Legislator calls for amendment

Political Review Writers

Independent Member of Parliament for Norton Constituency, Temba Mliswa has called for the amendment of Section 129 (1) (k) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which allows political parties to recall members of parliament.

Contributing to a Parliamentary debate on April 5, Mliswa said the people who would have voted Members of Parliament into office should have a say on whether they should stay in parliament or not.

According to Section 129(1) (k): “The seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the Member has ceased to belong to the political party of which he or she was a member when elected to Parliament and the political party concerned, by written notice to the Speaker or the President of the Senate, as the case may be, has declared that the Member has ceased to belong to it.”

Section 129(1) (l) further states: “The seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the Member, not having been a member of a political party when he or she was elected to Parliament, becomes a member of a political party.”

Mliswa, however, said the clause which allowed for the whipping system was unfair to both the concerned Member of Parliament and the people who would have voted for them.

“The Constitution must be amended so that you are not whipped. Let us change the laws for the betterment of the people. That clause is painful because you have gone through it. I have gone through it, so I now know how to master it. I have decided to be independent because it is hard when you belong to political parties. Good Luck! It is either you are in those political parties or you stay out of those political parties,” he said.

Mliswa said he personally took the issue to the Constitutional Court, which ruled that it was according to the law that parliament made and the Speaker of Parliament had no power over it.

“The law is very clear. May you join me in debating so that we amend the Constitution accordingly, otherwise we are wasting time. If we want the Constitution to be amended so that the people must have the power, let us do that together. I shall be ensuring that it is restored on the Order paper so that you join me,” he said.

Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda, in response to Mliswa, said Members of Parliament who were not happy with Section 129 should simply follow parliamentary processes.

“As I said and has been reinforced by Hon Mliswa, if you are not happy with Section 129, you know the route to follow in terms of Constitutional processes. It was well-explained beyond what was said by Hon Mliswa,” he said.

Last year, parliament witnessed quite a number of recalls of members of parliament, mainly by the opposition MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora, which led to the March 26, 2022 by elections.

The PDP led by Lucia Matibenga also made a few recalls on allegations the Members of Parliament had been elected to the August House under their party ticket and had ceased to be their members.

Mwonzora is reportedly planning on another set of recalls, in what observers said was a total waste of scarce resources, especially given that the country was set to hold general elections next year.

According to a report by the Research and Advocacy Unit, the fractious nature of the main political parties in Zimbabwe since the July, 2013 elections, had resulted in numerous suspensions and expulsions of party members and meant that there had been frequent recourse to sub-sections 129(1)(k) and 129(1)(l) of the national Constitution.

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