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'CCC MPs cannot switch parties and run again,' argues Jonathan Moyo

by Staff reporter
13 Feb 2024 at 16:24hrs | Views
Political scientist Professor Jonathan Moyo has stated that Members of Parliament are not constitutionally allowed to resign from their elected positions with one political party and re-contest under a different banner.

Prof Moyo made these remarks during CITE's X-Space programme, This Morning on Asakhe, Monday, where the discussion revolved around the constitutionality of MPs resigning and running again for the same office under different political banners.

The discussion was prompted by the resignation of opposition party Citizens' Coalition for Change (CCC) president, Nelson Chamisa, which led to some elected MPs and councillors resigning from their positions in solidarity with their leader.

Chamisa's resignation stemmed from allegations that the opposition party had been infiltrated by the ruling party.

He has since initiated another political movement with some loyalists who were victims of a spate of recalls by Sengezo Tshabangu.

Explaining whether the Constitution permits such conduct, Prof Moyo emphatically noted that it does not. He pointed to Section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution, which prohibits what he termed as "crossing the floor", where an individual resigns from their seat, joins a different party, and runs for the same seat again under the new banner.

"This situation has arisen due to Chamisa's abandonment of CCC, with respect to MPs and councillors who were elected last year. Now some of the MPs are considering resigning en masse to trigger a by-election," Prof Moyo said.

"They don't want to resign and leave their jobs, as one would expect, but they want to create a vacancy and then contest for the same position under the banner of a different political party or movement which Chamisa is said to be forming. This is the background we have seen in the past two weeks with Ostallos Siziba and Chibaya who are said to be controversially testing the waters for this possibility or expected development."

Prof Moyo noted that if the elected CCC MPs and councillors resign all at once, it would result in a mini general election to fill the vacant posts.

"It is not about what the Constitution says, but about what is happening in our body politic and how it is likely to play out given the provisions of our constitution that govern the resignation of MPs in particular. If they resign en-masse, it would be tantamount to a mini general election, and just five months ago there was an election. Now the idea is to cause a sub-general election by resigning as an act of solidarity," he said.

"My answer to whether this is constitutional is NO! They cannot resign en masse and hope to contest in the same constituencies under a different banner as they are contemplating. In my view, what these MPs (and councillors) want to do is premeditated and organized floor crossing to subvert the legislative intent behind Section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution. They also want to subvert the general spirit of the legislature's intent."

Prof Moyo further highlighted that Section 129 of the Constitution has many sub-provisions that relate to how a vacancy occurs in Parliament.

"But in this case, Section 129 (1)(k) has the recall provision, as read with Section 129 (1) (b), which deals with the resignation that a vacancy occurs when an MP resigns, to the Speaker of Parliament or to the President of Senate, and when that happens, a by-election is required. The impression here is that the resigning MP qualifies to contest in that by-election," he said.

"However, the mischief we are dealing with here is what the Constitution says after an MP resigns and if it does permit, is the mischief of floor crossing. Does the Constitution permit floor crossing? Without doubt, the idea is that someone resigns today to create the vacancy to contest and fill the same vacancy tomorrow under a new name. That is floor crossing and it is not allowed."

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