‘ZEC conspires with Zanu PF to weaken CCC in key constituencies’
The decision by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to withdraw the notice of by-election vacancies for six National Assembly constituencies that were held by People’s Democratic Party (PDP) members, including the party’s former president Tendai Biti are meant to weaken the newly launched opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), UK based law expert Alex Magaisa has argued.
This comes after the High Court on Tuesday set aside the proclamation that declared the seats vacant.
The High Court also ruled that the previous ruling nullifying the recall of the six MPs effectively stands despite an appeal that was made by former PDP members opposed to Biti and the five MPs.
ZEC chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana abandoned the vacant notice in Nkulumane, Mbizo, Kambuzuma, Mutasa South, Pumula and Harare East National Assembly Constituencies.
“IT is hereby notified that, following a court order issued in the case of Kucaca Ivumile Phulu and 6 others vs Benjamin Rukanda and 7 others, Case No HCH 106/22, there exists no vacancies in Nkulumane, Mbizo, Kambuzuma, Mutasa South, Pumula and Harare East National Assembly Constituencies,” Silaigwana said in a statement.
These controversial seats are held by members aligned to Nelson Chamisa and his recently launched political party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).
Chamisa, on Monday dumped the MDC Alliance organization after smaller opposition MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora grabbed the name through controversial legal arguments allegedly sponsored by the ruling Zanu PF party.
The main opposition leader invented the CCC and dumped the traditional red colour while adopting yellow and gold.
In lifting the vacant notice in the six constituencies that Chamisa’s members are said to be likely to win resoundingly, Magaisa said Zanu PF wanted to limit the popularity of the CCC that would come with Biti and colleagues’ win.
Magaisa accused the court of being used by Zanu PF to push for this through recalling the vacant notice a day before the nomination court. The court sits today for determination of by-elections set to be held on the 26th of March to fill the vacant seats in the National Assembly and local government.
“When you are dealing with the system, you must always anticipate its actions. When you see ZANU PF admitting defeat in a litigation it is because it sees an advantage, not weakness in defeat. Some are seeking to understand the legal implications of this ZEC notice issues today,” Magaisa said.
“The notice is that by-elections in 6 constituencies & 1 ward have been cancelled. It’s because a court ordered that there are no vacancies. For months, the affected MPs have been shut out of parliament though they had won their case. The system was frustrating them.
“Now, just a day before the Nomination Court, the court makes a ruling in their favour. Since it’s important to call a spade by its proper name, this development doesn’t do CCC any favours at all. To understand it, let me explain how ZANU PF has found advantage in adversity.”
Magaisa added: “All along ZANU PF was happy to frustrate these MPs using legal processes. When ED issued the proclamation for by-elections the affected MPs rightly challenged his move. Now that they won, the system will say the courts are fair. But really ZANU PF is the winner in defeat.”
Magaisa said that the launch of CCC surprised President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s party and that the by-elections in CCC strongholds were “likely to boost its profile and give it momentum.”
“So anything to deflate it will do. That’s why the system is happy to let these 6 constituencies drop out of the race. Why boost your new rival?
“The system sees another problem for the new CCC. It is that the 6 MPs will remain in parliament as the PDP element of the old MDC Alliance. Yet, CCC has just launched as a new entity. It will be awkward for CCC having members that are also still identified as MDC Alliance/PDP
“The last thing that CCC needs in these formative stages is any appearance of division. And the system’s propaganda machinery will sing everyday about this circumstance of MPs who carry a different totem even though they are also CCC. They will concoct conspiracies of division.
Worse, because the MPs are part of the 2018 election matrix, Mwonzora will still get public funds based on their presence in Parliament. If by elections had gone ahead and been won by CCC, that would have changed things and reduced Mwonzora’s funding.
“Of course with hindsight the MPs should not have insisted but they weren’t to know that a new party was on the horizon. Could the case have been withdrawn before or on the launch of CCC? Perhaps. And if so, that could have taken the decision away from the court,” Magaisa said. Nehanda Radio