Tensions are rising again in the Zimbabwe unity government with the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change accusing hardliners in Zanu PF of trying to divert attention from crucial matters such as the writing of a new constitution by urging by-elections in 28 vacant senate and parliamentary seats.
Clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma says there are 16 parliamentary constituencies and 12 senate seats without representation. In the 2008 parliamentary elections, the MDC party of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai scooped 100 seats, the formation led by Welshman Ncube got 10 while Zanu PF won 99.
Since then, some legislators have died; others have been expelled or re-assigned by their parties. Three former members of parliament for Nkayi South, Lupane East and Bulilima East won a High Court order in October compelling President Robert Mugabe to proclaim election dates.
But the attorney general appealed the ruling at the Supreme Court on behalf of Mugabe. Hardliners in Zanu PF, led by Jonathan Moyo are now pushing for by-elections as a way to end the troubled coalition government, saying the failure to hold elections is illegal.
Moyo argues that the outcome of these by-elections could, “see one of the coalition parties in parliament emerging with a majority of at least 106 seats out of 210 with the consequence of sinking the Global Political Agreement and its so-called unity government, not to mention kissing Copac goodbye."
Clerk Zvoma told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that his hands are tied as he can only notify the president and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of the vacancies, while ZEC chairman Simpson Mutambanengwe said Mr. Mugabe alone can proclaim the by-elections.
Tsvangirai MDC deputy organizing secretary and former Nkayi South MP, Abednico Bhebhe, said that Mugabe was undermining representative democracy by refusing to call a vote to fill in the vacant posts.
But organizing secretary Qhubani Moyo of the Ncube MDC said the vacant posts must be filled concurrently with anticipated general elections. Lawyer Jeremiah Bamu of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights accused Zanu PF of being insincere.