Lawyer Tinomudaishe Chinyoka says legally, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, had no other choice but to notify the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) that 15 vacancies had arisen after he received the letter from Sengezo Tshabangu.
On Tuesday, 03 October, Tshabangu, who declared himself CCC interim Secretary General, wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda, recalling 15 MPs.
He wrote another letter to the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Winston Chitando recalling 17 councillors saying they had ceased to be members of the CCC.
Critics have argued that Mudenda should have established if Tshabangu was indeed the CCC interim secretary general and had the authority to recall the party’s legislators before acting on the letter.
However, Chinyoka insisted that the Speaker has no role in resolving factional disputes within political parties and acts upon the communication he receives from the party. He said:
"Legally, he had no other choice. The Speaker’s powers are limited to receiving communication in terms of section 129(1)(k) and acting upon that communication.
The Speaker has no role in resolving factional disputes within political parties as to who can and cannot represent it in communicating to the Speaker under that section.
If [CCC] claims that this Tshabangu person does not speak for them, they ought to have quickly rushed to court for a declarator that the letters he sent to the Speaker are invalid. Section 129(1)(k) says that a person ceases to be a member of Parliament when the Speaker has been informed by their political party that they have ceased to be a member.
It does not have a proviso that “unless another official of the same party writes to say that such communication ought to be ignored.”
Put differently, the Speaker has no discretion in the matter, the communication from the political party begins and ends the process.
The only way to undo what the so-called interim secretary general has done, if invalid, is by going to court for a declaratur that he does not speak for the party.
Each day they delay, the matter loses urgency and then when they do file and a court says it is not urgent, we will hear all sorts of stories about captured judges and housing loans.
For a party with so many lawyers, one is surprised that they think those letters purporting to be from [Nelson Chamisa] resolve the matter.
In my opinion, they don’t, simply because they invite the Speaker to determine who speaks on behalf of [CCC], a power which the Speaker not only does not have under section 129(1)(k) but which I doubt they really want him to have."
Commenting on the recall of the CCC PMs, journalist Zenzele Ndebele said the opposition has to “make hard decisions” rather than going to court. He said:
"Same script all over again. Opposition will go to court, get an interdict and it will be ignored. Those in parliament will have to pay allegiance to Tshabangu or be recalled.
Tshabangu might end up with the political party’s money. At some point, the opposition will need to make hard decisions."
Reports suggest CCC leader Nelson Chamisa is ready to withdraw all his party’s elected representatives in protest at the latest developments.