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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 13 - 2011
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
March 29, 2011

Introduction

The much-awaited sitting of the House of Assembly to elect a new Speaker finally took place yesterday in Parliament, where Lovemore Moyo (MDC-T) beat his ZANU PF rival Simon Khaya Moyo by 105 votes to 93 votes. The elections were necessitated by Supreme Court's ruling which set aside Lovemore Moyo's election as Speaker on 25 August 2011. The election attracted tremendous public interest as witnessed by both the Public and Press Galleries which were full to the brim. Actually some members of the public were turned away as there was simply no space to accommodate everyone in the public gallery who had come to witness the election. Actually the Public Gallery was already full before the proceedings had even started.

Proceedings in the House

The Clerk of Parliament, Mr. Austin Zvoma, kicked off the proceedings in the House by laying down election ground rules to Members of Parliament and underlined the fact that he was not going to entertain any questions or queries from Members. This drew the ire of MDC MPs who wanted to know why Vice President John Nkomo was in the House of Assembly, given that the Clerk of Parliament had earlier on ejected Lovemore Moyo out of the Chamber, on the basis that he was not a Member of Parliament.

The swearing-in of Vice President John Nkomo and Oppah Muchinguri was drowned in jeers from MDC-T MPs who felt hard-done by their counterparts.

Nomination of Candidates

Hon. Lawrence Mavima nominated Simon Khaya Moyo as ZANU PF's candidate for Speakership. On the other hand, Hon. Tendai Biti, seconded by Hon. Willias Madzimure, nominated Lovemore Moyo as their party's candidate. In a mock gesture, Hon. Tongai Matutu, seconded by Hon. Amos Chibaya nominated Hon. Jonathan Moyo as a third candidate. For a moment ZANU PF Members panicked as they assumed that by virtue of being a candidate Hon. Jonathan Moyo would not be eligible to vote and they protested strongly to the Clerk of Parliament for allowing the nomination of Jonathan Moyo to stand. Tempers only cooled down after Mr. Zvoma explained to the House that a candidate who is already a Member of Parliament was entitled to vote. However, Hon. Jonathan Moyo rejected the nomination.

In his motivation speech, Hon. Mavima said Simon Khaya Moyo was a more credible candidate as his political and diplomatic background put him in a better stead to be Speaker of the House of Assembly.

Hon. Tendai Biti prefaced his statement in support of Lovemore Moyo's candidature with scathing remarks especially in the manner the Clerk of Parliament had handled the whole issue. This did not go down well with Mr. Zvoma who called Hon. Biti out of order. Mr. Zvoma informed the House that whatever remarks made by Hon. Biti, which were not relevant to his motivational speech for his party's candidate, would not be part of the records of the proceedings. This means that Hon. Biti's critical comments will be expunged from the Hansard. If this were to happen, it would raise serious procedural questions because a Hansard is an official verbatim report of the plenary proceedings in the House, which should not be altered for whatever reasons.

Election Process

A makeshift polling station with 4 polling booths was stationed outside the Chamber, ostensibly to minimize pandemonium in the House that characterized the previous elections on 25 August 2008. The counting of ballots was also done in the "polling station" in the presence of party agents; Hon. Joram Gumbo and Hon. Paul Mangwana for ZANU PF and Hon. Innocent Gonese and Hon. Douglas Mwonzora representing MDC-T. The actual balloting was preceded by the printing of ballot papers and verification of register, which was all done in the presence of party agents and the press.

The election process this time round appeared very thorough as compared to the previous elections whose results were nullified by the Supreme Court.

Announcement of Results

Before the Clerk of Parliament could announce the results, the House was already in a carnival atmosphere as MDC-T MPs and their colleagues from MDC broke into song and dance. The swearing-in of Vice President John Nkomo and Hon. Oppah Muchinguri just before the election process started boosted the number of eligible Members for ZANU PF to 98. MDC-T had 96 Members whereas MDC had 8 eligible Members. In his election report, Mr. Zvoma said there were 199 MPs in the House out of the expected 203 Members eligible to vote. This means that 4 Members did not turn up for the election. It is still not clear who these Members were and the reasons why they did not turn up. There was one spoilt paper for Simon Khaya Moyo and two ballot papers for Lovemore Moyo which ZANU PF party agents had reservations on. However, the two ballots were finally accepted as valid votes. The MDC-T Lovemore Moyo garnered 105 votes against his ZANU PF rival, Simon Khaya Moyo's 93 votes.

A quick analysis of the above numbers reveals that at least 4 ZANU PF Members voted for Lovemore Moyo.

Speaker's Acceptance Speech

In his acceptance speech, Speaker Lovemore Moyo thanked his party for nominating him. He also thanked all Members who voted for him across the political divide and said these Members were brave enough to express their democratic choices.

The speaker also thanked all Zimbabweans who gave him moral support during the "darkest hour of his political life" that he endured in the past weeks.

Hon. Moyo said he would continue to guide parliament to ensure that the institution adheres to democratic principles and to make it assertive in executing its constitutional mandate. In particular, he pledged his support to the good work being done by portfolio committees.

He also implored the 3 arms of State to respect the doctrine of separation of powers to ensure non-interference in the affairs of one another.

Adjournment of the House

The House adjourned to Tuesday 5 April 2011.

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