Re-elected Speaker Lovemore Moyo on Question Time

Lance Guma talks to the re-elected Speaker of Parliament, Lovemore Moyo, who joins the programme to answer questions sent in by SW Radio Africa listeners using facebook, twitter, skype, e-mail and text messages.

Moyo comments on allegations that Jonathan Moyo and other ZANU PF officials tried to bribe MDC-T MP’s to vote for Simon Khaya Moyo. He also comments on prospects for unity between the MDC formations, following their cooperation in electing him. 

Lance Guma: Our guest on Question Time is the recently re-elected speaker of parliament Lovemore Moyo. He joins us to answer questions sent in by SW Radio Africa listeners, using facebook, twitter, skype, email and text messages. Well first of all Mr Speaker, congratulations on the re-election. 

Lovemore Moyo: Thank you very much and also I want to take this opportunity to thank the listeners for the support and also in particular, my members of parliament for the support and confidence they gave to me.

Guma: Now did you at any time doubt that you would get re-elected, given the number of MPs from your party being arrested on trumped up charges and therefore failing to vote?

Moyo: Well of course you get that in a country where the rule of law is non-existent and you find a situation where the police can do anything they wish in terms of dealing with the members of political parties, of my own party for example so you get worried when you see honourable members being dragged just like ordinary criminals on the street, in the courts for politically related alleged offences and so on.

But I never doubted that the victory was certain because I’ve always been convinced that I’d had a clean contest on the 25th of August 2008 and that the speaker-ship rightfully belonged to me and my party. I’d every confidence that come what may I was able to conquer and indeed, despite being barred from voting as an individual, we managed to beat them by 12 votes which is really a huge margin in a political set-up.

Guma: Now over the weekend you were one of the MDC MPs, including co Home Affairs minister, Theresa Makoni, said to be in hiding. Did you ever think you would make it to parliament on Tuesday?

Moyo: I even did not hide because I’d not committed any crime and therefore I was waiting for them to come and arrest me if really they meant it because I’d nothing that I had done wrong which warranted me to be arrested.

Of course I was not intimidated by that, I just thought those are just ways of intimidating me in trying to get me run away in order to have an uncontested election. So I stayed put and I said if they want to arrest me there’s no reason for me, you know a person in my position in the society to run away from agents of the law, so I decided to stay put. 

Guma: Now Priscilla in Chitungwiza says the state-run Sunday Mail newspaper reported that a docket had already been compiled for your arrest with related subsequent processes said to be already underway. I think the accusations relate to what was described as your attack on the judiciary after the Supreme Court nullified your election as Speaker. So Priscilla wants to know what’s the latest on this issue.

Moyo: Well I haven’t been informed of any pending maybe either arrest or to be summoned to appear before a court of law. I’m not aware of any but I think they’ll inform me whenever they are ready to proceed in the manner they want to proceed so at the moment really it’s just wait and see what will be their move.

Remember that also the prime minister who is the president of the Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai also faces a similar I think, threat of arrest for having allegedly criticised the judiciary so it’s not something new and we know that they’ll continue to fabricate cases in order to silence the dissenting voices in this country.

Guma: Munyaradzi in Harare writes in to ask about your status as an MP, once the Supreme Court had struck down your election as Speaker. Of course I think you’ve already answered part of his question where he says were you allowed to vote on Tuesday and if not, why?

It was reported the Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma asked you to leave parliament building. Clarify this status of yours as MP or not MP – how was this supposed to have gone? 

Moyo: Well I’m not sure because I’m not a lawyer by training but my layman understanding of the law is that the Supreme Court ruling nullified my election as the Speaker, in other words especially when I am to take from (Austin) Zvoma’s words, the Clerk of Parliament that the elections never took place and therefore to the summon convening of parliament to elect a new Speaker, he used a proclamation that was made by Robert Mugabe in 2008, summoning parliament to meet on the 25th of August.

So he used the same proclamation to try and justify his actions and but then went on to contradict himself that Lovemore Moyo lost his seat by virtue of being elected Speaker yet the Supreme Court ruling is that there was never a Speaker elected. So you can see that there was serious contradiction on this matter.

But it remains for the legal minds to probably look at this matter but as an ordinary citizen and an elected MP, I feel that the Matobo North constituency seat rightfully belongs to me but obviously we know the reasons, his reasons had nothing to do with the legal issues but they were merely political reasons trying to reduce our size in the house of assembly in order to give undue advantage to ZANU PF.

So these are the things that we saw happen. It is so unfortunate that the Clerk of Parliament, who is supposed to be impartial and professional, finds himself being compromised and to me, really is unacceptable if our institutions as a country they are to be respected, we need officers who serve the nation and institutions without any favour. So I personally really think that I think I was a victim of a political strategy that was designed to silence me and also reduce the vote of the MDC.

Guma: Now still talking about the Clerk of Parliament, you raised some issues there – last week Austin Zvoma unilaterally cancelled the first scheduled sitting that was meant to see the election of Speaker being held. What did you make of that decision and the reasons Zvoma cited?

Moyo: Well as you may be aware that my party took that decision to court and I may not be I think in a position to comment on that since it is a matter that I think was heard this afternoon in the courts so I may not be free to make my own personal opinion on that because of the fact that my party has taken Zvoma to court on that unilateral decision.

One needs to understand how parliament operates, you know that to appreciate the relevant issues raised by MDC and what I know is that no-one can set aside or change a date set by a properly constituted parliament, once they set a date, that date is fixed. The only thing that can happen is that the head of state can prolong parliament.

What I mean is that by virtue of powers vested in him as the head of state, he is able to summon parliament to sit earlier than the date that parliament had appointed itself. Even the Speaker can’t change the date that he or she has appointed as the date of the next sitting of the parliament. So these are the things that are there in terms of parliamentary practice but I don’t want to debate much on this for the reasons that I mentioned above.

Guma: Our next question comes from Cousin George Mike, he says as the chairman of the MDC formation led by Prime Minister Tsvangirai, does the coming together of the MDC groups in parliament on Tuesday signal a new and defining approach to cooperation between the two formations?

Moyo: Well I don’t want to get over-excited about that because it’s a once-off event. We can’t really relate that to any future relationship but what is good is that there are some indications that there are future prospects of the democratic forces coming together in order to confront the Mugabe regime. 

So I think it is a positive move but I don’t want to read too much into that particular action. As you may recall that we have in the past worked together with or without the authority of the leadership of the other MDC but we welcome progressive thinking and also their positive …(inaudible) in a way I think demonstrated maturity and also an understanding that we are all in the democratic struggle.

Guma: Some of our listeners, particularly Mike, also have a follow-up question on that saying why did you as a party wait for Welshman Ncube and his party to back you? Did you reach out to them from the beginning?

Moyo: Well, what we did as a party, we felt that the people who are going to vote in the House are individual members of parliament and therefore it was important that we make personal approach, individual approach to various members of parliament because it’s about appealing to them.  

For instance one may argue we did not approach ZANU leadership but we got members of parliament who are ZANU voting for us so what we did, we approached the individual and appealed for this vote and that is what we did so we didn’t really see it necessary to have a discussion with the leadership of the other MDC.

Of course we then after that press conference, we spoke to them thanking them in the gesture that they had shown where they supported the democratic forces. So I think really we didn’t think it was strategic to talk to the leadership because it was really an MP issue.

Guma: It’s been calculated that at least two ZANU PF MPs voted for you in defiance of their party. Now Mary Khumalo in Bulawayo wants to ask you if you were surprised by this development?

Moyo: No I was not surprised at all and I don’t think it’s correct to say two ZANU PF members of parliament, mind you we were having a secret ballot and a secret ballot means that no-one knows how an individual voted and therefore, I think it would be wrong to say because the other MDC instructed their members, encouraged their members to vote with us, to assume that all of them voted with us, that’s a personal decision and a personal choice so in my view it is wrong for us to think that we were only voted by two members of ZANU PF. You may be surprised that we were voted for by quite a number.

Guma: Oswald in Kariba has a question on the bribery allegations. Of course it was reported on Tuesday that five MPs from your party handed over a total of twenty five thousand US dollars, made up of five thousand dollars, each of them was offered in bribes to vote for the ZANU PF candidate Simon Khaya Moyo. Now Tsholotsho North Member of Parliament Jonathan Moyo has been implicated in this bribery scam. Will your party take any action on this is what Oswald wants to know?

Moyo: As a party we are contemplating taking action because in our constitution, bribery is an offence and also vote buying is an offence within our laws of this country. So we are still reading the situation and probably considering taking action against the actions by Jonathan Moyo to attempt to bribe our members of parliament.

 Guma: Well Zimbabwe, that does it for our interview with the recently re-elected Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo.

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