Zimbabwe Review

Reflections on Zimbabwe

MDC parliamentary majority only significant if Mugabe goes

Posted by CM on April 2, 2008

So the official election results and those of the MDC on the parliamentary polls agree: The MDC has a wafer thin majority.

This is of huge symbolic significance but will only have practical political meaning if Tsvangirai is also declared president. If, as Mugabe & Co. might still be gambling, they “concede” parliament to the MDC but decide to have Mugabe tough things out and hang on to the presidency, then the MDC having the majority in parliament will mean nothing.

Parliament has never been allowed to have anywhere near the over-sight authority it should. When it was almost exclusively ZANU-PF before 2000 it was a mere rubber stamp for whatever legislation Mugabe wanted passed. When the MDC won a substantial minority of seats in the general election of 2000, the role of parliament was weakened and reduced so that the opposition party could not even nip at the ruling party’s heels effectively.

In a normal parliamentary democracy it is close to untenable for a president to be from one party and the legislature to be dominated by a different party, especially when the two are at such poles apart as are ZANU-PF and the MDC. The president in such a situation would effectively be a lame duck, unable to have his bills passed. But Mugabe has and would simply avoid parliament and try to carry on with all effective power concentrated in his person.

But the first time ever moral authority of having the electoral commission certify that the MDC won more parliamentary seats than Mugabe’s party makes any gambit short of an outright coup difficult to sustain as a strategy for him to hang on.

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