voice for democracy

Parliament stifling democracy – NewsDay


CONTINUED barring of six MDC Alliance legislators who were recalled by a party that did not sponsor them to Parliament, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is a serious breach of the tenets of democracy.
The constituencies that voted them into power are denied the right to be represented in legislative processes, and in political, economic and social governance of the country.
Six MDC Alliance MPs, Tendai Biti (Harare East), Settlement Chikwinya (Mbizo), Willias Madzimure (Kambuzuma), Kucaca Phulu (Nkulumane ), Regai Tsunga (Mutasa South) and Sichelesile Mahlangu (Pumula) have clocked nearly seven months being denied their right to represent their constituencies in the National Assembly.
This is despite a court ruling that stated that the PDP official who recalled them had no power to do so. Several appeals have been made, including against the latest delivered by High Court judge Justice Joseph Mafusire last week.
The Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda has made the situation worse by refusing to reinstate the MPs. Yes, the law is clear that an appeal suspends a judgement, but such abuse of court process in this matter only proves that Benjamin Rukanda is a hired gun, as stated by Justice Mafusire.
The situation now smirks of political persecution of the MDC Alliance by Zanu PF working in cohorts with the MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora, and the PDP led by Lucia Matibenga, parties which actually did not get a single seat in Parliament in the 2018 elections.
It is evident that it is part of the bigger ploy to completely annihilate the MDC Alliance as a party from Zimbabwean politics.
But it is the ordinary citizen that will be the most affected by lack of representation in Parliament. Citizens are actually being given the impression that participation in elections was a waste of time as their choices could be nullified at the behest of a political party — even one that dismally lost the elections.
Parliamentary representation ensures effective participation of constituents in public affairs. It ensures that their voices are heard through contributions made by their MP, and that their interests are taken into account during policy making processes.
Parliament must therefore respect a number of international legal and political tenets that guarantee the right of citizens to be represented and protect their rights.  Such international documents include the African Union’s African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG), which emphasizes participatory democracy by citizens and gives them the right to choose their preferred representatives in government, parliament and local authorities.
Article 4 of ACDEG speaks about democracy, rule of law and human rights; and 4(2) states that, “State parties shall recognize popular participation through universal suffrage as the inalienable right of the people.”
It is not surprising that Zimbabwe has not fully completed the ratification and domestication of ACDEG because the powers that be do not want to be held accountable by these international instruments.
Parliament should put an end to abuse of courts to disadvantage ordinary people.
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