Parliament on Tuesday expelled 21 lawmakers from the breakaway Movement for Democratic Change Renewal team after the main MDC formation led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai wrote to the speaker saying the legislators no longer represented the interests of the party following their expulsion last year.
After a heated exchange of words over the issue between the MDC-T and MDC Renewal, the general expectation was that the Renewal lawmakers were going to lose their bid to remain lawmakers after having largely survived by luck over the past year.
This is the first time since independence that lawmakers have been expelled en-masse.
Of the 21, four were Senate members while the rest were from National Assembly.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, said the lawmakers were expelled in terms of Section 129 (1)(k) of the constitution which stipulates that a member of parliament loses his or her seat if he or she ceases to be a member of a party under which they were elected to the house.
Mudenda said he was notified by the MDC-T secretary general, Douglas Mwonzora, a fortnight ago that the lawmakers no longer represented the party’s interest.
He said though former MDC secretary general, Tendai Biti, had written to parliament challenging Mwonzora’s notification, there was no evidence that Biti and his colleagues had sought to interdict the congress or challenge its outcome.
The Speaker said his ruling on the matter in 2014 was on the basis that there were two High Court cases on the MDC leadership wrangle which have since been withdrawn.
Among those expelled are Tendai Biti (Harare East), Willias Madzimure (Kambuzuma), Lucia Matibenga (Kuwadzana), Paul Madzore (Glen View), Solomon Madzore (Dzivaresekwa), Bekitemba Nyathi (Mpopoma Pelandaba), Regie Moyo (Luveve), Albert Mhlanga (Pumula), Moses Manyengavana (Highfield West), Samuel Sipepa Nkomo (Lobengula), Roseline Nkomo (Thsholotsho North), Settlement Chikwinya (Mbizo), Gorden Moyo (Makokoba), Anorld Tsunga (Dangamvura) and Evelyn Masaiti, Judith Muzhavazhe and Gladys Mathe who represented Harare, Masvingo and Bulawayo respectively under the proportional representation system.
Expelled from the Senate were Rorana Muchihwa of Chikomo, Sekai Holland of Chizhanje, Watchy Sibanda (Matabeleland South) and Patrick Chitaka (Manicaland).
Speaking after the expulsion, Solomon Madzore said they will for now respect the speaker’s ruling.
Holland noted that at least parliament had shown that the rule of law existed in Zimbabwe.
MDC Renewal party spokesman, Jacob Mafume, slammed the ruling, adding they will be taking the matter to court.
Meanwhile, political analysts said Tuesday’s ruling would hamper any efforts by opposition parties to fight Zanu PF as a united front in the 2018 elections.
Zimbabwe Democracy Institute director, Pedzisai Ruhanya, said the ruling, however, puts to rest the issue of who is in charge of the MDC-T.
He said while the party has said it would not participate in any by-elections until democratic reforms are implemented, it is now likely the party will field candidates in constituencies declared vacant Tuesday as most of them are in their strongholds.