Zanu (PF) stymies Speaker election

zim_parliamentHARARE - President Mugabe's Zanu PF on Tuesday scuttled the scheduled election of a new Speaker, sparking loud and angry protests from MDC deputies outside Parliament.

Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma called a 10am press conference to announce the cancellation of a scheduled sitting of the House of Assembly Tuesday ostensibly because a new Speaker must be elected first in accordance with standing rules and orders. It’s not clear why Zvoma could not allow the Deputy Speaker Nomalanga Khumalo to preside over the ballot.

Zvoma told the news conference that eventually happened after 12pm that the House could not sit until a new Speaker has been installed.

Earlier Zanu-PF chief whip, Joram Gumbo had said his party was still awaiting formal communication that the post of speaker of the Lower House has been declared vacant.

But sources said heightened factional fighting in Zanu PF has seen the party failing to emerge with one consensus candidate. Among Zanu PF officials interested in the Speaker post is Zanu PF adminstration secretary Didymus Mutasa, secretary for Women’s Affairs Oppah Muchinguri, the vocal but relative lightweight Kudakwashe Bhasikiti and the party chairman Simon Khaya-Moyo.

Gumbo claimed that the election of the Speaker can only go ahead once a formal communication has been done.

“As Zanu-PF, our position is that we were not formally communicated with on the issue,” Gumbo said.

MDC-T Members of Parliament proceeded to Parliament at 2pm inspite of a unilateral cancellation of Parliament, by Zvoma, who the MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa described as “a Zanu PF functionary.”

The MDC MPs staged a loud protest outside the House, singing and denouncing the Clerk.

MDC secretary general Tendai Biti later addressed a snap press gag where he vowed to legally and politically challenge Zvoma’s unilateralism.

“Zanu PF is scared of the vote for speaker because of factionalism and divisions in that party,” Chamisa said. “The peoples party of excellence, MDC is united, and ready to win the vote together with other progressive members of parliament across the political divide.”

The MDC T was refielding the ousted Speaker as its candidate, according to MDC-T chief whip, Innocent Gonese.

It has been one and half weeks since it was known that there is a vacancy for the speaker. We are more than ready and our candidate remains Mr Lovemore Moyo, Gonese said.

MDC-T Members of Parliament, Lucia Matibenga and Paurina Gwanyanya – Mpariwa had to fly back from Switzerland where they were on parliamentary business for the vote. The MDC has the full set of its MPs less Hon Muguti, who is in custody.

Zanu-PF currently has 96 seats and the MDC-T 97 in the hung Parliament with the MDC-N with 8 members including Professor Arthur Mutambara.

MDC-N chief whip, Edward Mukhosi said his party was not fielding any candidatee for the Speaker post. It is believed the MDC-N has entered a voting deal with the MDC-T and the party has snubbed Zanu PF’s overtures, complicating matters for President Mugabe’s party which desperately wants the Speaker’s post.

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