By Enyichukwu Enemanna
The Speaker of Zimbabwe’s parliament has declared vacant 15 seats occupied by opposition lawmakers, in response to a controversial letter recalling them.
The affected lawmakers are all members of the Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC).
The Speaker declared the seats vacant despite an advice by CCC party leader Nelson Chamisa for leadership of the parliament to disregard the letter as it was written by a non-member with no powers to recall lawmakers.
Despite this, the Speaker Jacob Mudenda, of ZANU-PF, on Monday wrote to the electoral commission, declaring the 15 seats vacant.
Zimbabwe’s law allows the Speaker to declare a seat of an MP vacant if the lawmaker ceases to be a member of their party and the party writes a letter to either the Senate or Lower House notifying them of the matter.
The CCC lawmakers were recalled by lawyer Sengezo Tshabangu who had declared himself the party’s secretary general.
He wrote to the Speaker of the parliament early this month to announce that the 15 MPs had ceased being members of the party.
“We will not accept such disdainful conduct against our constitution and our democracy,” said Promise Mkwananzi, spokesman for the leading opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).
On Tuesday, the 15 CCC MPs filed a court appeal challenging a decision by the parliamentary speaker declaring their seats vacant.
“The conduct of Mr Tshabangu is in fact a wanton violation of our laws and a clear act of criminality,” Chamisa wrote.
Chamisa, 45, lost the presidential race to incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa, 81, of ZANU-PF.