OUSTED Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo has filed an urgent court application seeking to be declared MP for Matobo North before a crucial vote in the House of Assembly.
Moyo, whose August 2008 election was nullified by the Supreme Court last week, said he was seeking a “declaratory order” for “the avoidance of doubt”.
Cited as respondents in the application filed on March 19 is the Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma and Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga.
A vote for a new Speaker was expected at the first sitting of Parliament on Tuesday but this appeared unlikely to go ahead late on Monday.
Moyo, who was deemed to have resigned his Matobo North seat after his election as Speaker, argues in court papers that he should now revert to MP since the Supreme Court ruling established his election as Speaker was never valid.
Moyo says he wants the High Court to “make the declaration that I remain a Member of the House of Assembly of the Parliament of Zimbabwe for the establishment of clarity at law, and secondly with such clarity to avoid confusion at the next sitting of the House of Assembly scheduled for Tuesday, March 22, 2011.”
Zvoma advised Moyo last week that he was seeking legal opinion over his status, but later told state media that the MDC-T chairman was an “ordinary member of the public”.
Zvoma told the Herald newspaper: “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.”
But Moyo says to lose both the Speaker’s post and the Matobo North whip would go against Chief Justice Gofrey Chidyausiku’s ruling that “no draconian consequence” must result from the nullification of his election.
“To lose both would amount to double jeopardy,” Moyo said in an affidavit, pleading with the High Court to make the declaration before the next sitting of Parliament.
Moyo said if the matter was not heard before a vote for Speaker, he would “suffer irreparable harm”.
But in the first set-back, the matter had not been set down for hearing by late Monday. And when it is finally heard, a judge must decide whether the application is urgent and then rule on whether Moyo remains MP.
The court decision could also be subjected to an appeal which may take several months to be heard and could have a consequence of ruling Moyo out of the vote for Speaker, although he may still stand as a candidate.
Moyo, who only last week accused Supreme Court judges of being “loyal and faithful to the cause of Zanu PF”, must now bank of the same legal system to help him back to Parliament.
Without his vote, MDC-T would have 96 MPs in Parliament – the same number as Zanu PF. The smaller MDC faction with seven MPs says it will abstain from the vote.
Zanu PF can fatten its numbers by one after party strategists asked President Robert Mugabe to invoke a clause in Constitutional Amendment 19 which allows him to appoint an MP with full voting powers.