PF.
“In solidarity with the four MPs who were wrongfully withdrawn from Parliament, the MPs agreed to disengage from Parliament pending the conclusion of the ongoing consultation processes,” Hamauswa said.
“The members of Parliament also agreed to be involved in the ongoing consultation processes with the structures and the general electorate.
“The MPs also conveyed to the leadership the clear message from their constituencies that they are ready to defend the people’s project,” he added.
According to Hamauswa, the meeting was attended by more than 85 MPs from across the country – with Vincent Tsvangirai, Tapiwa Mashakada and Theresa Makone among those who did not attend the gathering.
All this comes after the Supreme Court recently upheld last year’s ruling by the High Court, which said Chamisa’s ascendancy to the leadership of the MDC had violated the opposition party’s constitution.
In the unanimous judgment that was handed down by Supreme Court judges Paddington Garwe, Bharat Patel and Antoinette Guvava, Chamisa’s elevation to the MDC’s presidency was thus declared unconstitutional, and null and void.
The ruling also automatically re-instated former MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora and ex-chairperson Morgen Komichi – who both lost their positions at the party’s chaotic congress in Gweru last year – to their previous positions.
And in addition to installing Khupe as interim party president, it also ordered her to convene an extraordinary MDC congress to elect a new leadership within three months.
Last week, the Khupe group successfully recalled Chalton Hwende (Kuwadzana), Tabitha Khumalo (MDC proportional representative), Prosper Mutseyami (Dangamvura) and Midlands senator Lillian Timveos, from Parliament, as it flexed its muscles and demonstrated that it is fully in charge of the beleaguered party for now.
To compound the problems facing MDC MPs, the government emphasised at the weekend that it would withdraw all their benefits if they “disengaged” from Parliament.
The minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ziyambi Ziyambi – who is also the leader of government business in Parliament – said any attempts by the MDC legislators to withdraw from the august House would also see them losing the vehicles that they acquired on loan.
“If they resign now they are also required to pay the duty for their cars because they didn’t pay for it, as it was a privilege.
“Apart from paying this duty, they are also supposed to settle the whole amount left to be paid off for the cars.
“This is not going to be settled in five years. They must settle the whole amount the day they resign,” Ziyambi told the Daily News’s sister paper, the Daily News On Sunday.
The MDC has a total of about 107 legislators who got top-of-the-range vehicles, including Toyota Hiluxes worth between US$40 000 and US$60 000 .
Under their parliamentary privilege, they are supposed to pay for them through a stop order for a period of five years.
Besides their average monthly salary of between $6 000 and $8 000, the MPs are entitled to $700 sitting allowances per session, fuel coupons, and lucrative foreign trips on parliamentary business.
Meanwhile, Mwonzora yesterday warned MPs who are siding with Chamisa that they risked losing their seats.
“The calls by the Zanu-PF G40-sponsored alliance elements like Hwende to suspend parliamentary activities are not only mischievous, but irresponsible and grossly misplaced.
“We urge our elected officials not to associate themselves with such acts of lawlessness and remain focused on their constitutional obligation to serve the people who voted them into office.
“These activities by the Zanu-PF G40 Alliance elements are not only counter-productive, but a desperate attempt to distract the MDC members from the broader agenda of returning our institution to our founding values of legitimacy, constitutionalism and democracy,” Mwonzora said.
“Any association with these detractors will not be tolerated and will certainly have consequences to those acting in complicit.
“We implore our members to remain focused on the preparations for the extraordinary congress due to be held on the 31st of July 2020,” he added.
Source: Daily News