POLITICAL analysts say the new crop of youthful parliamentarians is now envisaged to take over the mantle of holding the authorities accountable after several veteran legislators regarded as “old horses” fell by the wayside in the just-ended general elections.
The disputed election, which has seen Zanu PF win 136 seats against main opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change’s (CCC) 73, has also seen prominent parliamentarians from main political parties fall out of the race for re-election during both the election and internal party selection.
The CCC lost former parliamentarian Job Sikhala who was arrested in June last year on charges of inciting violence at the funeral of slain CCC activist Moreblessing Ali, whose family he was representing, and has spent over one year in pre-trial detention.
In May this year he was slapped with a suspended six-month jail term, and has remained in custody as the state argues that he has outstanding cases, which has seen him fail to retain the Zengeza West seat.
Several other prominent parliamentarians like former finance minister Tendai Biti, former Harare Central MP Murisi Zwizwai, Zanu PF’s Joseph Chinotimba and firebrand independent MP Temba Mliswa have also failed to make it to the new Parliament.
Mliswa, who was one of the most vocal about the welfare of parliamentarians and Zimbabweans in general, lost the Norton parliamentary seat to the CCC’s Richard Tsvangirai. Being the only independent candidate in the Ninth Session, the tough-talking Mliswa had his fair share of expulsions during heated sessions in the august House.
Zanu PF’s Chinotimba, who has had two terms in Parliament since 2013, was defeated in the party’s primary elections held in March this year. However, a new crop of younger parliamentarians has taken over. In Harare’s Mt Pleasant constituency, former CCC national spokesperson Fadzai Mahere won.
She has a track record of robustly speaking out against bad governance, human rights violations and injustice.
In Bulawayo, CCC deputy spokesperson Gift Siziba is making a debut appearance in Parliament after successfully surviving an onslaught in which he and 11 other CCC MPs had been disqualified on allegations of filing their papers at the nomination court after the 4pm cut-off time.
Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said parliamentary debates are likely to become more heated with the addition of new and youthful parliamentarians.
“I think the new Parliament is going to be an interesting mix of Zanu PF and CCC. We will see newcomers from CCC, and these will likely make a name for themselves, to prove themselves and to demonstrate their capabilities in more vibrant parliamentary discussions,” Mukundu said.
“I think there are quite a number of young people that are coming in, as well as the old guard. So, the debate and, I think, struggles in Parliament are likely to be between the youngish or the youthful members who have a career to promote and to develop, whilst the old guard, I think, is mostly in there to safeguard their economic and related interests and prestige, not really that they have something to prove.”
Mukundu, however, said there is a need for the young parliamentarians to find common ground in addressing issues affecting the country.
“They will have to find common ground on policy propositions and issues affecting Zimbabwe and identify and have a general consensus on the issues that are likely to be formed for they are likely to be in Parliament for a long period that is to come.
Political analyst Vivid Gwede said the new youthful legislators will bring new energy into Parliament.
“The new Parliament has definitely been injected with fresh blood. We hope this new crop of leaders blended with some old ones will inject new energy. But, of course, there are some vibrant MPs who will be missed, having fallen by the wayside either in their party contests or in the national election. The need for the executive to be held accountable cannot be overstated,” Gwede said.