In a move depicting President Robert Mugabe’s declining power after 28 years in office, the opposition Monday grabbed the Speaker’s position in the Zimbabwean legislature for the first time in the nation’s post-independence history.
Lovemore Moyo of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won by 110 votes to 98 against a rival candidate backed by Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party.
The main wing of the MDC controls 100 seats, and a splinter group from the party a further ten seats, to give them a majority in the legislature.
Ironically, Mugabe’s party did not field a candidate in the parliamentary Speaker’s race, but instead backed the candidature of Paul Themba Nyathi of the splinter MDC group.
But, in a slap in the face for ZANU-PF, the MDC splinter group voted in block for the candidate of the main wing of the party.
The voting was through a secret ballot.
The opposition also took the deputy Speaker’s position, to cement its hold on power in the legislature, where Mugabe’s party is now a minority after parliamentary elections in March.
ZANU-PF now has 99 seats in the chamber, a far cry from the overwhelming majority it has always controlled in the legislature since the country’s independence from Britain in 1980.