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Weekly Media Review - Issue 12
The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
Monday March 21st - Sunday March 27th 2011
April 01, 2011

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State media take sides in battle of the Moyos

The jockeying for the post of Speaker of Parliament between ZANU PF and the MDC-T, retained last Tuesday by MDC-T's Lovemore Moyo after the Supreme Court had set aside his initial election, was a prominent feature in the media this week.

The official media openly campaigned for the ZANU PF candidate for the post, party chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, while maligning the credentials of Lovemore Moyo. Of the 11 reports that these media carried on the two's prospects of landing the post, including profiles, six approvingly reported on Khaya Moyo's credentials while five were dismissive of those of Lovemore Moyo.

An analysis piece carried in The Sunday Mail (27/3), for example, 'exposed' the MDC-T candidate's alleged failure during his tenure as Speaker, which reportedly included an overbearing attitude and "disrespect" for MPs, while it marketed Khaya Moyo as a "scholar", "astute politician and diplomat" whose "impeccable curriculum vitae" would bring dignity to the Speakership.

In a front-page report, the paper also reported on how the "former de-facto" Speaker of the House of Assembly faced arrest for contempt of court for his alleged attack on the judiciary after the Supreme Court nullified his election to that post, which an unnamed lawyer contended "raised doubts about his suitability for the speakership".

The official media endorsed Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma's postponement of the resumption of business in Parliament on Tuesday, March 22nd to facilitate fresh elections for the Speaker, his decision to bar Lovemore Moyo from participating in parliamentary activities and strip him of his parliamentary privileges on the grounds that he could not revert to his previous position as Matobo MP, without balancing it with expert independent views. Expert legal opinions included advice from constitutional lawyer Lovemore Madhuku and even Attorney-General Johannes Tomana who both argued that, according to law, Lovemore Moyo should revert to his former position as Matobo MP (The Herald, 22/3).

Neither did these media raise questions on the timing of the arrest and detention of some MDC-T MPs, which the private media viewed as a ZANU PF ploy to whittle down the MDC-T's parliamentary majority ahead of the election for the Speaker. Reportedly, the number of MPs from ZANU PF and MDC-T stood tied at 98 each with the smaller MDC faction led by Welshman Ncube contributing seven.

The private media quoted the MDC-T criticizing Zvoma for cancelling a parliamentary session, widely expected to hold elections for a new Speaker, as unilateral and a ploy to give ZANU PF more time to strategize (Studio 7 and ZimOnline, 22& 24/3).

They also quoted analysts and the smaller MDC formation, which eventually decided to back Lovemore Moyo's candidacy at the weekend, viewing the latest crackdown on MDC-T MPs as a scheme by ZANU PF to win the Speaker's election (Daily News, 27/3).

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