THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), which this week recalled 21 legislators who went to Parliament on the party’s ticket and later formed another political outfit of their own, has done a disservice to itself by weakening the democratic movement while strengthening the ruling party, analysts have said.
At the behest of the MDC-T led by Morgan Tsvangirai, Parliament on Tuesday expelled 21 Members of Parliament – 17 from the National Assembly and four from the Senate – who broke away under secretary-general Tendai Biti and last month joined hands with former secretary-general Welshman Ncube’s MDC formation to form the United MDC. Analysts told the Financial Gazette yesterday that the move was unfortunate as it worked against the opposition party.
“This clearly weakens the MDC in Parliament. It was already weak, but now it is weaker,” said political scientist, Eldred Masunungure. “This decision was clearly motivated by revenge and the most fatal consequence is that it drastically diminishes its presence and contribution in Parliament.”
The MDC-T has played into the hands of the ruling ZANU-PF, Nhamo Mhiripiri, another analyst said.
“This is what ZANU-PF has been waiting for. I see them benefitting from this development,” Mhiripiri said.
What is staggering about the MDC loss is the large number of legislator seats they have given away, Mhiripiri said.
“The figure is a big proportion of the total number of legislators. When the by-elections for these seats are held it will be like a mini election,” Mhiripiri said.
Even though the MDC had also been in the minority in the house, the situation was even worse now.
“They were a minority before but a reasonably big minority,” Masunungure said.
He added that in the end the biggest loser would be the people of Zimbabwe.
“A country needs robust opposition. Some of the people that have lost seats were sharp and very active in speaking truth to power and engaging the ruling party in Parliament,” he said. “The MDC has really cut the nose to spite the face, which was not prudent. It was very unwise.”
With the fractious developments that have rocked the party since its showing at elections in 2013, analysts said it was highly unlikely that the opposition movement could win back the constituencies in by-elections.
“They would be lucky to win back even half of those seats. The opposition is weaker than it was in July 2013,” said Masunungure, adding, “There are serious leadership questions in the MDC. They will have to work extra hard than they have ever done.”
Masunungure said situation on the ground pointed to a ZANU-PF which has been working consistently to win areas that were MDC strongholds and indications were that the ruling party will waste no time in gaining what the democratic movement had lost.
“ZANU-PF has been making headway in areas like Dzivarasekwa, and if you look at Harare East, the MDC narrowly won it in the 2013 elections and Tsholotsho is another constituency that is likely to go to ZANU-PF,” Masunungure said.
Meanwhile, the ousted legislators yesterday vowed to take legal action, challenging the decisions by Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda and Senate President, Edna Madzongwe to recall them saying the decision was illegal. Addressing a press conference in Harare yesterday, MDC Renewal Team secretary-general, Tendai Biti, who is one of the expelled MPs, said they party would soon lodge an urgent court application to reverse the decision.
“The decision that took place yesterday is illegal and in this regard, our lawyers in their various teams are in the process of crafting an application at the constitutional court to set aside the expulsion that took place in parliament,” Biti said.
The others are Willias Madzimure (Kambuzuma), Paul Madzore (Glen View South), Solomon Madzore (Dzivarasekwa), Lucia Matibenga (Kuwadzana West), Samuel Sipepa Nkomo (Lobengula), Reggie Moyo (Luveve) and Evelyn Masaiti. Also expelled are Bekithemba Nyathi (Mpopoma/Pelandaba), Moses Manyengavana (Highfield West), Albert Mhlanga (Pumula), Roseline Nkomo (Tsholotsho North), Settlement Chikwinya (Mbizo), Judith Muzhavazhe and Gorden Moyo (Makokoba). Three senators have also been expelled namely Sekai Holland (Chizhanje), Rorana Muchihwa (Chikomo) and Watchy Sibanda (Matabelaland South).