Chidyausiku raps Speaker
Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
THE Speaker of the National Assembly has no mandate to announce or declare any vacant seats when political parties withdraw their legislators in terms of Section 129(1) (k) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku has said.
Chief Justice Chidyausiku made the observation in the case in which fired Mwenezi East National Assembly member Mr Kudakwashe Bhasikiti was seeking to stop a by-election in the constituency.
He said the Speaker’s duty was simply to receive a notice of withdrawal from the political party and directly inform the President without making any inquiries, assessment or public announce- ments.
Chief Justice Chidyausiku said the Speaker, in Mr Bhasikiti’s case, could have announced the expulsion in Parliament out of some “enthusiasm or courtesy”, but had no duty to do that.
“A reading of Section 129(1) (k) shows that the Speaker has no duty to announce or declare vacant seats in Parliament like he did in this case,” he said.
“The Speaker simply receives the notice and transmits the message directly to the President and not the public. When he made the announcement in this case, maybe it was because of some enthusiasm on his part, but he has no such duty at law.”
The observation came after the Speaker of Parliament had made several announcements in the House of the expulsion of members of the National Assembly in recent months.
Representing Mr Bhasikiti in his application against expulsion from Parliament before a case in which he is challenging his expulsion from Zanu-PF is dealt with, Mr Tendai Biti of Tendai Biti Law Chambers agreed with the Chief Justice. “Yes, legally the Speaker is not required to make any announcement in Parliament, but the fact that he did it resulted in our client being chucked out,” he said. “But practically, I do not think he should work like a machine that simply works on the notice without making any assessment of the genuineness of the notice.”
The Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled that a by-election in Mwenezi East will only be held after the High Court decides on the legitimacy of Mr Bhasikiti expulsion from Zanu-PF.
The court also ordered that the dispute should be resolved by July 31 to ensure the election timelines are met in the event that the High Court throws out the case.
Mr Biti argued that his client’s right to equal protection of the law and participation in politics, among others were infringed in the process.
The Speaker’s lawyer, Mr Simplicious Chihambakwe, instead used the observation as a defence, saying his client had no such obligation at law and that the client just acted in terms of Section 129(1) (k) of the Constitution in communicating the development to the President.
“If there is any wrong that my client did was to make the announcement in Parliament, but the declaration or expulsion was done by Zanu-PF,” he said.
“In terms of the law, my client simply forwards the message to the President, which he did.”