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Zimbabwe holds special elections after court rules to remove nine opposition lawmakers from Parliament

Published:Saturday | December 9, 2023 | 12:49 PM
An elderly woman pushes a wheelbarrow past campaign posters in Mabvuku on the outskirts of Harare, Saturday, December 9, 2023. Zimbabwe was holding by-elections Saturday for nine seats in Parliament after opposition lawmakers were removed from their positions and disqualified from standing again in what they have called an illegal push by the ruling ZANU-PF party to bolster its majority and have the power to change the constitution. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe is holding special elections Saturday for nine seats in Parliament after opposition lawmakers were removed from their positions and disqualified from running again. The opposition called it an illegal push by the ruling ZANU-PF party to bolster its parliamentary majority and possibly change the constitution.

This may allow President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 81, who was reelected for a second and final term in August amid international and regional criticism, to run for another term.

All nine opposition lawmakers from the Citizens Coalition for Change party that were removed were elected in the national vote in August.

But an official claiming to be the secretary-general of the party recalled them from their positions in the weeks after that election.

CCC leader Nelson Chamisa said the official, Sengezo Tshabangu, held no position with the party and his instructions should be ignored.

But Zimbabwean courts recognised Tshabangu's authority, ruled to remove the opposition MPs and declared them on Thursday ineligible to run.

“This is not an election. This is not democracy,” opposition deputy spokesperson Gift Ostallos Siziba told The Associated Press.

Another late-night court ruling Friday left the ZANU-PF candidate set to win one of the seats in the capital, Harare, uncontested.

The CCC said on the eve of the special elections that it had launched an appeal with the Supreme Court, demanding that eight of its candidates appear on the ballots. It didn't list a name for the Harare seat.

The main opposition party said the removal of its lawmakers is a brazen attempt by the ruling party to increase its control in Parliament and has accused ZANU-PF, which has been in power since the southern African country's independence in 1980, of using the courts to help it do that.

The CCC said ZANU-PF was using Tshabangu and the courts to “decimate” the opposition.

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