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Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai Takes Ex Officio Seat In Lower House of Parliament

Having been sworn in as Zimbabwean prime minister last month, Movement for Democratic Change founder Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday took another oath as an appointive member of the House of Assembly in a non-constituent, nonvoting seat, a step that allows him to formally lead the government in parliament though not elected to a constituency.

Tsvangirai was to deliver his maiden speech in parliament on Wednesday.

Also sworn in as parliamentarians were Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, head of the smaller of the two MDC formations, and Attorney General Johannes Tomana.

Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma called the event the “culmination” of the formation of a government uniting the MDC and the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe.

Tomana’s swearing-in raised eyebrows, however, as it suggested that Mr. Mugabe may not be willing to replace Tomana as Mr. Tsvangirai has demanded. The MDC wants Tomana, seen as too much of a ZANU-PF partisan and compromised on the rule of law, and Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, to be removed and replaced with consensus appointees.

Mr. Tsvangirai said Mr. Mugabe's unilateral appointments of Tomana and Gono as well as 31 ministerial permanent secretaries would be revisited in the next two weeks.

But ZANU-PF hardliners told VOA that there is no going back on the appointments, saying the consider Tomana and Gono to be “buffers against regime change.”

Tsvangirai spokesman James Maridadi told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Tsvangirai's swearing-in was more than a mere formality.

But National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku dismissed the ceremony as a pro-forma exercise with little larger political significance.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...