New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: Defiant Biti Claims MDC-T Control, Writes to Parly Speaker

Photo: Nehanda Radio
MDC-T supporters gather outside Harvest house in support of Morgan Tsvangirai.

MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti Monday defiantly declared he was the only person now in legal control of the beleaguered opposition party in the aftermath of a palace coup that purportedly deposed leader Morgan Tsvangirai at the weekend.

In a letter to Parliamentary Speaker, Jacob Mudenda, Biti said Tsvangirai needed a court order to overturn the decision of the "national council meeting" of April 26, 2014, which the Tsvangirai led group dismisses as a "bogus" gathering.

"I write to you in my capacity as the secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change," Biti said.

"I confirm that on Saturday 26th of April, 2014, the national council of the MDC met at Mandel Training Center and came up with a number of resolutions that included the following; the suspension in terms of Article 12 of the MDC constitution of Morgan Tsvangirai, Thokozani Khupe, Lovemore Moyo, Douglas Mwonzora, Nelson Chamisa, Abednico Bhebhe and Morgan Komichi."

Biti said the opposition movement he co-founded was now divided into two.

"The party itself is now clearly divided between the faction of fascists led by the suspended Morgan Tsvangirai and the renewal democratic team that met at Mandel Training Center of the 26th of April 2014.

"Effectively, there are now two national councils and that if none of these has more authority than the other one, if anything, the one with the secretary general is the superior," the former Finance Minister said.

Biti said he had been mandated by his national council to convey the message to parliament.

"In this regard, I was instructed to inform you Honourable Speaker that: No one in the MDC other than the secretary general has a right to write to you on any issue with respect to our members of parliament particularly in terms of Section 129 of the constitution," read Biti's letter.

Biti went deeper in his argument, refering to a section of the country's Constitution dealing with floor crossing and withdrawal of membership of lawmakers and local councillors.

"In any event, as a point of law, Section 129 (k) and 129 (i) are and can only be interpreted as Anti Floor Crossing Provisions," he said.

"Section 129 (i) deals with an independent member who then joins a political party upon election. The section makes it clear that, that person ceases to be a member of parliament. The principle protected here is that a person elected on a particular ticket either as an independent or a member of one party cannot cross over to another political party.

"Thus section 129 (k) can only be interpreted narrowly vis-à-vis whether a member has crossed the floor to another party or not," said Biti.

He continued, "Section 129 (k) of the constitution says: If the member has ceased to belong to the political party of he/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.

"From the above, two things are critical, the first denotes a situation where the member is in control. He/she voluntarily ceases to belong to the political party for which he/she was a member when elected to parliament and crosses over to another political party.

"The second is mere confirmation by the political party concerned. The above section is only in relation and can only be interpreted narrowly to relate to a member quitting one political party by expressly joining another party. The provision cannot be interpreted widely to give the party a blank cheque of terminating membership on any other reason other than floor crossing," said the letter.

"If that was the case, then the provision would be worded so differently and would simply read that 'a political party can write to the Speaker to advise that a member of parliament is no longer a member of that political party'.

"On the contrary, the starting point is if the member has ceased to belong to the political party of which he/she was a member when elected to parliament and the political party concerned by written notice to the Speaker or Senate president as the case maybe has declared that the member has ceased top belong to it."

The former treasury chief said his letter was in anticipation of a situation where the "fascist clique of the MDC" would want to use another ground to dismiss members of parliament of the MDC.

"In any event, the MDC national council on Saturday 26th April 2014 suspended Tsvangirai and his accomplices and placed the party under the curatorship of the Guardian Council. Thus anyone from this purporting to act on behalf of the party will have to seek a court order to reverse the legitimate council decision of Saturday 26 April 2014.

"Moreover, Section 129 (k) or (i) cannot be read without respect to the Bill of Rights for any member who has to be suspended it must be shown in his/her case that due process as defined by the Bill of Rights in the constitution has been respected. I raise these points as I am fully aware that the fascist faction I have referred to above has no respect above has no respect of group or knowledge of the law," said Biti.

The MDC-T "national council" also resolved to disassociate itself from the "suspended" individuals and that the party will for now be placed under the curatorship of the Guardian Council, a grouping of party elders.

"In addition, the council came to the conclusion that the people of Zimbabwe elected councillors and members of parliament and therefore in the absence of a right of recall by the citizenry directly there should be a restrictive approach in any attempt to dismiss a member of parliament or a councillor," said Biti.

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