21 MDC-T legislators challenge expulsion

Tendai Biti

Tendai Biti

Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
The 21 MDC-T legislators aligned to Mr Tendai Biti’s Renewal Team, who were last week expelled from Parliament, yesterday approached the Constitutional Court seeking nullification of the decision.

Parliament expelled the legislators after MDC-T wrote disowning them, saying they were no longer representing its interest in the House after they joined the recently-formed United Movement for Democratic Change.

The new party is a merger between former MDC-T secretaries-general Mr Tendai Biti’s MDC Renewal Team and Professor Welshman Ncube’s MDC.

Two separate applications were filed yesterday — one in respect of 17 MPs who lost their National Assembly seats and the other for four who were expelled from the Senate.

The 21 argued that their expulsion was unconstitutional as there was no proof that they were no longer with MDC-T and that the courts were still to determine the legitimate party between the Tsvangirai-led group and the Biti faction.

It is the group’s position that the court should nullify the decision and wait for the courts to decide on which group was legitimate.

The group argued that National Assembly Speaker Advocate Jacob Mudenda and Senate president Edna Madzongwe ought to have granted them audience before making a ruling.

It is the group’s contention that the two acted like judges and regarded the Tsvangirai-led party as the legitimate one.

The legislators argued that they were still MDC-T members and that they never resigned.

It is further argued that Mr Tsvangirai had no power to fire them considering that the real party owners were yet to be determined in pending court cases.

Section 129(1) (k) invoked to fire the group, according to the application, does not apply to the situation.

It is the group’s argument that nothing has changed from the time when Parliament refused to adjudicate over the MDC-T dispute and that there was no proof that the Renewal group had formed the United MDC as alleged.

It is argued that Section 129(1) (k) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe only existed to prevent floor crossing and it was not a recall position.

The group argued that the Constitution of Zimbabwe does not provide for recalling of legislators.

“Indeed, if our Constitution had a general right of recall, then Section 129(1) (k) would have been worded differently to simply state that a political party can at any time withdraw or recall any elected Member of Parliament,” reads part of one of the expelled senator Mrs Sekai Holland’s affidavit.

“The manner in which the provision is worded, means that there is no right to recall.”

Parliament’s decision was described as muddled, grossly unreasonable, incompetent and in breach of the people’s right to equal protection of the law as guaranteed and protected by the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Parliament’s decision is also alleged to have breached the legislators’ right to form, join and participate in the activities of a political party of their choice.

The group’s right to stand for election and, if elected, to hold public office was also infringed by the decision, they argued.

The expulsion reduced the MDC-T seats in Parliament from 91 to 70, with the opposition party now having 32 seats in the National Assembly from 49 and 17 seats in the Senate from 21.

Zanu-PF has 192 seats in the National Assembly down from 197, with by-elections due in five constituencies it previously held, but fell vacant due to expulsions, deaths and the elevation of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and former Vice President Joice Mujuru.

The 17 members who were expelled from the National Assembly are Tendai Biti (Harare East), Willias Madzimure (Kambuzuma), Lucia Matibenga (Kuwadzana East), Paul Madzore (Glen View), Reggie Moyo (Luveve), Solomon Madzore (Dzivarasekwa), Bekithemba Nyathi (Mpopoma Pelandaba), Albert Mhlanga (Pumula), Moses Manyengavana (Highfield West), Samuel Sipepa Nkomo (Lobengula), Roseline Nkomo (Tsholotsho North), Settlement Chikwinya (Mbizo), Gorden Moyo (Makokoba) and Arnold Tsunga (Chikanga Dangamvura).

Those who got in the National Assembly through proportional representation and were also booted out are; Evelyn Masaiti, Judith Muzhavazhe and Gladys Mathe.

Those who lost their seats in the Senate are Sekai Holland (Chizhanje), Rorana Muchihwa (Chikomo), Watchy Sibanda (Matabeleland South) and Patrick Chitaka (Manicaland).