Lovemore Moyo: The Case of the Matobo Parliamentary seat

by Lloyd Msipa

Lovemore Moyo: The Case of the Matobo Parliamentary seat

On the 25th of August 2008, Zimbabwe’s legislatures voted to elect a Parliamentary speaker to preside over the August house. The significance of this election was that it ushered in Love more Moyo, Zimbabwe’s first speaker from the opposition bench since independence in 1980. He received 110 votes whilst his opponent, Paul Themba Nyati received 98 votes. It is instructive to note at this point that Love more Moyo had just been elected Member of Parliament for Matobo South.

Paul Themba-Nathan represented the smaller MDC faction then led by Arthur Mutambara, but he had support of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party. The ruling ZANU-PF party had lost its majority in the 210-seat parliament in elections in March. Final results gave 100 seats to an MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai, the party's presidential candidate. President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF got 99 seats and the then Arthur Mutambara lead MDC party won 10 seats and another seat went to Professor Jonathan Moyo who at the time stood as an independent candidate.

Mr. Love more Moyo won 110 votes, thanks to a secret turnaround by most of the ten MPs of the Mutambara faction. It goes without saying that at least three of them soon after lost their seats after being dismissed from the party for refusing to be whipped into line.

The speaker of parliament is the fourth most powerful post in Zimbabwe

It is common knowledge that a few weeks after the election of the speaker of Parliament, the then independent Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho North Professor Jonathan Moyo, MDC’s Moses Mzila Ndlovu, Patrick Dube and Siyabonga Ncube put the house on notice that they would be challenging in the High Court the election of MDC-T Love more Moyo as speaker of the house. The basis of the challenge was premised on the argument that the voting process was flawed and not done by secret ballot and that the behavior of some MDC-T MPs who displayed their ballot papers after casting their votes flawed the election process and this had an influence on the outcome. The matter was first heard in the High Court which initially ruled in favor of Love more Moyo and a subsequent appeal to the Supreme Court rescinded the previous judgment.

In his judgment, Chief Justice Chidyausiku said:

“I have come to the conclusion that the six named Members of Parliament did not vote by secret ballot and therefore their votes were irregular. The inclusion of the irregular votes in the determination of the final outcome of the election of the Speaker constitutes a failure to comply with section 39 of the Constitution, as read with Standing Order 6, providing the election of the Speaker of Parliament by secret ballot, thereby rendering it invalid.”

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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