BY RICHARD MUPONDE
THE Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance yesterday demanded that government should lift the ban on by-elections, which it imposed citing COVID-19 prevention measures.
The opposition party said authorities should allow the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to hold by-elections after it lost over 50% of its parliamentary seats to recalls.
Parliament on Wednesday announced the recall of six MDC Alliance MPs, including Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairperson Tendai Biti (Mt Pleasant), Settlement Chikwinya (Mbizo), Willias Madzimure (Kambuzuma), Regai Tsunga (Mutasa South), Kucaca Phulu (Nkulumane) and Sichelesile Mahlangu (Pumula) at the behest of the People’s Democratic Party.
This has resulted in 48 recalls since last year. While 15 seats for proportional representation MPs have been filled, several other seats need to be filled through by-elections.
The MDC Alliance garnered 88 seats in the National Assembly in the 2018 elections and recalls have weakened the opposition party.
MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere yesterday said Zec should expedite the holding of by-elections.
“Zec has a constitutional obligation to hold elections and we have continuously stated that these should be held without delay. MPs have been selected by the people and the continued disregard for this social contract constitutes the greatest betrayal of the people. It undermines the democratic process and further weakens an already frail electoral system. Zimbabweans must not be shaken. We know worse is coming,” she said.
“We see clear connivance with Zanu PF surrogates to usurp the will of the people. The recall of Biti fully exposes the malicious intent of these recalls as he has been targeted for his role in outing corruption through PAC.
“The brazen capture of Parliament is a dangerous low by the regime. They have reduced Parliament to a circus, tainted it with Mnangagwa’s legitimacy crisis and deprived the people of legitimate representation.”
MDC Alliance co-vice-president Welshman Ncube tweeted saying: “I never thought I would live long enough to witness the absurdity of a political party contesting parliamentary elections under the umbrella of some coalition and winning zero seats, but somehow thereafter miraculously being said to have six MPs and then recalling all of them!”
Political analyst Methuseli Moyo said: “In the meantime, the situation is not settled and there is no need to risk life in pursuit of by-elections whose results will not result in any change. I think while that might be true, we must not forget that the MDC conducted itself recklessly post-Tsvangirai, and worsened issues by rushing to form an alliance with off-shoots that had lingering disputes within themselves. These are the results.”
The late Morgan Tsvangirai, who succumbed to cancer of the colon in February 2018, was the founding leader of the opposition.
Said Harare Residents Trust co-ordinator Precious Shumba: “Political parties must not abuse the provisions of the Constitution to destabilise the proper functioning of State institutions like local authorities and Parliament. The residents in the wards and constituencies where their elected representatives were recalled continue to be disadvantaged without their representatives in office.
“The HRT is totally opposed to all undemocratic measures. A one-party State is not ideal for Zimbabwe. We prefer a multi-party democratic system of governance.”
Chitungwiza Progressive Residents Association secretary-general Gift Kurupati said: “What worries us most is that they have an appetite of recalling, but they don’t want to follow the same Constitution which says we must hold the by-elections within 90 days to fill the vacancy.
“Zec must declare a by-elections date as is enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe. People voted for their preferred party. These parties contested each other. The people of Zimbabwe chose the MDC Alliance.”