By Wamavana Mpedzegwa
The political situation in Zimbabwe has been tumultuous in recent times, reducing the Parliament of Zimbabwe to a kindergarten playground.
The Zanu PF and CCC parties are locked in a nasty political tug-of-war that has reached an all-time low to the level of Sabhuku Vharazipi traditional indabas.
It’s a disheartening situation. Sadly, we seem to be failing at the political fundamentals as a country, and it is the common man who suffers because of such immature and amateurish political games by those supposed to be providing political leadership.
What makes it more disturbing is that it is predictable. It even seems like a replay. We have been here before. The same script with a slight change in plot setting is playing out again. The central characters are now Senzo Tshabangu and Tafadzwa Manyika, no more Douglas Mwonzora or Thokozani Khupe.
Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda retained a similar role in the second political episode. Winston Chitando replaced July Moyo as Minister of Local Government in the second episode. The main victims in the new plot remain unchanged: Nelson Chamisa and the electorate.
In the first episode, they lost Harvest House, elected MPs, and funding. And they are heading in the same direction this time again.
The other slight change in the new episode is that President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who directed events of the first episode from underground, bared his hand this time by rushing to announce dates of by-elections when the case is still before the courts. He is overtly in a rush to deliver a fatal political blow to CCC.
Just imagine this. Is unbelievable! Tshabangu, who emerged from political obscurity, fashioned himself as the Interim Deputy Secretary General and successfully recalled 15 CCC MPs and 17 councillors who are still dripping with fresh mandates from the August 2023 elections.
Even a primary school class monitor is treated with more respect than how CCC were chopped off from parliament. Tshabangu theatrically hung on a letter to Mudenda and Chitando heralding the withdrawal of legislators and councillors he never deployed in the first place. It is not difficult to locate the source of Tshabangu’s powers to fire people he never employed.
Initially ignored by the media as a ‘hoax’, cartoon character, Tshabangu gained traction when Mudenda acted on his letter. One needs the services of tsikamutanda to digest the vapid and rabid turn of events in the August house.
The recalled MPs refused to be recalled, and Mudenda invited police to violently emit them from the Chinese-built new parliament building in Mount Hampden.
Nothing had prepared Zimbabweans for such public display of rogue conduct by the powers that be. Vanoita madiro a Gorgina ne Parliament yenyika. Nhubu dziri kuita murambamhuru muparamende.
Those who opposed the condemnation of the August elections must now have a clear picture to help them make informed decisions. If they can brazenly expel elected and honorable MPs from parliament in broad daylight, then how much more rigging did they commit under the cover of darkness?
Headman Chigodora of Karanganda TV fame would have allowed a dose of sanity to exist by dissecting the status of Tshabangu in CCC before buying into a letter from an obscure chap, dismissed as an ‘impostor’ by Chamisa.
Expectedly, Chamisa’s attempt to shed light on the issue was ignored by Mudenda.
An equally unknown Tafadzwa Manyika also emerged claiming to be a Zanu PF Interim Secretary General and initiated a process to recall elected 70 Zanu PF MPs.
Meanwhile, Mudenda is still to act on the letter, but Zanu PF has already invited police to arrest Manyika on fraud charges. CCC’s attempts to open similar charges against Tshabangu drew blanks.
As if that is not enough comedy, President Emmerson Mnangagwa strangely acted with speed to gazette and schedule 9 December as the date of the by-election to fill the seats left vacant by recalled MPs.
The situation is fluid and rapidly evolving since the main shakers and movers of the movie Mnangagwa, Mudenda and Chitando are acting according to a well-laid-down and rehearsed script while Tshabangu is feeding them a storyline. The storyline is complete with timelines and measurable political deliverables.
The character of Manyika in the script will die soon as there won’t be much action beyond Mudenda’s inbox or incoming tray.
The situation is tense and predictable, with both parties accusing each other of fraud and impropriety. The political developments are so ridiculous and too preposterous to merit even as a passing sneer. It’s like watching a bad reality TV show where everything is scripted but makes no sense. The situation is fluid and rapidly evolving2.
The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has called for fresh elections supervised by SADC, African Union (AU), or United Nations (UN), as they believe the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is biased.
Zimbabwe academics and activists who spoke to Zimbabwe Observer described the developments as excessive political gunmanship which was profaning the sanctity of the parliament of Zimbabwe.
Dr. Nephat Shumba, a UK-based academic, lamented the unsavoury development which he views as an unmitigated disregard of the electorate’s choices. “Any government peddling or cherishing Machiavellian monolithic ideology/principles is archaic and irrelevant,” said Dr. Shumba.
“A functional government should have the general povo’s primary interests at heart and must be run with and for the people of Zimbabwe, disregarding partisan meandering to say the least,” he said.
He continued, “It’s time for Zimbabweans to stand up against everything and anything anti-progressive and demand better from their leaders. The future of their country depends on it.”
Professor Ricky Mukonza of Tshwane University of Technology apportioned blame to both Zanu PF and CCC for their contributions in creating a chaotic political environment in Zimbabwe.
“There are real issues within the CCC party emanating from a shadowy structure and constitution as well as shambolic poorly handled primary elections that left serious fissures in the party,” said the hard-hitting Professor.
Mukonza’s sentiments ring loud in Tshabangu’s complaints against Chamisa who he accused of imposing party candidates.
Mukonza added, “However, we cannot fail to see the hand of ZANU PF in ensuring that Tshabangu succeeded in his mission. In the end one is forced to invoke Anthony Hincks’ words: ‘a salted fish will always invite maggots to the party.”
Mukonza took a swipe at CCC for conducting its business in a manner which makes Zanu PF or state institutions interfere in their affairs.
“This whole fiasco impacted negatively on the value assigned to the MPs, parliament as an institution that should represent the people, as well as elections in general. People may end up not seeing the value of voting and this has the overall effect of undermining democracy as a system of electing representatives in the legislative arm of government,” he said.
Edson Shoko, a historian based in Bulawayo, has accused Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), of creating an environment that is conducive to ZANU-PF’s interference in CCC affairs.
Shoko slamed Chamisa for holding multiple positions within the party, which he believes makes it easy for anyone to claim any position.
He added that political parties should have a clear hierarchy and well-defined roles to avoid confusion and ensure smooth functioning.
Shoko implored Chamisa to relinquish some of his positions to prevent any further interference from ZANU-PF.
“That is the biggest political mistake that Chamisa made or is making. How can he be the President, Secretary General, Treasurer, Youth leader etc? This also makes it easy for anyone to wake up and claim any position. Zanu PF is very good at dribbling,” said Shoko.
A media activist Njabulo Ncube sang a different tune and wholly apportioned blame to Zanu PF.
“These Zanu PF shenanigans have demeaned parliament as one of the pillars of democracy,” said Ncube.
Exiled and former Foreign Affairs Minister Walter Mzembi absolved Chamisa of any wrongdoing maintaining that the infighting within CCC was political engineered and induced from inside.
“As much as some people may blame @nelsonchamisa for this and that response or for errors of commission or omission the undeniable reality is our politics has stooped so low, its no longer competitive politics, turning point Nov 2017 it completely altered the model of contestation, the political ecosystem, even the remaining pretense on tolerance “it’s my way or the highway “. The Recalls are our lowest ever, its nothing to do with @CCCZimbabwe but political engineering induced from outside. Even fools can read through this!” said Mzembi in a tweet.