Political drama unfolds in Zimbabwe: President Mnangagwa’s by-elections bombshell

Sengezo Tshabangu

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has officially declared December 9 as the date for by-elections in 15 constituencies that became vacant due to the recent recall of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislators by self-proclaimed party secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu.

The proclamation, made through Statutory Instrument 188 of 2023, precedes the court’s examination of the CCC’s challenge to the recalls.

The opposition party, led by Nelson Chamisa, has filed an application claiming that Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda acted incorrectly by relying on Tshabangu’s letter, as Tshabangu was neither a genuine party member nor executive. The party also accuses Mudenda of bias, alleging that he ignored Chamisa’s letter disowning Tshabangu and explaining the party’s internal operations.

Tshabangu, in his letter to Mudenda, asserted that the 15 legislators had ceased to be members of the opposition party. However, the CCC’s challenge to this assertion is yet to be heard in court.

According to the Government Gazette published yesterday, the nomination court is scheduled to convene on November 7 to receive the names of nominees for the upcoming by-elections.

In the proclamation, President Mnangagwa stated, “Now therefore, under and by virtue of the powers vested in the President as aforesaid, I do, by this proclamation order new elections for the constituencies of Beitbridge West, Binga North, Bulawayo South, Cowdray Park, Lobengula Magwegwe, Lupane East, Mabvuku Tafara, Mpopoma Mzilikazi and Nketa; and fix Tuesday the 7th day of November, 2023, as the date on which the nomination court shall sit, commencing at 10 o’clock in the morning.”

The President referred to Section 129(k) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which states that the seats of members of Parliament become vacant when they cease to be members of a particular party. He also cited Section 39(2) of the Electoral Act, which mandates the President to issue a proclamation for a new election to fill such vacancies.

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