Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter—
PRESIDENT Mugabe has proclaimed June 10, 2015, as the date for by-elections in 14 parliamentary seats that fell vacant after MDC-T recalled 21 legislators who joined the newly-formed United Movement for Democratic Change (UMDC). MDC-T will nominate people to fill the other seven seats which are exempted from by-elections as they were won through the proportional representation system using the party’s share of the vote in the 2013 harmonised elections.
The 14 by-elections will be held on the same day as those of Headlands and Hurungwe West where Messrs Didymus Mutasa and his nephew, Temba Mliswa, were kicked out by Zanu-PF over a plot to topple President Mugabe through unconstitutional means.
In a Government Gazette published yesterday, President Mugabe set April 16, 2015, as the date for the Nomination Court sitting in five provincial capitals to receive the names of candidates who intend to contest in the by-elections.
The vacant seats are Harare East, Kambuzuma, Glen View South, Dzivarasekwa, Highfield and Kuwadzana in Harare; Lobengula, Mpopoma-Pelandaba, Pumula, Makokoba and Luveve in Bulawayo; Tsholotsho North in Matabeleland North, Mbizo in the Midlands and Chikanga-Dangamvura in Manicaland.
President Mugabe acted, as empowered by the law, after the Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda wrote to him advising that the seats had become vacant “by reason of members of Parliament having ceased to belong to a political party which they were members when elected to Parliament.”
Section 39 (2) of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) says that after the President has been notified of vacancies in the membership of Parliament, he shall issue a proclamation ordering a new election to fill the vacancies.
The 17 former MDC-T members that 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 that lost their seats in the Senate were Sekai Holland, Rorana Muchihwa (Harare Metropolitan), Watchy Sibanda (Matabeleland South) and Patrick Chitaka (Manicaland).
The MDC factions boycotted by-elections held in Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe in the Midlands and Mount Darwin West in Mashonaland Central yesterday claiming that they wanted electoral reforms.
The MDC factions also did not field candidates in respect of the Hwedza by-election to be held on May 15.
The expelled 21 MDC-T legislators and former Zanu-PF parliamentarians Mutasa and Mliswa have approached the Constitutional Court, separately, challenging their expulsion from Parliament.
The Con Court has since set down April 1, 2015, as the day for the Mutasa and Mliswa hearing, but no date has been set for the ex-MDC-T MPs.
Political analysts said the boycott by the MDCs, in their various guises, is surprising given that they, along with Zanu-PF, participated in the biggest reform since independence – the writing and adoption of the new constitution which set the framework for all the by-elections being held.
The three parties also negotiated amendments to the Electoral Act which governs the conduct of the elections.
Further, political observers say any reforms the parties may be hankering for can only come through Parliament in which representation and numbers are essential to push through any changes to the laws.