‘Recalls of CCC Legislators as Part of Zanu-PF’s Historical Power Play’ – Academic

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Harare, Zimbabwe – Academic and researcher Dr. Phillan Zamchiya has criticized the recent recalls of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislators by self-appointed secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu, which have resulted in Zanu-PF attaining a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly.

Zamchiya argues that these actions are part of Zanu-PF’s longstanding strategy to consolidate power, tracing back to the early years of the late President Robert Mugabe’s rule.

During a virtual meeting organized by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), Zamchiya presented on the topic “Recalls and Subsequent By-Elections, Lessons Learned and Insights into Democratic Processes in Zimbabwe.” He highlighted that the use of recalls in Zimbabwe’s political landscape has its roots in Zanu-PF’s efforts to neutralize internal competition.

“The background to recalls in Zimbabwe is actually immersed in the dark world of politics and power. Recalls have been used as an instrument to thwart inter- and intra-party competition. It was introduced by Zanu-PF in the late 1980s to manage internal politics, not to address citizens’ concerns,” Zamchiya explained. “Robert Mugabe faced competition from Edgar Tekere, his secretary-general. They expelled him from Zanu-PF and wanted to recall him from Parliament, leading to the constitutional amendment of 1989.”

Although Tekere was not recalled, as he left Zanu-PF to form the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (Zum), the recall mechanism became a tool for political maneuvering. Zamchiya condemned the recall law as undemocratic, asserting it has no place in a representative democracy.

“It is discernible from various international experiences that recalls are used more by semi-democratic countries than mature democracies. These recalls are more common for elected representatives than members of the executive,” he noted.

The recent recalls orchestrated by Tshabangu, supported by the executive, Parliament, judiciary, and state security agents, have shifted the political balance in Zimbabwe. These actions have allowed Zanu-PF to regain a foothold in urban areas, reversing the trend set by the now-defunct MDC since 2000.

Observers argue that Tshabangu’s actions, driven by self-interest and backed by powerful allies, have undermined the democratic struggle in Zimbabwe. After securing a parliamentary two-thirds majority for Zanu-PF and urban seats, Tshabangu reportedly received rewards, including a Senate seat, a Toyota Fortuner, and financial benefits.

Zamchiya also highlighted the financial burden of by-elections on the nation, noting that taxpayer money spent on these elections translates into millions of US dollars in a country where many citizens struggle with poverty.

Explaining the concept of recalls, Zamchiya said, “A recall allows for the removal of an elected official, be it an MP or a councillor, from office before their term is complete without waiting for the next general election. This mechanism is typically relevant in representative democracies.”

He outlined three main mechanisms for recalls worldwide, noting that Zimbabwe’s model, defined by section 129, sub-section 1K, and section 278, sub-section 1 of the constitution, involves intra-party-initiated recalls leading to by-elections.

Dr. Phillan Zamchiya holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in international development from the University of Oxford, a Master of Philosophy degree in land and agrarian studies from the University of the Western Cape, and a Bachelor of Science degree in politics and administration from the University of Zimbabwe. He serves on the international editorial boards of Oxford Development Studies and the Journal of Southern African Studies.