Biti recall: The beginning of the end

by | Mar 19, 2021 | Opinions | 0 comments

Hosia Mviringi

On 17 March 2021, the Speaker of the Parliament of Zimbabwe, Honourable Advocate Jacob Mudenda read a letter written by

Mr Benjamin Rukanda, Secretary-General of the People’s Democratic Party led by Ms Lucia Matibenga.

The ominous letter was announcing a recall from Parliament of members of the PDP, who are deemed to have self expelled when they purportedly joined and supported another political party apart from their sponsoring party.

These are Honourable Willas Madzimure of Kambuzuma, Honourable Settlement Chikwinya of Mbizo, Advocate Tendai Biti of Harare East, Honourable Mhlangu of Phumula, Honourable Regai Tsunga of Mutasa South, and Kucaca Phulu of Nkulumane.
These members, on the strength of this letter, cease to be Parliamentarians.

The 2013 Zimbabwe Constitution prohibits floor crossing, thus a member relinquishes their seat as soon they cease to be a member of the political party on whose ticket they entered Parliament.

Brief background

On 11 September 2015, Mr Tendai Biti officially broke away from the MDC, which was led by Morgan Tsvangirai by holding their own congress.

At the end of the congress, Mr Tendai Biti as President of the outfit declared that he will never go back to the MDC, but rather he will work with other splinter groups to dislodge ZANU PF. Such was his determination to chart his own path.

Fast forward to 2018, Mr Tendai Biti got lured back into the MDC by Tsvangirai with a promise of a higher post in a coalition.
So, a coalition of seven parties congregated under the banner of the MDC Alliance, for the sake of contesting elections. Part of the terms of reference for the coalition was that all players were to keep their parties intact for a return after the elections.

Tendai Biti and other PDP members got proportional seats in the coalition under the PDP party. They were still members and under the direction of PDP.

What went wrong?

After elections, it was time, according to terms of the Alliance pact, for each Party to revert to their positions with their membership.

It is at this stage that the six members of Parliament decided to ditch their party PDP and stick to the Nelson Chamisa MDC.
The Alliance ceased to exist when Nelson Chamisa broke away from the MDC-T to form his own party, MDC Alliance.

Thus the recalls we have witnessed.

What is the big story?

Tendai Biti is a key member of the MDC Alliance, having been a founding member of the original MDC party. He formed the core of the team that lobbied for and drafted the ZIDERA sanctions bill back in 2001.

He collaborated with another founding member Mr David Coltart in the drafting of the bill.
They got invited to present the bill in the US Senate through the help of their friends in the US Senate that included Jeff Flake and Joseph Biden, the current US President.

This goes to show how connected and important Tendai Biti is to the US establishment.
Tendai Biti is the link between the American establishment’s coterie of financiers to the MDC.

He is the proverbial lifeblood to the MDC Alliance as he is the diplomatic face of the party.
As Vice President of the party and member of Parliament he became the most powerful man in the party as he naturally became the voice of the party in Parliament, thus his recall is non-ignoble.

In 2019/US Senator Jeff Flake of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations described Tendai Biti as ‘Friend of the committee’.

To show how special Tendai Biti is to the US, as the architect of the Sanctions bill, the US Ambassador in Zimbabwe takes personal interest in his protection and safety. He is a special link to in the imperial agenda of the US in Zimbabwe.

It is indisputable that Tendai Biti, through his theatrics, is the only figure in the MDC who can cajole the US to act to protect the project either through diplomatic pressure to the government of Zimbabwe, or by releasing extra funds.

The only way the MDC Alliance can survive is my pushing Tendai Biti into the extremes of political activism, just to get him arrested and scour for international outpouring of sympathy. This is the only way they can raise funds.
His recall means that he cannot influence things from within Parliament in such portfolio committees as the public accounts and finance that he chaired.

It means that we now have a whole MDC Alliance leadership, which watches things from the sidelines, unable to do anything to change or influence them.

Nelson Chamisa is discredited as the face of opposition internationally for lack of diplomatic stamina, thus he cannot do without Tendai Biti.

To the US, the MDC Alliance project is completely off the rails. Its leaders have become lame ducks, feeding on secondary information.

The US cannot trust or depend on this party to carry forward its agenda in Zimbabwe.
This sounds the death knell for the MDC Alliance and by extension the American project in Zimbabwe.

How the MDC Alliance is going to convince the US Embassy and other meddling organisations to continue funding them is a miracle on its own. The story of opposition politics as we know it today could as well have reached a dead end.

They have fought themselves into a tight spot, now they have become spectators in lawmaking processes.