Zanu PF’s victory in recent by-elections will usher in a gloomier and boring legislature where unpopular laws are expected to be passed.
Sixteen Zanu PF candidates were elected into Parliament on June 10 to fill seats left vacant after the firing of MDC-T legislators who crossed the floor to join the splinter MDC Renewal fronted by Tendai Biti.
The new faces that have recently made it to the legislature include Terence Mukupe (Harare East), Esau Mupfumi (Dangamvura, Chikanga), retired colonel Tshinga Dube (Makokoba) and Keith Guzah (Hurungwe West).
These replace vibrant former MPs such as Settlement Chikwinya (Mbizo), Temba Mliswa (Hurungwe West) and Biti (Harare East).
Takura Zhangazha, a political analyst said the addition of another 16 MPs to the Zanu PF camp was much-ado about nothing as it was not significant in any way after other competitive opposition political parties boycotted the polls to demand electoral reforms.
“Zanu PF already had a two thirds majority in Parliament and so the addition of another 16 seats does not signify much in terms of the Parliamentary game of numbers,” Zhangazha said.
“Their victory will however be buoyed by the poorly contested victories, but they will then seek to build on their limited momentum to win again during the harmonised elections scheduled for 2018.”
He said to get further support, Zanu (PF) was likely to undertake “somewhat populist, but ultimately political patronage games with the electorate through constituency development funds that will be given to MPs at some point.”
“After dwindling of opposition numbers in Parliament, particularly because it is the same opposition that caused such losses through recalling MPs, it is now apparent Zanu PF will use its majorities to bulldoze laws in both Houses, as was the case with the recent Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Debt Assumption Bill,” Zhangazha said.
Another analyst Dewa Mavhinga said there was nothing praiseworthy about the new outlook of the legislature. He said Zanu (PF) garnered the additional seats in an uneven playing field with the party wielding control over traditional leaders, some of whom played an active role in mobilising voters and coercing them to vote for Zanu PF.
“It means in the absence of further strategies, boycotting elections is simply a gift to Zanu PF to control Parliament,” Mavhinga said.
MDC Renewal spokesperson Jacob Mafume — whose party members were fired to make way for the by-elections — dismissed the newly elected crop of MPs saying they would just add numbers.
“It will be the largest bedroom the country has ever had as it is a sleeping Parliament. It will look like the current Zanu PF politburo where laws will just be bulldozed,” Mafume said.
“The fact that 16 more Zanu (PF) MPs have been added is giving people false hope because the Eighth Session of Parliament has passed the least laws since independence.”
“I do not expect much useful debate as the people coming in are recycled failures straight from the garbage heap of Zanu PF,” Mafume said.
One of the losing independent candidates during the June 10 by-elections Zechariah Mushawatu said Zanu PF’s recent victory would not change much in terms of the opposition’s capacity to influence decisions in both Houses or reject oppressive legislation.
“Zanu PF’s victory means there are now less MPs in Parliament with a different thinking format that can be useful when crafting Bills,” Mushawatu said.
“The option is for the opposition to totally disengage from Parliament and continue its calls for electoral reforms.”
Bulawayo-based analyst Dumi-sani Nyongolo Nkomo said the coming in of more Zanu PF legislators was very sad for democracy.
“The opposition shot themselves in the foot. It is sad for democracy because we now have the ruling party, or one party dominating Parliament due to the political incompetency of the opposition,” Nkomo said.