Elders in the Citizens Coalition of Change (CCC) acknowledge there are grievances within the opposition party that need to be resolved, but they believe the Sengezo Tshabangu-initiated recalls were a dramatic measure, which have distracted people from their post-election plans.
This view was expressed at a press conference convened by the Elders on Monday in Bulawayo while some CCC members in attendance claimed corrupt city businesspeople were supporting Tshabangu because they did not want the new CCC administration to review their contracts or tenders.
Tshabangu, who declared himself the CCC’s interim Secretary General, has so far recalled 15 MPs, nine senators and 17 councillors, most of whom are from Bulawayo.
CCC Elder, former Bulawayo Senator, Matson Hlalo, acknowledged there were grievances raised by a number of members within the party but said the recall was not sanctioned.
“As concerned citizens we had dealt with these matters in such a way that they were going to be resolved at an internal meeting at an appropriate time. We had several meetings where we called all the stakeholders who participated in nomination processes and we were to refer a way forward to the Chaplains Department, an internal body in CCC,” Hlalo said, flanked by other Elders including Sergeant Maoko, Dickson Munkuli and Earthman Zhou.
Tshabangu, according to Hlalo, lacks “locus standi” to issue the recalls and should have handled the situation the way Elders did, in which the Chaplains Department contacted concerned citizens, whose report was issued to the president’s office.
“It’s very unfortunate that he is putting it in such a way that Zanu PF’s hand is with him,” Hlalo said.
Hlalo claimed that CCC leader, Nelson Chamisa, had also promised to address all complaints at an appropriate time.
“Chamisa was here in this particular office. To our surprise, we saw someone who purports to represent us in Bulawayo, who didn’t get any mandate from us, do the recalls,” he said, adding politicians must not develop a “habit of doing recalls but address issues properly.”
“That’s when democracy suffers and greed sets in because one says they should be in this position to get a car but what happens to the people?”
The former senator bemoaned that greed and corruption had infiltrated politics.
“We were supposed to fix this ourselves and I engaged the president that no one must have a position because of corruption but suddenly a certain player decided to jump ahead of us,” Hlalo said, admitting CCC did have internal challenges.
“The admission of nomination papers had a problem because of shenanigans that happened. The players who were doing this were the leadership and it becomes a problem where you can’t call meetings where you might be fingered but this is water under bridge because we are here.”
Tichaona Mujati from the Chaplains Department also did not dispute there were grievances in CCC, whose solving was affected by time limitations.
“There were grievances by disgruntled candidates and issues were brought to the Chaplains Department that was looking at challenges nationally. This is a new process and may have flaws. This was towards elections and was a busy period, with campaigns so time was limited,” he said.
We wanted to sit down internally then Tshabangu actually hijacked the mission of the Elders who were saying, ‘no, we feel this may not have been done properly.’”
Mujati added that Chamisa did come to Bulawayo to address some of the disgruntled members including representatives of others and assured them that all those issues were going to be dealt with.
“Elders said the challenges needed to be fixed amicably. Although Tshabangu may have had the same ideology, the implementation he made became too radical. Now these recalls have disturbed the people’s focus,” said the Chaplain.
However, a CCC member, Joe Mkandawire, said the root cause of Tshabangu’s action was greed, claiming he has received the support of certain business people who had been corruptly receiving tenders in Bulawayo.