Movement for Democratic Change chairman Lovemore Moyo was elected Speaker of Parliament by 110 votes to 98 to beat Paul Themba Nyathi of the smaller faction of the MDC, raising questions as to who had voted for him because his party had 98 members and the smaller faction 10.
The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front did not field a candidate and backed Nyathi.
Though the Tsvangirai faction had 100 seats in the lower house, two of its MPs Eliah Zembere and Sure Mudzingwa were arrested before the parliamentary session began.
Viewing cable 08HARARE730, TSVANGIRAI CANDIDATE ELECTED HOUSE SPEAKER
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SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI CANDIDATE ELECTED HOUSE SPEAKER
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Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (U) Lovemore Moyo of MDC Tsvangirai (MDC-T) was elected
speaker of the House of Assembly in a secret ballot today.
He defeated Paul Themba Nyathi, nominated by MDC Mutambara
(MDC-T), by a vote of 110-98. Nyathi was supported by
ZANU-PF, which did not field a candidate.
¶2. (U) MDC-T has 100 parliamentarians. Two members (Eliah
Zembere and Sure Mudzingwa) were arrested before the
parliamentary session began. Zembere was wanted on an arrest
warrant alleging rape. There were apparently no outstanding
charges agains Mudzingwa and he was released, but not before
the vote. Except for Zembere and Mudzingwa, all
parliamentarians elected on March 27 and in three subsequent
by-elections were present.
¶3. (C) To achieve its 110 majority, MDC-T apparently whipped
its 98 parliamentarians present to maintain unity and vote
for Moyo. The additional 12 votes probably came mostly from
MDC-M with several votes from ZANU-PF necessary as well.
MDC-M members had told us they expected 6-8 MDC-M
parliamentarians to break ranks and vote for Moyo (Ref).
¶4. (C) COMMENT. The House speaker is charged with
regulating debate and coordinating the business of the House
of Assembly. The position has no intrinsic power outside of
Parliament. The significance of the election is that it
demonstrates MDC-T’s ability to maintain party unity and to
form a majority in the House of Assembly. It may also give
MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangarai added leverage in
negotiations with ZANU-PF. END COMMENT.