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CCC hara-kiri

Two Harare MPs Fadzayi Mahere (Mt Pleasant) and Allan Rusty Markham (Harare East) duly resigned from Parliament.

WHEN Nelson Chamisa stepped down as Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader, the social media streets were full of comments pressuring MPs to resign as a block in solidarity with their leader.

Two months later, we realised it was a futile show of loyalty, no strategy or serious engagement of the mind was done.

Two Harare MPs Fadzayi Mahere (Mt Pleasant) and Allan Rusty Markham (Harare East) duly resigned from Parliament.

They received some support online for the brave move and that their loyalty to Chamisa was now beyond question.

However, the move, with the benefit of hindsight, was rushed and irrational.

This week on Tuesday, the nomination court sat to receive names of those who want to contest for the vacancies occasioned by the duo’s resignation.

At that moment, the truth hit home hard when Mahere and Markham did not seek re-election. The people had been sold a fib.

Mahere tried to explain why she was not standing. She wrote on her X (formerly Twitter) timeline giving some explanation.

Mahere wrote: “After many consultations and personal reflection, I have decided [that] I will not be running in the upcoming by-election. The conditions that drove me to resign in the first place have not changed.”

The former MP went on to highlight a litany of the reasons why she resigned.

Among other things, she is angry with gross disrespect of voters in the August 2023 election, the refusal by the Speaker of the National Assembly to entertain points of order on sensitive matters, the illegal recall of opposition MPs and the unleashing of violent anti-riot police to attack opposition MPs during parliamentary sessions.

These complaints are genuine, but cannot push one to resign from Parliament. They happen in many constitutional democracies, for example, in South Africa.

We have seen the Economic Freedom Fighters lawmakers being dragged from parliamentary chambers.  We have seen them being denied an opportunity to speak by the Speaker.

So, what is the main reason Mahere and Markham resigned? They resigned in solidarity with Chamisa.

There was a great feeling that Chamisa was going to immediately launch a new movement that would become a new political home for those who resigned and a vehicle to seek re-election.

However, strategic ambiguity being jelly that one cannot imagine what happens at the next turn, Mahere and Markham fell for the mirage of a new political party.

They cannot publicly state that it is their loyalty to the leader more than to party principles and constitution that made them resign.

In any event, CCC under Chamisa to all intents and purposes was not a political party as known, it was a one-man movement and loyalty to Chamisa is what mattered most.

Once the shepherd was struck, the sheep went in different directions because there was no centre that held them together.

It remains important that the CCC or any other party they may form needs a constitution and structures more than the charisma of a leader.

It must be said here and now, that Mahere and Markham resignations from Parliament are a greater betrayal of the voters than what Sengezo Tshabangu has done on recalls.

I know this sounds controversial, but Tshabangu was doing it for political clout and the duo’s resignation is still as murky as it was when made two months ago.

It is not clear what they have achieved by their resignations. What can be interpreted from their action is they donated the seats to Zanu PF on a silver platter.

It is that they have denied the people a voice in Parliament. It is that they have cowed from holding Zanu PF accountable in the only place Zanu PF is obliged to give straight answers.

Roger Stringer encapsulated it very well in his response to Mahere on X.

Stringer wrote: “Despite all this, I think it’s very disappointing not to have opposition voices in Parliament, even when they are a very small minority. Being able to speak out in that forum is more important than speaking out only on social media. It would also be recorded for posterity in the Hansard.”

More than ever, the duo’s decision will further fuel voter apathy in coming elections.

How will the opposition convince the electorate that in future, they will not run away from the responsibility given by the voters because their preferred leader has resigned from politics?

Let us put things into perspective. Zanu PF has failed; it is beyond any argument. However, let us for a moment look at the self-inflicted harm that the opposition has done to itself — hara-kiri.

Hara-kiri is a Japanese word. It is defined as: “ritual suicide by disembowelment with a sword, formerly practised in Japan by samurai as an honourable alternative to disgrace or execution.”

Why would the opposition commit suicide? There are many potential reasons, including failure to deliver on its promises particularly in urban areas which they control.

There are also swirling rumours about misappropriation of financial resources, especially after the August 2023 elections.

It is also a tacit acceptance that the presidential-based campaign has failed and must be relooked.

However, the most serious indictment on the opposition is the failure to introspect and hold its leaders accountable for its acts of commissions or omissions.

It is embarrassing that those who know well choose to be blind to developments in the opposition.

They remain mute or when push comes to shove, they parrot innate responses defending the indefensible.

Going forward, the 2028 general election would need to be contested, but the opposition needs to find its bearings, unify and solidify.

It needs to have a concrete plan, structures and a constitution, that the electorate votes for ideas rather than personalities and that people are fickle. Or else it will be another ritual of hara-kiri post 2028 elections.

  • Paidamoyo Muzulu is a journalist based in Harare. He writes here in his personal capacity.

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