In a significant political upheaval, Zimbabwe is currently grappling with special elections for nine parliamentary seats after the expulsion of opposition lawmakers from the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party, who were declared ineligible for re-election.
The opposition sees this move as an illegal attempt by the ruling ZANU-PF party to fortify its power and potentially amend the constitution to extend presidential term limits.
Power Play or Legal Action?
The removal of the opposition representatives was spearheaded by Sengezo Tshabangu, a figure who, as the opposition asserts, holds no official party position. Nonetheless, Zimbabwean courts accepted Tshabangu's authority, resulting in the disqualification of the opposition MPs.
The CCC has accused ZANU-PF of exercising undue influence over the courts to stifle the opposition, a claim echoed by rights groups and substantiated by actions like the U.S. imposing visa restrictions on those seen as undermining Zimbabwe's democracy.
Allegations of Violence and Human Rights Concerns
The political tumult is not limited to legal and parliamentary maneuvers. It also involves allegations of violence against opposition activists, which amplifies concerns about the future of democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who ascended to power in 2017 following a coup, was re-elected for a second term in August amid widespread criticism.
There is widespread speculation that the constitution might be altered to allow Mnangagwa to serve beyond the two-term limit, which would culminate in 2028.
Such a move would consolidate power in the hands of the ruling party, marking a shift away from the democratic principles that underlie the country's constitution, and potentially leading Zimbabwe down a precarious political path.