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A peep into the February 3 by-election
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A peep into the February 3 by-election

Oscar J Jeke

For most right-thinking Zimbabweans, the upcoming by-elections, which have been slated for February 3, might not have any surprises after all. It appears by registering under the Citizens’ Coalition for Change party, recalled legislators, who had been elected under CCC before being recalled by disputed secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu, they might not appear on the ballot after all, if precedence is anything to go by.

There are two prevailing factors to this context, the precedence of the December 9 by-election case ruling, which in this scenario sets the tone for careful manoeuvres by the opposition MPs. The other factor to this issue is that of loyalty which sits the CCC MPs between a rock and a hard place.

The first dilemma for the recalled CCC legislators is that the disputed Tshabangu has already filed an urgent chamber application to the courts to bar the legislators from the ballot, with the court ruling on December 9 having already set a precedence.

For the legislators, most of whom have been using their own resources for campaigning, it may prove to have been a costly move and wasted resources should the courts bar them from contesting.

Legal practitioner, Moffat Makuvatsine gave insight into the matter on the likelihood of the judgement favouring the legislators noting that the court stands guided by the precedent unless there is justification allowing it to deviate.

“It becomes child play for the supreme law of the country to allow for the recalling of an MP who soon after being recalled decides to participate in the by-election necessitated by his or her recall,” Makuvatsine said.

 In light of this, Section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution has to be examined as the guide to the law governing recalls of MPs, which summarises the matter to clarify that , a recalled member is no longer serving the interests of the party hence no longer represents the party.

The other scenario that the legislators face is that of staying loyal to party leader Nelson Chamisa even when faced with a legal up beat that highly favours their opponent. Filing their papers under the CCC party name is a way of showing their loyalty that has consequences.

However, filing as independent would have its own set of adversities, particularly with the party leader has they would rather be axed from the ballot at the expense of loyalty. Given that is the case with Seke constituency candidate, Tapfumaneyi Willard Madzimbamuto who filed as an independent, the law provides that an independent candidate can be recalled by any member of the public for showing or belonging to a certain political party or affiliation.

Although CCC national spokesperson, Promise Mkwananzi insists that campaigns should move forward the case raised by Tshabangu can hang over all the progress made by the legislators, with Zanu PF happy to collect the seats that fall vacant in the areas that Tshabangu did not field candidates.

Judgement has already been made on the urgent chamber application by Tshabangu. CCC’s appeal was dismissed, creating a new dynamic to Zimbabwean politics.

The biggest loser though in the matrix is the electorate, which was hoodwinked into taking in some of the candidates’ courage of bravado. They knew pretty well that the odds were staked against them, but continued to file their papers under the CCC, which had recalled them in the first place.

Therefore, it might be very possible that it will be back to the drawing board once again for recalled MPs Amos Chibaya, Admore Chivero, Gift Ostallos Siziba and Oliver Mutasa.

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