Zimbabwe's main opposition implodes; expect second, third and fourth wave of recalls says Tshabangu

HARARE (News24) — Zimbabwe's main opposition party, Citizens Coalition for Change appears to be imploding as a renegade outfit starts recalling parliamentarians.

Tshabangu recalls 15 CCC MPs from Zimbabwe parliament
Mkhululi Thobela/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The party's self-proclaimed secretary-general says he will recall all legislators clandestinely placed as candidates ahead of the polls.

Party leader Nelson Chamisa claims it's part of a Zanu PF strategy to destroy the opposition.

Sengezo Tshabangu, who claims to be the party's secretary-general, has recalled 15 lawmakers from Bulawayo and Matabeleland North who, in turn, have gone to court to challenge their expulsions.

In an interview with News24, Tshabangu said there would be a second, third, or even fourth round of recalls, and that would encompass legislators from other parts of the country.

"We are cleaning up the party. It's back to basics. Those that we recalled know that they didn't win our primary selection process. Instead, they were handpicked by people in Harare (the capital city) to stand for election. That was not the people's will. All of them will be recalled in later rounds," he said.

In response, CCC spokesperson Promise Mkhwananzi accused Tshabangu and those working with him behind the scenes of being auxiliaries of Zanu PF.

He called Tshabangu "a stooge [for] many faces that are yet to come to the open".

"We also warn those among us who are working with Zanu PF to destroy the people's movement. God will punish you," the statement read.

Tshabangu said that the recalls had nothing to do with Zanu PF.

"This is purely an internal process, and if we don't deal with it we would set a bad example for Matabeleland and other parts of the country," he said.

Tshabangu said that for years, it has been taken for granted that Matabeleland and Bulawayo, in particular, present a protest vote for the ruling party, Zanu PF.

To borrow from the popular saying of the November 2017 coup, he said: "We are dealing with criminal elements around the president (Chamisa)."

The recalls will fall into the lap of Zanu PF, which fell short of a two-thirds majority at the 23 August elections.

The ruling party could have an avenue to pass laws uncontested.

One of them is the much-dreaded Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment (PVO) Bill.

Many within the CCC dispute that Tshabangu is the secretary-general, so writing letters to the speaker of parliament recalling legislators was wrong.

In his defence he said: "I am a product of the same system that replaced Fadzayi Mahere as party spokesperson during the election period. I am a product of the same system that put in place Nelson Chamisa as our caretaker leader.

"We have a strong case and I am glad, those we recalled have gone to the same courts they allege are captured. We will meet there," he said.

The recall law states that if an MP no longer belongs to the political party of which they were a member when they were elected to Parliament and the relevant political party notifies the speaker or the president of the senate in writing to that effect, the MP's seat will become vacant.

Politically, this clause serves to defend the interests of the party that an MP was elected to represent.

CCC leader, Chamisa, is walking the same road for the second time.

Douglas Mwonzora pulled a similar stunt after the 2018 general elections when he recalled legislators that he said belonged to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDCT).

It went as far as Mwonzora holding on to the MDCT assets and also benefiting from the Political Parties (Finance) Act.

Chamisa was left with the public's goodwill and a chance to start afresh, which he did, but he now faces similar resistance.

A sitting member of parliament who refused to be named out of fear of victimisation said: "Nothing was learned in 2018. We went down this road until we found ourselves in another election in 2023. We can't do the same thing when we claim to be proofing against bad past experiences," he said.

In an interview with News24, he said the latest attacks were engineered by Zanu PF and its acolytes.

"When a leopard wants to eat its young ones, it accuses them of smelling like goats." 

He said: “This is all Zanu PF at play. They didn't win this election and they are now targeting our legislators. It's not shocking that they started in Bulawayo, where they failed to ban our candidates from standing for elections.

Chamisa said it was a coup on democracy if left to play out that way.

"It's a coup. The courts are Zanu PF, the speaker of parliament is Zanu PF, and those being used work for Zanu PF. It's all clear and crafted against the people," he said. 

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