By Sherlyeen Masuku
Members of Parliament (MP)’s in Zimbabwe are living in fear of being recalled by their political parties.
This was revealed in parliament Thursday by Temba Mliswa who said some parliamentarians have resorted to consulting witch doctors in an effort to consolidate their positions.
Mliswa put forward a motion on Thursday in the National Assembly asking for Section 129 (1) (k) of the Constitution to be amended.
“I bemoan Section 129 (1) (k) for it is a stumbling block for the democracy of this country and for the development of this country for politicians” he said.
“Politicians are in fear every day, mapoliticians arikukwira makomo avasingazive vachinamata kuti mangwana ndinogona kudzingwa. Vave kutoenda kudzin’anga kuti ndiwane basa iri nekuti mangwana mumwe anongotaura kuti ayihwa. So it also creates unfair advantages to a lot of people.”
Mliswa said he was concerned that most MP with the exception of Independent Candidates are elected to Parliament on a political party ticket and Section 129 (1) (k) of the Constitution gives political parties the “unfettered power to recall a Member of Parliament whom, in executing his or her representative function, does not toe the party line.”
He argued that this has a negative impact on the way in which MP’s carry out their duties as representatives of their constituencies as they become more concerned about their political parties’ ideology which is enforced by the whipping system.
the Norton Independent MP said he is deeply concerned that “ that this provision (Section 129) entrenches the whipping system and limits Members of Parliament’s ability to debate freely, earnestly and without fear or favour on issues that affect the people of Zimbabwe where the matters appear to contradict the party line.”
He called upon Parliament to: “Urgently amend Section 129 (1) (k) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe so that it stays execution of any notice of expulsion of a Member until the Constitutional Court has certified that due process was followed.”
Mliswa alleges that section 129 of the constitution puts female parliamentarians at risk of being abused by their male counterparts.
“Women must be protected. Other politicians demand so much from women because they say, ‘if you do not then exercise that, I am going to expel you from the party’. This is cruel and it cannot be allowed to happen. May women be free to represent their people without being compromised because of fear of being expelled. I am talking about some women and not all women – so it is important.”
MP Mushoriwa seconded the motion saying a lot of MP’s had been causalities of Section 129 (1) (k) of the Constitution.
“As we speak right now, this Parliament in this tenure has already lost more than 35 Members of Parliament through recalls.”
He went on to say MP’s spend a lot of money during their election campaigns only to be recalled in Parliament before their full term expires. Mushoriwa said no MP was safe.
“I know most Members of Parliament or all of us, when you are on the right side of the leadership of a political party, you always consider yourself to be safe, but one thing that we have learnt in history and life is that one week in politics is a very long time. Today you are very safe, tomorrow you can actually be shaken off and be seen to be on the other side.
This issue on recalls, no one can claim to be safe and say I am sure I will never be recalled. All of us are potential casualties of this clause.”
He went on to say parliamentarians face emotional trauma when they are recalled by their political parties and removed from their positions.
“It is painful to the extent that a number of our Members of Parliament that have been recalled, it is unfortunate that we do not have the chance to then see some of these MPs when they are recalled. Parliament will be putting pressure. You have to pay back the car loan. The society will also be putting pressure.
“Just imagine Mr. Speaker, you have been a Member of Parliament and people in the society have been calling you Honorable and all of a sudden you are recalled.
The ability of a member to manage the stress level is very difficult for most members. A number of people actually die of stress and others end up compromising because you now need to see how you can survive,” said Mushoriwa.