POLITICAL analysts have described the firing of several legislators and councillors from Welshman Ncube's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) this week as ill-timed, coming less than a year to fresh elections.
But they are united in that Ncube's move was long overdue as the lawmakers and councillors were sympathetic to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's formation.
Among the MDC officials dismissed by Ncube are House of Assembly representatives, Nomalanga Khumalo who was the house's deputy speaker and Member of Parliament for Umzingwane, Thandeko Zindi Mkandla of Gwanda North and Maxwell Dube of Tsholotsho South.
In the Senate, Kembo Dube of Umzingwane South, and Dalumuzi Khumalo of Lupane were also given their marching orders.
In 2009, Ncube expelled Abednico Bhebhe (Nkayi South), Njabuliso Mguni (Lupane East) and Norman Mpofu (Bulilima East) for allegedly working with Tsvangirai's MDC-T.
He is now left with three House of Assembly members - Moses Mzila Ndlovu, Edward Mkhosi and Patrick Dube as well as David Coltart in the Senate to make it only four elected representatives.
Dewa Mavhinga of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute said although it is better to sever ties with individuals who no longer subscribe to the values of one's party than to keep rogue elements in the fold for the sake of numbers, the firing could have come much earlier, unless if the delay was to accommodate internal disciplinary processes.
He said the timing could adversely affect preparations for elections next year.
"It is like a divorce settlement at the end of an irretrievably broken down marriage -- it does not make matters any worse -- the divorce simply confirms the obvious. The huge challenge for the MDC, however, is for them to work hard on the group to retain control of those seats held by the fired officials," said Mavhinga.
He said the MDC had simply formalised the firing of the MPs and 49 councillors, so this was merely confirmation of a situation already existing on the grounds that the "renegade" officials were no longer working for the party.
United Kingdom-based lawyer and political analyst, Lance Mambondiani concurred with Mavhinga saying although the move was necessary, this should have been done a long time ago. He, however, said Ncube could be seeking to endear himself with the electorate as a decisive leader.
"I think it is a pre-emptive strike against defections. It appears these guys were already dipping from two tanks so practically it appears inconsequential. By firing them, he appears decisive and in control but in truth these MPs had long since become MDC-T MPs," said Mambondiani.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Charity Charamba added that Ncube's decision to fire the legislators showed that there were problems in his party.
"It shows that there are problems in his party. His numbers have been severely reduced," said Charamba.
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara this week questioned how Ncube expected to "remain relevant as party leader and government minister" after firing more than 70 percent of his legislators. He said such a scenario has never happened in the history of constitutional democracies.
But party spokesperson, Kurauone Chihwayi yesterday defended his party saying the dismissed officials had stopped participating in party activities three years ago so it was only natural to let them go.
"These people have not been in touch with their constituencies for the past three years; they have not been attending to party activities and meetings for the past three years so how can anyone call this (political) suicide? If a woman has two husbands, she is automatically a whore," said Chihwayi in an interview yesterday, charging that the party was flexing its muscles by firing "dissidents" from its ranks.