INFORMATION, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo has taken a swipe at Mr Tendai Biti and his MDC Renewal Team whose reaction to their expulsion from Parliament was that MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, who recalled them, had literally handed over all the 21 seats to Zanu-PF.
Twenty-one MDC-T MPs were recalled from Parliament last week for joining the United MDC that brought together the MDC-T Renewal Team and Professor Welshman Ncube’s MDC.
Of the 21 expelled, 14 were directly elected and seven got into Parliament via proportional representation defined by their party’s share of the vote in the harmonised elections.
In an interview with state owned Chronicle over the weekend, Prof Moyo said the true picture was that MDC-T already had seven PR seats in the bag as those are not up for contest and are not affected by the share of the vote in by-elections but by the results of the 2013 harmonised elections for the duration of the life of the Eighth Parliament.
“The seven proportional representation seats which are now vacant will be filled by Morgan Tsvangirai and this makes a mockery of the suggestion that they can donate seats to Zanu-PF. We are not impressed by that nonsense. The MDC wants to treat people as children. That means that one third of the seats that are affected already will be filled by Morgan Tsvangirai without any contest whatsoever.
“And so we are saying as Zanu-PF they must stop this nonsense that they are donating anything. If they are not going to fill these seats they will be demonstrating the contempt that they have for the democratic process; nobody is fooled by that. This needs to be clarified that there is no contest for 21 but for 14 seats,” he said.
“The MDC-T will replace the seven proportional representation seats because the determination of those seats is fixed on the basis of the results of the 2013 parliamentary election for the entire duration of the life of the Eighth Parliament. As such results of by-elections do not affect the allocation of proportional representation seats.”
Turning to his own candidature for Tsholotsho North, Prof Moyo said he will not resign in order to participate in the much-awaited Tsholotsho North by-election, as the law does not require him to do so.
He described the misconception that he had to resign before participating in the by-election as an oxymoron saying:“You don’t have to resign from being a minister in order to be an MP when you are already a minister who is not an MP.”
Prof Moyo, who lost the Tsholotsho North elections in 2013 by a narrow margin to Mrs Roselyne Nkomo, who is part of the 21 former MDC-T MPs who were expelled from Parliament and had their seats declared vacant on Tuesday, also dispelled the misconception that all 21 seats will be contested.
Only 14 out of the 21 Parliamentary seats lost by the former MDC-T MPs will be contested for, the Cabinet minister said with the MDC-T filling the other seven proportional representation seats.
“There is matter here to do with the expulsion of 21 Members of Parliament that were formerly with the MDC-T. There has been a perception if not a misunderstanding in the public domain that all of these 21 are going to be subject to a contest of one sort or another but the legal position is that only 14 are going to be subject to a contest in a by-election.
“These are the five affected provinces: Five seats in Bulawayo, six in Harare, one in Manicaland, one in Midlands and one in Mat North. These 14 are subject to by-elections. The other seven; four are Senators three are women’s quota in the National Assembly but these seven are proportional representation seats. There are two types of proportional representation seats, women’s quota and Senate. In terms of Section 39 (3) of the Electoral Act as amended, when there is a vacancy in the proportional representation seats, it is filled by the party that held the seat prior to the vacancy,” Prof Moyo explained.
“A second issue that has arisen to cause unnecessary confusion in the public domain specifically relates to whether or not I am going to contest in the Tsholotsho North by-election and if I will do so whether I will resign or not. I have been asking: Resign from what? Because you cannot resign from nothing. The confusion is legitimate, it arises out of a misunderstanding that there are ministers who were not elected to Parliament either through constituency seats or proportional representation and some elements of the public see these ministers as MPs, and I am one of them. The other ministers are Cdes Joseph Made, Lazarus Dokora, Martin Dinha and Faber Chidarikire.”
The aspiring Tsholotsho North MP said confusion on the standing of the five ministers in Parliament stemmed from the fact that a number of people were unaware that under the new Constitution the country no longer has non-constituency MPs.
“To some people the five of us are non-constituency MPs; unfortunately those people do not know that there is no such thing as a non-constituency MP in the new Constitution. This used to be there in the old constitution before it was amended by the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment Number 20) Act. The five of us are not MPs of any kind because we are appointed in terms of Section 104 (3) of the new Constitution which deals with the appointment of ministers and deputy ministers. The section says the President may also appoint ministers from outside Parliament. It goes on to say he can appoint up to five ministers not that he must, but he can appoint them outside Parliament. This means that the five of us are outside Parliament and our designation is that we are ministers and not MPs and as ministers who are appointed outside Parliament, we can sit and debate in Parliament but we cannot vote, voting is for members only. This provision was taken from the Kenyan constitution so as to have a hybrid of ministers some who are MPs and others that are not.”
“In terms of the new Constitution the majority of our ministers are MPs with up to five being non-members. So you cannot resign from being a non-member of Parliament in order to become a member of Parliament. This is an oxymoron and you don’t have to resign from being a minister in order to be an MP when you are already a minister who is not an MP. All you can do is become a Member of Parliament and contest a by-election if there is an opportunity to do so. And in any case that is why even after I had been appointed minister, I contested – in court – the election of the former MP for Tsholotsho North Roselyne Nkomo,” he said.