Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
EXPELLED Bikita West National Assembly member Dr Munyaradzi Kereke has approached the Constitutional Court challenging his ejection from Parliament, saying he had ceased to be a Zanu-PF member by the time he was elected on July 31.Dr Kereke’s application follows the announcement by National Assembly Speaker Cde Jacob Mudenda last week that Dr Kereke had ceased to be a legislator for Bikita West after Zanu-PF Secretary for Administration Cde Didymus Mutasa wrote to Parliament saying Dr Kereke had been expelled from the revolutionary party.
Dr Kereke romped to victory in Bikita West on a Zanu-PF ticket, beating Cde Elias Msakwa (Zanu-PF) and Mr Heya Shoko (MDC-T) after getting the nod to stand on Zanu-PF’s ticket from the party’s Masvingo provincial committee.
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Some elements in the revolutionary party, however, disowned him, saying they recognised Cde Msakwa as the official candidate. Acting on the letter from Zanu-PF, Cde Mudenda invoked section 129 (1) (k) of the Constitution relating to the tenure of a Member of Parliament to declare the Bikita West seat vacant.
In his challenge, Dr Kereke said the section which both Zanu-PF and the Speaker relied on to expel him from Parliament did not apply to his situation.
Dr Kereke cited the Speaker of the National Assembly, Zanu-PF and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission as respondents. Section 129 (1) (k) of the Constitution stipulates that: “The seat of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant – (k) if the member has ceased to belong to the political party of which he or she was a member when elected to Parliament and the political party concerned, by written notice to the Speaker or the President of Senate, as the case may be, has declared that the Member has ceased to belong to it.”
In his papers, Dr Kereke said the section did not apply to his situation because he ceased to be a member of Zanu-PF on July 10 as evidenced by a letter written by Cde Mutasa.
“Thus whilst my nomination had been on a Zanu-PF ticket, the fact was, and remains, that I was not a member of Zanu-PF on the 31st July 2013 when I was elected as House of Assembly Member for Bikita West.
“The party did not give me any sponsorship. I financed my own campaign whilst the party sponsored one Elias Musakwa, who got a new motor vehicle, regalia and other campaign material.
“I did not get similar support from the party given that I had been expelled. The moment the party advised me to stop using party regalia, I complied and discontinued the use thereof.”
Dr Kereke argued that Zanu-PF recognised the “explicit fact” that he ceased to be a member of that party prior to July 31 2013 and suggested that he was an independent candidate, as widely publicised in the media.
By this time, Dr Kereke said, it was too late for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to change the ballot papers and indicate that he was an independent candidate.
“This act, however, was well-known to the electorate and everyone concerned by reason of a well orchestrated media campaign,” he said.
“The party further boldly acknowledged this fact in its letter dated September 30 2013 to the Speaker of the National Assembly.”
The letter written to the Speaker reads as follows: “I write, Honourable Speaker, to advise that Honourable Dr Munyaradzi Kereke who stood as a member of the House of Assembly for Bikita West Constituency, had ceased to be a member of Zanu-PF on July 10 2013.”
Dr Kereke said: “It is clear that by July 31 2013, the second respondent (Zanu-PF) did not consider me to be its sponsored candidate. The electorate knew that I was not a Zanu-PF candidate.
“Accordingly, therefore, the notification to the Speaker is a clear misapplication of section 129 (1) (k) of the Constitution.”
He submitted that Cde Mudenda had disregarded representations he made to him and that he was not given an audience before a determination was made and subsequently before the public announcement.
Dr Kereke said that in constitutional construction, one did not depart from the literal meaning of legal words used by the legislature unless doing so would lead to absurdity, saying the meaning of section 129 (1) (k) was clear and leads to no absurdity.
Cde Mudenda, Zanu-PF and ZEC were still to respond to the application.