Zimbabwe’s High Court to Decide Fate of Recalled MPs

A legal challenge by a faction of the opposition party seeks to stop 23 former legislators from running under the same banner

by Victor Adetimilehin

Zimbabwe’s High Court is expected to deliver its judgment on Friday in a case that could have major implications for the country’s opposition politics. The case was brought by Sengezo Tshabangu, a self-proclaimed secretary general of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), a faction of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Tshabangu is seeking to bar 23 former MDC legislators from contesting in the February 3 by-elections under the CCC name and symbol. Another faction of the MDC led by Nelson Chamisa, who claims to be the legitimate leader of the party and the CCC, recalled the 23 from parliament last year.

Tshabangu argues that the recalled MPs are no longer members of the CCC and that they cannot use the party’s identity, which he says belongs to Chamisa. He also contends that there is only one CCC that participated in the 2023 general elections and that sponsored and recalled the MPs.Category: Africa

Legal Arguments

Tshabangu’s lawyer, Advocate Lewis Uriri, told the court that the MPs accepted their recall by filing new nomination papers, confirming that they were no longer representing the CCC. He said the nomination officer should not have accepted their papers, as it would create confusion and unfairness in the electoral process.

He also cited a previous judgment by Justice Munamato Mutevedzi, who ruled in favor of Chamisa’s faction in a similar dispute over the party’s leadership and identity.

However, the lawyers representing the respondents challenged the urgency and merit of Tshabangu’s application. They said Tshabangu knew about the MPs’ nomination long before he filed his case and that he failed to show any irreparable harm that would arise from their participation.

They also said Tshabangu was not a candidate himself and that he did not field any candidates in some of the constituencies he wanted to block. 

Political Implications

The political landscape in Zimbabwe could undergo a significant change due to The High Court’s decision, which has weakened the opposition through internal power struggles and legal battles. The MDC, which was once a formidable challenger to the ruling ZANU-PF party, has split into several factions, each claiming to be the authentic representative of the people.

The various opposition groups see the by-elections as a test of their popularity and credibility. The CCC, which uses Chamisa’s face as its symbol, is hoping to retain its support base and prove that it is still the main alternative to ZANU-PF.

The ruling party, on the other hand, is aiming to capitalize on the opposition’s disarray and consolidate its dominance in parliament and local councils. The opposition has accused ZANU-PF of interfering in their affairs and influencing the recalls through the courts and the speaker of parliament.

However, some activists have expressed hope that the by-elections will provide an opportunity for the people of Zimbabwe to exercise their democratic rights and hold their leaders accountable. 

They have urged the electoral commission, the security forces, the media, and the civil society to play their roles in ensuring a peaceful and credible electoral process. They have also appealed to the political parties and candidates to conduct their campaigns in a responsible and respectful manner, and to accept the outcome of the polls.


Source: New Zimbabwe 

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