By Prince Tongogara
The Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda on Tuesday acceded to MDC-T demands to recall 21 MPs who are said to have crossed the floor by forming a union with Welshman Ncube led-MDC. The recalls leave the MDC-T with two options of standing on principle and uphold its congress resolution not to participate in by-elections without reforms or go for political expediency and defend its political territory.
The decision to recall which ironically is the biggest in the history of Zimbabwean parliamentary history has formally legalised the party’s split for the second time in less than a decade. The MDC-T split in April 2014 as the moves to replace party leader Morgan Tsvangirai after the disastrous July 31, 2013 general election when the party lost its National Assembly majority.
The party earlier in 2005 split over differences whether to participate in senatorial elections or note. Tsvangirai then despite losing the vote in the national council unilaterally ruled that he had a decisive vote and the MDC was not participating. However Tsvangirai did not recall Welshman Ncube and the other 21 MPs from parliament then as they held many seats than his faction.
Speculation is twirling high that the recalls were done for political expediency as most of members of the party’s standing committee are outside parliament after they suffered losses in the 2013 general elections. The recalls are seen as a means of ushering them back into the public limelight by having them contest in the safe Harare and Bulawayo seats or even via replacing recalled proportional representation MPs.
However for the party to contest it has to first rescind its congress resolution not to participate in by-election or any elections with government implementing electoral reforms which among other things include a new voters roll, a reconstituted Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) secretariat and access to public media during electioneering period.
Zanu(PF) seems to be in no hurry to implement the reforms that creates a level electoral field thus testing if the MDC-T is prepared to stick to principle and allow its political base taken by default. Or the MDC-T will rescind its congress resolution and go for political expediency and have its senior leaders elected into parliament.
Party spokesman Obert Gutu confirmed as much on Tuesday night on ZiFM Stereo when he said the party had a strategy.
“We have a game plan. We are the only real deal in town. There is no way we are going to donate seats to Zanu (PF),” he said.
Among the party heavyweights who may be brought back to parliament include national chairman Lovemore Moyo, vice national chairman Morgen Komichi, national secretary general Douglas Mwonzora, Gutu and deputy treasurer general Charlton Hwende.
MDC-T’s participation will also test the Renewal Team popularity with the grassroots or even inflict mortal political wounds to the political careers of Tendai Biti, Paul Madzore, Settlement Chikwinya, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo and budding politician Solomon Madzore.
Whichever way the MDC-T chooses to boycott or participate, the decision will further put the party’s principles and strategies under scrutiny as it restructures and prepare for the watershed 2018 general elections which Mugabe may not be a factor giving a broad alliance of democratic forces a fair chance of winning.
For now however it seems like the MDC-T like in the past will opt for the political expediency at the expense of principle and participate in the poll. This will be for the third time political expediency wins after the 2008 SADC facilitated lopsided Global Political Agreement and Copac constitution project that Zanu (PF) is planning to amend barely two years after adoption.