Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC), has lost a shocking 18 new parliamentary seats after an imposter announced in Parliament that they had left the party, resulting in the loss of their seats.
This news comes a month after 15 other MPs were deprived of their seats in the same way, bringing the total to 33 parliamentarians removed from their mandate, and as the CCC accuses the ruling party, Zanu-PF, of carrying out a vast campaign of intimidation of his supporters.
“It’s absurd and lamentable. I am the leader of the opposition in the Assembly, all communication from my party must go through me”, reacted Amos Chibaya to the press shortly after the President of Parliament confirmed his recall as well as that of 12 other deputies.
Five senators were also removed from their seats.
At the beginning of October, a certain Sengezo Tshabangu, presenting himself as the “acting general secretary” of the CCC, sent a letter to Parliament claiming that 15 elected deputies had left the party.
The head of the CCC, Nelson Chamisa, then asked that this error-ridden letter not be taken into account, explaining that the author was not a member of the opposition party and that no elected official had left the ranks. Parliament nevertheless declared these positions vacant.
The same scenario repeated itself this week. “This Tshabangu is not a member of the CCC and has no authority to recall members of the party,” Amos Chibaya further protested.
These recalls paved the way for by-elections, scheduled for December 9, to fill the vacancies created by the recall of the first group. They could offer on a platter a two-thirds majority in Parliament – necessary to amend the Constitution – to the ruling party, Zanu-PF, victorious in disputed elections in August.
Civil society NGOs fear that this situation could lead to violence.
“Taxpayer resources are being wasted on senseless elections,” Obert Masaraure, spokesperson for the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, told AFP. “The CCC has managed to stay calm in the face of the ruling party’s onslaught, but it’s going to be difficult to hold back ordinary citizens. ”
ZANU-PF, in power since independence in 1980, is accused of leading a vast campaign of intimidation of the CCC.
Last weekend, a party activist who was campaigning for the by-elections was kidnapped and found dead. At the end of October and the beginning of November, the CCC announced that one of its deputies and a former deputy had been kidnapped, tortured then found naked and injured for the first, and his head shaved for the second.