It’s unfortunate that we have lost some of the finest legislators due to poor judgment and wrong loyalties, said political commentator Ronald Shumba.
It is unfortunate that astute and hardworking legislators such as Professor Welshman Ncube, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Gibson Sibanda, and Trudy Stevenson are not coming back to parliament simply because they were in the wrong camp. From the Zanu (PF) camp, Patrick Chinamasa, illuminated debate in Parliament through well thought-out presentations. The rest of the Zanu (PF) rogues who lost will not be missed at all as they were not adding any value to parliament.
He continued: Imagine if Arthur Mutambara had won in Zengeza. Can you imagine how lively parliament would have been? Shumba went on to add that the failure by the MDC to unite before the poll had cost the nation some good men and women.A profile of the new house, though, shows a healthy cross-section of people: from former student leaders, professors and lawyers, to flashy businessmen and more white MPs.
Serious and eloquent
There is not going to be any sleeping, no pillows in parliament this time. It will be a serious place for people who are eloquent to make laws, Shumba said.
The new, young legislators involve former student activists who fought running battles with Mugabe’s riot police during anti-government street demonstrations.
Other MPs making their debut in Parliament are MDC Youth Chairman Thamsanqa Mahlangu, who will be representing Nkulumane, and MDC Youth Secretary Solomon Madzore.Â
Big opposition wins coupled with an influx of young parliamentarians are expected to rejuvenate what had predominantly turned into a rubber-stamping parliament.
There are also sharp brains joining parliament such as University of Zimbabwe political science professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro; prominent Harare lawyer Advocate Eric Matinenga, and Harare human rights lawyer Jessie Majome – all of them MDC Tsvangirai legislators.
Feminist and ZCTU Vice-President Tabitha Khumalo makes her debut in parliament representing Bulawayo East. Former Harare MDC Mayor Elias Mudzuri has been elected as MP for Warren Park. It seems politics runs deep in the Mudzuri clan, as his younger brother, Harrison, has also won in Zaka Central, again on an MDC ticket.
From the ruling party team, it must have been sweet victory for Emmerson Mnangagwa, who finally won a parliamentary seat in Chirumanzu/Zibagwe. Mnangagwa has, two times in a row, been appointed to parliament by Mugabe as a non-constituency MP after being trounced by MDC’s Blessing Chebundo in Kwekwe in the 2000 and 2005 legislative polls.
Also making a debut in Parliament is Lucia Matibenga, whose ousting from the MDC Women’s Assembly chairmanship last year stirred a storm. She will be representing the MDC in Kuwadzana.Â
Her constituency is adjacent to that of MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa, who retained his Kuwadzana seat, now called Kuwadzana East. Jameson Timba, one of Tsvangirai’s top advisors, who is also a businessman, will make his debut in parliament representing Mt Pleasant.
There are also two elected white MPs. Among the whites elected in the new parliament are farmer Ian Kay in Goromonzi, and respected lawyer and legislatorÂ David Coltart, who was part of the previous parliament. Both represent the MDC.
On the campaign trail, Mugabe had attacked white human rights activists such as Coltart saying they have pushed our sense of racial tolerance to the limit. Mugabe also warned of very stern measures against them.
Political analysts say despite the impressive calibre of the new legislators, the impact of the legislature will largely depend on who makes up the executive.Â Â Â Â
It depends on who becomes the president, National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Dr Lovemore Madhuku said. Parliament, as an institution, puts checks and balances on the judiciary and the executive.Â
Unless whoever emerges as president names a significant number of women from among 33 seats that the sitting president is constitutionally allowed to appoint, the new 210-seat house and 93-member senate will be almost entirely male, with far less than the mandatory 30 per cent representation.
Gender activists are bemoaning the loss of outspoken women’s rights activists such as Misihairabwi-Mushonga, who campaigned for a no’ vote in a government-backed constitution and also headed the Public Accounts Parliamentary Portfolio Committe.President Mugabe’s nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, returned to parliament after he retained his seat in Zvimba East, due west of Mugabe’s home village.
Also returning to parliament is Mugabe’s Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who won her rural seat in Mt Darwin. However several senior ministers have lost. Some of them, such as Shuvai Mahofa in Gutu, had sat in parliament since 1980.
Pillows not needed.New parliament will be wide-awake, says Shumba
Old-guard politicians - notorious for sleeping during debates - could soon be kept awake by the wave of younger deputies now entering Zimbabwe's new parliament.