HARARE – The MDC Alliance ended its boycott of Parliament on Wednesday, a day after 18 of its 84 MPs defied the party whip and attended a sitting of Parliament.
The MDC Alliance boycotted parliamentary proceedings starting May 8 to protest against the dismissal of four of its legislators at the behest of a faction opposed to the party leadership.
The decision to end the boycott was taken following a meeting of the party’s National Council in Harare, said spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere.
“It is resolved that following consultation with our structures and constituents, our MPs and councillors are to immediately resume in Parliament subject to further review. We maintain that it is unlawful and a misconstruction of reality for any other party to withdraw MDC Alliance MPs from Parliament,” Mahere said in a statement.
MPs who defied the party boycott, she said, would be disciplined.
On March 31, the country’s Supreme Court declared that Nelson Chamisa’s ascendancy to the leadership of MDC-T, the party he led before collapsing it to form the MDC Alliance which contested elections in July 2018, was illegitimate and ordered the party to hold an election to replace him within three months.
Chamisa’s MDC Alliance said the decision was not applicable to it, but rivals – led by Thokozani Khupe – have pounced on the ruling and are now attempting to take control of the MDC Alliance’s MPs, councillors and assets.
In early May, Khupe asked parliament to eject four senior MDC Alliance MPs and Senators, all allies of Chamisa. They have since challenged their dismissal in court.
A majority of MDC leaders have rallied behind Chamisa, arguing that the leadership issue was settled when the party held a congress in 2019 to choose a new executive.
Their dismissal of the four MPs should trigger by-elections, but the new coronavirus outbreak makes this uncertain. The pandemic also makes it difficult for the MDC Alliance to organise protests.
The MDC Alliance says parliament, which is controlled by the ruling Zanu PF party, has taken sides in the fight to control the main opposition.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF already has a two thirds majority in parliament and can pass legislation, including constitutional amendments, without any hindrance.
Chamisa, 42, narrowly lost the 2018 presidential election to Mnangagwa. He maintains Mnangagwa rigged the vote and does not recognise his presidency.
The MDC Alliance, which has split four times since its formation in 1999, frequently accuses Zanu PF of fanning divisions in its ranks. Zanu PF denies the charge.
Mahere said the National Council had resolved that the party would keep the MDC Alliance name, which some have suggested they should abandon to assume a distinct identity from Khupe’s group.
“The MDC Alliance will preserve the existence of the name, constitution, slogans and assets of the party. We restate that the MDC Alliance is a duly constituted political party and a legal persona in accordance with provisions of the Electoral Act,” she said. – ZimLive