By Robert Tapfumaneyi
INFORMATION Deputy Minister Energy Mutodi has hinted that parliamentary by-elections to replace MDC Alliance MPs who were expelled from Parliament this week will be scrapped to accommodate MDC-T nominees.
Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda this week fired four MDC Alliance MPs on the advice of reinstated MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora on allegations the legislators had deserted the MDC-T.
The affected MPs are Charlton Hwende, MP for Kuwadzana East and Alliance secretary-general; Prosper Mutseyami, Alliance chief whip and Chikanga/Dangamvura MP; Alliance chairperson Thabitha Khumalo and Senator Lilian Timveous.
However, outspoken Mutodi this week made indications that Zanu PF, which has a majority in Parliament might push for the scrapping of by-elections and pave way for the MDC-T to choose its nominees to replace the four MPs.
He said there was no need to needlessly plunge the country into election mode.
At present, if an elected MP is recalled from Parliament by his party, a by-election is conducted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) after the proclamation of a date by the President.
However, this process might be amended soon to controversially allow the MDC-T to second its officials to be legislators without any by-election challenge from anyone.
Thokozani Khupe was appointed Acting President of the political outfit by the Supreme Court following a judgment that Nelson Chamisa was an illegitimate leader of the MDC-T.
“Views from the masses indicate recalled MDC-T MPs must be replaced by nominees from their party,” Mutodi said.
“By-elections will plunge the nation into election mood prematurely and derail government from focusing on economic recovery.”
The MDC Alliance has repeatedly claimed that Zanu PF is behind the factional fights happening in the opposition party, allegations which, however, the ruling party has dismissed.
Meanwhile, a legal practitioner and law academic Alex Magaisa has also fingered Zanu PF as being behind the internal squabbles in the MDC camps.
He alleged Zanu PF was desperate to form a government of national unity (GNU) but with “a weak and submissive opposition that it can control, a coterie of the disgruntled keen to join the gravy train.”
“They want to amend the law in order to get rid of by-elections. Having dubiously and scandalously awarded the MDC Alliance seats to Khupe and associates they can fill the seats left vacant by any recalls without any contest, eliminating the risk of losing,” said Magaisa.
Khupe was appointed Acting President of the MDC-T by the Supreme Court last month after it ruled that Nelson Chamisa had illegally assumed power in 2018 following the death of founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Magaisa also hinted that the proposed GNU agreement would include a constitutional amendment to avoid elections for seven years on the grounds of focusing on the economy.
“They will invite various “stakeholders” (make that steakholders) including civil society and churches to make it look inclusive. A political fraud,” he said.
“There will be a concurrent campaign to discredit Chamisa and his colleagues in the MDC Alliance, including Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube. Virtually anything.”
“Current MPs are already being offered trinkets and receiving threats in a carrot and stick strategy. But none of this will confer legitimacy on the regime. The plan is to crush the head of the MDC Alliance with the help of opposition enablers.”
“However, stealing opposition seats is one thing. Winning the hearts and minds of opposition supporters is a different proposition. The international community, whose support the regime is desperate for can see through these hideous political machinations.”