HomePoliticsSpeaker, Clerk of Parliament Clash Over Portraits

Battle for new constitution intensfies

TENSIONS have escalated between the Speaker of the House Assembly and the Clerk of Parliament over the production of the speaker’s portraits to be hung in all offices at Parliament Building and parliamentary constituency information centres around the country.

The clash has worsened the already-poor working relationship between Speaker Lovemore Moyo and Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma. The two have of late been battling over the control of the constitutional reform process.

Moyo is chairman of the MDC wing led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, while Zvoma is seen as a Zanu PF supporter. The wrangling between Moyo and Zvoma is reflected in letters which have been exchanged between their offices since last month over the portraits dispute.

Moyo’s office through the public relations department wrote a letter to Zvoma on November 17 seeking permission to engage a photographer to shoot and develop 10 portraits for the speaker at a cost of US$75 each.

“Authority is sought to engage Mathambo Ngoma to shoot and develop 10 portrait photos for the Speaker of the House of Assembly at a cost of $75 each, totalling $750. These portraits will be hung in his office and at entrances and other strategic places within the building,” the letter says.

“The speaker (initially) had his portrait photos taken in August 2009. I was informed by Fiona, the communications officer in the speaker’s office, that he does not like the (current) portrait anymore and would rather have another one taken. Fiona also advised that the speaker would like his portrait hung in each and every office at parliament and in each parliamentary constituency information centre.”

Zvoma’s office replied on December 9, rejecting Moyo’s request.

“We cannot justify a repeat of expenditure already incurred after selection of the portrait photograph taken and produced in August 2009,” the reply reads. “The cost of producing and hanging of the Speaker’s portraits in each and every office at parliament and in each parliamentary constituency information centre is not budgeted for in 2009.”

Zvoma’s office also warned Moyo against using a communications officer who is not officially employed by parliament. It also said Moyo’s portraits request would have to be considered in the context of a bicameral parliament. The reply was copied to Moyo and President of the Senate Edna Madzongwe. Sources said the rejection of Moyo’s request left him angry and bitter at Zvoma’s actions.

The latest fight between Moyo and Zvoma came as Zanu PF and the MDC-T prepared for a second round of fighting over the contentious Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill recently passed through the House of Assembly but which faces renewed resistance in the Senate.

Informed sources said Zanu PF was secretly again mobilising to block Finance minister Tendai Biti’s Bill seen as targeted at Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono whom MDC-T is battling to force out.

Sources said Zanu PF has renewed its opposition to the Bill after Biti frustrated the party over the access and disbursement of the more than US$500 million special drawing rights from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

After its congress last weekend, Zanu PF attacked Biti over the IMF money.

The party said it condemned “in the strongest of terms, the reckless actions of the Minister of Finance, T Biti, in particular his abuse of constitutional authority to prevent the release of the US$510 million IMF Global Financial Crisis mitigation facility, his systematic denial of seasonal support to the agricultural sector and his peanut budget for the year 2010 in pursuance of petty personal ambitions and the parochial reactionary agenda of his MDC formation”.

Sources said Zanu PF has now decided to hit back at Biti using the Bill. Biti says he wants the Bill passed into law to ensure the central bank focuses on its core business and operates transparently, while Zanu PF argues his proposed law is draconian and is only designed to rein in Gono. Debate on the amended Bill in the senate has been postponed to February 9 2010. — Staff Writer.

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