POLITICAL analysts say the decision by the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) led by Nelson Chamisa to participate in the 9 December by-elections is spot-on as it sends a message of defiance and willingness to continue fighting Zanu PF which is desperate for a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
All CCC legislators and councillors who were recalled by an imposter Sengezo Tshabangu, who claimed to be the party’s interim secretary-general, successfully filed their papers to contest in the by-elections despite the party leader Chamisa having earlier said they will boycott the polls, describing the event as a muppet show.
Professor of world politics at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies Stephen Chan told The NewsHawks the CCC’s participation will help forestall the desecration of the national constitution by Zanu PF.
“It was wise to field the same people in whom the electorate had already reposed trust. But Chamisa had no choice in this matter. Before the Supreme Court decision, contesting the by-elections was the only way to save the constitution,” he said. Political analyst Vivid Gwede concurred with Chan.
“CCC did the logical thing fielding candidates, not to give away the seats to their opponents. By fielding the same candidates who were recalled, they sent a message of defiance that they are reaffirming and protecting the people’s choice,” he said.
Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu urged the CCC to be vigilant going forward and master the art of reading Zanu PF politics designed to totally destroy the opposition.
“CCC is firmly in the trap of Zanu PF, and nothing stops Tshabangu from going back to court and claiming those candidates that the CCC has nominated or fielded again as its candidates on the seats that became vacant because of the recalls. The CCC is failing to raise its understanding on the nature of the politics in Zimbabwe that this is no longer a case of simply wanting to be in Parliament and pushing an agenda of reform,” he said, adding: “The politics has significantly shifted in the sense that Zanu PF is now going for the total destruction of the opposition. And to continue dancing in the same arena that Zanu PF has created for you is unstrategic. What CCC needs to do is to read the situation, go back to the drawing board, mobilise its support base, churches, labour, students, civil society.
“The rural and urban communities are on a struggle for democratisation. To assume that this can be achieved in a Parliament dominated by Zanu PF in a party that is allegedly controlled by Tshabangu with all the support that he has from Parliament, the judiciary, from Zanu PF, from the security sector is a waste of time. So for me this is just CCC playing Zanu PF’s game and failing to break out of essentially being puppets in a Zanu PF game, of not only recalls, but abusing state institutions for its own political ends. And, until the CCC learns that the struggle has changed, then they will continue to suffer until 2028.”
Tshabangu revealed that he already had a list of candidates who would compete in the 9 December by-elections that did not include the recalled members.
However, in Bulawayo, the recalled CCC members asserted that the party recognised Innocent Chagonda and Sthabile Mlilo as legitimate members who would sign their nomination forms which resulted in them successfully filing their papers at the nomination court.
Last month in October, Tshabangu wrote to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) stating that only he and two others, Mbuso Siso and Jabulani Ncube, were the authorised signatories for CCC candidates who were to take part in the 9 December by-elections.
The actions by the recalled CCC members were therefore a show of defiance not only against Tshabangu but also Zanu PF which expected weaker candidates or a complete boycott by the Chamisa team.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is on a relentless push for a Zanu PF two-thirds majority in Parliament, quickly proclaimed elections in constituencies left vacant after some CCC legislators were recalled by Tshabangu.
Sources say Mnangagwa desperately needs a two-thirds majority as he is contemplating changing the country’s constitution to enable him to run for a third term of office.
The Zimbabwean constitution, which came into effect in 2013, restricts presidential tenure to two terms. Mnangagwa came to power through a military coup in November 2017 before controversially winning the 2018 elections to secure his first term as an elected president.
He secured his second and last term after another controversial election rejected by the main opposition CCC, the Southern Africa Development Community and several other electoral observer missions on 23 and 24 August.
Using Tshabangu as a willing pawn, Zanu PF with the assistance of the Central Intelligence Organisation-linked Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz) has ochestrated the expulsion of 15 legislators from the National Assembly and nine senators, to make it easier for the President to change the constitution.
In a letter dated 3 October, Tshabangu wrote to Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda and Local Government minister Winston Chitando recalling legislators and councillors.
Tshabangu said the legislators and councillors elected on a CCC ticket had ceased to be members of the party.
The recalled MPs include Pashor Sibanda who won the Cowdray Park National Assembly seat ahead of Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, Ereck Gono (Lobengula Magwegwe), Nicola Watson (Bulawayo South), Desmond Makaza (Mpopoma Mzilikazi) Obert Manduna (Nketa), Mlilo Sitabile (proportional representation), Jasmine Toffa (PR), Janeth Dube (PR), Evidence Zana (Youth Qouta), Morgan Ncube (Beitbridge West), Nomathemba Sibanda (PR), Velisiwe Nkomo (PR), Prince Dubeko Sibanda (Binga North) and Bright Moyo Vanya (Lupane East). Mabvuku-Tafara MP Munyaradzi Febion Kufahakutizwi was also recalled.
Zanu PF failed to get the twothirds majority it sought in Parliament, winning 136 of the 209 National Assembly seats contested, while the CCC garnered 73 seats.
Zanu PF has a track record of tampering with the constitution in order to consolidate Mnangagwa’s power. In the last parliamentary term, Mnangagwa, through the Zimbabwe Constitution Amendment (No.2) Act, changed the supreme charter to remove the running mate close so that he has a pliant deputy, while giving himself greater control over cabinet, the Prosecutor-General and Public Protector.
The Act permitted the President to promote judges of the High Court and the Supreme Court to a higher court on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), without the need for public interviews, thereby opening the door to promotions on the basis of political suitability and cronyism.
It allowed judges of the ConCourt and the Supreme Court to continue to serve beyond the current retirement age of 70, if the President, after consulting the JSC, consented to their doing so.
This effectively stripped judges of their security of tenure, thus their independence, since they will hold office from year to year subject to the President’s whim.