By A Correspondent- The besieged Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party has escalated its diplomatic offensive by engaging regional, continental and international parliaments to intervene over the illegal recall of its legislators.
The move is apparently linked to the party’s wider campaign to force fresh elections after it disputed the August 23-24 polls which it described as a “gigantic fraud”.
Following the recall early this month of 15 Members of Parliament and 17 councillors by one Sengezo Tshabangu — who claims to be the party’s interim secretary-general — the Nelson Chamisa-led CCC notified the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Sadc Parliamentary Forum, Pan African Parliament and the Africa Caribbean & Pacific-European Joint Parliamentary Assembly of “continued abuse” of Parliament and Zimbabwe’s Constitution.
IPU has since responded to CCC’s complaint over the “unconstitutional” parliamentary recalls, amid latest claims that Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda reportedly said he did not see Chamisa’s September 11 letter in time advising him that the recalls were illegal.
IPU, a global organisation of 180 national parliaments, discussed CCC’s complaints at its 147th Assembly that took place in Luanda, Angola, from October 23 to 27 and proposed to send a mission to Zimbabwe before January 2024.
At a hearing held by the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, Mudenda stated that section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution stipulates that the seat of an MP becomes vacant ‘if s/he ceases to belong to the political party and if the party, by written notice to the Speaker, declares that the member has ceased to belong to it.
“According to the complainant, Tshabangu is an imposter with no position in the CCC and who has no authority to request the recall of any CCC members. Moreover, none of the individuals concerned in Parliament stated that they had left the CCC,” the committee said in a document seen by NewsDay.
“In the hearing with the IPU Committee, the Speaker of the National Assembly stated that Tshabangu’s letter of October 3, 2023, had been received before the letter from Chimasa dated September 11. Had this been the other way round, the Speaker’s decision may have been quite different.
“He (Mudenda) also stated that the CCC did not have clear and publicly known internal structures or the names of those holding the most important positions in the party. Should a request to recall members of the National Assembly belonging to Zanu-PF be put before him, he said it was public knowledge who is entitled within the party to make that request.”
In its complaint to IPU, the CCC accused Mudenda of acting unconstitutionally by ignoring the written and oral submissions of known party members, refusing to hold any discussions on this issue, and accepting the letter from Tshabangu without ensuring that it was a legitimate communication from the political party concerned.
“According to the complainant, these allegations have to be seen as part of a pattern of repression, the erosion of the independence of the Judiciary and the shrinking civic space that accompanied the disputed 2023 elections, as well as pre-existing violations of the rights of parliamentarians belonging to the opposition,” the IPU Committee said.
The IPU Governing Council was advised that the CCC case requires setting up a mission to Zimbabwe as soon as practicable ahead of the IPU Committee’s 173rd session scheduled to take place in January 2024.
Although it appreciated Mudenda’s argument, it was puzzled by the swiftness with which the decision to revoke the mandate of the newly-elected parliamentarians was taken and the fact that no debate on the issue was allowed
“It wishes to receive additional clarification from the parliamentary authorities of the National Assembly and the Senate. The committee requests that the secretary-general conveys this decision to the parliamentary authorities and other relevant national authorities, the complainant, and any interested third party likely to be in a position to supply relevant information to assist the committee in its work,” the committee added.
Tshabangu said CCC’s efforts were futile and were being spearheaded by “criminals” around Chamisa.
“It’s a futile exercise by criminals around the president (Chamisa). They are singing for their last supper. We shall be deploying seasoned credible leaders with political capital on a diplomatic offensive before the Sadc Summit to set the record straight,” he said.
However, CCC spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi said the move was part of several remedies that the party would use to push the Zanu-PF regime for another election.
“The idea is to bring pressure to bear from every angle possible. Eventually, the regime will remain with no choice but to capitulate and do the right thing, which is to acknowledge its illegitimacy and enter negotiations to bring back legitimacy through the conduct of an actual election,” he said.