The MDC-T led by Dr Thokozani Khupe yesterday recalled a further eight senators it nominated to fill seats won by the umbrella MDC-Alliance, which it sees as an electoral pact, bringing to 21 the number of legislators it has expelled during the ongoing feud within the opposition.
President of the Senate Mabel Chinomona announced the expulsion of the eight senators from Parliament after MDC-T secretary general Mr Douglas Mwonzora wrote to her advising that the eight had ceased to represent MDC-T.
The eight are Keresencia Chabuka, Siphiwe Ncube, Phyllis Ndhlovu, Madolo Sinampande, Gideon Shoko, Helen Zivira, Meliwe Phuti and Tapfumanei Wunganai.
The senators and earlier groups of MPs in the National Assembly have been recalled by MDC-T after the Supreme Court found that changes to the MDC-T leadership since 2014 were against party rules, leaving Dr Thokozani Khupe as the acting party leader and other positions held by those in office in 2014.
Of the 21 legislators that have been recalled, nine are senators while 12 are National Assembly representatives.
They are all recalled in terms of a constitutional provision that declares seats held by members of the party that sponsored them in the last election become vacant if the party writes to the Speaker of the Senate President to declare the persons no long represent that party.
“Pursuant to the above,” said Senate President Chinomona, “I do hereby inform the House that vacancies have arisen in these constituencies by operation of the law.
“The necessary administrative measures will be taken to inform His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of the existence of the vacancies in line with Section 39 (1) of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) as amended.”
Mr Mwonzora said the legislators had ceased to be members of the party. “These MPs proclaimed that they had left the MDC-T. Some said so in court documents. It is something that we have done with regret, but we cannot allow people to short-change the MDC-T,” said the Mr Mwonzora.
MDC Alliance spokesperson Ms Fadzai Mahere observed that the recall was illegal saying:
“The recall of MDC Alliance senators by a separate party that did not assign them to Senate is unlawful, irregular, and criminal. We will fight this disregard of the people’s will using all tools available to us.”
At the heart of the dispute within the opposition is whether the MPs and senators elected under the MDC Alliance umbrella belong to the party that nominated them on the MDC Alliance list, or belong to the MDC Alliance which regards itself as a political party in its own rights. So far decisions in the High Court have ruled that the MDC-A is an umbrella organisation, although appeals to the Supreme Court might change that.
During the formation of the MDC Alliance before the 2018 elections, the parties that formed the alliance were each allocated constituencies to nominate a single MDC-A candidate, while negotiations produced lists of nominees from each formation for the proportional representation seats in the National Assembly and the Senate.
The MDC-A and some its constituent elements regard this formation as a new party dating to before the poll, while the MDC-T with its 2014 structures regard it as still being an umbrella organisation.
In light of the latest court judgements the Speaker and Senate President have little option but to apply the constitutional provisions, although the MDC-A has tried to present the expulsions as a “Zanu PF plot”.