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Zimbabwe Parties Face Off to Contest Vacant Parliamentary Speaker Post

The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe are counting votes in Parliament while lawyers examine legal issues

The two main parties in Zimbabwe's fractious government of national unity are facing off over the position of speaker of the House of Assembly, vacated last week by a Supreme Court decision setting aside the 2008 election of incumbent Lovemore Moyo.

The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, of which Moyo is a senior official, and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front of President Robert Mugabe, are counting votes while lawyers examine legal issues.

Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma said Tuesday that deposed speaker Moyo had no vote to cast in the House as he had resigned his seat as member for Matopo, Matabeleland North, when he was elected speaker in an election eventually challenged successfully by Tsholotsho member Jonathan Moyo, a former minister of information.

But legal experts said Zvoma was off base and taking a political slant on the question. Since then Zvoma has written to Attorney General Johannes Tomana asking for his opinion in the matter. Tomana told VOA that he would respond on Thursday.

Sources in the attorney general’s office said Tomana will advise Zvoma that Moyo should revert to his Matopo seat - still unfilled - and cast votes as a member.

Currently the Tsvangirai MDC holds 97 seats, ZANU-PF 95, and the smaller MDC led by Welshman Ncube controls 7 seats. Some 14 members have died since the 2008 general elections and the Ncube MDC unseated three members for insubordination.

Party sources said ZANU-PF is fielding its chairman, former ambassador to South Africa Simon Khaya Moyo, while the Tsvangirai will again back Moyo. The smaller formation of the former opposition party will put forward Paul Themba Nyathi.

National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that in his opinion Moyo should have the right to vote.