Twenty-one MDC-T legislators face the boot from Parliament after the party wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly and Senate president asking for their recall saying they were now members of a different political party, the United Movement for Democratic Change.
Those facing recall are 14 elected National Assembly Members, four Senators and three who went to Parliament on proportional representation on an MDC-T ticket.
MDC-T has 91 representatives in both Houses of Parliament and if the attempt succeeds will it whittle the Morgan Tsvangirai party’s membership to 70.
In his letter to National Assembly Speaker Advocate Jacob Mudenda and Senate President Cde Edna Madzongwe on March 4, MDC-T secretary-general Mr Douglas Mwonzora said the recall was in line with Section 129(1) (k) of the Constitution.
He argued that the group of MPs facing recall, led by former secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti and deputy treasurer Mr Elton Mangoma, had ceased to be members of the MDC-T after they formed a new political outfit called United Movement for Democratic Change (UMDC).
Section 129 (1) (k) of the Constitution, which is the basis of the recall, states that a seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the member has ceased to belong to the political party of which he or she was a member when elected to Parliament and the political party concerned, by written notice to the Speaker of Parliament or the President of the Senate, as the case may be, has declared that the member has ceased to belong to it.
Mr Mwonzora said the recall was further buttressed by the party’s congress resolution, which resolved to expel Mr Biti and his colleagues after they formed a new party.
He said unlike in the case of Zanu-PF where former secretary of administration Mr Didymus Mutasa and former spokesperson Mr Rugare Gumbo were challenging the legality of the congress, Mr Biti never challenged their congress let alone its outcome.
Reads part of the letter: “Mr Speaker Sir, the said Members of Parliament have formed their own party called UMDC, which is a further indication that they have ceased to be members of our party.”
In any case, Mr Mwonzora said, the Speaker had set precedence by accepting Zanu-PF’s recall of Mr Mutasa and his nephew Mr Temba Mliswa, legislators for Headlands and Hurungwe West respectively.
He said the two cases had a number of similarities, which compelled the Speaker to accept their recall.
Mr Mwonzora threatened to sue the Speaker for discrimination if he rejected their recall.
He said there were some cases before the courts involving MDC-T and Messrs Biti and Mangoma, but they had nothing to do with the recall of MPs.
One of the matters before the courts is Case Number HC4956/14, a matter in which MDC-T is seeking to remove Messrs Biti and Mangoma from being directors of a company called Laphonic Investments.
Assuming the Speaker and Senate President accepted the recall, it effectively means that by-elections will be held in 14 constituencies in question.
However, MDC-T had made a resolution that it would contest in any election only after its so-called electoral reforms.
This leaves Zanu-PF with a greater chance of winning the seats given that the UMDC is just an obscure political outfit.
An MDC-T official who spoke to state media yesterday said: “It is better for those seats to go to Zanu-PF than to assume that we have 91 MPs yet the other are spiting the party.
“Zanu-PF already had two-thirds majority in Parliament so these seats will not change anything in their favour but what will be certain is that we will have buried this animal called UMDC and we will be only opposition in Parliament.”
MDC-T unsuccessfully tried to recall the MPs last year after Mr Biti’s group asked party leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai to step down.
The Biti group went as far as holding a meeting at Mandel Training Centre, where they claimed that they had fired Mr Tsvangirai from the party.
Mr Tsvangirai responded by expelling Mr Biti and his colleagues resulting in a leadership crisis in the party.
As such, the National Assembly Speaker refused to consider the recall until the leadership issue that was brought before the courts was resolved.
The MPs to be recalled are: 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 Anorld Tsunga (Chikanga Dangamvura).
Those who went through proportional representation are; Evelyn Masaiti, Judith Muzhavazhe and Gladys Mathe, while in Senate, Sekai Holland (Chizhanje), Rorana Muchihwa (Chikomo), Watchy Sibanda (Matabeleland South) and Patrick Chitaka (Manicaland), will be kicked out.