LOVEMORE Moyo’s re-election bid for Speaker of Parliament has been dealt a major blow after he was told: “You can’t vote.”
Moyo, deposed last week after the Supreme Court ruled his August 2008 election as Speaker had broken voting rules, was hoping to vote in the closely-balanced vote set for March 22 after legal advice suggested he could still revert to being MP for Matobo North.
But the Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma said on Tuesday: “The Matobo North constituency was held by Moyo up to the date he was elected Speaker.
“In terms of the constitution once one is elected Speaker, that person ceases to hold a seat in Parliament.
“The sequence of events is that he resigned and declared the seat vacant and a by-election is pending for that seat. He does not revert to be MP.
“As at the date of the ruling of the Supreme Court, Lovemore Moyo is now an ordinary member of the public.”
Legal analysts have been debating the implications of the Supreme Court ruling in relation to Moyo’s old constituency.
New Zimbabwe.com columnist and law expert Alex Magaisa said: “The key point for present purposes is that there was no by-election in Matobo North constituency to replace Moyo.
“The question remains: would, having been deposed by virtue of a judgment declaring the Speaker’s election invalid, a person who was an MP be able to reclaim his seat? In other words, did he lose his seat when he became Speaker by virtue of an invalid election or does he revert to his position as an MP now that the Supreme Court says he was never properly elected in the first place?
“It would be odd if a person in Moyo’s position were to suffer what would in effect be double-jeopardy on account of a flawed election that was not his fault. If a court of law finds that the election was irregular and invalid, it is tantamount to saying there was never an election in the first place.
“To my mind, the loss of an MP’s seat that is provided for under section 41 (1) (g) is predicated on the validity of his election to the position of Speaker. If it is invalid, he cannot be lawfully regarded as having been duly elected.
“The effect of the Supreme Court’s decision is not only that he is no longer Speaker but that he never was on account of a flawed election. It would be unfair and ridiculous in my opinion if a person who obeyed the command of his fellow MPs were to lose out on both the Speakership and his parliamentary seat simply because the election, which he had no control over, is later found to have been flawed.”
Presently, Zanu PF and the Moyo’s MDC-T party each command 96 MPs in the House of Assembly, meaning seven legislators from the Welshman Ncube-led MDC will once again swing the balance in the vote.
Ncube told New Zimbabwe.com on Tuesday that the party had tasked its deputy president Edwin Mushoriwa to explore their options, but suggested it was unlikely the party would put forward a candidate as it did in 2008 after Zanu PF struck a deal to back a minority candidate.
At the 2008 election, it emerged that at least four MPs from the Ncube-led MDC voted for the MDC-T’s Moyo over the party’s candidate, Paul Themba Nyathi. The MDC later accused six of its 10 MPs of accepting bribes from MDC-T.
Moyo’s vote was nullified after a majority of the Supreme Court bench ruled Zvoma had failed to ensure MPs observed secret ballot rules, with at least six legislators from Moyo’s MDC-T party displaying their votes to senior party leaders before casting.