Bill Watch 10/2015 of 19th March

MDC-T Precipitates 21 More Parliamentary Vacancies

MDC-T Succeeds in Unseating 21 Renewal Team MPs

On Tuesday 17th March similar rulings were handed down, in the Senate by the President of the Senate and in the National Assembly by the Speaker, declaring vacancies in:

• 4 Senate seats

• 17 National Assembly seats

in terms of section 129(1)(k) of the Constitution [full texts of both rulings available from the addresses given at the end of this bulletin]. The lists of the former MPs affected by the rulings are given below.

These rulings were the outcome of written notification, sent to the presiding officers by the Secretary-General of the MDC-T, that the MPs concerned had ceased to be members of the MDC-T party [see Bill Watch 9/2015 of 17th March]. The Speaker explained the difference between this new ruling and his previous refusals to get involved in the internal MDC-T dispute [in April and November last year] by pointing to changed circumstances: the withdrawal of the court cases on the dispute that had been pending at the time of his November ruling and the recent public launching of the United Movement for Democratic Change [UMDC]. He also relied on a High Court decision on the corresponding provision in the former Constitution.

Both rulings confirmed that the President and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission would be informed of the vacancies as required by the Electoral Act.

The vacancies declared on 17th March

Senate

The Senators who have lost their seats are :

HOLLAND, Sekai Harare Metropolitan

MUCHIHWA, Rorana Harare Metropolitan

SIBANDA, Watchy Matabeleland South

CHITAKA, Patrick Manicaland

National Assembly

The 14 vacant constituency seats were formerly held by:

BITI, Tendai Harare East

MADZIMURE, Willias Kambuzuma

MATIBENGA, Lucia Kuwadzana

MADZORE, Paul Glen View

MOYO, Reggie Luveve

MADZORE, Solomon Dzivaresekwa

NYATHI, Bekithemba Mpopoma/Pelandaba

MANYENGAVANA, Moses Highfield West

MHLANGA, Albert Pumula

NKOMO, Sipepa Lobengula

NKOMO, Roseline Tsholotsho

CHIKWINYA, Settlement Mbizo

MOYO, Gorden Makokoba

TSUNGA, Arnold Chikanga-Dangamvura

The three vacant proportional representation seats are those formerly held by:

MASAITI, Evelyn Harare Metropolitan

MUZHAVAZHE, Judith Masvingo

MATHE, Gladys Bulawayo Metropolitan

Another National Assembly Vacancy

Also on 18th March the Speaker announced the death of Hon Annastancia Nyahwo, holder of one of the six proportional representation seats for Manicaland. She died on Friday 13th March. MPs observed a minute’s silence in tribute.

Total Current Vacancies

Senate

There are 5 current vacancies, all in proportional representation seats. The process for filling of the Manicaland seat formerly held by the late Kumbirai Kangai has almost been completed; the period for objections to his nomination expired on 9th March.

The process for filling the 4 new vacancies by party nominations still has to be started [see below].

National Assembly

There are 23 vacancies.

By-elections have already been gazetted for 5: Mount Darwin West; Chirumanzu-Zibagwe; Wedza North; Headlands; Hurungwe West. Voting in Mount Darwin West and Chirumanzu-Zibagwe will be next week, on Friday 27th March.

The breakdown of the 18 remaining vacancies just announced is as follows:

• 14 – constituency seats requiring by-elections

• 4 – proportional representation seats to be filled by party nominations , including the seat formerly held by the late Hon Nyahwo.

Filling The New Vacancies

Once Parliament has officially informed the President and ZEC of the existence of these new vacancies, it will the responsibility of:

• President Mugabe or Acting President Mnangagwa, by gazetting statutory instruments, to order the holding of by-elections to fill the 14 vacancies in National Assembly constituency seats

• ZEC to take the steps outlined by section 39 of the Electoral Act to get the political parties concerned to fill the 8 vacancies in proportional representation seats [4 in the National Assembly and 4 in the Senate].

Constituency seats – by-elections

The statutory instruments must be gazetted within 14 days of his receipt of notification of the vacancies from Parliament. The statutory instruments must fix the nomination days and polling days. [See Electoral Act, section 39.]

The polling dates should comply with section 158(3) of the Constitution and section 39 of the Electoral Act, both of which require voting in a by-election to be completed within 90 days of the vacancy occurring. As the MDC-T notifications were received on 4th March 2015, that will be the effective date of the vacancies – which makes Wednesday 3rd June the last day for polling if there is to be compliance with the Constitution and the electoral law.

Note: The 90-day deadline has been ignored in the statutory instruments ordering the five by-elections already called [Mount Darwin West, Chirumanzu-Zibagwe, Wed North, Headlands and Hurungwe West].

Proportional representation seats – to be filled by nominees of party concerned

The procedure is laid down by section 39 of the Electoral Act. For each of the 8 seats ZEC must invite the political party which previously held the seat to nominate one qualified person of the same gender as the former incumbent of the seat. According to section 45D(1)(d) of the Electoral Act, in addition to the qualifications listed in the Constitution, a nominee must be registered as a voter in the province concerned.

ZEC will gazette the name of the nominee and call for objections from the public. If no valid objections are lodged, ZEC will then – by notice in the Government Gazette – appoint the nominee to fill the vacant seat.

So all four Senate vacancies will be filled by MDC-T nominees [two women to fill the two Harare Metropolitan vacancies; a man to fill the Matabeleland South vacancy; and a man to fill the Manicaland vacancy].

The four National Assembly vacancies will be filled by women – three MDC-T nominees [one each from Bulawayo and Harare Metropolitan, and one from Masvingo] and one ZANU-PF nominee [from Masvingo].

Note: This procedure has already been used in respect of the first two Senate proportional representation vacancies, resulting in the appointment of Ms Hildah Bhobho to fill a ZANU-PF seat for Mashonaland West [formerly held by the current President of the Senate Ednah Madzongwe] and the nomination of Mr Shadreck Chipanga to fill a ZANU-PF seat for Manicaland [formerly held by the late Kumbirai Kangai]. Mr Chipanga’s appointment is expected to be announced shortly.

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Post published in: Human Rights

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