SENIOR STAFF WRITER
THE government has withdrawn diplomatic passports issued to 21 MDC MPs recalled from Parliament as acting leader Thokozani Khupe continues to score victory after victory against Nelson Chamisa in the battle for control of the country’s biggest opposition party, the Daily News reports.
This comes as Khupe has since replaced 15 proportional representation MPs as well as senators she recalled from Parliament for flirting with her rival Chamisa’s faction, after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) published the proportional representation party list recently.
In a letter dated yesterday to one of the MPs, Prosper Mutseyami (Chikanga-Dangamvura), clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda said the passports had been issued to the MPs by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in September 2019 with conditions of their use “linked to the term of the current Parliament inclusive of you being a serving member of the Parliament of Zimbabwe”.
“Following your recall from the Parliament of Zimbabwe, in accordance with Section 129 (1) (k) of the constitution of Zimbabwe, you are, therefore, kindly requested to submit the diplomatic passport to the registrar general’s office and retrieve your ordinary passport in accordance with the attendant conditions attached during the issuance of the document,” Chokuda said.
Apart from Mutseyami, other MPs who have lost their diplomatic passports include Chalton Hwende (Kuwadzana East), Amos Chibaya (Mkoba), Murisi Zwizwai (Harare Central) and Happymore Chidziva (Highfield West).
From the Senate, Meliwe Phuthi (Matabeleland South), Helen Zivira (Bulawayo), Siphiwe Ncube (Bulawayo), Phyllis Ndlovu (Matabeleland North), Keresencia Chabuka (Manicaland), Herbert Sinampande (Matabeleland North), Gideon Shoko (Bulawayo), Lillian Timveos (Midlands) and Tapfumanei Wunganayi (Mashonaland East).
The same fate has also befallen women’s quota MPs who include Bacilia Majaya, Macharairwa Mugidho, Virginia Muradzikwa, Annah Myambo, Francisca Ncube, Tabitha Khumalo and Nomathemba Ndlovu.
The 21 were recalled in terms of Section 129 (k) of the country’s Constitution in three phases after reinstated MDC secretary general Douglas Mwonzora wrote to the august House indicating that they had ceased representing the opposition party’s interests.
Section 129 (k) provides that: “The seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the Member has ceased to belong to the political party of which he or she was a member when elected to Parliament and the political party concerned, by written notice to the Speaker or the President of the Senate, as the case may be, has declared that the Member has ceased to belong to it.”
The special travelling documents were issued ostensibly because they would enhance the MPs’ status as honourable members.
Since the era of the late former president Robert Mugabe, MPs had always argued that the diplomatic passports would enable them to carry out their duties more efficiently when travelling outside the country on Parliament business, but nothing ever materialised.
The development comes as Khupe and Chamisa have been involved in a fierce tussle for control of the country’s main opposition party since the death of its much-loved founding leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, in February 2018.