Both Houses of Parliament met Tuesday 11 September to elect their presiding officers. These were their first sittings since members were sworn in on Wednesday 5th September, and they were held on the date fixed by the President by proclamation in terms of section 145 of the Constitution [Proclamation 4/2018, published in Statutory Instrument [SI] 159A/2018 as corrected by SI 168A/2018].
In the National Assembly
The National Assembly met at 9.30 am with the Clerk of Parliament, Mr Kennedy Chokuda, in the chair. The sitting only came to an end at 6.17 pm after the late afternoon swearing-in ceremony before the Chief Justice; there were two long adjournments to allow for the printing of ballot papers and for the Clerk and his assistants to officiate at the afternoon’s parallel proceedings in the Senate.
Election of Speaker
The Clerk called for nominations:
- Former Speaker Hon Jacob Mudenda was nominated for ZANU PF by Hon Mguni, seconded by Hon Mliswa.
- Hon Paurina Mpariwa was nominated by Hon Biti for MDC, seconded by Hon Gonese.
As there were two candidates, voting by secret ballot was required. The House adjourned for ballot papers to be printed.
On the resumption of proceedings the election was conducted by the Clerk under the supervision of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC]. Voting figures in the secret ballot were:
Ballots issued: 263
Spoilt papers: 5
Hon Mudenda was declared duly elected as Speaker.
Election of Deputy Speaker
A similar process was followed for the election of the Deputy Speaker. Two candidates were nominated: Hon Tsitsi Gezi for ZANU PF, Hon Murisi Zwizwai for MDC. Voting figures in the ensuing secret ballot were:
Ballots issued: 254
Rejected ballot: 1
Hon Gezi was declared duly elected as Deputy Speaker.
These results were hardly surprising as ZANU-PF have a large majority in the National Assembly. As Hon Mudenda was not a sitting member of Parliament, and Hon Gezi continues to hold her National Assembly seat [Constitution, section 127] these elections did not alter the relative strengths of parties in the National Assembly.
Chief Justice Malaba entered the House to noisy objections from some Opposition MPs, who called for another judge to preside over the swearing-in ceremony and broke into song. Despite this the ceremony went ahead. Both Mr Mudenda and Mrs Gezi were duly sworn in, and Mr Mudenda took the chair as Speaker.
Adjournment to 18th September
After a brief acceptance speech from the Speaker and congratulations from the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon Ziyambi, and Hon Mutseyami of MDC, the House adjourned for a week, until Tuesday 18th September.
In the Senate
Starting at 2.30 pm, proceedings in the Senate followed the same pattern as those in the National Assembly.
Election of President of the Senate
There were two candidates: Hon Mabel Chinomona from ZANU PF [National Assembly MP for Mutoko North] and Hon Senator Morgen Komichi from MDC. Voting figures in the secret ballot were:
Ballots issued: 74
Hon Chinomona was declared duly elected as President of the Senate.
Note: When elected as President of the Senate Hon Chinomona immediately and automatically ceased to be a member of the National Assembly [Constitution, section 129(1)(d)]. There must, therefore, be an early by-election for her former constituency of Mutoko North.
Election of Deputy President of the Senate
There were two candidates: Hon Senator General (Rtd) Michael Nyambuya from ZANU PF and Hon Senator Lilian Timveos from MDC. Voting figures in the secret ballot were:
Ballots issued: 76
Hon Nyambuya was declared duly elected as Deputy President of the Senate. He continues to hold his Senate seat [Constitution, section 123].
Both Hon Chinomona and Hon Nyambuya took the necessary oaths of loyalty and office before the Chief Justice in the Senate Chamber shortly after their National Assembly counterparts took their oaths in the National Assembly.
Adjournment to 18th September
Like the National Assembly, at the close of yesterday’s proceedings the Senate adjourned until Tuesday 18th September.
Comment on Yesterday’s Voting Figures
Attendance in both Houses was good:
– 263 of the 270 total membership in the National Assembly
– 76 of the 80 total membership in the Senate.
As voting in yesterday’s elections appears to have been on party lines, the voting figures serve as a guide to how the National Assembly and the Senate will vote on issues on which there is disagreement between the governing party and the Opposition.
The figures also suggest that, while on paper it is possible for ZANU PF to achieve two-thirds majority votes in both Houses, this would need very careful organisation.
Two Vacancies in the National Assembly
There are two vacancies in the National Assembly:
- one ZANU-PF proportional representation seat in Matabeleland North, vacant since the death of Hon Thokozile Mathuthu on 13th August [to be filled by a qualified woman nominated by the party in terms of section 39 of the Electoral Act]
- the Mutoko North constituency seat vacated yesterday by Hon Chinomona when she became President of the Senate [to be filled by a by-election called in terms of section 39 of the Electoral Act].
New on the Veritas Website
The following Government of Zimbabwe publication, over the name of Hon Chinamasa, outgoing Minister of Finance and Economic Development, and dated 19th April 2018, Washington DC is available: Towards an Upper-Middle Income Economy by 2030 – “New Dispensation Core Values” The publication runs to 50 pages plus annexures.