THE International Parliamentary Union (IPU), a global organisation of 180 national parliaments, has grilled Zimbabwe’s Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda over his decision allowing the recalling of 15 MPs from the Nelson Chamisa-led Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) based on a letter from an imposter, Sengezo Tshabangu.
More pressure is looming for Mudenda after the CCC also wrote to the Sadc Parliamentary Forum, Pan-African Parliament and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific-European Joint Parliamentary Assembly over the controversial recalls of opposition MPs which the party has described as “continued abuse” of Parliament and Zimbabwe’s constitution.
Mudenda is already feeling the heat after the IPU sat him down for a hearing following complaints from the opposition CCC at its 147th Assembly that took place in Luanda, Angola, held from October 23 to 27.
The hearing of Mudenda was held by the IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians.
In its report after the hearing, the committee said Mudenda stated that section 129(1)(k) of the Zimbabwe Constitution stipulates that the seat of an MP becomes vacant “if s/he ceases to belong to the political party and if the party, by written notice to the Speaker, declares that the member has ceased to belong to it.”
However, the committee put it to Mudenda that the individual who had written the letters recalling the opposition MPs, Tshabangu, was an imposter and questioned why he took him seriously. Part of the IPU report reads: “According to the complainant, Tshabangu is an imposter with no position in the CCC and who has no authority to request the recall of any CCC members. Moreover, none of the individuals concerned in Parliament stated that they had left the CCC,” the IPU committee said in the report obtained by The NewsHawks.
The report shows that Mudenda gave incoherent responses to the IPU committee’s concerns.
“In the hearing with the IPU Committee, the Speaker of the National Assembly stated that Tshabangu’s letter of October 3, 2023, had been received before the letter from Chimasa dated September 11. Had this been the other way round, the Speaker’s decision may have been quite different. He (Mudenda) also stated that the CCC did not have clear and publicly known internal structures or the names of those holding the most important positions in the party. Should a request to recall members of the National Assembly belonging to Zanu PF be put before him, he said it was public knowledge who is entitled within the party to make that request.”
However, while Mudenda made these submissions, in its complaint to IPU, the CCC accused the Speaker of acting unconstitutionally by ignoring the written and oral submissions of known party members, refusing to hold any discussions on this issue, and accepting the letter from Tshabangu without ensuring that it was legitimate communication from the political party concerned.
“According to the complainant, these allegations have to be seen as part of a pattern of repression, the erosion of the independence of the Judiciary and the shrinking civic space that accompanied the disputed 2023 elections, as well as pre-existing violations of the rights of parliamentarians belonging to the opposition,” the IPU committee said.
The IPU governing council was advised that the CCC case requires the setting up of a mission to Zimbabwe as soon as practicable ahead of the IPU Committee’s 173rd session scheduled for January 2024.
The IPU then proposed to send a mission to Zimbabwe before the end of this year. Although the IPU appreciated Mudenda’s argument, it flagged the swiftness with which the decision to revoke the mandate of the newly-elected parliamentarians was taken and the fact that no debate on the issue was allowed.
“It (IPU committee) wishes to receive additional clarification from the parliamentary authorities of the National Assembly and the Senate. The committee requests that the secretary-general conveys this decision to the parliamentary authorities and other relevant national authorities, the complainant, and any interested third party likely to be in a position to supply relevant information to assist the committee in its work,” the committee report further reads.