MDC House of Assembly deputy chief whip Paurina Mpariwa has described Tsholotsho North legislator Jonathan Moyo in court papers as an “unprincipled opportunist” who represents everything wrong about present-day Zimbabwe.
In an opposing affidavit against Moyoâ€™s application seeking the nullification of the election of MDC national chairman Lovemore Moyo as Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mpariwa said the former Information minister was a “dishonourable member of parliament” who worked against press freedom and was once involved in a plot to unseat President Robert Mugabe.
Moyo lodged an application in the High Court last month arguing that MDC MPs had violated the principle of a secret ballot when the partyâ€™s national chairman was elected Speaker.
The Tsholotsho North MP accused MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti of failing to set an example to his fellow lawmakers. He said Biti was the first to violate the secret election principle after he showed his completed ballot to MPs from his party.
The MPs in turn, Moyo argued, showed their completed ballots to MDC vice-president Thokozani Khupe, chief whip Innocent Gonese, Biti, deputy secretary general Tapiwa Mashakada and party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa.
The former ministerâ€™s application read: “The election of Speaker on Monday August 25, 2008 was characterised by systematic and scandalous irregularities never before witnessed in parliament.”
But Mpariwa in her opposing affidavit said the challenge against the election of the Speaker by Moyo was an “unholy project, born of the machinations of Zanu PF and its friends in the (Arthur) Mutambara group who are bent on ensuring that the current political status quo existing in this country continues unabated.”
She said Moyo had a long history of treachery which started during the liberation struggle when he escaped from a training camp.
Mpariwa said: “During the liberation struggle he (Moyo) was the first successful escaper from Mgagao training camp, Tanzania, only managing to escape after a second attempt. For a long time he was a known critic of this regime (Zanu PF) but opportunistically in 2000 he became a minister in the present regime and was responsible for the total extermination of press freedom and press rights in Zimbabwe.
“This destroyer of press freedom was later involved in a plot to unseat the leader and President RG Mugabe, in what was has now come to be known as the Tsholotsho Scandal in November 2004 (sic).”
Mpariwa claimed that Moyo bounced back into Zanu PF between May and June 2008 to run the propaganda and information campaign for Mugabe.
She said: “In short, he is a totally unprincipled opportunist individual who represents everything wrong about present-day Zimbabwe. His reason for participating in this present application is probably to try and further ingratiate himself with Zanu PF in the hope that he can be a government minister.”
She said on the day of voting for the Speaker, it was a requirement to show the clerk of parliament Austin Zvoma the completed ballot paper.
“It meant implicitly that one would fold the ballot outside the polling booth after showing it to the first respondent (Zvoma) and then placing it in the ballot box,” Mpariwa said.
She dismissed claims by Moyo that the MDC MPs made a noise as “totally dishonest and untrue”.
“Whilst there was noise in parliament, virtually all members of parliament made noise including and in particular Jonathan Moyo himself, one Patrick Zhuwao and Saviour Kasukuwere,” she claimed.
She insisted that MPs voted in secret and no one knew how they voted, adding that Moyoâ€™s claims that the MDC legislators showed their completed ballots to senior party members were fiction.
“Jonathan Moyo, the author of Voting for Democracy, a book that bears uncanny proximity to Beatriz Mazaloniâ€™s Voting for Autocracy, is the new Geoffrey Archer. I have not seen the video tape being referred to and I challenge its authenticity and its production thereof,” Mpariwa said in her affidavit.
She said Moyoâ€™s allegations were without any evidence or substance.
“This is a completely fictitious construction for a number of reasons, firstly nobody knows what Hon Bitiâ€™s vote was. For Jonathan Moyoâ€™s construction to make any sense, he would have to prove that Hon Biti voted for the second respondent (Lovemore Moyo). This cannot be proved,” Mpariwa argued.
“I saw no one displaying any vote to anyone. To make this allegation against the members of parliament without inviting them to hear their side of the story is unfair.”
Mpariwa said Moyo, Kasukuwere and Zhuwao instead were the ones who had been boasting in the common room of parliament that they were going to win the vote as they had “bribed” MDC MPs.
“Members of parliament voted in secret in the polling booth. There is no one who interceded with the voting process in that polling booth. Each of these members is an adult and no gun was ever pointed,” she said.
Mpariwa said a report in the Hansard was accurate on what transpired on August 25 and insisted that the suggestion that there was a violation of the secrecy of the vote was “vacuous”.
Mpariwa said that there was nothing unprocedural about the election that was held and if there was any, members would have protested and refused to vote.
She said: “The fact that Emmerson Mnangagwa representing Zanu PF and Moses Mzila Ndlovu (representing MDC-Mutambara) were gracious in their defeat, should teach lessons of decorum to the likes of Jonathan Moyoâ€¦”
Mpariwa said it was at the MDC-Mutambara meeting in Kadoma that Moyo and Senator David Coltart decided “maliciously” that the election of Speaker of parliament had to be challenged.
“In fact Jonathan Moyo was bang(ing) tables and declaring that Lovemore Moyo would never be a Speaker as long as he was alive. Coltart for instance makes wild and unsubstantiated allegations that the MDC met in the evening before the vote and force-marched members of parliaments to go and vote the Speaker. That is totally untrue and without evidence at all,” Mpariwa said.
The Speaker described Moyoâ€™s application as “vindictive, malicious, opportunistic and totally without foundation”.
However, Zvoma in his affidavit said the High Court had jurisdiction to deal with the case. Moyo is in the process of preparing his answering affidavit before the court can set a date for the caseâ€™s hearing.
By Wongai Zhangazha