By Joel Mandaza
HARARE — Parliament as an institution of democracy has been defiled.
The country finds itself in a peculiar position where elected representatives were recalled only to be replaced by those who lost the same elections, a spectacular anomaly.
Thokozani Khupe and her party fielded Parliamentary candidates in 2018, they lost to either Zanu PF or MDC Alliance (save for two other seats which were occupied by the late Masango Matambanadzo of the National Patriotic Front or Temba Mliswa who ran as an independent candidate), but she finds herself as leader of the opposition.
For those who follow football, it is the equivalent of a team getting knocked out in the round of 16 at a tournament, but finding itself lifting the trophy.
Someone, presumably the ruling party, saw an opportunity in the fights which rocked the opposition from the time Morgan Tsvangirai died and etched a plan.
The matters spilt to court and the ruling which was delivered to settle the debacle which ran for close to two years was near impractical, with experts deeming it to be moot and academic.
The ruling by the Supreme Court bench that the MDC and its connected manifestations should return to the 2014 structures.
They were also ordered to have an extraordinary congress within three months, which have since elapsed.
This meant that Douglas Mwonzora returned to being Secretary General and he has used the position to victimise those who mocked him during the fierce political battles.
In 2018, MDC Alliance under Nelson Chamisa won a sizeable number of seats in the National Assembly and in the Senate.
But all that is in the process of being undone, so far Thokozani Khupe and Douglas Mwonzora have recalled 31 Parliamentarians who they say have been expelled from the MDC-T of 2014.
There are indications that more will be recalled in the not-so-distant future.
Recalls are by and large, a political tool which has been used within the MDC infighting.
In April 2018, Nelson Chamisa recalled Thokozani Khupe from parliament using Section 129 of the Zimbabwean constitution, which in turn has been employed against Chamisa and his sympathizers.
The vacant seats have been assumed by Khupe and some members of her MDC-T of 2014.
Khupe took oath of Parliamentary office together with Memory Munochinzwa, January Sawuke, Lindani Moyo, Sipho Makone, Yvonne Musarurwa and Lwazi Sibanda.
In the Senate, Kalipani Phugeni was sworn in together with Piniel Denga, Chief Ndlovu, Nomalanga Khumalo, Teti Chisorochengwe, Gertrude Moyo, Tamani Moyo and Molly Dorothy Ndlovu.
This was after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had written to both Parliament and Senate communicating that the MDC-T had forwarded names to replace the recalled proportional representation MPs.
What is curious is how Thokozani Khupe is now occupying a Parliamentary seat whose initial occupant stood against her own preferred candidate during the 2018 election.
Khupe fielded her own candidates and they failed to convince the electorate to give them the mandate. It is then unsanitary that she occupies a seat in Parliament as leader of opposition whose majority of candidates she did not deploy.
How is she leading them? Using what social contract?
There have been calls for MDC Alliance Parliamentarians to resign from Parliament following this travesty on democracy.
The calls are not only premised on blind loyalty to Nelson Chamisa -who is Khupe’s real target – but on the principle that Parliament is the arm of Government mandated by the people to keep the other arms in check.
Duly elected Parliamentarians should preserve the trust they were given by the people through exiting Parliament which has in effect become poisoned chalice.
How can a senior opposition leader, like Tendai Biti, submit to Khupe as leader of opposition when in effect they are rivals?
Does this not leave room for the submission to be interpreted as a tacit admission into the opaque opposition outfit that Khupe seems to be formulating with Douglas Mwonzora, which appears sympathetic to the incumbent?
Legitimate Parliamentarians are serving the arm of Government on the back of votes deposited by constituents, it would be complicit behavior if they warm up to those who have been at the forefront of recalling other Parliamentarians.
It can be a game of resources and status, but in Zimbabwe, there is no single Parliamentarian who did not promise to be a servant of the people.
When the will of the people is being subverted through a legal technicality, there is need to preserve the sanctity of that collective will.
One defiled vote, is one too many.
All well meaning opposition Parliamentarians should have resigned when Mwonzora and Khupe started weaponising recalls.
A compromised politician is a liability to democracy and as it stands, those who are holding on to shaky Parliamentary seats risk losing their credibility which will be interpreted through the way they interact with characters like Thokozani Khupe who were in effect smuggled into the August house. –— OpenParlyZW
By Joel Mandaza