Morgan Tsvangirayi’s MDC-T, in addition to boycotting the June parliamentary by election is mulling pulling out of Parliament en massé in protest against Zanu PF’s reluctance to create a conducive environment for the holding of free and fair elections.
Party national chairman Lovemore Moyo told NewsDay yesterday that the proposal came up during a National Council meeting last week, but was yet to be formally debated.
Moyo chaired the meeting.
“All I can say is, of course, the matter was raised and it’s still at its earliest stages. There is nothing as yet because there are (certain) procedures to be followed before it is tabled. So, indeed it was raised, but it has not been formally tabled for discussion,” the former Speaker of the National Assembly said.
Party insiders who spoke on condition of anonymity said the issue was raised by a South Africa-based MDC-T member and received massive support from National Council officials at the meeting.
The idea was, however, resisted by sitting MPs who felt the move would plunge them into abject poverty.
MDC-T officials who supported the disengagement proposal argued that it was pointless for sitting legislators to remain in Parliament after the party had resolved to boycott all the forthcoming by-elections over an uneven playing field.
“A youth leader based in South Africa, who is a member of the council, raised that issue and some saw some sense in that. If we decide not to participate in the elections, why then legitimise Zanu PF’s illegal stay in the House? Boycotting is the way to go and this is a view shared by many,” the insider said.
“Let’s pull out and let us concentrate on piling pressure on the (Zanu PF) regime by more demonstrations and visibility on the ground and diplomatic engagements, among other areas, while we are not in Parliament. It serves no purpose for us to be in Parliament while we continue to boycott elections. Ninety-nine percent were for total disengagement if we don’t get reforms.”
As if to pre-empt discussions over the issue, MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu posted a question on his Facebook page, saying: “What benefits, if any, would the people of Zimbabwe derive from a total disengagement and withdrawal from Parliament by the MDC?”
The question attracted mixed responses from people with some saying the party was betraying the electorate, while others warned that the move would spell the end of the main opposition party.
The MDC-T is now left with 70 legislators following the recent expulsion of its 21 lawmakers after they defected to the MDC Renewal Team.
Commenting on the possibility and feasibility of the mooted withdrawal by the MDC-T, political analyst Blessing Vava said: “I don’t think it’s a strategic move. It will give Zanu PF more space to consolidate in those constituencies and it will be very difficult for the MDC-T to
recover in the near future, and, besides, the MDC-T should be aware that they carry a mandate from the people who elected them and, for me, it’s illogical and a betrayal to those.”
In an unrelated development yesterday, the MDC-T condemned the ongoing xenophobic attacks against immigrants by elements of the South African community.
In a statement, the party said it was disheartening that the attacks were taking place at a time when regional bodies such as the Southern African Development Community, Economic Community of West African States and the East African Economic Community were calling for closer ties among African states through the scrapping of visas.