SENIOR STAFF WRITER
©️ THE Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance has all but admitted that it has lost control over a significant number of its MPs amid revelations that at least 20 of them could jump ship and join the Thokozani Khupe-led group, the Daily News reports.
This comes as things are moving from bad to worse for Chamisa and his top allies, after five MPs have so far openly defied his decree to withdraw their services from Parliament.
MDC Alliance secretary-general Chalton Hwende told the Daily News yesterday that his camp expects to see more MPs defying the order not to attend Parliament pending consultations with party structures on the way forward.
“Certainly, some more MPs will continue to defy and side with Khupe but we are also certain that they will not win this battle. They can get some legislators but they will have punched above their weight if they get 20. Our MPs are clear that they belong to the people’s party and that they are for the people hence they will not sell out the struggle,” Hwende said.
All this comes as political analysts have said Chamisa was not likely to succeed with his decree that attempted to force MPs to withdraw from Parliament mainly because the majority of legislators would be more concerned about
“politics of the belly” as they hardly have any source of income outside the august House.
The MDC has a total of 107 legislators who got top-of-the-range 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.
Yet the government emphasised last weekend that it would withdraw all their benefits if they withdrew from Parliament.
Hwende also revealed that the MDC Alliance had gathered information to the effect that the Khupe camp intended to wield the axe on dozens of MPs who have chosen to stand with Chamisa.
“We know that they have drawn up a list of about 30 MPs they have targeted for recall but we are not going to let that happen. A lot is going to change in the coming week because we will be approaching the courts to interdict them from doing so because we cannot continue to lose MPs through illegal recalls by a rival party,” the former Kuwadzana East legislator said.
On Thursday, MPs David Tekeshe, Joice Makonya and Virginia Mafuta attended the parliamentary portfolio committee on Agriculture which is chaired by Zanu PF legislator for Gokwe Nembudziya, Justice Mayor Wadyajena.
This was after their colleagues Peter Moyo and Winnie Kankuni similarly attended the parliamentary portfolio committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare earlier this week.
The MPs have argued that it would be a “travesty of justice not to attend Parliament” when their constituencies expected the legislators to represent them in the august House.
Tekeshe said he had been “directed by people” in his constituency to attend parliamentary business after he consulted them.
“I do not believe I am defying the party directive, but that I am doing what the constituency has directed me to do.
“During this time of Covid-19, the people in my constituency need me the most, and if I don’t come to these platforms, they will miss out on many things.
“People think that politics is about hatred and enmity, but I think we need to unite,” Tekeshe said defiantly.
“I am not bothered if anyone recalls me because I am an established businessperson. I did not join politics to become MP, but for the people,” he told the Daily News.
Pressed to say if he still recognised Chamisa as his leader, Tekeshe said the time was “not yet ripe” for him to declare his allegiances.
“We will cross that bridge when we get to it. All I can say is that in a democracy, we have the right to make choices, and I made the choice to come to Parliament today,” he said.
On her part, Mafuta said she had decided to defy Chamisa’s directive after having allegedly suffered abuse at the hands of fellow MPs in the party, who were accusing her of backing reinstated party secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora.
“I was removed from the party’s WhatsApp group by Lilian Timveos (who is among the MPs who have been recalled), who accused me of being Mwonzora’s person.
“When I begged for re-admission to the group, I was told to wait. I only got re-admission for a short time before I was removed again.
“From that point, I realised that there was a bigger hand behind all this. So, at the moment, I am standing by the court judgment. That is my position,” Mafuta told the Daily News.
Southerton MP Moyo has also questioned why Chamisa wanted them to withdraw from Parliament for the sake of the four recalled MPs when he had failed to do the same after he lost the 2018 presidential election.
“For the record, I voted for Chamisa and I will vote for him again. But let us not use emotions here.
“The bigger question is why did we not boycott Parliament when we said the presidential elections were rigged?
“Why should we now disengage from Parliament … simply because four MPs have been recalled …?” Moyo said.
“The issue is that we are disputing the decision by the party to tell us to disengage before they consult.
“If they are saying MPs should disengage, everyone else should disengage. A war is not fought in bits and pieces.
“I couldn’t miss the committee meeting because that meeting was crucial, especially during this time of Covid-19 when people in our constituencies are hungry.
“We have people we lead who we should consult first. Let us not put emotions everywhere,” Moyo said.
Chamisa and his lieutenants have appeared to be in disarray ever since the Supreme Court delivered its ruling on the party’s leadership ructions at the end of March.
The Supreme Court upheld last year’s ruling by the High Court which said Chamisa’s ascendancy to the leadership of the MDC had violated the main opposition party’s constitution.
In the unanimous judgment that was handed down by judges Paddington Garwe, Bharat Patel and Antoinette Guvava, Chamisa’s elevation to the MDC’s presidency was thus declared unconstitutional, and null and void.
The ruling also automatically re-instated former MDC secretary-general 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 Hwende (Kuwadzana), 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.
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