Opposition Parly antics a betrayal of the electorate

By Nobleman Runyanga

On Tuesday, this week, Parliament had to adjourn prematurely following ZANU legislators’ objection to the MDC-T Chamisa faction Dangamvura-Chikanga legislator, Prosper Mutseyami’s mischievous claim that his faction leader, Nelson Chamisa received over two million votes and that it was a blatant lie that President Emmerson Mnangagwa  chalked up more than a million voters.

Mutseyami’s assertion was despite the fact that President Mnangagwa won the poll fair and square and was declared the 2018 presidential election winner by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Constitutional Court. When ZANU PF legislators protested, the MDC-T Chamisa faction members of Parliament reduced themselves from lawmakers to mischief makers by breaking into song in praise of Chamisa, bringing the business of the House to a halt.

A tradition of unproductive student and protest politics

A visitor from another country would be taken aback by the opposition legislators’ unparliamentary behaviour but Zimbabweans who know the history of the MDC and some of the legislators were not surprised by Tuesday’s event. The party especially the Chamisa faction has a chequered record of violent protests born of the student politics of the 1980s and the 1990s where some of them were known for urinating in university and colleges food fridges than for any outstanding academic achievements.

When they left tertiary institutions, they joined opposition political parties especially the MDC-T where the founding leader, the late Morgan Tsvangirai was at the helm. Their entry into politics was expected to shape them into mature, seasoned and respectable politicians but this was not to be. Tsvangirai was a trade unionist to whom every challenge or issue would be resolved by violent protests. Who would forget the violent food protests of January 1998, which were characterised by mass looting, that were led by Tsvangirai who was then at the helm of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)? It is this strain of unruly student politics mentality and trade unionism militancy which continues to dominate the legislators’ psyche more than the need to serve the electorate.

Spoiling for a fight

During the 2018 election season, the MDC Alliance grew so conceited because of the attendances at their more than 80 rallies, which were a result of the opening of the democratic space by the new dispensation, that Chamisa already saw himself as the occupant of the State House post 30 July. He even threw to the wind the principle of democracy that people choose leaders and ended up making threats that he and his faction would not accept any other result other than a win.

Chamisa and the faction’s loss, although widely expected given that the then sitting opposition legislators did not do anything to address their constituents’ concerns and that Chamisa was still new to the leadership of the faction, sent them crashing from the cloud nine of political rallies and lies to the political terra firma of a debilitating defeat. This explains its post-poll belligerent behaviour which continues to subsist over four months since the election. The faction is spoiling for a fight with both ZANU PF and President Mnangagwa, which borders on treason and insurgency to avenge for its loss. It is against this background that Mutseyami and his colleagues’ Tuesday stunt should be understood.

The stunt came one and half months after the same group of dishonourable politicians walked out of the House in September, when President Mnangagwa opened the ninth Parliament and delivered his state of the nation address, in protesting that they did not recognise his presidency.

Disrespecting the people and Parly

The MDC legislators’ shameful behaviour is a strong indictment on the way that it views democracy. It exposed the party’s double standards approach to the principle of democracy as they only talk of it and respects it and all its associated processes and institutions when it suits them. The legislators’ antics are a mockery of the votes of the people who elected them into power. They are a show of disrespectful and disregard for the constitution, the electorate and Zimbabweans at large.

The Parliament is one of the three pillars of the State and it is laughable that the opposition which has been dying to rule the country for the past 19 years childishly disrespects this key constitutional institution. Despite teeming with lawyers, the faction’s legislators seem not to understand the importance of their presence in Parliament and the gravity of their shameful actions. With such a crop of politically immature legislators one is not surprised that the faction has become an electoral perennial loser, a fact which buttresses many political commentators’ assertion that it has senior members and legislators of very poor calibre.

Money making ticket

The opposition has always been at the forefront in accusing Government of alleged wasteful spending. The legislators’ behaviour on Tuesday also brought to the fore the fact that they are contributing to the charge by wasting tax payers’ money through claiming allowances, motor vehicles and salaries while  badly representing their constituents through wasting Parliament’s valuable time.

For those constituents who do not know: legislators are paid $75 each per sitting and get a $1 500 monthly salary. They also benefit from other perquisites such as housing stands, hotel accommodation and electronic gadgets such as tablets among others for their duties of representing the electorate by championing and seeking answers for its concerns and anxieties. The opposition legislators sing, boo and heckle and still collect their allowances and salaries. Put differently they are paid from the taxes collected from the people who they misrepresent without any qualms.

Going forward

Tuesday’s incident demonstrated that opposition legislators prioritise pursuing their narrow political agenda using Parliament as a battle ground and weapon and collecting salaries and allowances more than serving the people who painfully contribute to their remuneration against the background of severe economic hardship. Time has come that the electorate demands results from their legislators.

Over the past 19 years many urban dwellers have voted for the opposition which does not provide basic services or properly represent them in Parliament. They have voted for councillors who carve pieces of undesignated land for sale as residential stands and pocket the proceeds. They have voted for people who wilfully subject them to waterborne diseases and conveniently blame Government for the resultant deaths.

The electorate should demand answers and solutions instead of merely accepting excuses. While the economy is facing challenges, it is time that people insists on seeing meaningful deployment of the few resources available such as collected revenue. It is time that the electorate, especially in urban areas, opened its eyes and realised how every five years it has been used to facilitate the entry of opposition members into local authorities and Parliament for self-enrichment and petty political score settling instead of serving the people.