Political Drama in Zimbabwe
Lawmakers from Zimbabwe’s largest opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), are facing an uncertain future after 15 of their parliamentary seats have been declared vacant.
Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda made the announcement following recalls issued by an individual named Sengezo Tshabangu. Although Tshabangu claims to be the interim secretary-general of CCC, the party disputes this and says he has no authority over their membership.
In his letters informing of the vacancies, Mudenda cited Tshabangu’s claim that the legislators had ceased being CCC members as of early October.
Areas now lacking representation include Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, as well as the Matabeleland North and South provinces. Politicians such as Nicola Watson, Prince Dubeko Sibanda and Febion Kufahakutizwi are among those stripped of their positions. Several other elected through proportional representation were also named.
CCC has strongly rejected the validity of the recalls, calling them “unlawful” and “illegal.” Party spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi accused the ruling ZANU-PF of trying to undermine the will of Zimbabwean voters. With by-elections sure to follow, there are concerns the ruling party will pull out all the stops to gain seats and strengthen its majority in Parliament.
ZANU-PF fell just short of the two-thirds threshold needed to amend the constitution in the previous election. By forcefully recalling opposition politicians, some see this as a ham-fisted attempt to close that gap and consolidate power following recent gains by CCC. How the situation unfolds could have serious implications for democracy in the southern African nation.