Zimbabwe constitution stifling opposition


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Leadership tensions and political wrangles within Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), resulted in the expulsions of lawmakers from the ninth parliament.

In April, MDC leader Thokozani Khupe won a Supreme Court judgement to be able to use the official name of the party, MDC-T.

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa opposed Khupe and at the time of the 2018 national elections was the candidate of a coalition of political parties called the MDC-Alliance.

Khupe has been stamping her authority on the party by recalling elected Members of Parliament, causing them to lose their seats.

Some 31 legislators have been expelled in terms of section 129 (1) (K) of the constitution, which stipulates that “a member of parliament loses his/her seat if he/she ceases to be a member of the party under which they were elected”.

Settlement Chikwinya, MDC-Alliance legislator for Mbizo, Kwekwe [Midlands] says the recall of Members of Parliament goes against the principle of representation because one would not have wronged his constituency, but differed in internal politics with his political party.

“The recall of a member of parliament removes the right to enjoy representation for the electorate and the right to represent by the member of parliament,” Chikwinya tells the Africa Report.

Constitutional law expert, University of Zimbabwe professor Lovemore Madhuku, explaining the constitutionality of the recall of the legislatures said, “An MP loses his/her seat merely on account of being recalled by the party that he was voted into parliament at the time of election.

“They lose their seats yet they might still be capable and have confidence in the voters,” Madhuku said.

The electorate in parts of Zimbabwe have questioned the legality of the expulsions of members of parliament whom they had voted for in the 2018 elections.

For the electorate, the Supreme Court decision is considered biased, and aims to disenfranchise the people and weaken the opposition.

When the elections were held, Nelson Chamisa led MDC-Alliance was recognized as a political party, which appeared on the ballot paper and the MPs campaigned using the MDC-Alliance name instead of the MDC-T.

In Gwanda, Matabeleland South, Alice Masawi MDC-Alliance district secretary said the expulsions of the representatives in parliament had violated the voting rights of the electorate.

Masawi said: “A constituency without representation in Parliament lacks in terms of its issues being forwarded, there is no legislative response and it is left.”

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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