A sizeable number of parliamentary seats could be up for grabs if the MDC faction led by Mr Nelson Chamisa follows through its threat to “disengage” from the august House.
However, MDC-T secretary-general Mr Douglas Mwonzora yesterday dared Zengeza West legislator Mr Job Sikhala to vacate his parliamentary seat immediately if he is serious about resigning.
The Supreme Court recently nullified Mr Chamisa’s presidency of the MDC and ruled that Dr Khupe was the genuine leader of the party according to the opposition formation’s constitution. The MDC was directed to hold its extraordinary congress within three months.
Last week, Mr Sikhala, who is the vice chairperson of the Chamisa faction, claimed that all MDC MPs would leave Parliament in solidarity with Charlton Hwende, Prosper Mutseyami, Tabitha Khumalo and Midlands Senator Lilian Timveous, who were recently recalled. It is believed that the chaos could further split the fractious party.
If all MPs aligned to Mr Chamisa resign from Parliament, this could result in by-elections in the affected constituencies.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the country’s supreme law was clear that if a seat is vacated for one reason or the other, this would automatically trigger a by-election.
“Our Constitution does not have a provision not to hold by-elections. If they decide to resign, we will at some stage have to hold the by-election unless if the vacancy occurs less than nine months to a general election.”
However, the law does not provide for by-elections for seats reserved for the Women’s Quota and Senate.
MDC-T was allocated 50 seats of these seats after the 2018 general elections. Despite worries that further by-elections would burden State coffers, Minister Ziyambi said this would be “the cost we have to bear as a country for having undemocratic Movement for Democratic Change politicians”.
“It is also the right of other political parties to participate in by-elections.
I know for certain that the party which I represent, Zanu-PF, wants to participate in all elections when vacancies arise.”
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chief elections officer Mr Utoile Silaigwana confirmed that the electoral body had since been notified of the four vacancies in Parliament.
“I can confirm that yesterday (Thursday) we received the notification of the four vacancies that have arisen in Parliament. We will go ahead and call for a by-election when the time arises because currently all pending by-elections have been suspended in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
In an interview yesterday, Mr Mwonzora accused Mr Sikhala of grandstanding. “If he (Sikhala) is serious and genuine about leaving Parliament he should set an example and resign first.
The fact that he has not done so shows that he is not serious. I don’t take him seriously.” He said most sitting MDC legislators have since advised him that they are not willing to heed Mr Sikhala’s call.
“That threat to withdraw is coming from people who no longer have control over the MPs.
The issue on who has control over MPs was resolved first by the Supreme Court and secondly by Parliament itself when these two institutions recognised us as the leadership of the MPs of the MDC-T.
“We have since advised our MPs that they must ignore that call. It amounts to short-changing the electorate because MPs were elected to serve.”
In the 2018 elections, Zanu-PF won 145 seats of the 210 contested seats in the National Assembly, the MDC-A had 63, while two of the remaining seats were won by the National Patriotic Front and an independent candidate Temba Mliswa. The remaining 120 seats that were apportioned for the Women’s Quota and Senate, with 35 seats allocated to Zanu-PF, 24 to MDC-A and one for MDC-T.
Twenty of the remaining seats were reserved for chiefs (18) and people living with disabilities (two) to complete the cumulative 350 seats in Parliament.
— Sunday Mail