June 25, 2024

Fifteen opposition MPs in Zimbabwe have filed a court appeal saying they were tricked into losing their parliamentary seats.

The losses came after a man falsely claiming to be the party’s secretary said the MPs were no longer members.

On receipt of the fake letter, Zimbabwe’s parliamentary speaker declared the 15 seats vacant.

Resultant by-elections could hand ruling party Zanu-PF the majority it needs to amend the constitution.

Monday’s letter was signed by “Sengezo Tshabangu”, who claimed to be the secretary general for Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), Zimbabwe’s main opposition party.

It was littered with grammatical errors.

CCC leader Nelson Chamisa asked speaker Jacob Mudenda to disregard the letter, saying the party had no secretary general and had not expelled or recalled any MP.

“The conduct of Mr Tshabangu is in fact a wanton violation of our laws and a clear act of criminality,” Mr Chamisa wrote.

Despite the opposition leader’s request, Mr Mudenda, a Zanu-PF MP, declared the 15 seats vacant in a letter to the electoral commission.

The affected CCC MPs filed a court appeal on Tuesday.

“We will not accept such disdainful conduct against our constitution and our democracy,” said Promise Mkwananzi, spokesman for the CCC.

The case is likely to worsen political tensions, which have been running high in the southern African country since controversial presidential elections in August.

Mr Chamisa, 45, lost to incumbent 81-year-old president Emmerson Mnangagwa in a race that international observers said fell short of democratic standards.

Zanu-PF, who have been in power for more than 40 years, secured a majority in parliament, but fell a few lawmakers short of the number required to change the constitution.

The CCC alleged that since the election, more than a dozen people affiliated with its party, including MPs and councillors, have been arrested on spurious charges.

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