Cops used to reduce MDC MP numbers

ahead of crucial Speaker vote
simon_khaya_moyo2HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party said this week it had the votes necessary to re-elect its national chairman in a landmark replay of the election of Parliamentary Speaker. (PIctured: Simon Khaya Moyo)

But President Robert Mugabe holds all the cards in the form of the police who are being used to reduce the numbers of MDC MPs before the crucial vote. Another MDC Gokwe MP Costin Muguti is in police custody after being re-arrested

soon after he was released from remand prison on charges of assaulting a chief. The MDC says the arrest is politically motivated, “trumped-up” and meant to slash the MDC’s voting numbers.

Zanu (PF) has said it will oppose the MDC candidate, Lovemore Moyo, ousted through a March 10 Supreme Court ruling, and field its own national chairman, Simon Khaya-Moyo, Zimbabwe’s former ambassador to South Africa. The contest has been dubbed the “Battle of the Moyos”.

It is understood that dissidents in Zanu (PF) led a revolt against Khaya-Moyo’s candidacy, but were whipped into backing him. The party was torn along factional lines, with administration secretary Didymus Mutasa and Women’s League secretary Oppah Muchinguri blowing their tops with rage.

Sources say Muchinguri was placated with the offer of a non-constituency seat in a move that also boosts Zanu (PF)’s voting numbers. Zanu (PF) spokesman Rugare Gumbo denied that the Parliamentary Caucus was whipped into line saying “they agreed to go with the recommendations of the Politburo.”

Gumbo has also been lined up to take up another non-constituency seat, which had remained vacant and is now all of a sudden being filled because of the Speaker vote. Muchinguri and Gumbo’s backdoor drafting into the House of Assembly gives Zanu (PF) an extra two votes.

Khaya-Moyo lacks a power base of his own and owes his position as chairman to the 1987 power-sharing accord which merged Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) and the late Joshua Nkomo’s PF Zapu, to which he belonged. Lovemore Moyo is the MDC-T MP for Matobo North and enjoys massive support in his Matebeleland home province.

He is also the son-in-law of Zanu (PF)’s Sthembiso Nyoni, the minister of Small to Medium Scale Enterprises. Sources say she was busy behind the scenes campaigning for her son-in-law. Nyoni’s support could be pivotal in bringing over a number of other Zanu (PF) legislators who have threatened to oppose Khaya-Moyo due to factional interests.

MDC deputies doubted that Zanu (PF) had the votes to ensure a win, given that the MDC-N, which holds the balance of power has refused to cooperate with Zanu (PF) given its blatant refusal to install the new party president Welshman Ncube as the Deputy Prime Minister. An MDC-N MP told The Zimbabwean that they will use every means at our disposal to block Khaya-Moyo.

But MDC-N deputy spokesman Kurauone Chihwayi said: “The MDC has no intention of joining hands with Zanu (PF) or MDC-T in the fight for the position of Speaker. The MDC is focusing more on party building and preparing for future elections. Mugabe and Tsvangirai should keep their Arthur Mutambara and we will keep our votes.”

It is not clear when Parliament will convene to elect the new Speaker, but the MDC has lodged an urgent chamber application in the High Court seeking a declaration that the suspension of Parliament by the Clerk of Parliament was illegal and that the election of a new Speaker must be done immediately. The MDC has alleged that the Clerk, whom it accused of being a “Zanu (PF) functionary”, was blocking the election of a new Speaker.

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