April 2, 2011

MDC's Moyo re-elected speaker / Southern African leaders condemn recent political violence

Zimbabwean MPs have re-elected a close ally of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as the speaker of parliament after his 2008 election was nullified. Lovemore Moyo from the MDC party took 105 votes, defeating a candidate from President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party who took 93 votes. The vote in the hung parliament was controversial following allegations of bribery and the arrest of some MDC MPs.

The speaker position is highly influential - especially in the power-sharing arrangement - exercising control over the legislative process, he says. Hours before the vote, five MDC MPs said they had received bribes of $5,000 (£3,000) each from a senior Zanu-PF official. With one spoilt ballot paper and Mr Moyo's victory by 12 votes, it seems three Zanu-PF MPs voted for the MDC.

In the meantime, in their first public response to Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's campaign to lobby them about violent attacks on his supporters by those of President Robert Mugabe, Southern African leaders have called for an immediate end to "violence, intimidation, hate speech [and] harassment". In a communiqué issued at the end of a summit in Livingstone, Zambia, the security organ of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) also expressed its "impatience" at delays of the implementation of the accord which created Zimbabwe's unity government, and noted its "grave concern [at] the polarization of the political environment as characterized by, inter alia, resurgence of violence, arrests and intimidation".

South Africa’s President Zuma, who is facilitating SADC mediation of the Zimbabwe crisis, reported on its efforts to other regional leaders, including President Rupiah Banda of Zambia, who chairs the security organ, President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia and President Armando Guebuza of Mozambique. President Robert Mugabe, seen welcoming President Jacob Zuma on a past visit, is now unhappy with what his regional counterparts are saying. Zimbabwe was represented by Tsvangirai, President Robert Mugabe and the deputy prime minister, Arthur Mutambara. In the weeks leading up to the summit, Tsvangirai toured southern African capitals, complaining at the violence of Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and calling for action. The SADC leaders told Zimbabwe's unity government that it should implement all the provisions of the Global Political Agreement which set it up, and "create a conducive environment for peace, security, and free political activity". They also decided to appoint a team of officials to supplement Zuma's facilitation team and to intensify the monitoring of the implementation of the agreement. (Bua News/The Zimbabwean/Sadocc)

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