Alittle-known Zanu-PF activist has written to Zimbabwe’s speaker of parliament, Jacob Mudenda, recalling 70 ruling-party legislators, including recently appointed cabinet ministers, from the august house.
The “recall” list includes Deputy Finance Minister David Mnangagwa, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s son.
This comes barely two weeks after 29 legislators of the main opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) party were recalled by one Sengezo Tshabangu who claims to be the party’s interim secretary-general. This recall resulted in several legislators being injured when chaos interrupted parliamentary business two weeks ago.
However, CCC leader Nelson Chamisa has dismissed Tshabangu as an “imposter”, saying his party does not have such a portfolio because it is yet to hold its inaugural congress. Chamisa also accused Zanu-PF of masterminding the recalls – an allegation the ruling party has dismissed.
The move by the Zanu-PF activist, Tafadzwa Manyika, to recall dozens of Zanu-PF legislators means the ruling party will have to fight it out with the CCC in by-elections to win back the seats and also try to regain the seats it lost to the opposition legislators who have been recalled from parliament – if the speaker accepts the recall request.
In his letter to Mudenda, Manyika, argued that the 70 Zanu-PF ministers – who also include new Information Minister Jenfan Muswere, Health Minister Douglas Mombeshora and Labour Minister Paul Mavima – had ceased to be members of the party.
Ademon of recalls engulfs the country. The speaker now has no option but to remove the Zanu-PF recalled members as per the precedent he has set.
“Kindly be advised that the following members of the National Assembly were elected under Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) political party and have ceased to be members of the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front. Kindly proceed in terms of the relevant provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe relating to members who have ceased to be members of a political party which they were elected under,” wrote Manyika, who refers to himself as the Zanu-PF interim secretary-general.
However, Zanu-PF acting information director Farai Marapira played down Manyika’s recall.
“Zanu-PF is a party with known structures and everyone knows who writes letters on behalf of our party. I don’t know what you are talking about,” Marapira said.
Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu, who works with International Media Support, says the purported letter recalling Zanu-PF legislators puts Mudenda in an invidious position.
“Well, I guess it’s someone putting the Zanu-PF speaker of parliament to a test in his own rules on recalls. There won’t be a constitutional crisis as the speaker will likely ignore this letter, but the question is: how will he answer this in court when asked about the CCC recalled MPs? Whoever wrote this letter wants to expose the silliness of the speaker of parliament who is now a handy tool in Zanu-PF’s power games,” said Mukundu.
Another political commentator, Rejoice Ngwenya, founder of the Coalition for Market and Liberal Solutions, told Cooking365 that Mudenda’s consistency is being put to the test.
“It’s a serious joke! Anyway, if Mudenda is consistent, he will apply the same rule. He doesn’t have the mandate to question (the) origin of the letter. If he knows that the Zanu-PF secretary-general is Obert Mpofu, he should have known CCC has no structure there, it has no secretary-general,” said Ngwenya.
CCC spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi said his party expected Mudenda, who doubles as Zanu-PF’s legal secretary, to act on Manyika’s recall letter, adding that the fresh elections that his party was demanding were edging closer.
“A demon of recalls engulfs the country. The speaker now has no option but to remove the Zanu-PF recalled members as per the precedent he has set. At this rate, we are likely to have a fresh election sooner than we expected. With almost 100 MPs recalled, parliament has effectively collapsed. Compounded by the sham of August 23, a fresh, free and fair election is now the only option,” said Mkawananzi.
The latest political power play comes as Zanu-PF appears to be looking for an opportunity to secure a two-thirds majority in parliament after failing to do so during the disputed elections controversially won by Mnangagwa.
To put pressure on Zanu-PF, Chamisa told reporters his party was disengaging from parliament after its legislators were recalled by the alleged “imposter”.
Zanu-PF’s political commissar, Mike Bimha, said his party would be happy with the recall of opposition legislators because it would give his party a parliamentary majority if it wins in by-elections.
“It is not our agenda to recall [opposition legislators], it is really an internal affair and if it happens (retaining two-thirds parliamentary majority) it happens to our favour and we say thank you so much,” said Bimha.
Zimbabwe’s 23 August elections were criticised by international observers as fundamentally flawed, but Mnangagwa and his party say they won freely and fairly, while Chamisa dismissed the polls as a gigantic fraud.
However, Chamisa abandoned a legal challenge to the election outcome, alleging judicial capture, and embarked on a diplomatic offensive to ratchet up pressure on the international community to help Zimbabwe address the legitimacy question following the disputed polls.