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Which way Parliament of Zimbabwe?
Khumbulani Maphosa
March 23, 2011

The ball has been set, the battle lines are drawn and the rules are clear; it is time the battle began. Three men with the same surname are taking on each other in a typical brother-eat-brother style. Who will emerge victorious? Who will inherit the prestigious throne? Who will command the house? Only time, wisdom and tact will tell. This is the defining moment when political maturity will be the only deciding factor in the battle of the Moyos.

The importance of the position of Speaker cannot be down graded. This is a very powerful post and one who has it definitely has reason to celebrate. The Speaker is the presiding officer of Parliament and as such must act with both authority and impartiality. His/her role in the House is to run the proceedings, maintaining order, puts questions after debate and conducts divisions (voting in the House). In maintaining order the Speaker interprets and applies the Standing Orders and practice of the House by making rulings and decisions. A decision of the Speaker may only be challenged by motion of dissent. By custom, the Speaker does not participate in debates. In this manner the Speaker is very crucial in determining the direction of flow of debates and the speed at which reforms will take place. In Zimbabwe this is a highly political post and one who has it has political leverage in the house no wonder why all parties jostle for it and would always prefer a very senior party member to hold the seat.

The Speaker also has extensive administrative functions, being responsible for the overall direction of the Parliament. In this, the Speaker is advised by the Clerk of Parliament.

The withdrawal of MDC from the Speaker-s race is the most mature and most intelligent political decision ever done in Zimbabwe. Welshman Ncube has proved that his political acumen is but a cut above the rest. Honestly, if his party had contested it was going to get nothing less of an embarrassing humiliation. However, people should not be fooled to think that MDC chickened out and are thus a nonentity as far as this contest is concerned. Those who think saw are but buying their own political coffins. By withdrawing from the race, the Welshman led MDC proved not only its political idealism but further positioned itself to be the most critical and formidable force in determining which way the seat may go. How? Who ever is going to snatch the MDC vote will definitely be the day-s victor.

The two Moyo brothers in ZANU PF, Jonathan and Simon Khaya would pray and wish the post lands home. Jonathan Moyo definitely would want to see Khaya winning because this will consolidate his position as the ZANU PF spin-doctor kid and will help him gain legitimacy in a party that has not liked his forceful strategies. It will also be his way of apologizing for the Dinyane saga and hopefully his redemption time. Having the Speakership gong to ZANU PF will also improve Jonathan-s credentials and profile in the party. Who knows maybe John Nkomo might find it necessary now to live with this 'thorn in his flesh- in peace and harmony. The same goes to the infamous S.K. As the party-s National Chairman, he needs to consolidate his reign, increase his power and expand his sphere of influence. Loosing here will be a big dent on his political ego.

If ZANU PF wins this post the international community should join Zimbabwe in mourning the death of a transformative process in the country. The agenda of parliament is likely to radically shift from discussing laws that seek to reform the nation to focusing on the anti sanctions campaign, empowerment and other pro-ZANU PF issues. ZANU PF may also desperately want to win this post so as to prove to the opposition that they are a formidable force come election time and to frustrate the opposition in parliament. To them it will be a plus controlling both houses in parliament (the lower and the upper house).

However on the other side MDC-T and Lovemore Moyo would love to regain the seat for solely three major reasons. To frustrate ZANU PF and Jonathan Moyo-s plans thus humiliating Simon Khaya Moyo in the process; to control parliament and thus detect the pace at which legislative reforms will occur as well as to prove a point that the opposition in Zimbabwe is still one against ZANU PF. As I once wrote in my earlier articles on the same subject, the odds are against them in terms of numbers and Morgan Tsvangirai needs to swallow his pride, approach Welshman and strike a democratic truce with him so that the MDC legislatures will vote for Lovemore Moyo. If MDC-T loses here they would have masterminded the loss themselves because of lack of political strategy to get the MDC on their side and other ZANU PF members too. Their loss will also be a sign of loss of unity of purpose and will go a long way in authenticating the claims that the party is currently a house heavily divided courtesy of the coming congress. MDC-T MPs need to learn to behave maturely this time around. They need to study the laws governing the election of Speaker, interpret them soberly and act in accordance to its statutes. Any celebration, jubilation and Pompey should be reserved for the aftermaths of the elections.

I would however bet Zimbabweans and the international community is and should be praying very hard that the Speakership returns to MDC-T mainly to allow the speedy facilitation of democratic legislative reforms in the country.

*Khumbulani Maphosa is a media practitioner. Email: maphosakhumbulani@gmail.com

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