Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Zimbabwe Parties Share Parliamentary Posts

Parties share Parly posts

By Zvamaida Murwira
Courtesy of the Zimbabwe Herald

THE three political parties yesterday shared the top posts in both the House of Assembly and the Senate with MDC-T winning the Speaker’s chair and the other MDC formation settling for Deputy Speaker while Zanu-PF senators were elected President and Deputy President of the Senate respectively.

Matobo North Member of the House of Assembly Mr Lovemore Moyo of MDC-T and Zanu-PF Politburo member and Chegutu Senator Cde Edna Madzongwe were elected Speaker of the House and President of the Senate respectively when Parliament convened yesterday.

This is the first time since independence that an opposition MP has been elected presiding officer of the august House.

Umzingwane Member of the House of Assembly Mrs Nomalanga Khumalo from the Arthur Mutambara MDC formation was elected Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly unopposed while Insiza Senator Cde Naison Ndlovu was retained as Deputy President of Senate.

The elections, which were conducted by secret ballot, were presided over by Clerk of Parliament Mr Austin Zvoma.

In their separate speeches, Mr Moyo and Cde Madzongwe invited members to accompany them when they present themselves to President Mugabe at State House on a date to be announced shortly.

Mr Moyo garnered 110 votes to beat former Gwanda Member of Parliament Mr Paul Themba-Nyathi of MDC, who got 98 votes from a total of 208 ballots cast.

Zanu-PF did not nominate a candidate for the Speaker of the House of Assembly and threw their weight behind Mr Nyathi.

Judging by the voting pattern, the 98 Zanu-PF MPs voted for Mr Nyathi while the 10 Mutambara formation MPs cast their ballots for Mr Moyo, apparently going against their executive’s decision to back Mr Nyathi.

None of the senior Mutambara faction leaders are in Parliament and could not, therefore, whip their MPs into voting for Mr Nyathi.

Voting started on a high note with Lupane East legislator Mr Njabuliso Mguni, who was seconded by independent Tsholotsho North MP Jonathan Moyo, rising to nominate Mr Nyathi.

Harare East MP Mr Tendai Biti nominated Mr Moyo and was seconded by Gutu South legislator Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro.

In his brief speech in support of Mr Nyathi, Mr Mguni said he was a liberation war veteran who fought for Zimbabwe’s freedom from colonial rule.

He said Mr Nyathi was involved in the demobilisation of freedom fighters and was one of the founder members of MDC.

"He has the capacity to unite this House. As you can see, we are divided. Debate needs to be conducted in a free environment and as a freedom fighter, he would fight for the people’s freedom. We need him to be a mediator in our partisan debates," he said.

In his speech, Mr Biti said:

"In a polarised environment we are in, in the person of Moyo you will find someone without aggression, without the entrenchment of political party differences. The quality of Speaker we are looking for is someone with integrity, someone we can trust and who is consistent, someone who is prepared to put Zimbabwe first."

In his acceptance speech, Mr Moyo assured the House that he would discharge his duties with utmost professionalism.

"I am exceedingly humbled and honoured by your show of confidence in me. This is just the beginning of a long journey and spanners will be thrown in our way. Let me assure the people of Zimbabwe that we will not fail them," said Mr Moyo.

Both MDC-Mutambara and Zanu-PF congratulated Mr Moyo.

Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe MP Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is Zanu-PF secretary for legal affairs, expressed confidence that Mr Moyo would discharge the onerous task before him with diligence.

"I have no doubt that members of the House found the integrity in you and have no doubt you will discharge the duty to the best of your ability," said Cde Mnangagwa.

In the Senate, Non-Constituency Senator Cde Patrick Chinamasa nominated Cde Madzongwe while Chizhanje Senator Mrs Sekai Holland (MDC-T) proposed Mr Dalumuzi Khumalo of MDC-Mutambara as candidate for the post of Senate President.

Cde Madzongwe garnered 58 votes against Mr Khumalo’s 28.

Cde Ndlovu won 57 votes against 28 for Mrs Holland in the race for Deputy President.

Voting was characterised by heated exchanges in the House of Assembly while there was calm in the Senate.

MDC-T MPs defied an order by Mr Zvoma to leave the chamber soon after casting their votes.

They also protested at the decision by Mr Zvoma to carry ballot boxes for counting in the Senate Chamber.

They only calmed down when they received assurances that candidates would be present with their agents.

The MDC-T has 100 seats in the House of Assembly while Zanu-PF has 98 and the Mutambara formation has 10 seats with the remaining one seat held by Jonathan Moyo.

Although Bills are introduced and passed in the Lower House, they have to be approved by Senate, where Zanu-PF enjoys a majority, before the President assents to them.

Senate can also refer back a Bill to the Lower House for reconsideration.

Following the election of Mr Lovemore Moyo as Speaker there will now be a by-election in Matobo North.

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