MORGAN Tsvangirai’s MDC-T yesterday successfully lobbied Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda and Senate President Edna Madzongwe to have 21 legislators who dumped the party expelled from Parliament, a development observers say plays right into the hands of the ruling Zanu PF party.
With the opposition saying they would not contest the by-elections, MDC-T may have inadvertently all but presented 13 House of Assembly seats to Zanu PF.
Eight of the seats will not be contested as they are held on proportional representation which broke away from MDC-T after serious internal fights.
The latest development now enables the ruling Zanu PF, with 255 legislators, to strengthen its control of Parliament as it is likely to make a clean sweep of all the 13 seats available for contest in by-elections which the MDCs have vowed to boycott citing an uneven playing ground.
Before the latest incident, Zanu PF already had a two-thirds majority in Parliament, while MDC-T had 91 seats.
The affected MPs sat quietly, while others were seen shaking each other’s hands as if to comfort each other, as Mudenda read out his verdict.
They later walked out of the House with their faces down following a premature end to their terms.
The list includes Harare East MP Tendai Biti, Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure, Kuwadzana MP Lucia Matibenga, proportional representation MP Evelyn Masaiti Muzungu, Glen View South MP Paul Madzore, Luveve MP Reggie Moyo, Dzivarasekwa MP Solomon Madzore, Pelandaba-Mpopoma MP Bekithemba Nyathi, Highfield West MP Moses Manyengavana, Pumula MP Albert Mhlanga, Lobengula MP Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, Tsholotsho North MP Roseline Nkomo, Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya, proportional representation MP Judith Muzhavazhe, Makokoba MP Gorden Moyo, proportional representation MP Gladys Mathe, and Dangamvura Chikanga MP Arnold Tsunga.
Those booted out of Senate include Manicaland Senator Patrick Chitaka, Harare Metropolitan Senator Sekai Holland, Harare Metropolitan Senator Rorana Muchihwa and Matabeleland South Senator Watchy Sibanda.
Biti, who is interim secretary-general of MDC-Renewal, had on March 16 challenged the MDC-T’s notice to have them expelled, claiming that he was still the legitimate secretary-general of the MDC-T.
Last November, Mudenda declined to deal with the matter and advised the warring parties to refer their leadership wrangle to a court of law.
“At that time I did not pronounce judgment on the matter because it was sub judice and against the provisions of section 3 (2) (e) of the Constitution,” Mudenda said yesterday.
“(MDC-T secretary-general, Douglas) Mwonzora has since made submissions that there was change of circumstances in that the two cases pertaining to the leadership wrangle were withdrawn in November 2014 and March 2015, respectively.
“In the same vein, Biti and others never approached the courts to claim legitimacy.
“The resolution to recall the MPs was made at the congress in November 2014 and the fact that the MPs never sought at the material time to interdict nor challenge it in the courts of law insofar as the outcome of that congress was concerned — and that verification that the matters mentioned are no longer pending before the High Court has been sought, and that there is apparently no longer a legal issue regarding legitimacy of the MDC-T, after the matter was withdrawn, and without the other party seeking to reopen the case — then the status quo remains.”
Mudenda declared the seats vacant saying he would notify President Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of the vacancies.
Speaking to Southern Eye, UMDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume said Mudenda’s decision was incompetent.
“The ruling made by Mudenda does not make sense and is, in fact, very bad,” he said.
“It is very clear that the ruling has been spearheaded by the faction of Zanu PF so as to gain seats so that they promote their factionalism.”
Mafume accused Tsvangirai of promoting the ruling party.
He said they would challenge the ruling in court.
Political commentator Methuseli Moyo said by-elections would give MDC-Renewal a chance to test their strength, if they contested.
“The MDC-Renewal will have a perfect opportunity to test its machinery against Zanu PF,” he said.
“Win or lose, MDC-Renewal would have announced its real entry into mainstream politics.
“A win in any of the constituencies will catapult MDC-Renewal into a strong position to challenge both MDC-T and Zanu PF in 2018.
“Tsvangirai is all but confirming his identity as a negative politician who wants things done his way all the time and will hurt anyone who opposes him, even if he or she was his comrade, like he has just done with Biti and Elton Mangoma recently and Welshman Ncube, the late Gibson Sibanda and others in 2005.”
However, MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu hailed Mudenda’s ruling describing it as constitutional.
“This is an indication of what we have always said that the 21 were no longer members of the party as they had formed their party called the MDC-Renewal and of late have called themselves the UMDC,” he said.
“What the Speaker and the Senate president have done is just following section 129 of the Constitution.
“It was very unconstitutional to have people who are no longer in the party representing the party in Parliament.”