PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa continues his relentless push for a Zanu PF two-thirds majority in Parliament by proclaiming elections in constituencies left vacant after some CCC legislators were recalled by Sengezo Tshabangu, who claims to be the opposition party’s interim secretary-general.
High-level 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 observe missions on 23 and 24 August.
Using Tshabangu as a willing pawn, Zanu PF with the assistance of the Central Intelligence Organisation-linked Foreever 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 the 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 (P.R), Janeth Dube (PR), Evidence Zana (Youth Qouta), Morgan Ncube (Beitbridge West), Nomathemba Sibanda (PR), Velisiwe Nkomo (P.R), Prince Dubeko Sibanda (Binga North) and Bright Moyo Vanya (Lupane East).
Mabvuku Tafara MP Febion Kufahakutizwi was also recalled.
Mnangagwa on Friday proclaimed by-elections in some of the constituencies as he pushed ahead with his two-thirds majority via the backdoor.
“Whereas, in terms of section 129 (k) of the constitution of Zimbabwe, the seats of members of Parliament for Beitbridge West, Binga North , Bulawayo South, Cowdray Park, Lobengula-Magwegwe, Lupane East, Mabvuku-Tafara, Mpopoma-Mzilikazi and Nketa have become vacant by reason of ceasing to be members of CCC of Morgan Ncube, Prince Dubeko Sibanda, Nicola Jane Watson, Pashor Raphel Sibanda, Ereck Gono, Bright Moyo, Vanya Febion, Munyaradzi Kufahakutikwi, Desmond Makaza and Obert Manduma on 9th October 2023, whowere the elected numbers of Parliament for t he respective constituencies;
“And whereas it is provided by Section 39(2) of the Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13 ], that after the President has been notified in terms of the said section of vacancies in membership of Parliament, He shall issue a proclamation ordering a new election to fill the vacancies, in the same manner, mutatis mutandis, as is provided in
Section 38 of the said Act in regard to a general election; “And whereas, the Speaker of Parliament notified me on 9th October, 2023 in writing of vacancies for the aforementioned constituencies:
“Now, therefore, under and by virtue of the power vested in me the President as aforesaid, I do, by this proclamation –
(a) order new elections for the constituencies of Beitbridge West, Binga North, Bulawayo South, Cowdray Park, Lobengula-Magwegwe, Lupane East, Mabvuku Tafara, Mpopoma-Mzilikazi and Nketa.”
Mnangagwa fixed 7 November as the date on which the nomination court will sit. The by-elections will be held on 9 December.
Zanu PF will be plotting to pour massive resources into its campaign while hoping for voter apathy by opposition supporters to win constituencies it lost during the 23 August elections.
Mnangagwa has a penchant for changing the constitution to advance his political goals.
In the last parliamentary term Mnangagwa, through the Zimbabwe Constitution Amendment (No.2) Act changed the suprreme 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.
Zanu PF failed to get the two-thirds majority it sought in Parliament, winning 136 of the 209 National Assembly seats contested, while the CCC got 73 seats.
A by-election will be held in Gutu West following the death of independent candidate Christopher Mutonhori Rwodzi in the run up to the election. The threshold for obtaining a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly is 186, but Zanu PF managed to get 176 legislators in total.
The National Assembly has a total of 280 members, that is 210 elected members, 60 women chosen under the proportional representation (PR) system and 10 youth quota seats. Zanu PF got 136 elected seats, 33 PR seats and seven youth quota seats, totalling 176.
The CCC, on the other hand, managed 103 seats in total: 73 elected seats, 27 women PR seats and three under the youth quota. Parliamentarians are chosen in terms of section 124 of Zimbabwe’s constitution.