Chamisa turns down Parly invite

HARARE - MDC leader Nelson Chamisa turned down an invitation to attend the official opening of Parliament presided over by President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday.

Chamisa had been invited to attend the State opening of Parliament by the clerk of Parliament but opted not to go.

The MDC leader’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda said the opposition leader did not see any merit in taking up clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda’s offer.

“The president was invited but decided not to attend the opening,” Sibanda said.

Political analysts said Chamisa’s snub can only be reinforced by an official abstentionist policy which would represent a major shift by the party. This will mean MDC MPs must totally boycott Parliament.

Insiders however, said several members of the party were not as wedded to the abstentionist mantra and support a more pragmatic approach.

As it is, the MDC has committed to full participation, which has seen them involved in a swearing-in oath of loyalty to the State.

Analysts said MDC MPs must simply refuse to take their seats on the Parliament benches in line with the party’s policy of boycotting.

They also contend that to show seriousness about their protest, the MDC MPs’ time is better spent in their constituencies, dealing with constituency queries and getting to know their constituents rather than sitting on the green benches debating issues with a party they claim they do not recognise its legitimacy.

Analysts added that the MDC must formally become an abstentionist party and that position must be endorsed by the electorate, possibly through its forthcoming congress.

Stephen Chan, a professor of world politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, told the Daily News Chamisa can only have an effective protest if all his MPs boycotted Parliament.

“Chamisa is free to boycott the opening of Parliament. The leader of the opposition may express his disagreement with the election result, but the presence of his own MPs in Parliament makes this a difficult gesture to sustain,” Chan said.

“In the UK, Sinn Fein has always refused to take their seats in the Westminster Parliament, so boycotting is not unusual. The leader of the opposition’s role is to oppose — usually through parliamentary means — but he is able to oppose by other avenues that are within the law.”

Chan was referring to Sinn Féin — the only party contesting the British general election whose MPs will not take their seats. This policy dates back exactly 100 years to when the party’s first MPs, elected in 1917, decided to abstain from Westminster. It has been the case in every election since. Sinn Féin candidates campaigned in the election, only to refuse to take part in debates and votes after they won.

Namibia-based academic and scholar Admire Mare said the opposition party must not only oppose for the sake of opposition but instead should give an alternative to the current dispensation through its control of local authorities.

He said Chamisa’s refusal to accept the invitation, while it is another form of protest, is however, questionable given that his legislators plan to continue to attend, and even accept featherbeddings such as cars.

“I think there is too much grandstanding at the moment which is clouding proper engagement. Both parties seem to be finding it hard to eat the humble pie for the greater good of the country.

“There is too much politicking and hard ball playing which is not good for constructive engagement. Parties involved in this game seem to be focusing on scoring cheap political points,” Mare said.

“Whilst Chamisa has the right to turn down any invitation as he did when didn’t attend the inauguration, having his MPs attending the same event presided by what he calls ‘an illegitimate president’ sounds like a contradiction in many ways.

“I understand that the opposition’s strategy going forward is to build their zones of freedom through municipalities and local government structures where they won convincingly to build an alternative government.

“It may resemble the way Democratic Alliance in South Africa have managed to sell the discourse of ‘an open, transparent and good local governance’,” said Mare.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said both Chamisa and Mnangagwa are still stuck in the first state of denial and in the mentality of win-loser.

“They need to quickly realise that it is possible to have both of them as winners as long as the objective is not personal prestige, power, pretence and positions but the development of the country,” Saungweme said.

“They both need to show us that they mean what they say. Mnangagwa showed us his arms are not open by not reaching out to MDC when he appointed the Cabinet.

“Chamisa also showed that he is not for collaboration by spurning a mere parliamentary invitation.

“The question of legitimacy is no longer one, and the earlier people accept what is there and work to ensure those in power transform, the better. If the election was a sham and there are serious legitimacy questions, the MDC should not have accepted being in Parliament and local government.”

Comments (15)

mare kutaura kwausina kuswera ane problem izanu ikaziva kuti ndiyo problem hapana hapana zvirikuitwa nemdc ndizvozvo ngavaswere kuvanhu kwete muparliament

g40 - 19 September 2018

Hanya nani... Chamisa, still wailing for your dummy? If you were wise, and had the love for the country as you claim, you would be working on solutions right now. You don't have to be the president to make a positive contribution to the country.

Greyhora - 19 September 2018

What a pity, I can understand he misses his seat in parliament. Somebody needs to advise him right otherwise hes sinking into oblivion fast!

Going 4 Gold - 19 September 2018

MDC is an opposition party which should make sure that the ruling party ZANU PF and government is held to account not to appease it. So far MDC and Chamisa are doing well on these two aspects.

ADF - 19 September 2018

There was no reason for Chamisa to accept that invitation. Zanu pf wanted to say he accepted the defeat if he he managed to attend the sona. He did the right thing.

Amalinze - 20 September 2018

He should start campaigning for his Kuwadzana parliamentary seat for the 2023 elections. And Sir, please do something tangible and of note in your constituency

Daniel 5 - 20 September 2018

This is one of the few balanced reports I have seen from the Daily News, regarding the MDC Alliance. Clearly there is a contradiction in the MDC Alliance's behaviour. This is due to lack of policy on how to deal with the prevailing situation. This is a result of politically and academically immature leadership, coupled with naivety! Saungweme does not know what he is talking about - he can't put Chamisa and ED at the same level because one claims to have won an election without any figment of proof, while the other was declared winner by a legally constituted body, and the election result sustained by the Constitutional Court. If Saungweme is going by the view of the Court of Public Opinion, then that's a disaster! Any sustainable development is premised on a governance framework which requires compliance with legally constituted bodies' rulings. On the other other hand, some analysts fail to understand that the UK has no written constitution, hence encouraging the MDC Alliance to boycott all Parliamentary sittings without studying the Zimbabwean Constitution can spell disaster for the party - I am sure all the MDC Alliance MPs will be booted out and by-elections called for, if they miss a certain number of consecutive sittings! Let's appear learned vanhu veZimbabwe!

Mhofu Chaiyo - 20 September 2018

To Amalinze, yes Chamisa had no reason to attend the SONA because he knows he was irrelevant, anyway!

Mhofu Chaiyo - 20 September 2018

Mhofu thats not a fact its your opinion if he was irrelevant like you said there shouldn't be an invitation if it was there what for then

Innocent - 20 September 2018

Wana Saungweme you just want to comment for the sake of commenting. You are neither a political scientist nor a lawyer, I wonder why reporters want comment from a layman. Chamisa is irrelevant now he has lost the election home and away. He should rather start thinking how he may earn a living if ever the Courts that he has denigrated so badly may consider him as an officer of the Court.

Lovejoy - 20 September 2018

The sad truth is that ED's win feels hollow because issues of day-to-day governance are not held in the rurals (the parliament is in the Harare CBD). Apathy from the urban constituencies can completely render all his shrill pronouncements useless or he will be forced to bus people every time he needs to make an important "national" televised speech for instance. It is very difficult to exert one's rule in a negative and toxic environment. The seat of "authority" is in the urban not rural areas. It will be interesting to see how all this pans out in due course. Remember no-one was forced to vote for MDC Alliance or Chamisa but I can't say the same for Zanu pf...or ED.

Sagitarr - 20 September 2018

I don't see where Saungweme is wrong here by saying the question of legitimacy is no longer an issue. He is balanced in his analysis.

Voter - 20 September 2018

@sagitarr usanyepere vanhu. anongori masour grapes chete

muchero - 21 September 2018

No difference,ED aripanyanga,zvekuti urban seats hazvina kana basa,ANC ikutonga South Africa asi heartbeat yeMzansi yese is in DA,S hands. Urban voters vemu Harare vacho varikutiitirei kuswero tengesa juice cards?Vaizopinda mu Parliament here handiti MP ndiye anomirira constituency.

tich - 26 September 2018

ED does not need to bus in supporters from the rural areas each time he makes an announcement in the towns and cities : ZanuPF lost in urban areas, but has significant support. Check the election results.

Elisha - 26 September 2018

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