Parly reopens Zvoma probe

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Debate to oust the Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma from the august House has resurfaced two months after it was blocked by the High Court.

On Monday, Parliament’s Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC) resolved to set up a probe team to investigate charges levelled against Zvoma by MDC-T MPs in December last year.

The SROC is the highest decision-making body in Parliament. The committee supervises the administration of the institution, appoints Parliament staff including Clerk of Parliament and fixes their conditions of service.

It is chaired by Speaker of the House of Assembly Lovemore Moyo and other key people who sit in the committee include Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

In December, Hwange Central MP Brian Tshuma (MDC-T) moved a motion seeking to have Zvoma fired over a litany of allegations including breach of parliamentary rules, but Zanu PF MPs defended him.

The probe was only stopped after Zvoma obtained a High Court order barring the debate.

Sources said the Monday meeting, which was closed to the Press and Parliament staff, proposed that Tshuma, the mover of the motion, should be asked to apprise the committee on the matter.

“I am aware of that issue and have been told I have to formally address my complaints on Zvoma to the SROC,” Tshumasaid yesterday.

“I am actually surprised why we have to go to such lengths when Zvoma’s incompetence and ineptitude is common cause in Parliamentary circles.”

Zvoma is facing allegations of failing to conduct the 2008 Speaker of the House of Assembly election in accordance with Section 39 of the Constitution and Parliament’s standing orders.

He also allegedly unprocedurally deferred the sitting of the House of Assembly in March last year and ignored legal advice from Attorney-General Johannes Tomana regarding the status of Matobo North constituency, as well as tampering with contents of Hansard, Parliament’s official verbatim record.

The altered section contained contributions by Finance minister Tendai Biti raising objections over the manner in which Zvoma was conducting the re-election of the Speaker.

Charges against Zvoma include that on August 25, 2008, he breached the Constitution and Standing Rules and Order Number 6 which prescribes that elections of presiding officers should be conducted by secret ballot.