The Constitutional Court today dismissed an application filed by former presidential minister Didymas Mutasa and former Hurungwe West legislator Temba Mliswa who were seeking to be reinstated as Members of Parliament. The two, who were expelled from Zanu PF, wanted to also block forthcoming by-elections in their constituencies.
The full bench of the Constitutional Court heard arguments in this case in which the two were challenging their expulsion from the House of National Assembly after they were recalled by President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PP party.
Mutasa and Mliswa’s lead attorney, Lovemore Madhuku, told the court that the Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda, erred when he expelled the legislators without affording them a chance to be heard.
Madhuku argued that Mudenda should have given them reasonable time to access the courts. Mutasa has dismissed his expulsion and his colleagues from the party following the Zanu PF congress last December, which saw the fall of then vice president Joice Mujuru and several others.
They were accused of attempting to topple President Mugabe, an accusation they dismissed as untrue.
In Wednesday’s court proceedings, Mudenda’s lawyer, Simplicious Chihambakwe, argued that there was nothing unlawful in the Speaker’s actions, adding that Zanu PF would be the ultimate loser if the relief being sought had been granted because Mutasa and Mliswa had ceased to be Zanu PF members following their expulsion from the ruling party.
He also argued that by giving Mutasa and Mliswa a chance to be heard, the speaker would have violated the law, which explicitly directs him to expel a lawmaker from the House of Assembly if the MP is no longer a member of the party whose ticket he or she used to get into parliament.
Madhuku told reporters after the court session that his clients were bound by the court’s findings.
Chihambakwe said he was happy that the matter had been put to rest.
Meanwhile, President Mugabe has proclaimed June 10th as the date on which by-elections to fill vacancies in the two constituencies would be held.
On the same day, by-elections would be held to fill vacancies in parliament created by the expulsion of MDC Renewal Team members from parliament. The opposition party is currently challenging their expulsion from the august house and their case would be heard on April 14th.
An independent lawyer and researcher, Derek Matyszak, says these by-elections are unconstitutional as Zimbabwe has not yet harmonized electoral laws with the new constitution.
Mastszak is quoted by the Zimbabwe independent newspaper as saying the executive has violated the constitution as some of the by-elections are not being held within the 90-day period stipulated in the country’s supreme law.
To make matters worse, he says, the Registrar General is still expected to handle the voters roll instead of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission or ZEC as stipulated in the country’s constitution.
Four Bulawayo councilors who defected from the MDC-T to the MDC Renewal Team say they are not intimidated by threats that they will face a similar fate as their legislator counterparts who were recently recalled from parliament by the MDC-T.
However, MDC-T spokesman Obert Gutu told Studio 7 his party is not considering recalling the councilors unless it received a recommendation from the party’s Bulawayo province.
Bulawayo city council chief whip, Collet Ndlovu, who is a member of the renewal team, tells reporter Sithandekile Mhlanga his party is more concerned about gaining more support and winning in the oncoming 2018 elections.