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MDC legislators risk losing their parliamentary positions and benefits

by Staff repprter
11 May 2020 at 08:47hrs | Views
MDC legislators are facing the urgent and difficult decision of choosing between Thokozani Khupe and Nelson Chamisa - in the process risking losing their parliamentary positions and benefits.

This comes as the government has made it clear that if the legislators choose to withdraw from Parliament - as they are being urged to do by Chamisa and his close allies - authorities will promptly withdraw all their perks, including their top-of-the-range vehicles.

What this means, with regards to the vehicles, is that the MPs will - minimally - be expected to repay the full amount of the loans that were advanced to them when they acquired the vehicles, including all the duties payable.

Some of the MDC legislators who spoke to the Daily News On Sunday at the weekend said they were in "a lose-lose fix" because either decision - to follow Khupe or Chamisa - came with pitfalls.

"We are in an impossible situation for sure. It' s a lose-lose fix and the overwhelming majority of us don' t know what to do at the moment.

"If we remain with Chamisa, who is clearly struggling to withstand the pressure against him, we will lose everything, because most of us survive on our parliamentary benefits.

"On the other hand, we are not sure either at the moment how the Khupe ship will sail going forward. Most of our legislators are thus between a rock and a hard place," one of the MPs said.

Another anguished legislator said they were unfairly being asked to make the "impossible decision of choosing between our livelihoods and our political careers".

He said defying Chamisa would "probably mean the end of my political career beyond this current term if Chamisa ultimately triumphs over Khupe.

"But then again, I risk being kicked out of Parliament immediately if I defy Khupe. There is also no guarantee that I will get my seat back through a by-election or when the next general elections are held.

"The hard reality is that for many of us it (Parliament) is our sole source of income. We are in a terrible bind," he said.

All this comes after the Supreme Court recently upheld last year' s ruling by the High Court, which said Chamisa' s ascendancy to the leadership of the MDC had violated the opposition party' s constitution and was, therefore, null and void.

In the unanimous judgement handed down by Supreme Court judges Paddington Garwe, Bharat Patel and Antoinette Guvava, Chamisa' s elevation to the MDC' s presidency was thus declared unconstitutional.

The ruling also automatically re-instated former MDC secretary general Douglas Mwonzora and ex-chairperson Morgen Komichi - who both lost their positions at the party' s chaotic congress in Gweru last year - to their previous positions.

And in addition to installing Khupe as interim party president, it also ordered her to convene an extraordinary MDC congress to elect a new leadership within three months.

Last week, the Khupe group successfully recalled Chalton Hwende (Kuwadzana East), Tabitha Khumalo (MDC proportional representative), Prosper Mutseyami (Dangamvura) and Midlands senator Lillian Timveos, from Parliament, as it flexed its muscles and demonstrated that it is fully in charge of the beleaguered party for now.

The group has also since further moved to enlist the services of police to occupy the iconic Morgan Richard Tsvangirai (MRT) House - formerly known as Harvest House.

To compound the problems facing MDC MPs, the government emphasised yesterday that it will withdraw all their benefits if they "disengage" from Parliament, as ordered by Chamisa and his top allies.

The minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ziyambi Ziyambi - who is also the leader of government business in Parliament - said any attempts by the MDC legislators to withdraw from the august House would also see them losing the vehicles that they acquired on loan.

"If they resign now they are also required to pay the duty for their cars because they didn't pay for it, as it was a privilege.

"Apart from paying this duty, they are also supposed to settle the whole amount for the cars.

"This is not going to be settled in five years. They must settle the whole amount the day they resign," Ziyambi told the Daily News On Sunday yesterday.

The MDC has a total of about 107 legislators who got top-of-the-range parliamentary vehicles, including Toyota Hiluxes, worth between US$40 000 and US$60 000 .

Under their parliamentary privilege, they are supposed to pay for them through a stop order for a period of five years.

Besides their average monthly salary of between $6 000 and $8 000, the MPs are entitled to $700 sitting allowances per session, fuel coupons, and lucrative foreign trips on parliamentary business.

However, Ziyambi also emphasised that the MDC legislators were "free to resign" - adding that the move would not affect the smooth running of Parliament "in any way".

"They are free to resign and by-elections will be conducted. Those who are saying there is no need for by-elections are misguided.

"In our Constitution, there is no provision which allows the nomination of legislators. There is need for by-elections.

"Everyone is free to contest in the by-elections. For proportional representatives and senators, the party will nominate the replacements if they resign," Ziyambi told the Daily News On Sunday.

This comes as the Chamisa group has alleged that the dramatic events of the past few weeks had "President Emmerson Mnangagwa' s and Zanu PF' s footprints" all over them.

Firebrand Zengeza West MP, Job Sikhala, even threatened to cause mayhem in the country following the recall of the four MDC legislators from Parliament.

Addressing the media in Harare, where Sikhala announced the planned "disengagement" of MDC Alliance-aligned legislators, he said they were going to take Mnangagwa head-on for "destabilising and treating the opposition like terrorists".

"We are going to deal with him (Mnangagwa) and this is not an empty threat. Do I look like somebody who is joking?

"I know what will happen when we decide to cause pandemonium in the country. You have been clamouring for this and we are now going to give it to you in abundance," Sikhala warned.

He also said Chamisa and his close allies were convinced that Mnangagwa had not forgiven the youthful politician for declining to recognise his leadership after the hotly-disputed 2018 presidential election.

Source - Daily News

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