Zim Opposition Wins Key Speaker Post

Zimbabwe’s main opposition party on Monday won the vote for Parliament speaker, dealing a blow to President Robert Mugabe in a post-election power struggle.


Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma said the Movement for Democratic Change’s Lovemore Moyo had 110 votes, giving him one of the most powerful positions in Zimbabwean politics at a time of growing doubt over power-sharing talks.

Negotiations between Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change are deadlocked over what the opposition says is Mugabe’s refusal to give up executive power after 28 years in office.

The arrest of two opposition members of Parliament before the swearing-in ceremony on Monday and Mugabe’s unilateral appointment of senators were branded a further threat to talks by the opposition.

“Clearly they have chosen the path of arrogance, unilateralism that’s a serious blow to confidence building in the talks,” said Movement for Democratic Change spokesperson Nelson Chamisa.

The opposition said its two MPs were arrested as they entered the parliamentary building and police also attempted to arrest another MDC MP but he was rescued by other parliamentarians.

One of the parliamentarians, Shuwa Mudiwa, was later released and sworn in.

There was no immediate comment from police on the arrests. Soon after the March elections, police announced a manhunt for several MDC politicians over charges of murder, rape and electoral violence.

Mugabe’s party lost control of Parliament in March elections for the first time since independence from Britain in 1980, gaining 99 seats, but Tsvangirai’s party only got 100 seats, so does not have an absolute majority either.

That leaves control in the hands of Arthur Mutambara’s breakaway wing of the MDC, which has 10 seats. There is one independent.

Mugabe intends to officially open Parliament on Tuesday despite protests by Tsvangirai’s party, which says this would scuttle negotiations on forming a unity government. Tsvangirai’s party did not object to the swearing-in. – Reuters

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