Home » Governance » MDC-T Factions ‘Happy’ With Speaker Ruling

THE FEUDING MDC-T factions both claimed victory Thursday after the Speaker of Parliament refused to be involved in their fight, telling them their dispute over which side controls the opposition party was none of his business.

Party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and secretary general Tendai Biti are battling for control of the country’s largest opposition party which has effectively splintered in two, the second time it has suffered a major split since 2005.

Tsvangirai and his allies had approached Parliament seeking the ejection of nine MPs backing Biti in a move vehemently opposed by the former finance minister.

On Thursday, the Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda, refused to be involved, telling the rival factions to take their dispute to the courts.

Said Mudenda: “Neither the Honourable president of the Senate nor the Speaker of the National Assembly has any authority and role to play in the internal disciplinary actions, disputes or differences within political parties, which matters may be appropriately dealt with by a competent court.”

Both factions welcomed the decision with Jacob Mafume, spokesman for Biti’s faction, saying his group had been vindicated.

“What the Speaker has said vindicates secretary general’s position all along that the national council meeting at Mandel training centre made binding resolutions to suspend the President (Tsvangirai) and 6 other individuals,” Mafume told NewZimbabwe.com.

“We are still going to charge them and set a tribunal and if they have issues with that, then they can go to court but at the present moment, they cannot communicate as if nothing has happened.

“They are on suspension and the party will decide how to deal with them after the internal disciplinary process which is still going on.

“The Speaker says internal disciplinary issues of the party are not handled by parliament. The interpretation that we have is that we have to exhaust the internal processes and if anyone is not happy, then they can go to court.”

He added: “The secretary-general (Biti) has always said issues of a disciplinary nature are to be handled by the party and if anyone is aggrieved they must go to court.

“Unfortunately, our colleagues are being aised by bush or near-lawyers. They came to a startling and unfounded conclusion that when they were suspended another party was founded, which is not the case. They are acting without thinking.”

Douglas Mwonzora, who speaks for Tsvangirai’s faction, also issued a statement expressing his group’s delight.

“After attempting a clumsy coup at Mandel, Tendai Biti wrote to Parliament seeking to bar the MDC leadership from recalling its members of Parliament. He sought to make himself the only person who could recall MDC MPs,” said Mwonzora.

“We are happy that the Parliament has effectively refused to endorse Biti’s claims. In particular the Speaker has not said that the MDC has no right to recall its members. Neither has it agreed that Biti is the only person to recall Members of Parliament.

“The ruling leaves the door wide open for the MDC to recall its Members of Parliament. Therefore in the next few days the MDC will be formally communicating to the Speaker its decision to recall the reneged Members of Parliament.

“At the time Biti wrote his letter we had not communicated with Parliament our decision to recall any Member of Parliament. However now that the Parliament has refused to endorse Biti’s claims, we are proceeding with effecting the National Council decision to recall the MPs concerned.”

University law lecturer Lovemore Madhuku and opposition NCA leader Lovemore Madhuku also commended Mudenda.

“Actually, I am very proud of the Speaker, a former student of mine, who has shown an excellent grasp of the Constitution of the country,” Madhuku told the Herald newspaper.

“Even if the matter were to go to court, no sensible court will declare any of the seats of the MPs aligned to Biti vacant. That section of the Constitution they want to use is very complicated because even if the MPs lose the case at the High Court, they can still appeal to the Supreme Court. There is no way they can exhaust all the legal processes before 2018.

“He (Mudenda) has respected two cardinal principles, the first one being that it’s not easy for a Member of Parliament to lose his or her seat just like that.

“It was outright daydreaming when a leader of a political party thinks that their mere signature to the Speaker is sufficient to create a vacancy in Parliament.

“The second aspect is that when there are disputes relating to any matter, no matter how frivolous the dispute may be perceived by some people, the proper forum for the resolution of disputes is a court of law.”

Top Harare lawyer Terrence Hussein said Mudenda was right to refer the dispute to the courts.

“He has refused to swallow the bait of being invited to interfere or participate in the succession dispute of a political party and from what he has said, the status quo will prevail,” Hussein said.

“As far as he is concerned, those who made it to Parliament on July 31 2013 will remain in their positions unless and until the MDC gets its house in order or gets a court order.”

Source : New Zimbabwe